What users say about Instant Text

COPD example in Instant Text

by Robert Hill

Here's a response to a question that I've received several times:

I've often wondered with something like Instant Text:
You are going to type out COPD -- you start typing chronic obstructive... Now where does Instant Text show up that you have an abbreviation/short hand form for this group of words?

With Instant Text, you take work that you've done before and run it through the Glossary Compiler. Instant Text digests text that you feed it and comes up with a list of every single word in that body of text. IT then starts looking for groups of words. What you end up with is a glossary of words and a glossary of phrases. Instant Text would have extracted the following words and phrases from your text, in addition to thousands of others:

... ...
c chronic
o obstructive
p pulmonary
d disease
... ...
... ...
co chronic obstructive
cop chronic obstructive pulmonary
copd chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
... ...
op obstructive pulmonary
opd obstructive pulmonary disease
... ...
pd pulmonary disease
... ...

When you're working with your Instant Text glossary and you need to produce the phrase chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, you have several options for how to proceed. Pick the one that's natural for you, ignore the rest.

There are two Advisory Windows, a Word Advisory and a Phrase Advisory. These are designed so that it's easy to ignore what you DON'T want to see and easy to focus on what you DO want to see. As you enter letters, the contents of the Advisory Windows change. If you're going for a word, ignore the phrases and look at the Word Advisory. If you're going for a phrase, ignore the words and look at the Phrase Advisory.

You can proceed one word at a time.

The Word rule is simple: type the first letter, then add any other. Type a c and your choice of h, r, o, n, i, or c until the word chronic appears in the Word Advisory. I can get the word chronic to appear with each of these: ch, cr, co, cn, ci, and cc. That's six different ways of abbreviating the word chronic. Again, whatever works for you is fine.

Once you've entered chronic you could do the same thing for the next three words one at a time. But why would you want to? You know that COPD is a stock phrase, shouldn't your software know it too? Because Instant Text knows what you've done in the past, it can often predict what you'll do next.

When you compile your glossaries, Instant Text automatically attaches frequency and indexing codes to the abbreviations. Think of these as little guys running around inside your computer making connections so you don't have to do it yourself.

Instant Text knows from past experience that when you use the words chronic obstructive you're likely to want the rest of the phrase right after it. Instant Text automatically offers the sentence continuation pulmonary disease without you having to enter any more abbreviations! Just tell it to go ahead.

Another way is to focus on phrases.

Instant Text phrase abbreviations also have a simple formula: take the first letter of each word in the phrase. The straightforward abbreviation for COPD is copd. This means that when you type copd, Instant Text figures out all possible phrases that use the letters copd and displays the matches for you. The short form copd is unique enough that only one possible match is offered, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

To answer the question concisely, don't worry about the abbreviation. You're not really looking for the abbreviation, you're looking for the word and/or phrase. If you're going for a word you'll find it in the Word Advisory window. If you're going for a phrase you'll find it in the Phrase Advisory window. Either way, Instant text offers sentence continuations in addition.

You can transcribe to your heart's content using any combination of word abbreviations, phrase abbreviations, and automatic sentence continuations that feels natural for you, and you can do it by focusing on the end product rather than the abbreviation.

Robert T. Hill