Working with Smart Tags

What if a word processor could automatically tag certain phrases as belonging to specific categories, and give you tools for using that text in new ways? For example, what if your document recognized when you typed a date, and offered to schedule a meeting for you? What if it recognized a name and provided commands for adding that name to your Outlook contact list, or for sending an email to that individual? With Word 2003's Smart Tags feature, you can do this, and far more.

Using Smart Tags

When Word recognizes a Smart Tag in your document, it displays a thin purple underline beneath the text, as shown in Figure 9.25. (This underline is finer than the red wavy line Word uses to mark possible spelling errors.)

Figure 9.25. Word marks Smart Tags with a faint dotted underline.


After text is marked with a Smart Tag, you can choose a Smart Tag Action to perform. To do so, click on (or hover your mouse pointer above) the tagged text. A small Information icon appears; click on it, and a menu of Actions appears (see Figure 9.26). Choose the one you want to use.

Figure 9.26. Selecting a Smart Tag Action.


For instance, if you click on the Smart Tag Actions associated with a date, and choose Show My Calendar, Word will open your Outlook calendar to that date. If you click on a Financial Symbol associated with a company and choose Stock Quote on MSN MoneyCentral, Word will open Internet Explorer and display that company's stock quote and related information.

Controlling How Word Works with Smart Tags

Word 2003 can recognize several categories of Smart Tags:

  • Any names. Name-related Word Smart Tag Actions allow you to send mail or instant messages, schedule meetings, open or add to Outlook contact information, and insert addresses. By default, Word recognizes only names stored in Outlook as email recipients, but in the English language version of Word, you can instruct Word to recognize other names as well. (Doing so is covered in the next section.)

  • Addresses. Address-related Word Smart Tag Actions allow you to add an address to your Outlook contacts, or to display a map and/or driving directions to a specific location. Addresses are recognized by default.

  • Financial symbols. Word Smart Tag Actions associated with financial symbols allow you to retrieve current MSN MoneyCentral stock quotes, company reports, or recent news about a company that corresponds to a U.S., UK, or Canadian stock symbol. (Note that the stock and funds smart tag is not installed during a "typical" installation, and that financial symbols are not recognized by default.)

  • Dates and times. Date- and time-related Word Smart Tag Actions allow you to schedule a meeting or show your Outlook calendar for a specific date or time. Dates and times are recognized by default. (Word recognizes only dates after 1970.)

  • Selected place names. Place-related Word Smart Tag Actions allow you to add an address to your Outlook contacts, or to display a map and/or driving directions to a specific location. Addresses are recognized by default.

  • Telephone numbers. Phone-number?related Word Smart Tag Actions allow you to add a phone number to your Outlook Contact list. Phone numbers are not recognized by default.

To control which items Word flags as Smart Tags, and how those Smart Tags behave, choose Tools, AutoCorrect Options, and select the Smart Tags tab, as shown in Figure 9.27. (You can also display the Smart Tags tab by clicking on a Smart Tag and choosing Smart Tag Options from the shortcut menu.)

Figure 9.27. Smart Tag options available from the AutoCorrect box.


Choosing Which Smart Tags to Recognize

The categories of text Word can recognize as Smart Tags are listed in the Recognizers list box in the Smart Tags tab of the AutoCorrect dialog box (refer to Figure 9.27).

To instruct Word to recognize a category of text as Smart Tags, check the corresponding box; to instruct Word to stop recognizing a category, clear its box.

Rechecking Smart Tags in a Document

After you've changed Smart Tag settings for a document, you may want to recheck the document to make sure that the appropriate tags are flagged. To do so, click Recheck Document in the Smart Tags tab of the AutoCorrect dialog box.

Finding Additional Smart Tags Online

Microsoft and its business partners have made available several additional Smart Tags that you can download and install, assuming that you are connected to the Internet.

For example, you can import current news and weather information into your documents using MSNBC Smart Tags. Federal Express provides Smart Tags that link to the company's online tools for packaging tracking or creating shipping labels. (There's even an ESPN Smart Tag that recognizes the names of baseball players and teams, and can insert current statistics about them.)

Although many Smart Tags are free to download and use, some are available by monthly subscription, and others are available in connection with other software you need to buy.

