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Tricks to Format Paragraphs in Word 2013

At the paragraph level, AutoFormat in Word 2013 helps you quickly handle some otherwise irksome formatting issues. Some folks like this feature, some despise it. That’s the way it goes with most things technological.

Numbered lists

Anytime you start a paragraph with a number, Word assumes (through AutoFormat) that you need all your paragraphs numbered. Here's the proof:

Things to do today:
1. Get new treads for the tank.

Immediately after typing 1., you probably saw the infamous AutoFormat Lightning Bolt icon and noticed your text being reformatted. Darn, this thing is quick! That's AutoFormat guessing that you're about to type a list. Go ahead and finish typing the line; after you press Enter, you see the next line begin with the number 2.

Keep typing until the list ends or you get angry, whichever comes first. To end the list, press the Enter key again. That erases the final number and restores the paragraph formatting to Normal.

  • This trick also works for letters (and Roman numerals). Just start something with a letter and a period, and Word picks up on the next line by suggesting the next letter in the alphabet and another period.

  • Bulleted lists can also be created in this way: Start a line by typing an asterisk (*) and a space to see what happens.

  • When you press Enter twice to end an AutoFormat list, Word sticks only one Enter "character" into the text.

Borders (lines)

A line above or below a paragraph in Word is a border. Most folks call them lines, but they're borders in Word. Here's how to whip out a few borders by using AutoFormat:


Typing three hyphens and pressing the Enter key causes Word to instantly transmute the three little hyphens into a solid line that touches the left and right paragraph margins.

  • To create a double line, type three equal signs and press Enter.

  • To create a bold line, type three underlines and press Enter.

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