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: Removing Automatic Lines.

Removing Automatic Lines

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated March 3, 2020)


Have you ever noticed how if you type a few equal signs on a line in your document, and then press Enter, Word replaces what you typed with a double line that extends the whole width of your document? Actually, this works if you enter as few as three equal signs, dashes, or underscores. In each case, Word replaces your characters with a different type of line.

In some instances, this Word feature can be a great timesaver. In other instances, you might have really wanted the characters in your document, not the line that Word thought you wanted. In these instances there are three ways you can handle the situation.

First, you can press Ctrl+Z right after you pressed Enter and Word added the line. In this case, the line is removed and your characters remain.

Using the undo shortcut may not be practical if you don't use it right away. This leads to the second method of dealing with the line. If you later want to remove the line, it helps to understand how Word added it in the first place. When you pressed Enter at the end of your characters (the ones Word replaced with its line), Word removed the characters and added a border to the paragraph just before where you typed the characters. You can verify this in the following manner:

  1. Position the insertion point in the paragraph just before where the line appears.
  2. Choose Borders and Shading from the Format menu. Word displays the Borders and Shading dialog box.
  3. Make sure the Borders tab is selected. Notice that the line should appear at the bottom of the paragraph in the preview area of the dialog box. (See Figure 1.)
  4. Figure 1. The Borders tab of the Borders and Shading dialog box.

  5. To remove the border, click on the None option.
  6. Click on OK to close the dialog box. The line (border) previously applied by Word now disappears.

The third method of dealing with the line is to simply turn off the feature that causes Word to replace your equal signs, dashes, and underscores with its own line. Follow these steps:

  1. Choose AutoCorrect (or AutoCorrect Options) from the Tools menu. Word displays the AutoCorrect dialog box.
  2. Make sure the AutoFormat As You Type tab is displayed. (See Figure 2.)
  3. Figure 2. The AutoFormat As You Type tab of the AutoCorrect dialog box.

  4. Clear the Borders or Border Lines checkbox.
  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 (1814) 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: Removing Automatic Lines.

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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What is nine more than 2?

2020-10-03 12:16:20

Rick Hamilton

I'd like to setup something a little differently. When I insert a photo, or paste in an image, I would like to have a blue, 2 pt. solid border image around my insertion. I want that as a default setting. I do NOT want to have to go into Format Picture/Line/Solid Line/Color & Width every time. Is there a way to set default insertion criteria? Thanks so much!! Rick.

2020-07-05 13:34:26

Emily K Morris

Thank you! you're a genius!! I was wrangling with that stupid line for half an hour, and I thought I knew Word!!! Now I know.

2020-05-01 08:15:38


Very useful tip. Was struggling with it for quite a while.

2018-05-18 04:44:18


Thank you. You are superb

2018-01-10 11:16:09


Thank you!!! I was trying to figure this out the past few days! Thank you for your help

2016-10-18 12:16:38


Many thanks for this tip

2016-10-06 03:23:25


I know this post has the solution, but, what you can do too, which works for me is to put your marker > | < directly above the line, all the way to the left. so how you would normally remove the line break...

2016-06-06 18:25:27


Thank you so much for posting this! The border thing was what I was dealing with and I never would have known had I not read this. You are a lifesaver!

2016-05-16 11:06:49


great tips but when I try all decribed above the line goes away but as soon as I save the doc it comes back. Any further suggestions? thank you!

2016-04-10 13:15:32

Bayes Ahmed

Thanks a lot, it was so helpful, take care

2016-03-30 07:24:36

Ahmed Omara

OH MAN! thanks alot, that worked - I was about to destroy something!

2016-03-21 15:46:37


Thank you sooooooo much.....I almost thought it was the devil ;)

2016-02-11 15:53:58

Zest James

Very useful and clearly instructed! Thanks a lot!

2015-12-03 13:00:46


Thank you! You saved my day.

2015-09-26 14:40:43


Thanks a lot for the tip! About your 'mastering word' proposal, I wish you were offering the same on OpenOffice so I could get rid of this MSWord crap sooner))))

2015-09-20 04:07:32


Thanks a lot! Solved the problem!

