How to Turn Off Automatic Formatting in Google Docs: A Step-by-Step Guide

Turning off automatic formatting in Google Docs can be a bit of a puzzle, but don’t worry—I’m here to help you through it. Basically, you need to get to the ‘Preferences’ box in the ‘Tools’ menu, and then uncheck the options you don’t want. And just like that, no more automatic lists or smart quotes messing with your vibe. Ready to dive in? Let’s do this!

Step by Step Tutorial on Turning Off Automatic Formatting in Google Docs

Before we jump into the nitty-gritty, let’s clarify what we’re about to do. We’re going to tweak some settings so Google Docs stops automatically formatting things like bullet points and hyperlinks. This way, you have full control over your document’s format.

Step 1: Open your Google Doc

Open the Google Doc you’re working on, or create a new one if you’re just practicing.

This first step is a no-brainer, right? Just get your document up on the screen so we can start making changes.

Step 2: Click on ‘Tools’ in the menu bar

Click on ‘Tools’ in the top menu bar of your Google Doc.

‘Tools’ is where all the magic happens, from spell check to word count, and yes, turning off that pesky automatic formatting.

Step 3: Select ‘Preferences’ from the dropdown menu

Select ‘Preferences’ from the dropdown menu under ‘Tools’.

This is where you can personalize your Google Docs experience, including turning off automatic formatting.

Step 4: Uncheck the automatic formatting options

In the ‘Preferences’ box, you’ll see a list of options under ‘Automatic substitution’. Uncheck the ones you don’t want.

Each checkbox corresponds to a specific type of automatic formatting, like creating numbered lists or fixing common typos. Just uncheck the boxes next to the auto-formats you want to disable.

Step 5: Click ‘OK’ to save your preferences

After unchecking your unwanted options, click ‘OK’ to save your preferences and close the box.

And just like that, you’ve told Google Docs to chill out with the automatic changes. Your document will now only change when you say so.

After you complete these steps, you’ll notice that Google Docs won’t automatically format things like bullet points, links, or smart quotes anymore. This gives you more control to format your document the way you want it.

Tips for Turning Off Automatic Formatting in Google Docs

  • Tip 1: Remember to turn off ‘Automatic substitution’ options one by one—only disable the ones that bother you.
  • Tip 2: If you change your mind, you can always go back to ‘Preferences’ and re-enable any options you want.
  • Tip 3: Keep in mind that turning off these options won’t affect the rest of your formatting tools, like bold, italic, or underline.
  • Tip 4: If you’re collaborating with others, let them know about these changes, as it might affect their editing process.
  • Tip 5: Some automatic formatting can be useful, like correcting typos, so consider keeping some options checked for a smoother writing experience.

Frequently Asked Questions

Will turning off automatic formatting affect my existing documents?

No, existing formatting in your documents will remain unchanged. Only future typing and formatting will be affected.

If you’ve been working on a document with automatic formatting, any formatting that’s already been applied won’t go away. But as you keep typing and editing, you won’t see new automatic changes.

Can I turn off automatic formatting for specific parts of a document?

No, the settings apply to the entire document. There’s no way to selectively turn it off for certain sections.

When you change these preferences, they’re document-wide. So, if you don’t want any part of your doc to auto-format, you’ll need to turn it all off.

Will these changes affect all my Google Docs?

No, the changes will only apply to the document you are working on when you change the settings.

Preferences are document-specific in Google Docs. So, if you want to turn off automatic formatting in another document, you’ll have to repeat the process.

Can I still use keyboard shortcuts for formatting?

Absolutely! Keyboard shortcuts for formatting, like Ctrl+B for bold, will still work just fine.

Turning off automatic formatting doesn’t mess with your keyboard shortcuts. They’re a different beast altogether, so shortcut away!

What if I want some automatic formatting features back?

Just go back to ‘Preferences’ and recheck the options you want to enable again.

Missing those smart quotes or automatic links? No problem. Just hop back into ‘Preferences’ and tick the boxes for the features you want back in action.


  1. Open your Google Doc
  2. Click on ‘Tools’ in the menu bar
  3. Select ‘Preferences’ from the dropdown menu
  4. Uncheck the automatic formatting options
  5. Click ‘OK’ to save your preferences


Turning off automatic formatting in Google Docs can feel like taking the training wheels off your bike. It’s a bit scary at first, but once you’re in control, there’s no going back. You’re now free to format your document exactly how you want it, without Google Docs second-guessing your every move.

Remember that these changes are personal to each document, so you can customize every Google Doc to suit your needs. Whether you’re drafting a novel, creating a resume, or jotting down notes, you’re in the driver’s seat.

And hey, if you ever miss the convenience of automatic formatting, it’s just a few clicks away in ‘Preferences’. You can always toggle these settings to find the perfect balance between convenience and control.

So go ahead, give it a try. Turn off that automatic formatting and see how it feels to have complete command over your digital canvas. Who knows, it might just be the tweak you needed to make Google Docs work perfectly for you.

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