Get rid of the annoying line in MS Word documents


The “automated line” is probably one of the most frustrating things that Microsoft ever built in to MS Word.  And when you see it suddenly appear, it seems like nothing you do can get rid of it.  But there is a way!

MS Word

If you’re not sure what I’m referring to, try this.  Open a new Word document, type a few words, and then hit Enter to start a new line.  Now just tap the “hyphen” key a few times – like you just want to put 3 or 4 dashes there – then hit Enter again.  You would think Word would let you just have those few dashes there, just like you typed them – but no… Word has to go crazy and stick a full size left-to-right line in that spot.

So this:

becomes this:

MS Word annoying line

And you’re left wondering, “What just happened?”  Because you know you didn’t type that long line.  And you know you don’t want it to stay there.

The quick fix, if you think to do this first, is to just hit the Backspace button.  That gets rid of it.  Before I knew to do that, I would try to click on it or drag the cursor to highlight it in order to delete it.  None of that works of course.  It’s actually pretty frustrating – you didn’t type it, you don’t want it, and it doesn’t want to go away. Hitting Backspace will do the trick, but why does Word do that in the first place?

To understand what is going on, you have to know this:  Word does not consider that thing to be a “line”.  Yes, it looks like a line on the screen, but Word actually sees it as a border.

Yeah, it doesn’t really seem logical to me either.

Think of a square.  Now think of each side of the square as a border.  When you type those three dashes and hit Enter, Word pictures it as a border on a square, but only the bottom line of the square.

Here’s how you prove it.  When Word creates that long line after you type the 3 hyphens and hit Enter, click immediately above the line so that the cursor is placed there.  Then go up to the “Paragraph” section of the Word ribbon, and click the drop-down menu on the Border icon.  Choose “No border” and you’ll see that ridiculous line disappear.  Seriously, how would any logically-thinking person figure that out?  But that’s what it is.

MS Word annoying line


Anyway, what you just did takes care of the issue – this time.  Next time you type those 3 hyphens and hit Enter again, the same thing will happen.  But you can change that.  Here’s how:

In Word, click on File – Options – Proofing then click the AutoCorrect Options button.  In the new window, click the tab titled “AutoFormat as you type”.  In the “Apply as you type” section, just uncheck the box called “Border Lines”.  Click OK to close the open windows and you’re done.

(The above steps are based on Word 2010.  This might vary depending on which version of Word you are using.)
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October 28th, 2013

Excellent. Thank you. CTRL-Z works, too, but there’ve been times when it didn’t work for some reason. I never EVER need this stupid line so this fix is VERY useful. Thank you so much!!

Scott Johnson
October 28th, 2013

Thanks Marge – Ctrl + Z can be handy too!