Undo or turn off automatic formatting

The AutoFormat feature in Word allows you to quickly apply formatting such as headings, bulleted and numbered lists, borders, numbers, symbols, and fractions to your text. After Word applies automatic formatting, you have the option to undo the change.

Hover your mouse over the correction, and a small blue rectangle will appear at the left edge of the word. Move your mouse to the rectangle. Click the AutoCorrect Options button Button image that appears and choose to:

  • Undo the formatting for this instance only

  • Change the specific AutoFormat options globally by clicking the stop option so that Word stops making this change

  • Change the options for Word by clicking Control AutoFormat Options.

Turn on or off automatic formatting options

When you set options on the AutoFormat As You Type tab, Word can automatically format text as you are typing your document. For example, if you type a number followed by a period or hyphen, followed by a space or tab, followed by text, Word makes the text a numbered list.

  1. Click the File tab.

  2. Click Options.

  3. Click Proofing.

  4. Under AutoCorrect Options, click AutoCorrect Options.

  5. Click the AutoFormat As You Type tab.

  6. Select or clear the check boxes for the options that you want to enable or disable. For more information on the options, see the section below.

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What does each option mean?

Replace as you type

  • "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).

    Note:  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 e-mail 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 (–).

Apply as you type

  • 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.

    Note:  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.

    Note:  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.

    Note:  This method also works when you substitute the pipe key ( | ) for the plus sign (+).

Automatically as you type

  • 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.

    Note:  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.

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