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Formatting E-mail using AutoFormat

Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. If you are using a later version (Word 2007 or later), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for later versions of Word, click here: Formatting E-mail using AutoFormat.

I can't tell you how many requests I receive from people wanting to know how to format e-mail messages in Word. They receive e-mail, and immediately notice that each line has a "hard return" at the end, with double-returns between paragraphs. While it is possible to print out the e-mail, it is wasteful of paper since the full width of the page is not used. In addition, you may want to work with the message within Word for some reason.

The easiest way I have found to format an e-mail message is by using the AutoFormat feature of Word. Simply select the text and press Ctrl+Alt+K. This initiates the AutoFormat feature of Word. Absent any instructions to the contrary, it will format information into regular paragraphs and remove extra spaces between paragraphs. This will accomplish what 90% of WordTips readers want done, about 90% of the time.

If you want to adjust how Word does the actual formatting, follow these steps:

  1. Choose AutoCorrect from the Tools menu. Word displays the AutoCorrect dialog box.
  2. Select the AutoFormat tab. (See Figure 1.)
  3. Figure 1. The AutoFormat tab of the AutoCorrect dialog box.

  4. Make adjustments to the options in the dialog box. These options control how AutoFormat does its job.
  5. Click on OK.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (981) applies to Microsoft Word 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. You can find a version of this tip for the ribbon interface of Word (Word 2007 and later) here: Formatting E-mail using AutoFormat.

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Comments for this tip:

Larry    28 Jan 2012, 00:31
SEE MY LAST PARAGRAPH FOR WHAT MAY BE THE BEST IDEA.
I wrote a fairly cool toolbar Macro to take paragraph returns out of unwanted locations. The "uncool" part is that unless you want to do this to a whole document, you have to be able to recognize what lines constitute a paragraph (as intended by the original author).
Short paragraphs are a pain this way, but long paragraphs make this a wonderful tool:
Highlight all but the last line of an original paragraph, hit the toolbar button for the Macro, and then hit "N" for "No" (to not do the whole document).
The Macro [I use the trashcan icon for the toolbar button] is:

Sub RemoveParaCom()
'
' RemoveParaCom Macro
' Macro recorded 2/22/10 by [name of Word user]
'
    Selection.Find.ClearFormatting
    Selection.Find.Replacement.ClearFormatting
    With Selection.Find
        .Text = "^p"
        .Replacement.Text = " "
        .Forward = True
        .Wrap = wdFindAsk
        .Format = False
        .MatchCase = False
        .MatchWholeWord = False
        .MatchWildcards = False
        .MatchSoundsLike = False
        .MatchAllWordForms = False
    End With
    Selection.Find.Execute Replace:=wdReplaceAll
End Sub

If anyone has a better idea, I'm all ears. (You can, of course, first do Edit/Replace and tell Word to replace 2 or 3 CONSECUTIVE Paragraph Returns [which should indicate where original paragraphs were "broken"] with an unusual word of your choosing. Then, wipe out ALL Paragraph Returns in the document, and finally, Edit/Replace the unusual word with one or more Paragraph Returns.)

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