2015-09-08 14:19:20


You gave me the clue. Select the text above the auto line then click the "No Boarders" option. Thanks

2015-08-19 07:05:10


Very, very helpful! Thank you!

2015-08-10 11:25:59

deborah s


2015-08-03 09:59:27


Thank you

2015-07-18 01:27:04



2015-05-07 12:03:54

Louis B

It's a rather perverse feature, especially buggy. I did as you suggested but the double line kept attaching itself to the paragraph above. I finally got rid of the double line by selecting a large chunk of the document and setting the border (apply to paragraph) to None.
(Word 2013 on Windows 7 Enterprise)

2015-05-05 04:46:06


Thank you so much Allen. This really worked!!

2015-03-09 16:47:45


If all else fails, go to Draft view in View, copy the Draft (which wont contain the lines) and create a new document by pasting the Draft as the new doc. It was the only thing that worked for me after struggling for hours and looking at different online solutions.

2014-11-21 12:23:20


Really helpful to me
i was traobled by this line (that appeared without my command) for several days. Thanks a lot.

2014-10-22 10:55:43


Thank you!

2014-08-12 04:59:24


2014-06-01 03:52:05


well done.

2014-01-08 09:51:40


Thanks so much this is brilliant!!

2013-10-08 13:46:20


Thank you very much for posting this!

2013-09-12 02:43:38


Great Help provided. A lot of thanks to you. I was confused about this automatic lines for many days. GREAT!!!!!!!!!!!

2013-07-09 06:34:32

Julie Isaac

I was going CRAZY!!! What you said worked like a charm. Thank you so much.

2013-06-05 08:54:18


Thank you so much

2013-03-06 00:09:44


THANK YOU! This was driving me nuts. Thanks!!

A related tip: you can erase ALL of the automatic lines that are in a doc by highlighting the whole text and then doing the Borders/shading un-select.

2013-03-02 01:21:53


Deleting this autoline drove me crazy...your post brought me back. Thanks...super easy!!!

2013-02-24 09:51:44


Wow. What a help. So simple; but you'd think Word would make it a little more obvious. Like asking if you want the line, and telling you how to undo after the fact. Thanks so much.

2013-02-09 04:04:30


I'm having the same problem as Connie. I have a border line that refuses to go, even though I have unselected the auto-format for borders and have clicked "no borders" at least 10 times, with all the text in the document selected. I even tried making the border colour "white" so it wouldn't show up, but to no avail. This is for a chapter in my dissertation, and I am pulling my hair out. Any ideas?

2012-12-12 07:39:49


Bless you for this. It has help me remember how to fix this AGAIN!

2012-12-05 07:16:06


Finally! Thanks a lot.

2012-10-14 11:23:52


Thank you! Borders!!! I tried everything I could think of and could not get rid of the lines! Really appreciate the info!

2012-09-16 12:34:04


Thank you! That is just what I was looking for and couldn't find the answer without you.

2012-08-21 17:47:13


WOOHOO!!!! Thank you.

2012-05-20 04:50:18


Thank you soooo much! This has driven me insane for years!

2012-03-28 14:19:18


Exactly what I was looking for! Thanks!

2012-03-07 11:08:42


I'm editing a MS Word 2010 document that has multiple horizontal lines that extend beyond the text edges and out to the page edge to the left and the right.
I tried selecting the paragraph and going into the paragraph group border icon, and selecting No Borders, but the lines that appear in the document I'm editing remain. I tried the same thing after selecting the entire document. I tried going into page borders and selecting no borders but no result. I tried adding paragraph borders and page borders and then removing them, but no result. Of course, I also tried selecting and deleting, but that did nothing also. What can I do?

2012-02-16 06:28:06


Many thanks for this tip - I've been tearing my hair out over this!

2011-12-23 12:44:34


Thank you thank you! I have been trying to get rid of this problem for ages!

2011-11-30 23:45:44


Thank you so much for this!

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