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: AutoFormatting a Document.

AutoFormatting a Document

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated February 22, 2014)

Word includes a feature that formats what you type, as you type it. You probably take many of these automatic formatting (AutoFormat) adjustments for granted. Word does things like changing your quotes to Smart Quotes, automatically creating bulleted and numbered lists, and changing the indentation of paragraphs.

This is fine and good for many people, but what if you get a document from someone else and it needs a lot of the "little touches" applied to it? This is where the real industrial-strength AutoFormat feature of Word comes into play. You see, AutoFormat doesn't just work as you type—it also is available, on demand, to format an entire document.

In default installations of Word, the AutoFormat tool is not available on the any of the ribbon tabs. Instead you'll need to add it to the Quick Access Toolbar 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 and Word 2013 display the File tab of the ribbon and then click Options.)
  2. At the left of the dialog box choose Customize (Word 2007) or Quick Access Toolbar (Word 2010 and Word 2013).
  3. Using the Choose Commands From drop-down list, choose Commands Not In the Ribbon.
  4. Locate and select the AutoFormat command in the list of commands.
  5. Click the Add button. The AutoFormat command moves to the right side of the dialog box.
  6. Click OK.

Once you have the AutoFormat tool available on the Quick Access Toolbar, you can apply AutoFormat by following these steps:

  1. Load the document you want to format.
  2. Click the AutoFormat tool on the Quick Access Toolbar. Word displays the AutoFormat dialog box. (See Figure 1.)
  3. Figure 1. The AutoFormat dialog box.

  4. Use the radio buttons to indicate if you want AutoFormat to work without stopping for your input, or not.
  5. Click on OK.

At this point, AutoFormat works its magic and your document is "reformatted" to appear as it would have if you had typed it yourself.

You should understand that it is very unlikely that AutoFormat will do all the formatting you need done. Each document is different, and you should make sure you examine the document after AutoFormat is completed to see if there are any other formatting tasks you need to complete.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (12976) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, and 2013. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Word here: AutoFormatting a Document.

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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