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Automatic Formatting

Word includes an impressive automatic formatting feature that can automatically format text as you type it. In the old days, this feature was used primarily to convert boring old straight quotes to curly or "smart" quotes. But the Word programmers decided to take this a few steps further—a few steps too far, if you ask me.

The option that bugs me the most is the one that kicks in whenever I type a URL. You know, something like http://www.marialanger.com/. By default, Word will automatically format that URL as a URL. That means it turns blue and gets an underline beneath it. Worse yet, it acts like a URL: Click it and it launches your Web browser to display the page. And if that isn't bad enough, it prints like a URL, underline and all.

Is there anything wrong with displaying a URL without having it look or act like one?

Turn that feature off!

In Windows, choose AutoCorrect Options from the Tools menu and click the AutoFormat As You Type Tab:

Figure 6Figure 6

In Mac OS, choose AutoCorrect from the Tools menu and click the AutoFormat As You Type button. You'll see the following dialog box:

Figure 7Figure 7


Doesn't it strike you as odd that Microsoft should place the controls for this feature with the AutoCorrect options? As if leaving it formatted as typed is incorrect? Makes you wonder...)

To stop automatically formatting URLs, turn off the check box labeled "Internet and network paths with hyperlinks" (in Windows) or "Internet paths with hyperlinks" (in Mac OS).

While you're in here, turn off a few other potentially bothersome options. Here's what I've turned off in my copy of Word:

  • Apply as you type options. I turned them all off. If I want to apply special formatting to paragraphs of text, I'll do it myself, thank you.

  • Set left- and first-indent with tabs and backspaces is the same as the "Tabs and backspaces set left indent" option discussed in the previous section. This appears only in the Windows version of this dialog box.

  • Define styles based on your formatting can be turned on or off by default, depending on your version of Word. This option, when enabled, actually creates new styles. As if Word doesn't come with enough built-in styles that you need it to create more on the fly.

Again, make other changes as desired in this dialog box and click OK. You'll feel better the next time you type a URL.

Oh, and by the way, you don't have to mess with the settings in the AutoFormat screen of the AutoCorrect dialog box. Those settings work only with the AutoFormat feature, which you have to manually start. And if you use that feature, you deserve any insanity that results.

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