When Word Gets in the Way

If you’ve done much editing in Microsoft Word, you’ve probably noticed that some of Word’s “helpful” features just get in your way. Luckily, Microsoft has made it possible to turn those features off, so that what you type is what you get. Here are some of the more common problems with some possible solutions.

PROBLEM: When you type a tab at the start of a paragraph, your tab turns into a first-line indent.

SOLUTION: Click “Tools,” then “Options.” Click the “Edit” tab. Uncheck “Use Tab and Backspace keys to set Left Indent.” (The wording may be slightly different in your version of Word.) You might also consider modifying your paragraph styles to include a first-line indent. That way, you won’t have to worry about tabs at all.

PROBLEM: Word adjusts spaces when you’re cutting and pasting.

SOLUTION: Click “Tools,” then “Options.” Click the “Edit” tab. Uncheck “Use Smart Cut and Paste.”

PROBLEM: Words that you type in lowercase sometimes become capitalized without your consent.

SOLUTION: Click “Tools,” then “AutoCorrect.” Uncheck “Capitalize First Letter of Sentences.”

PROBLEM: You’re trying to type a word (probably an abbreviation) that begins with two capital letters followed by lowercase letters. When you type a space or punctuation mark after the word, the second letter won’t stay capped.

SOLUTION: Click “Tools,” then “AutoCorrect.” Uncheck “Correct TWo INitial CApitals.” You might also want to uncheck “Correct accidental usage of cAPS LOCK Key.”

PROBLEM: You’re typing a list whose entries begin with (a), (b), and so on. When you type (c), you get the copyright character, a C in a circle. Or, Word mysteriously fixes your mistakes as you type, leaving you insecure about what else it might “fix.”

SOLUTION: Click “Tools,” then “AutoCorrect.” Uncheck “Replace Text as You Type.” If you really want to leave this feature turned on (not recommended for editing), you may want to edit the AutoCorrect entries to include only the items you really want Word to correct for you as you type.

PROBLEM: You’re typing an enumerated list, and suddenly Word begins putting in the numbers for you. When you try to start an unnumbered paragraph, you still get a number!

SOLUTION: Click “Tools,” then “Options.” Click the “AutoFormat” tab. Click “AutoFormat As You Type.” Uncheck “Automatic Numbered Lists.” While you’re at it, you might as well uncheck every other box in the window except for “Straight Quotes with ‘Smart Quotes.'”

After you’ve made these changes, you, not Word, will be the editor-in-chief.

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