MS Word music hack: Automatic sharps, flats, and naturals (Updated 2019)

Ten years ago in 2009 I wrote a blog post about how to set up auto-complete sharp, flat, and natural symbols in Microsoft Word 2007 running on Windows Vista. Here’s an update for Word 2016 on Windows 10.

Thanks to Ariel Detwiler for calling my attention to the need for an update.

How it will work

Type this (plus space bar)Get this
F-sharpF
B-flatB
C-naturalC

Will it work on Office 365?

No, the web version of Office doesn’t currently (2019) support this feature.

How to set it up

  1. Open up a new Microsoft Word 2016 document.
  2. Type the following:
    266d
    Then press Alt-X. The “266d” should turn into a flat symbol.
  3. Highlight the flat. Click the “File” tab, then “Options.” A dialog box appears; click “Proofing” at its left-hand side. Click the “AutoCorrect Options…” button. On the “AutoCorrect” tab, make sure “Replace text as you type” is checked. In the “Replace:” box, type:
    -flat
    Next to “With:,” make sure “Plain text” is selected. Your flat should be in the “With:” box. Click “Add,” then click “OK” twice.
  4. Repeat steps 2-3 for the sharp and natural signs. In step 2, use “266f” for sharp and “266e” for natural, and in step 4 use “-sharp” and “-natural.”

If you are in the habit of using the pound sign (#) and lowercase b for sharp and flat signs, shame on you for your unprofessional documents. You might be tempted to set up your AutoCorrect to correct those. The problem with doing it that way is that you will have to create a separate AutoCorrect entry for each note (Ab, Bb, Cb, etc.). Plus, it’s a good idea to just get in the habit of typing “F-sharp” so if you’re using a system that doesn’t have your special AutoCorrect set up, you will be left with that more correct version instead of a pound sign or letter b.

If you have set up the AutoCorrect but you actually want to type “-flat,” “-sharp,” or “-natural” and override the automatic change, type what you want and then press Ctrl-Z (Undo) to change the symbol back into text.

MS Excel music hack: Sort musical instruments by score order

For today’s Stupid Microsoft Office Trick, we will be teaching Excel how to sort musical instruments into score order. This has lots of uses for musicians and music educators:

  • Inventories of instruments, sheet music, CD’s, you name it
  • Rosters of students, orchestra members, sub lists, and so forth

For example, suppose I have a list of sheet music for various woodwind instruments:

Chaos!

If I sort alphabetically by column C, I’ll get bassoon pieces first, then clarinet, flute, oboe, and saxophone. But as a musician I rarely have reason to sort things that way. I would rather have the flute pieces on the top, followed by oboe, clarinet, bassoon, and saxophone—a typical score ordering.

I’ll show you three easy steps to make this happen. I’m using Excel 2007 and Windows Vista, but I believe this feature exists in earlier versions of Excel as well. You are on your own for the exact details, unless someone cares to share in the comments section. Continue reading “MS Excel music hack: Sort musical instruments by score order”

MS Word music hack: Automatic sharps, flats, and naturals

[This is an old version. Check out my newer post for instructions for Word 2016.]

Here’s how to set up Microsoft Word to automatically insert sharp, flat, and natural signs for you. Instructions are for Word 2007 running on Windows Vista, and may need to be adapted slightly for your setup.

example
Continue reading “MS Word music hack: Automatic sharps, flats, and naturals”