Writing source citations can be time consuming. While it’s dangerous to rely on templates for source citations, being able to type a few letters and have a basic template for a frequently used collection simplifies the process.
Text expanders are tools which allow the user to enter a keyboard shortcut and insert a larger block of text. A few months ago I decided to look for a text expander I could use with Microsoft Word. My requirements were simple:
- Easy to add citation templates.
- Formatting options such as italics
- Not subscription based
My preference was for an expander which prompted me to complete a small form using variable data rather than a template where I had to type over labels like First Name, Last Name, Title, etc.
Text Expander MicroReviews
A great tool with everything I need, but $40/year.
Open source, cross-platform. Formatting not supported yet. Interesting project, but not for this purpose.
Open source, Windows. No variable data or rich text options.
Microsoft and Mac, $4.99. Has variable text options and formatting but it is painful to set up source citation templates. Adding a template with variable options requires a lot of unavoidable pointing and clicking. If I could cut and paste or upload a CSV file, I would seriously consider this.
Windows. Requires using % for variables and formatting which makes entering templates tedious. Formatting is not consistent. Saved changes do not persist.
Windows. Easiest to use but does not seem to be available anymore. The link to buy is broken and a Facebook review from 2018 suggests the company no longer responds to messages.
Windows. Great documentation, only $19. Text expansion is just one feature. Entering citation templates is not easy but not too bad. Includes variable text and rich text formatting options. This came with a lot of presets I had to disable.
In the end, none of these solutions satisfied me. There’s a reason many tools don’t support formatting. Developers have to stay on top of the latest Office updates. The $40/year cost of TextExpander seems more reasonable in this context.
Entering citation templates was an extremely tedious process in most of these tools. I worried I would need to do it more than once if there was some kind of breaking update.