Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Office 365. 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: Controlling Automatic Indenting.

Controlling Automatic Indenting

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated May 18, 2019)

2

You've done it before—you are typing along, minding your own business, when you press the Tab key at the beginning of a paragraph and notice that everything in the paragraph is automatically indented. If you are like me, you probably scream a bit, and then delete the paragraph and continue typing.

What you have just experienced is the automatic indenting feature in Word. It simply means that Word assumes you want to indent the paragraph if you start it out by pressing the Tab key. So, it dutifully indents for you. If you don't like this feature and want Word to accept your tabs for exactly what they are (tabs), then you need to turn off the feature by following these steps:

  1. Display the Word Options dialog box. (In Word 2007 click the Office button and then click Word Options. In Word 2010 or a later version display the File tab of the ribbon and then click Options.)
  2. At the left side of the dialog box click Proofing.
  3. Click 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. Make sure the Set Left- and First-Indent with Tabs and Backspaces option is cleared.
  7. Click OK to dismiss the AutoCorrect dialog box.
  8. Click OK to dismiss the Word Options dialog box.

Now any new tabs that you type are nothing but lowly tabs, and you are back in control of your backspaces.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (7352) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Office 365. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Word here: Controlling Automatic Indenting.

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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Comments

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What is 4 - 0?

2019-09-16 09:03:37

HB

Thank you! coherent and correct (for a change, given the amount of garbage on the internet).


2019-05-18 04:49:55

Kimberly OGER

Thank you for this tip. This is why I subscribe to your newsletter. Every once in a while, a random tip comes up (like this one) that deals with something that is so annoying, but that I never take the time to try to figure whether it cab be fixed, and how.
Keep up the good work!


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