Configure or turn off automatic text formatting (AutoFormat)

You can use the AutoFormat feature to quickly apply or change automatic formatting such as hyphens and dashes, fractions, hyperlinks, quotation marks, and bulleted or numbered lists. To turn off automatic formatting, simply clear each option you want to turn off on the AutoFormat As You Type tab.

The AutoFormat As You Type tab

Important: 

  • The AutoFormat As You Type options are global options that apply to all files for a program.

  • The AutoFormat As You Type options can’t be applied to previously written text in Outlook, PowerPoint, Excel, Publisher, and Visio.

What's the difference between "AutoFormat" and "AutoFormat As You Type"?

In Word, you may have noticed two similar AutoFormat tabs in the AutoCorrect dialog box, and this can cause some confusion. The difference is that the AutoFormat As You Type settings are applied to text at the time you are typing, whereas the settings on the AutoFormat tab are applied when you run the AutoFormat command (which requires use of the Quick Access Toolbar). Most of this article describes options on the AutoFormat As You Type tab. See Using the AutoFormat tab and the AutoFormat command below for information about the AutoFormat tab.

Find the AutoFormat As You Type tab in your Office program

To make changes to automatic formatting behavior in an Office program, first open the AutoFormat As You Type tab, and then click on the task you want below.

Note: For information about the AutoFormat tab, see Using the AutoFormat tab and the AutoFormat command in Word.

All programs except Outlook:

  1. Click File > Options > Proofing > AutoCorrect Options.

    Acessing the AutoCorrect dialog box

  2. Click the AutoFormat As You Type tab.

Outlook:

  1. Click File >Options > Mail > Editor Options > Proofing > AutoCorrect Options.

    Accessing the AutoCorrect dialog box

  2. Click the AutoFormat As You Type tab.

Word, Excel, and PowerPoint:

  1. Click the Microsoft Office Button Office button image > [Program] Options > Proofing > AutoCorrect Options.

    Accessing the AutoCorrect dialog box

  2. Click the AutoFormat As You Type tab.

Outlook:

  1. Open a mail item, and then click the Microsoft Office Button Office button image > Editor Options > Proofing > AutoCorrect Options.

    Accessing the AutoCorrect dialog box

  2. Click the AutoFormat As You Type tab.

Publisher and Visio:

  1. On the Tools menu, click AutoCorrect Options.

    Accessing the AutoCorrect dialog box

  2. Click the AutoFormat As You Type tab.

Each Office program offers a different set of AutoFormat options. All options are described here. Select an option to enable it, or clear an option to turn it off.

REPLACE AS YOU TYPE

Option

Description

"Straight quotes" with “smart quotes”

Replaces straight quotation marks ( " " ) and straight apostrophes ( ' ) with curved, open- and closed-quotation marks and curved apostrophes.

Fractions (1/2) with fraction character (½)

Replaces typed fractions (1/2) with a single character fraction (½). This option replaces only the following typed fractions: 1/4, 1/2, and 3/4.

*Bold* and _italic_ with real formatting

Applies bold font to any text enclosed in asterisks (*); applies italic font to any text enclosed in underscores (_). For example, *computer* becomes computer and _computer_ becomes computer.

Internet and network paths with hyperlinks

Replaces typed Internet addresses, network paths, and email addresses with hyperlinks.

Ordinals (1st) with superscript

Replaces ordinal numbers that show the relative position of an item in a sequence (for example, 1st, 2nd, or 3rd) with superscript ( 1st written as superscript ).

Hyphens (--) with dash (—)

Replaces a double hyphen (--) with an em dash (—); replaces a single hyphen with a space before and after ( - ) with an en dash (–).

Smiley faces :-) and arrows ==> with special symbols

Replaces typed smiley faces and arrows with equivalent character symbols.

APPLY AS YOU TYPE

Option

Description

Automatic bulleted lists

Creates a bulleted list when a line of text starts with one of the following characters *, -, or > followed by a space or tab.

To end a bulleted list, press ENTER two times.

Border lines

Draws a line when you type three consecutive instances of the following characters ~, #, *, -, _, or = on a new line, and then press ENTER. For example, typing ~~~ on a new line, and then pressing ENTER draws a wavy line across the page.

