TypeTalk: Say No to Word's AutoFormatting

TypeTalk is a regular blog on typography. Post your questions and comments by clicking on the Comments icon above. If Ilene answers your question in the blog, you’ll receive one Official Creativepro.com T-Shirt!

Q. How can I disable auto-numbering in Microsoft Word? I’ve looked in Preferences as well as the Bullets and Numbering palette but can’t find the option.

A. Automatic formatting in Word is on by default. While it’s intended to help organize your work automatically, it can be frustrating when you want to turn it off and don’t know where to look.

The solution is in the menu bar under Tools > Auto Correct > AutoFormat as You Type. Under the heading Apply as you type, deselect Automatic numbered lists (Figure 1).

Figure 1. You can easily turn Microsoft Word’s AutoFormatting features on and off via Tools > AutoCorrect.

While you’re there, see if there are other options you might want to turn on or off, such as automatic bullets and hyperlinking URLs.

Love type? Want to know more? Ilene Strizver conducts her acclaimed Gourmet Typography workshops internationally. For more information on attending one or bringing it to your company, organization, or school, go to her site, call The Type Studio at 203-227-5929, or email Ilene at info@thetypestudio.com. Sign up for her e-newsletter at www.thetypestudio.com.

Posted on: August 21, 2008

Ilene Strizver

Ilene Strizver, founder of The Type Studio, is a typographic consultant, designer, writer and educator specializing in all aspects of visual communication, from the aesthetic to the technical. Her book, Type Rules! The designer’s guide to professional typography, 4th edition, has received numerous accolades from the type and design community.

7 Comments on TypeTalk: Say No to Word's AutoFormatting

  1. Who in their right mind would use Word to design ANYTHING???

  2. I regulary have articles submitted in Word with autoformatting turned on. There is a command to covert the autoformatting into “hard” formatting but I am darned if I can remember what it is. So, other peoples autoformatting is a Royal Pain!

    Steve Ruis

  3. Ilene: This may have seemed obvious to those people who are Word Wonders, but to a lazy guy like me who has hated this feature for years but didn’t know what to do about it, you’ve changed my life! Now, if I could figure out how to get rid of that stupid little pop-up Mac guy once and for all. No matter how many preference settings I change he seems to appear every so often just to torture me. Thanks again for a great tip.

  4. This has always bugged me big time, but where do I correct this in Word 2004?

  5. Perhaps it is for those folks that can’t afford $800 to $1000 layout programs might use Word. Also consider that no one said this article was strictly for designers. I can’t stand Word and stay away from it for even creating simple letters. But as a designer, I get a lot of text files to put in my layouts that are in Word format, so it is to my advantage to learn as much as I can about it.

  6. Used to drive me crazy also. Now those who are using the latest Word are driving me batty. Probably not really their fault, they just bought a loaded computer, but many of them don’t know how to use this software.
    And I don’t suspect most designers use Word, we get articles from others in Word. And there are times when design (if you will) takes the backseat to incorporating copy from someplace… so, no smugness here.

  7. While one’s at it, it’s good to turn off “ordinals with superscript.” Nothing uglier than those little th, nd and rd tags floating high above the line.

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