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You can add horizontal lines, sometimes called horizontal rules, to a document or email message to help separate sections of text and add visual appeal. 

By default, Word and Outlook have a three-character shortcuts that inserts a full-width horizontal rule in your document or message. The appearance of that rule—thinner, thicker, double-line, dotted, wavy—depends on which shortcut you use, as illustrated in the image below. 

If this automatic line feature doesn't suit you, you can turn off this feature in Word or turn it off in Outlook.

If you want to draw a line for illustration purposes, see Draw a line in Word or Outlook instead.

Insert a horizontal line by typing a few characters

The fastest way to add a horizontal line or rule is to use the AutoFormat feature. When you type certain characters three times in their own paragraph and then press Enter, those characters instantly become a full-width horizontal line.

  1. Place the cursor where you want to insert the horizontal line.

  2. Type three of the characters illustrated below, and then press Enter.

    Table of lines that typing certain characters 3 times create

    The line is inserted for the full width of the page. When inserted into a column, the line is inserted to match the width of the column. To add text above the line, put your cursor where you want the text and begin typing.

Format the horizontal line after you create it

The shortcut described above creates an empty paragraph with a bottom border. You can change the look of that border line by using the Borders options:

  1. In Word, on the Home tab of the ribbon, select the down arrow next to The Borders button let you add or remove borders from the current selection. Borders.

    In Outlook, on the Format Text tab of the ribbon, select the down arrow next to The Borders button let you add or remove borders from the current selection. Borders.

  2. At the bottom of the menu, select Borders and Shading.

  3. In the dialog, you can change the line's style (solid, dotted, wavy, double, and so on), color, or width as you see fit. 

  4. When you're done formatting the line, select OK. Then, on the ribbon, select the  The Borders button lets you apply a border style to the current selection.Borders button to apply your changes. 

Word: Turn off the automatic line feature

To prevent Word or Outlook from automatically inserting a horizontal line when you type the three shortcut characters, do the following:

  1. On the ribbon, select File > Options.

  2. In the dialog box, select Proofing > AutoCorrect Options > AutoFormat As You Type. 

  3. Clear the Border Lines option.

  4. Select OK.

Outlook: Turn off the automatic line feature

  1. On the ribbon, select File > Options.

  2. In the dialog box, select the Mail tab, then select Editor Options.  

  3. On the Proofing tab, select AutoCorrect Options > AutoFormat As You Type. 

  4. Under Apply as you type, clear the Border Lines option.

  5. Select OK.

Want to draw a line?

See Draw a line in Word or Outlook.

See Also

Add a border to some text

Draw shapes

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