AutoFormat Won't Convert a Right Arrow

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated March 25, 2016)


Barry is using Word 2007 and can't get AutoFormat to convert "-->" into an arrow. However, if he copies an arrow from a Word 2010 document, he can paste it into my Word 2007 document just fine. His Word 2007 options are set so that "Hyphens with Dash" is selected in two places within the AutoCorrect dialog box (the AutoFormat tab and the AutoFormat As You Type tab). Barry is looking for ideas why he can't get this to work.

Probably the biggest reason you can't get it to work is because replacing arrows with arrow characters is handled by AutoCorrect, not by AutoFormat. It may seem that the "Hyphens with Dash" setting should control this, but it doesn't.

To see how Word handles the conversion of arrows (and other dingbat symbols), 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 display the File tab of the ribbon and then click Options.)
  2. Click Proofing at the left side of the dialog box.
  3. Click AutoCorrect Options. Word displays the AutoCorrect tab of the AutoCorrect dialog box. (See Figure 1.)
  4. Figure 1. The AutoCorrect tab of the AutoCorrect dialog box.

If you scroll down through the entries in the AutoCorrect dialog box, eventually you'll come to the arrows. You should notice various settings on the left, in the "Replace" column. You probably won't find a setting for the "-->" characters, even though on new installs of Word there is such an entry. You can create a new entry for the characters and, in the "With" column, place the arrow symbol you want Word to use. (How you create AutoCorrect entries has been covered in other issues of WordTips.)

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (11566) applies to Microsoft Word 2007 and 2010.

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. ...


Changing Body Text to a Heading

When working on a document in Outline view, you may need to change regular body text to a heading in the outline. It's ...

Discover More

Combining Numbers and Text in a Cell

There are times when it can be beneficial to combine both numbers and text in the same cell. This can be easily done ...

Discover More

Initiating a New Search

I do a lot of searching in my documents. Sometimes the searches may not go exactly as I expected. Here are some things I ...

Discover More

Learning Made Easy! Quickly teach yourself how to format, publish, and share your content using Word 2013. With Step by Step, you set the pace, building and practicing the skills you need, just when you need them! Check out Microsoft Word 2013 Step by Step today!

More WordTips (ribbon)

The Line that Won't Go Away

Have you ever had a line appear on your document that you can't seem to get rid of? It could be due to a built-in ...

Discover More

AutoFormat within Form Fields

When entering information into protected form fields, Word doesn't apply the formatting inherent in the AutoFormat As You ...

Discover More

Changing AutoFormatting Rules

The AutoFormat feature of Word can be configured to make changes to a variety of conditions in your document. Here's how ...

Discover More

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in WordTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

View most recent newsletter.


If you would like to add an image to your comment (not an avatar, but an image to help in making the point of your comment), include the characters [{fig}] in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Maximum image size is 6Mpixels. Images larger than 600px wide or 1000px tall will be reduced. Up to three images may be included in a comment. All images are subject to review. Commenting privileges may be curtailed if inappropriate images are posted.

What is 0 + 1?

2016-12-12 07:34:54


I recently upgraded from Word 2013 to 2016 as part of Office 365 and the --> and ==> conversions are not there any more. I tried to add them but instead of inserting an arrow it inserts a ? in a box. NOT HAPPY!

2012-04-07 07:38:51

Bobby Saxon

Thanks so much for this tip. I've had a related problem in MS Excel: I use people's initials to identify them, and one person's initials are CNA. But, Excel kept changing this to CAN (which was another person's initials!). I couldn't figure out why it was happening, so I replaced the 'N' with an 'X', which worked, but never sat well with me, as it was a workaround rather than a solution. (I could have written it as C.N.A, but didn't want to double my typing.)

This Site

Got a version of Word that uses the ribbon interface (Word 2007 or later)? This site is for you! If you use an earlier version of Word, visit our WordTips site focusing on the menu interface.

Newest Tips

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in WordTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

(Your e-mail address is not shared with anyone, ever.)

View the most recent newsletter.