To discover which Smart Tags are available, display the Smart Tags tab of the AutoCorrect dialog box, and click More Smart Tags. Internet Explorer opens, taking you to the Microsoft Office eServices Smart Tags page. From here, select the tag you're interested in, and follow the online instructions for downloading and installing it.


One powerful advantage of Smart Tags is that technically sophisticated organizations can create new ones. Business IT organizations might, for example, create Smart Tags for looking up and inserting information from a company database. Similarly, a company might create a Smart Tag that integrates with its accounting system, allowing a user to insert complete details of an order using a Smart Tag that recognizes order numbers.

Creating original Smart Tags is beyond the scope of this book. Microsoft provides a series of free tools and resources that facilitate Smart Tag development. These are available at Using Microsoft's tools requires significant programming experience.

Two third-party tools are available for creating Smart Tags somewhat more easily: ActiveDocs, from Keylogix (, and DataPortal, from Nereosoft (

Turning Off Smart Tags

In certain cases, you may not want Word to recognize any Smart Tags. For example, Smart Tags can significantly increase document size, and may cause problems for third-party programs that need to import Microsoft Word documents. If you do not want Word to recognize Smart Tags in a document, display the Smart Tags tab, and clear the Label Text with Smart Tags check box.

Telling Word Not to Recognize a Smart Tag Data Type or Item

Word 2003 allows you to stop recognizing either individual blocks of text or entire categories of data ("data types"). To do so, click on the Smart Tag Actions icon associated with text marked as a Smart Tag. Then, choose Stop Recognizing.

A cascading menu appears. If you choose As Smart Tag, Word will stop recognizing the specific text you're working with. If you choose As Financial Symbol (or whatever data type Word has recognized), Word will stop recognizing all text associated with that data type.

Removing All Smart Tags from a Document

If your document already contains Smart Tags that you want to remove, display the Smart Tags tab, and click Remove Smart Tags. Click Yes to confirm that you want to do so.


Removing Smart Tags removes not only the Smart Tags currently available on your computer, but also Smart Tags inserted in the same document by others, whether on your computer or theirs. The Smart Tags will also no longer be present when other users open your document on their computers (though they can recheck the document and add them back again).

Removing a Single Smart Tag from a Document

To remove a single Smart Tag from a document, click on its Smart Tag icon and choose Remove This Smart Tag from the shortcut menu.

Hiding Smart Tag Buttons in a Document

Occasionally you may want to allow Word to recognize Smart Tags in your document but turn off the icons that give users access to Smart Tag Actions. To do so, display the Smart Tags tab, and clear the Show Smart Tag Actions Buttons check box.

Instructing Word Not to Store Smart Tag Data with Saved Documents

By default, Word stores Smart Tag data when you save a document. As already mentioned, this can enlarge your documents, and may conceivably cause problems when users of third-party software try to import your Word documents. To instruct Word not to save Smart Tag information with your document, display the Smart Tags tab of the AutoCorrect dialog box, and click Save Options. (You may also click Tools, Options, Save.) With the Save Options tab displayed, clear the Embed Smart Tags check box.


Smart Tags can be saved in documents using only Microsoft Word .doc or Web page format. They cannot be saved in RTF, Text Only, or other formats.

Saving Smart Tags as XML for Use by Web Browsers

If you are creating a Web page that will be viewed by Internet Explorer 5 or 6, or another Web browser that supports XML, you can store Smart Tags in an XML format that makes them visible and usable from within those browsers.

XML is increasingly being used to provide a common format for storing structured and semistructured data so that it can be used by other business applications. Saving Smart Tag data in XML formats can be one small step toward facilitating this.

To instruct Word to save Smart Tag data in XML format for use in Web browsers and by XML applications, display the Save Options tab, and check the Save Smart Tags as XML Properties in Web Pages check box.

Smart Tag Limitations

Smart tags are a great addition to Word, but they have some limitations. Word sometimes tags information incorrectly; you may find yourself deleting some incorrect smart tags. Moreover, Smart Tags created in Office 2003 are not viewable in older versions of Office, and Smart tags saved as XML aren't useful or viewable in older Web browsers.

    Part I: Word Basics: Get Productive Fast
    Part II: Building Slicker Documents Faster
    Part III: The Visual Word: Making Documents Look Great
    Part IV: Industrial-Strength Document Production Techniques
    Part VI: The Corporate Word