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Word's AutoFormat tool allows you to enter specialty character formatting right from your keyboard, without having to take your hands off the keyboard to insert them manually. You can set Word up to AutoFormat as you type or you can type in the triggers and have the autoformatting happen later when you click a button. Let's take a look at the formatting that happens automatically. We are going to start with ordinals. I'll press the Spacebar and I'll type in 1st and when I hit the Spacebar again, it becomes 1st and this will happen with all of my ordinals.
Now let's go to the end of the next sentence. An ellipsis is used when the sentence trails off. Now look really carefully what happens when I type my periods. I'll type my first two periods and then I want to type my third one, it shifted just a little bit, and sure enough, if I hold my cursor over it, I can see that I have a smart tag here. It actually changed the period, period, period to one character that was made up of three dots. Now these smart tags show up whenever an AutoFormat happens and so if you don't want it to, you can either just undo it or you can tell it never do it again.
Now let's take a look at an em dash. To do an em dash, I'll do a hyphen, hyphen and then type my next word and when I hit the Spacebar, the two hyphens will be replaced with one long em dash. AutoFormat can also start a bulleted list without you having to click on the Bullet button. To do that start by typing an asterisk and then a space, and it'll automatically go, oh! I think she wants a bullet, and notice that not only did it put in a bullet, but it also indented it as well.
The same thing happens with numbered lists. If you put in a one period or a one parenthesis, when you hit the Spacebar, it will indent it and start a new list. You can also call on AutoFormat to do Bold and Italics. So if I type an asterisk (*) and then I type any word or words here and then finish with another asterisk (*), as soon as I type the last asterisk (*), whatever words I had in between will become boldfaced. I can do that for Italics by using an underscore, you know, like a Shift hyphen (_), the one next to the 0, and I'll type in Italic and do the Shift+_, and as soon as I did that second underscore, anything I had in the middle will become italicized.
Now let's take a look at where these are set. Go up to the File tab to the Backstage view and down to Options, go to the Proofing section and then click on AutoCorrect Options. Now there are two different tabs that are relevant here. There's AutoFormat As You Type and here you could see some of the things that we just demonstrated; Bold and Italic, Ordinals, Hyphens, Bulleted Lists and Numbered Lists. This is also where we'll convert Fractions and Quotation Marks.
I love AutoFormat as you type, and I use it all the time, but I've been in some situations where we wanted to do all of the autoformatting afterwards, where we just put in all the triggers, and then we apply the autoformatting afterwards. So to make that happen, I have to turn off the AutoFormat as you type settings, so I'm going to go ahead and uncheck these. I'm going to leave a few of them on. Now I'm going to go to the AutoFormat tab, and I can see that a lot of the same items are right here as well, so they are still ready to go, but they're going to wait to be triggered.
So I'll click OK, we need a button so that we can trigger the autoformatting. Let's go the Quick Access Toolbar and change where it says, Choose commands from, instead of Popular Commands, let's make it Commands Not in the Ribbon. Scroll down a little bit until you see the AutoFormat options, and we're going to click on AutoFormat Now, and click on Add to add it to the Quick Access Toolbar and click OK. So now come down to the bottom of the document where I have Triggers for later and let's just demonstrate that things that used to work before, like 1st 2nd 3rd, or make this bold aren't working, but when I go up to the Quick Access Toolbar, I have a button up here for AutoFormat and when I click on it, it'll run through the entire document and set off all the triggers at once.
So, instead of having to constantly reach for the mouse to format your text, AutoFormat allows you to do it directly from the keyboard. This will save precious time off your data entry. Now don't forget to go back in and turn all those autoformatting as you type options back on.
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