Turning Off Automatic Capitalization in Lists

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated April 17, 2024)
This tip applies to Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Microsoft 365


1

Jim notes that Word capitalizes the first letter of a word that follows a bullet or after automatic numbering. Often this is not correct; the first letter should not be capitalized if it is part of a sentence that could have been expressed using commas, but for clarity is put into a list. He understands that Ctrl+Z will undo the capitalizations on each occasion but wonders if there is a way to turn it off.

The answer is yes and no. Yes, you can turn off this feature in Word. All you need to do is to 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 AutoCorrect tab is displayed. (See Figure 1.)
  5. Figure 1. The AutoCorrect tab of the AutoCorrect dialog box.

  6. Clear the Capitalize First Letter of Sentences check box.
  7. Click on OK.

That's it; the capitalization will not happen. However, this leads to my "no" answer—this action doesn't affect only the start of numbered lists or bulleted lists. It affects everywhere that Word thinks you are beginning a sentence, which includes the start of items in lists. (And, to boot, the change affects similar behavior in other Office applications.)

What this means is that you have a choice—is it a bigger bother to have to press Ctrl+Z at the beginning of list items that should not have an initial cap, or to not have Word capitalize beginning letters in all other sentences? There is no way to force Word to not capitalize only in lists.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (13770) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Microsoft 365.

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 more than 4?

2020-06-13 15:39:04

Lou Jones

Jim has brought up an important point. I have a huge document, consisting almost entirely of numerous tables formatted alike. I have been trying unsuccessfully to turn off automatic capitalization in one specific cell in all of those tables. I can manually edit a cell to make the first letter lower case, but I will not do that for thousands of tables, especially when I think that the field will be changed back at some unknown time in the future.


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