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Setting up Word

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These are the changes we recommend you make to have Word behave. In each case we identify the consequences so you can make an informed choice.

These guidelines are for Word 2003. The same will apply in Word 2007 but the location of the configuration settings in the user interface has changed.


When you use styles (the most robust approach) to format lists, Word's auto-magic tools can get in the way and break things. To avoid this, make the following changes.

Setting Recommendation Location Description
Automatic bulleted lists Off Tools → AutoCorrect Options → Auto-Format as You Type When this is on, Word creates bulleted lists automatically if you type a * at the start of a line. It doesn't use styles though, so this approach can lead to problems.
Automatic numbered lists Off Tools → AutoCorrect Options → Auto-Format as You Type Creates numbered lists when you type, for example, 1. start of a paragraph. Because styles are not used to apply the formatting this can lead to many problems.
Set left- and first-indent with tabs and backspaces Off Tools → Auto-Correct Options → Auto-Format as You Type Lets you change the list indent with the tab key. Again, doesn't use styles so your numbering can get messed up if you use this 'feature'.


In reports, pictures should be in-line with the text so that captions and cross-referencing work correctly. Word may float pasted pictures by default. To avoid having to 'sink' every picture you paste, have pictures pasted in-line by default by choosing Inline with text on the Edit page of Word's Options dialog box.

  • In Tools → Options/Edit choose In line with text for Insert/paste pictures as:

Format Tracking

Word can track your formatting and create 'fake' styles to quickly mess up your document

Word can track direct formatting and create "virtual styles" that show up in the styles selector, but apply direct formating, not styles. This is a great way to quickly create a mess of your document. Best to turn it off.

  • Disable format tracking in Tools → Options/Edit by ensuring [] Keep track of formatting is unchecked.
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