Built-in Heading styles

Applies heading styles to paragraphs of five or less words that do not end with punctuation after you press ENTER two times. For Heading 1, type a new line; for Heading 2, precede the new line with a single tab; for Heading 3, precede the new line with two tabs.

Note:  You must press ENTER two times after the previous paragraph to automatically apply heading styles.

Automatic numbered lists

Creates a numbered list when a line of text starts with the number 1 followed by a period or tab.

To end a numbered list, press ENTER two times.

Tables

Creates a single row table when you insert a sequence of plus signs (+) and hyphens (-) at the start of a line of text, and then press ENTER. You must begin and end the sequence with a plus sign. For example, +---+---+------+ creates a single row table with three columns. The column width is equal to the number of hyphens typed between the plus signs. To add rows anywhere in the table, position the cursor at the end of the row where you want to insert the new row, and then press ENTER.

Include new rows and columns in table (Excel only)

Adds a new row or column to an existing table when you enter data in an adjacent row or column. For example, if you have a two column table in columns A and B, and then enter data in an adjacent cell in column C, column C is automatically formatted as part of the existing table.

AutoFit title text to placeholder (PowerPoint only)

Decreases the font size of the title text so that the text fits in the defined title text placeholder.

Note:  The title text automatically decreases by only one font size increment, for example from 44 to 40, based on the built-in font sizes for the font. If you want to further decrease the font size, select the title text and either select a smaller built-in font size from the Font Size list or type the font size you want in the Font Size list.

AutoFit body text to placeholder (PowerPoint only)

Decreases the font size of the body text so that the text fits in the defined body text placeholder.

AUTOMATICALLY AS YOU TYPE

Option

Description

Format beginning of list item like the one before it

Formats the lead-in text of a list item like the lead-in text of the previous list item. Lead-in formatting is repeated up to the first punctuation character of the list item, typically a period, colon, hyphen, em dash, question mark, exclamation point, or similar character.

Only formatting that applies to all the lead-in text is repeated in the next list item. Formatting that applies to a section of the lead-in text is not repeated in the lead-in text of subsequent list items.

Set left- and first-indent with tabs and backspaces

Indent the first line of a paragraph by putting the cursor before the first line, and then pressing the TAB key. Indent the whole paragraph by putting the cursor before any line in the paragraph (except the first line), and then pressing the TAB key. To remove an indent, put the cursor before the first line of the paragraph, and then press the BACKSPACE key.

Define styles based on your formatting

Applies a built-in style to manually formatted text when the text has the same formatting as a built-in style.

Fill formulas in tables to create calculated columns (Excel only)

Applies a single formula to all table cells in a column. The formula automatically adjusts to extend to all table cells in the column.

To turn off automatic formatting for a program, simply clear each option you want to turn off on the AutoFormat As You Type tab. Remember that the AutoFormat As You Type options are global, so any option you turn off will be turned off in all files in that program.

The AutoFormat As You Type tab with options deselected

You immediately reject or change automatic formatting in a document as you type. When Office applies the automatic formatting, click the AutoCorrect Options button Button image that appears and choose to:

  • Undo the formatting (and you can choose to redo it after you undo it) for this instance only.

  • Change the specific AutoFormat options globally by clicking the Stop option so that Office stops making this change.

  • Change the options by clicking Control AutoFormat Options to open the AutoFormat As You Type tab and change settings.

Word has an AutoFormat tab in addition to the AutoFormat As You Type tab. The AutoFormat As You Type settings are applied to text at the time you are typing, as described above. The AutoFormat tab is less commonly used, because the options on it are only applied when you run the AutoFormat command, which you must add the Quick Access Toolbar to use.

The AutoFormat command makes the same kinds of changes as those made by AutoFormat As You Type settings, but on text that has already been typed. If you want to format an entire document at once (for example, to replace straight quotes with smart quotes or replace fractions with fraction characters), the AutoFormat command can do this.

To add the AutoFormat command to the Quick Access Toolbar and use it, do the following:

  1. In Word, click the Customize Quick Access Toolbar icon, and then click More Commands.

    Selecting More Commands for the Quick Access Toolbar

  2. Under Choose commands from, select All Commands.

  3. Scroll down in the list, select AutoFormat or AutoFormat Now, click Add, and then click OK.

    Choosing the AutoFormat Quick Access command

  4. To run the command, click the AutoFormat icon in Word.

    The AutoFormat icon

See also

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