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How to control capitalization in Microsoft Word


Word offers you a few ways to change and control capitalization in a document when you’re trying to get stuff done.

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Managing uppercase and lowercase text in Word can be a challenge. Sometimes Word automatically tries to correct a word based on capitalization but makes the wrong assumption. Other times you might have an entire word or phrase in lowercase that you want to convert to uppercase, or vice versa. Word provides several options and shortcuts that can help you more easily change and control the capitalization of text. Here’s how they work.

SEE: 83 Excel tips every user should master (TechRepublic)

For this article, I’m working with the version of Word from Microsoft 365. But the tips here apply to any desktop version of Word from the past few years though not to the free online edition.

By default, Word automatically capitalizes words in a certain context, such as those at the beginning of a sentence or the days of the week. If you’d prefer to handle the capitalization yourself, you can control these options. From Word, click the File menu and select Options. At the Word Options window, select the Proofing category and click the button for AutoCorrect Options (Figure A).

Figure A

A capitalization

Make sure the AutoCorrect tab is selected. Here, you can check or uncheck several options for capitalization. The first option automatically changes the second letter in a word from uppercase to lowercase if you type two uppercase characters in a row.

The next three options control capitalization for the first letter in a sentence, the first letter in a table cell, and the first letter in a day of the week.

The fifth option changes the appropriate letters in a word from uppercase to lowercase if you accidentally press the Caps Lock key and then turn it off in the middle of typing the word.

Experiment with some of these settings turned on and off to see whether the autocorrect feature helps you or gets in your way (Figure B).

Figure B

B capitals

If you wish to keep all or most of these autocorrect settings enabled but don’t want certain words automatically changed, just add them as exceptions. To do this, click the Exceptions button.

The first section for First Letter will not change the first letter from lowercase to uppercase for any entries. Scroll down the list to see the existing entries. Select any you want to delete and click Remove. Type a new word or term that you want to include in the list and click Add (Figure C).

Figure C

C capitals

The second section for Initial Caps will not change the second letter in a word from uppercase to lowercase if the first two letters are uppercase. Again, select any existing entries you want to remove. Type any words or terms you want to include and click Add (Figure D).

Figure D

D Capitals

The third section for Other Corrections applies to any words that don’t fit the first two sections. Type a word or words you wish to include and click Add (Figure E).

Figure E

E Capitals

When finished, keep clicking OK until you’ve closed all the Word Options windows and are back at your document.

Next, you can quickly change a word from lowercase to uppercase or vice versa. Place your cursor anywhere in a word whose case you want to change. If you need to change the case for multiple words, select them all. Click the Home menu and then click the Change Case button on the Ribbon (the one with the Aa symbol).

The button displays a menu with five options: Sentence case changes the word’s capitalization to match that of the overall sentence. Lowercase changes all the letters in the word to lowercase. Uppercase changes all the letters in the word to uppercase. Capitalize each word capitalizes only the first letter of the word or words. Toggle Case changes each individual letter in the word from uppercase to lowercase, or vice versa (Figure F).

Figure F

F Capitals

Finally, you can more quickly change the case of a word or words through a keyboard shortcut. Place your cursor in the word you want to change or select multiple words. Hold down the Shift key and press F3. Press F3 again and then again. As you press F3, Word cycles through three different capitalization modes: all uppercase, all lowercase, and first letters uppercase. Release the key when you’ve applied your desired capitalization (Figure G).

Figure G

G capitals



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