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: Changing AutoFormatting Rules.

Changing AutoFormatting Rules

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated May 14, 2020)

There are two types of AutoFormatting that can be done with Word. The first, AutoFormat As You Type, is done (you guessed it) while you type. The second, plain old AutoFormat, is done when you call the feature into action explicitly.

Word allows you to control the type of actions taken by AutoFormat when processing a document. If you want to change the way AutoFormat works, you do so by using the AutoFormat tab of the AutoCorrect dialog box. To display it, 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 or a later version, display the File tab of the ribbon and then click Options.)
  2. Click Proofing at the left side of the dialog box.
  3. Click the AutoCorrect Options button. Word displays the AutoCorrect dialog box.
  4. Make sure the AutoFormat tab is displayed. (See Figure 1.)
  5. Figure 1. The AutoFormat tab of the AutoCorrect dialog box.

The dialog box contains a list of formatting actions that can be applied by AutoFormat. Each action has a check box associated with it; if you select a check box, the associated action is performed. Clear the check box to prohibit AutoFormat from taking an action.

Remember that this simply configured AutoFormat; you'll still need to explicitly invoke Word's AutoFormatting capabilities to have the settings applied to your document.

Also, be aware that if you display the AutoFormat As You Type tab of the dialog box, you can adjust similar settings that Word applies as you are typing in your document.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (13251) 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: Changing AutoFormatting Rules.

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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