Backspace key not working when Normal Style set to paragraph indent

New Contributor

This is actually an old issue that was fixed a long time ago, but somehow has now resurfaced. My Normal Style is set to indent first lines of paragraphs. The problem that has come back again is that when I press the backspace key, it will not move back to the un-indented beginning of the line. The only workaround I've found for this is to go into the paragraph group and temporarily remove the indent default.


Like I said, this is an old problem that was addressed and fixed at least three or more years ago. Somehow, today, it has just come back again, and it's a real nuisance. The backspace key should take me back to the beginning of the line, whether there's an indent default in the Normal Styles gallery or not.


Since you're bound to ask, I'm on the latest Home version of Windows 10, not 365. Thank you.

7 Replies



Click File > Options > Proofing > AutoCorrect Options > AutoFormat As You Type and enable the option "Set left and first indent with tabs and backspaces."





Thank you so much. Actually, I discovered this on my own just minutes before receiving the solution from Stefan_Blom. This was a problem that existed years ago and that was fixed years ago. Never had a problem with it again until yesterday, just after Microsoft sent down one of its cumulative updates. Then, immediately after, like a zombie rising from the dead, the problem resurfaced. I realize my evidence is circumstantial. But the coincidence of everything working fine, then suddenly not fine after the update, points very strongly to Microsoft mucking around and messing things up. Why would they even mess around with this particular feature that has been working perfectly for years. You know the saying, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."



As far as I can tell, nothing has changed. The "Set left and first indent with tabs and backspaces" option works the same it did years ago, when it was introduced.


Do you mean that the option has de-selected itself? In that case, the issue could be a damaged registry entry.

Yes, it was deselected when I went in to look at it. Once I selected it, the problem I reported went away. As I said previously, the evidence is just circumstantial, but the coincidence is suspicious that it happened immediately after the latest cumulative update. Perhaps the update changed something in the registry. I don't know. It was working fine before the update, which suggests that my registry was not damaged, and then not working after the update. So, it is a mystery. I'm just relieved that there was such a simple solution that fixed the issue. Thank you again.



Cumulative updates usually refer to Windows updates. These wouldn't affect the settings in Word at all.


Or are you referring to some other type of update? 

You're right, of course. Cumulative updates shouldn't affect Office apps. I really can't explain it. All I know is that the WORD backspace issue I described always worked, and was working perfectly fine at 9 AM the morning this happened. I then clicked YES to install the latest cumulative update, and after it completed, the backspace feature stopped working. I discovered that the set left and first indent option under "Proofing - Auto Correct - Autoformat as you type" was unflagged. I flagged it, and presto, the backspace issue was fine again. How did it get unflagged? I have no idea. Was it flagged before the problem happened? I don't know. I'm just a user. I have no reason to look at or play with these application options unless something suddenly stops working the way it used to. Unless I did it in my sleep, I know I didn't unflag the Auto Correct option in question. If you or someone else with the techie skills wants to spend time researching this, have at it. Like I said, I'm just a user. I do freelance writing, so I use WORD heavily and rely on it to behave the way I originally set it up to meet my specific needs. It shouldn't suddenly and inexplicably reset itself to some factory default.



Thanks for the follow-up.


I have no explanation for the behavior. Of course, it does happen that registry entries break.


If you ever see this problem happening again, note the specific circumstances (such as Word crashing, an Office update being installed, or a Windows update being installed) and post back in this forum.