How to Format a Word Document, Part 1: Unchecking Default Settings

All too often I receive a pleading from someone that has numbered paragraphs that have all of the text indented. I am pretty sure that the person creating the document does not really want it this way. However, is the default manner in which Word formats numbered paragraphs.

Don’t let Microsoft hold your documents hostage. Seize control and format the documents the way that you want.

The first thing that you should do is Open Word then select Tools > AutoCorrect Options. Select the Tab labeled AutoFormat As You Type. That tab has three sections to it: Replace as you type, Apply as you type, and Automatically as you type. Select or deselect whatever features you want in the first section (Replace as you type) according to your personal preferences.

In the other two sections (Apply as you type and Automatically as you type) make sure that none of the boxes have check marks in them. Then select the tab titled AutoFormat. In the Apply section, make sure that there is no check mark beside Built-in Heading styles, List styles, or Automatic Bulleted Lists. After doing so, click OK.

Making sure that the above items are deselected, should keep Word from automatically formating your numbered paragraphs.

Now that we have dispensed with Word trying to screw things up, we now have to make it possible for you to create numbered paragraphs. We do that by using styles. Don’t panic. Styles are not difficult to master. We will do that in part 2 of this series.

Please note that for this series I am using Word 2003. Other versions may or may not work in the same manner.

4 thoughts on “How to Format a Word Document, Part 1: Unchecking Default Settings

  1. What a fanatastic series! I can’t tell you how many pleadings my firm has received from co-counsel who don’t know how to use styles. It takes so long to fix the errors caused, especially in lengthy documents. Some attorneys shy away from using styles because they think it corrupts the document. What they don’t seem to realize is that the corruption actually comes from too many users working in the document. If more attorneys would learn how to properly format a pleading using styles, there would probably be less of this last-minute cleanup. Good for you! 🙂

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