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Choose the AutoFormat options you want on the AutoFormat As You Type tab.

Difference between "AutoFormat" and "AutoFormat As You Type"

  • AutoFormat As You Type settings are applied to text while you are typing.

  • The settings on the AutoFormat tab are applied when you manually run the AutoFormat command (which requires using the Quick Access Toolbar).

Replace as you type



"Straight quotes" with “smart quotes”

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

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

Replaces common typed fractions (such as 1/2) with single-character equivalents (½). This option works for 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 (*) and italic font to any text enclosed in underscores (_). For example, *computer* becomes computer and _computer_ becomes computer. Note that in Word the (*) or the (_) will be replaced by the formatting. In Outlook the (*) and (_) will remain even after the formatting is applied.

Internet and network paths with hyperlinks

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

Ordinals (1st) with superscript

Replaces ordinal numbers (which show the relative position of an item in a sequence) such as 1st, 2nd, or 3rd with superscripted versions (such as ).

Hyphens (--) with dash (—)

Replaces a double hyphen (--) with an em dash (—) and a space-hyphen-space sequence ( - ) with an en dash (–). Note that if you want an em dash do not use any spaces before and after the double hyphen.

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

Replaces typed smiley faces and arrows with equivalent character symbols and emoticons.

Apply as you type



Automatic bulleted lists

Creates a bulleted list when a line of text starts with *, -, 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 ~, #, *, -, _, or = characters 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 fewer words (that do not end with punctuation) after you press ENTER two times. For Heading 1, type a new line without any preceding tabs. 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.


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 proportional to the number of hyphens 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.

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.

Only formatting that applies to all of the lead-in text is repeated in the next list item. Formatting that applies to only 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 pressing the TAB key. Indent the whole paragraph by putting the cursor before any line in the paragraph (except the first line) and pressing the TAB key. To remove an indent, put the cursor before the first line of the paragraph and 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.

When Word applies the formatting, hover your mouse over the text, and select the AutoCorrect Options button .

  • Undo the formatting for this instance only by clicking the Undo option. (You can choose to redo the formatting after you undo it, if desired.)

    Tip: To immediately undo a formatting change for this instance only. press Ctrl+Z.

  • Change this specific AutoFormat option globally by clicking the Stop option so that Office stops making the automatic change it just did.

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

The AutoFormat tab is not commonly used, because the options on it are only applied when you run the AutoFormat command, which you must add to 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 the formatting is applied to text that has already been typed. For example, you can use AutoFormat to replace straight quotes with smart quotes, or replace fractions with fraction characters, in an entire document at once.

To use the AutoFormat command, first add it to the Quick Access Toolbar, as follows:

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

  2. Under Choose commands from, select All Commands.

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

  4. To run the command, click the AutoFormat icon in the Quick Access Toolbar.

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