Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 2007, 2010, and 2013. If you are using an earlier version (Word 2003 or earlier), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for earlier versions of Word, click here: Removing Automatic Lines.

Removing Automatic Lines

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated September 19, 2015)


Have you ever noticed how if you type a few equal signs on a line in your document, and then press Enter, Word replaces what you typed with a double line that extends the whole width of your document? Actually, this works if you enter as few as three equal signs, dashes, or underscores. In each case, Word replaces your characters with a different type of line.

In some instances, this Word feature can be a great timesaver. In other instances, you might have really wanted the characters in your document, not the line that Word thought you wanted. In these instances there are three ways you can handle the situation.

First, and probably the easiest method, is to hit Backspace after pressing Enter. The automatic line that Word created will disappear, but the original characters you typed will remain and the insertion point will stay on the text line below. You can also press Ctrl+Z right after you pressed Enter to undo the automatic line and achieve the same results.

Using the undo shortcut may not be practical if you don't use it right away, though. This leads to the second method of dealing with the line. If you later want to remove the line, it helps to understand how Word added it in the first place. When you pressed Enter at the end of your characters (the ones Word replaced with its line), Word removed the characters and added a border to the paragraph just before where you typed the characters. You can verify this in the following manner:

  1. Position the insertion point in the paragraph just before where the line appears.
  2. Make sure the Home tab of the ribbon is displayed, and then click the down-arrow next to Borders tool in the Paragraph group. Word displays a drop-down list of choices.
  3. In the list of choices, choose No Border. The line (border) previously applied by Word now disappears.

The third method of dealing with the line is to simply turn off the feature that causes Word to replace your equal signs, dashes, and underscores with its own line. Follow these steps:

  1. Display the Word Options dialog box. (In Word 2007 click the Office button and then click Word Options. In Word 2010 and Word 2013, display the File tab of the ribbon and then click Options.)
  2. Click Proofing at the left of the dialog box.
  3. Click the AutoCorrect Options button. Word displays the AutoCorrect dialog box.
  4. Make sure the AutoFormat As You Type tab is displayed. (See Figure 1.)
  5. Figure 1. The AutoFormat As You Type tab of the AutoCorrect dialog box.

  6. Clear the Border Lines check box.
  7. Click OK to dismiss the AutoCorrect dialog box.
  8. Click OK to dismiss the Word Options dialog box.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (6022) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, and 2013. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Word here: Removing Automatic Lines.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...


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What is 6 + 8?

2019-02-17 13:14:40


Thank you. It worked!

2017-12-28 17:14:49


Thank you!

2015-09-22 13:24:05

Phil Reinie

Shane: According to most instructors - there are no stupid questions. The insertion point is the place in a document that if you started typing the text should appear (assuming you're not typing control sequences which might say, turn bold text on or off, etc).

The ribbon - introduced in MS Office 2007 contains tabs (also called group-tiles) are tool-sets like Layout, Document Elements, Tables, Charts, SmartArt, Review, Developer, Appearance and Audio Notes (according to Word 2011 for Mac). If you don't have Office 2007 or later those elements weren't called a ribbon but mostly somehow still available unless they were new in 2007 (it's been too long to recall).

As far as the Home tab, it is usually the left-most tab available in the ribbon. The Paragraph group contains tools that apply to an entire paragraph, such as in this case, the border of the paragraph.

2015-09-22 13:21:05

Phil Reinie

Mac Word 2011 the Borders setting is available through the menu: Word -> Preferences -> AutoCorrect (in the Authoring and Proofing Tools area) -> AutoFormat As You Type "tab" in the "Apply as you type" area.

2015-09-20 17:41:43


Thanks for this. I found it annoying at times, and didn't realise it was a border.

2015-09-19 17:40:05


I fully agree with Damear. The explanations in the Word tips are already very basic. Making them even more basic would defeat the purpose of the tips. I think they are meant for people with a basic knowledge of Word who want to get to know more about its special features.

2015-09-19 16:54:11

Dennis Gladden

Thanks for this tip. I have found getting rid of these lines troublesome, especially when they're near a table. This tip appears to solve my problem.

2015-09-19 13:11:53


If Microsoft would only have a "Reveal Codes" feature it would be easy to remedy bugs like this!

2015-09-19 09:51:15


Shane, if you don't know what Ribbon interface is and what tabs are, or what the heck is an insertion point, perhaps you should start with a general 'PC for dummies' training, because these are real basics.

Otherwise, before he knows it Allen would have to explain what a mouse is and why he didn't mention that 'click the mouse button' means actualy the left button, not right one; and 'click' means 'press and release', not just 'press', etc. etc. etc.

2015-09-19 01:11:47


You need to keep in mind that people looking for solutions don't know MS Word like you do, so when directions use points of reference like...position the insertion point, and make sure the home tab of the ribbon is displayed, you lose most of us. These directions look GREAT for people that REALLY know Word, but unfortunately those that really know Word probably don't need help. See what I mean? Thanks for listening.

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