AutoFormat Won't Convert a Right Arrow

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated April 30, 2021)
This tip applies to Word 2007 and 2010


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. ...


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What is seven minus 7?

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.)

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