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Microsoft Word tries to be helpful and format items based on what it thinks you're doing. That's handy, if it's what you want. If not, it's annoying.
How do I turn off automatic formatting in Microsoft Word?
Microsoft Word tries to correct common typing mistakes and also tries to guess the kind of formatting you want based on what you're typing. While both of these activities look like automatic formatting, Word looks at them several different ways. Fortunately the options are gathered together though they're on a menu item that's typically hidden.
Click the image above for a short video showing you how to turn on full menus in Microsoft Word, and find the AutoCorrect Options menu item. (Windows Media 9 format, 378,148 bytes.)
I'd Like Your Comments: let me know if you find the video above useful, or if you have suggestions to make this technique more helpful. Thanks!
By default, Word hides menu items that you don't use often. You can click on the little down arrows at the bottom of any menu to see the full menu, or you can just turn the hiding feature off. To turn it off hit the Tools menu, the Customize menu item, the Options tab, and then make sure Always show full menus is checked.
If you look at the full Tools menu you'll see that there is now an Autocorrect Options menu item. Select that and you'll see a dialog with several tabs corresponding to the different types of automatic changes Word can make for you. In each are the settings that will allow you to control just how much you want Word to do.
AutoCorrect looks for common typographical errors and fixes them for you. For example a common error is to hold down the shift key just a little too long after starting a sentence, resulting in two capital letters instead of one. This is controlled by the Correct TWo INitial CApitals checkbox. The Replace text as you type list is a convinient way to define shortcuts for common or awkward entries and comes prepopulated with conversions such as "(c)" being replaced with the copyright symbol ©. You can define your own as well.
Autoformat As You Type applies formatting based on what Word thinks you're attempting to do, for example replacing the typed sequence "1/2" with an actual fraction ½ character. Here are settings which control automatic list generation as well which many people find either wonderful or incredibly annoying.
If Word has ever suggested what looks like auto-completion of what you're typing (along with "Press ENTER to insert") you've witnessed Autotext. Once again Word is monitoring what you've typed and if it begins to look like any of the items in the Autotext entries it suggests the full item as a typing shortcut.
AutoFormat is very much like Autoformat As You Type. Rather than applying formatting as you type, this option controls what formatting is applied when you used the Format menu, AutoFormat command to format your entire document at once.
Smart Tags are generated by Word when it thinks it understands the type of data you're entering. For example Word will most commonly mark anything that looks like an address with a SmartTag. The SmartTag may then include additional operations you could perform on an address including perhaps using a program other than Word to look it up. Smart Tags are also embedded in the document when you save it.
As you can see, Word has a number of options to automatically do things for you. But thankfully once discovered, Word actually allows you to control if and what it attempts to do on your behalf.