It’s enough to make you want to tear your hair out. One moment you’re typing away happily and the next Word has interpreted your typing as some sort of command to launch a space probe to Pluto. Or something just as confusing.
One easy way to temporarily reverse what Word has done is to watch out for the lightning bolt sign that will appear next to the text that Word has AutoFormatted. If you click that icon you will see options to Undo the action just this time, or to stop Word doing the action altogether.
If you miss the lightning bolt icon (it disappears if you keep typing), hover your mouse pointer over the text that was changed and it might reappear (if Word is not on a tea break). If not, click Undo (or press Ctrl and z). This will undo Word’s “AutoFormat” step. If you click the down-arrow next to the Undo button you will see how often Word has been AutoFormatting behind the scenes.
How to Turn Off AutoFormat
The lightning bolt icon has an option to open the AutoCorrect Options dialog box and this is probably the easiest option to select the AutoFormat and AutoCorrect features you want to turn off.
If you can’t access that icon, open the AutoCorrect Options dialog box by going through:
- Tools --- AutoCorrect Options --- AutoFormat Tab
- Office Button --- Word Options --- Proofing --- AutoCorrect Options
- File --- Word Options --- Proofing --- AutoCorrect Options
Once in the AutoCorrect Options dialog box, here are some of the individual AutoFormat features you might want to turn off:
To turn off curly quotes:
- Under Replace, uncheck the box for Straight Quotes With Smart Quotes
To turn off the m-dash:
- Under Replace, uncheck the box for Hyphens With Dash.
To turn off the horizontal line that is created if you press Enter after typing three hyphens, hashes, equal signs, or asterisks:
- Under Replace, uncheck the box for Border Lines.
Look out for that lightning bolt icon next time you're writing and don't be afraid to click it and explore the options. Learning how to turn AutoFormat features on and off can help you to feel more in control of Word.
This article was first published on Blood-Red Pencil. Copyright © Elsa Neal 2010.