I have noticed that, for those unfamiliar with matters relating to word-processing, the word count of a document can be more impressive than the actual content. As I write a lot, I know roughly how many words I will get to a page, yet if I mention that I have written a 1,000 word article, some people will express admiration at this number, without ever reading the actual document. And yet a thousand words, single spaced in 11 point Arial, comes to about a page and a half of text - not really that impressive on closer inspection.

But there are those who do impress with the volume of their work. The book I am currently reading is a chunky 535 pages long, although this is a mere short story in comparison to Marcel Proust's "À la recherche du temps perdu" (In Search of Lost Time), which runs to 4211 pages, clocking up over a million words on the way. This is one of those books that can double up as a footstool.

But even those of us who turn out more modest word-processing efforts can run up a word count of several hundred, so it is wise to take advantage of any functions built into Word, that will keep interruptions to a minimum. One area where you can do just this is in the AutoCorrect dialog box, which you will find in the Tools menu. Here you can customize Word to deal with those little glitches that would normally slow you down, or you can apply other features, depending on your preferences. Some of the options are self-explanatory, but here's a closer look at how they work.

Sometimes, while typing away merrily, when I capitalize a letter at the start of a sentence, my finger does not release the Shift key by the time I type the next letter, giving me a word beginning with a double capital. This must be a fairly common typo, because Word has its own way of fixing it. AutoCorrect will repair this as I type, because I have checked the Correct TWo INitial CApitals.box. I can't think of an example where two initial capitals are immediately followed by lower case letters, so I keep this function active, and Word automatically corrects those errors caused by my tardy Shift key finger.

There are still those who choose to insert a full-stop after certain abbreviated words, such as Mr., Dr. and Ltd, although this practice has fallen into decline in recent years (yet I still get a spell check prompt if I type Mr without the full-stop). If I were to use a full-stop after an abbreviation, and my AutoCorrect settings allowed it, I would end up with an unwanted capital like this.

ABC Haulage Ltd. Has been based in the town for over three decades.

To address this error, I would have to move my insertion point to the unwanted capital, delete it, insert a lower case letter in its place, and then return where I was before I made the correction. This would interrupt the flow of my typing, but it can be fixed very easily.

There are two ways around this problem, both of which are found in the AutoCorrect Options dialog box, under the AutoCorrect tab. The first is simply to uncheck the Capitalize first letter of sentences box. The other is to click on the Exceptions box and type 'Ltd.' into the Do not capitalize after; box. Click Add and OK. Either of these actions will prevent the appearance of unwanted capitals as in the example above.

Another common way to pour treacle onto the rails of my flowing text is to type with the Caps Lock on. Lines of text that are accidentally typed with the Caps Lock on can be converted into the correct case by highlighting the text you have accidentally typed in capitals and press Shift and the F3 key simultaneously. But you can nip this one in the bud, as they say, using AutoCorrect. Simply check the Correct accidental usage of the cAPS LOCK key, and Word will zap those pesky capitals before they can get a foothold.

Of course, you can gain a better understanding of how all of these features work by experimenting with them. So spend some time checking and unchecking boxes to study their effect. Type with the Caps Lock on, and try out a word with two initial capitals. You'll see that the AutoCorrect function offers a variety of useful features that would have saved Monsieur. Proust a lot of that lost time he was searching for.