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.

Formatting E-mail using AutoFormat

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated August 7, 2021)
This tip applies to Word 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003


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.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...

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