AutoFormat Won't Convert a Right Arrow

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated April 30, 2021)


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. ...


Meaningless Text

Need to quickly put some text into a document, even if that text is essentially meaningless? Here's how to put this type ...

Discover More

Keep Your Headings in View

Headings on a table are very important when it comes to understanding what is in the table. This tip explains an easy way ...

Discover More

Inconsistent Repeating of a Table Header Row

When you have a table that extends over multiple pages, you may want to have Word repeat a row or two at the top of each ...

Discover More

Create Custom Apps with VBA! Discover how to extend the capabilities of Office 2013 (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, and Access) with VBA programming, using it for writing macros, automating Office applications, and creating custom applications. Check out Mastering VBA for Office 2013 today!

More WordTips (ribbon)

Automatically Using Smart Quotes

As a way to make your documents look more professional, Word can utilize "smart quotes" for both quote marks and ...

Discover More

After Pressing Enter, Text Becomes a Heading

Word provides several built-in tools that can affect how what you type is formatted. One of those tools can even change ...

Discover More

AutoFormatting a Document

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}] (all 7 characters, in the sequence shown) 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 five minus 4?

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.


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.