Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 2007, 2010, and 2013. If you are using an earlier version (Word 2003 or earlier), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for earlier versions of Word, click here: Preventing Styles from Changing.

Preventing Styles from Changing

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated September 24, 2019)
This tip applies to Word 2007, 2010, and 2013


Don has run into a problem in his office regarding styles. It seems that when there are multiple authors using a single document, the styles sometimes change unexpectedly. If Don saves a file with certain styles in place and someone else with access to the server opens and saves the same file, then when Don subsequently opens the file, invariably the style definitions have changed.

There are a couple of things to check when this happens. First of all, you need to check to make sure that all users have dynamic style updating turned off. This feature of Word causes changes to a style definition when someone applies an explicit formatting change to something in the document. Thus, with the feature turned on, if someone makes a change to an individual paragraph, the change is also applied to the underlying style, which in turn affects every other paragraph in the document that uses that style. To turn this feature off, all of the users will need to perform these steps:

  1. Make sure the Home tab of the ribbon is selected.
  2. At the bottom-right side of the Styles group, click the small icon that looks like an arrow pointing down and to the right. (You could, instead, press Alt+Ctrl+Shift+S.) Word displays the Styles window.
  3. Hover the mouse pointer over a style name in the Styles window. You should see a down-arrow appear at the right side of the style name.
  4. Click the down arrow and select Modify. Word displays the Modify Style dialog box. (See Figure 1.)
  5. Figure 1. The Modify Style dialog box.

  6. Make sure the Automatically Update check box, at the bottom of the dialog box, is clear. (If there is no Automatically Update check box, then Word doesn't offer that option for the style you have chosen.)
  7. Click OK.

Notice that these steps affect only a single style in a document. That's right—Word allows dynamic style updating to be set on a style-by-style basis. This means that you will need to go through each and every style in your document and follow these same steps. That can obviously get rather tedious if you have a lot of styles in the document. In that case, you may want to use a macro to go through all the styles and change the setting. The following macro will do this rather nicely:

Sub RemoveAutoUpdate()
    Dim s As Style
    For Each s In ActiveDocument.Styles
        If s.Type = wdStyleTypeParagraph Then
            s.AutomaticallyUpdate = False
        End If
    Next s
End Sub

The problem could also be related to the template attached to your document. If, for instance, the document uses the Normal template and each user's Normal template is different, then this can affect the appearance of the document. The way around this problem is to make sure that the document uses a template other than Normal (preferably one stored on the server and accessible by all users) or that everyone's Normal template is the same.

You might also check to make sure that all of the users have the same fonts installed on their systems. If a document uses a font that is on your system, and then that document is opened on a system that doesn't have the same font, Word will substitute a different font for the missing one. This can affect the appearance of the document, even when you subsequently open it back on your original system. To stave off this issue, make sure that you have Word configured so it will embed TrueType fonts with the document:

  1. Display the Word Options dialog box. (In Word 2007 click the Office button and then click Word Options. In Word 2010 and Word 2013 display the File tab of the ribbon and then click Options.)
  2. Click on Save at the left side of the dialog box. (See Figure 2.)
  3. Figure 2. The Save option of the Word Options dialog box.

  4. Near the bottom of the dialog box, make sure the Embed Fonts in the File option is selected.
  5. If you will be using a small number of characters in a particular font, choose the Embed Only the Characters Used in the Document check box.
  6. To save space in the document, choose the Do Not Embed Common System Fonts check box.
  7. Click on OK.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (997) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, and 2013. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Word here: Preventing Styles from Changing.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...


Disabling Track Changes Completely

Have you ever had problems with a document because you accidentally pressed a keyboard shortcut? The good news is that ...

Discover More

Word Freezes When Working with Lots of Clip Art

Don't you hate it when Word freezes? Laurie has that problem when she works with clip art in her documents. There are any ...

Discover More

Table Won't Flow to Second Page

Have you ever created a table that never seems to flow to a second page, even when it should? This could be caused by any ...

Discover More

Create Custom Apps with VBA! Discover how to extend the capabilities of Office 2013 (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, and Access) with VBA programming, using it for writing macros, automating Office applications, and creating custom applications. Check out Mastering VBA for Office 2013 today!

More WordTips (ribbon)

Numbering on New Paragraph Doesn't Work as Expected

The Numbering feature in Word can be a bit tricky to navigate. Sometimes it works as it should, and other times it seems ...

Discover More

Saving Styles in a Macro

If you are trying to limit what styles can and can't be used in a document, you might think a good approach is to store ...

Discover More

Changing the Names of Multiple Styles

Want to change the names assigned to a large group of styles? You can make the task a snap with the macro presented in ...

Discover More

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in WordTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

View most recent newsletter.


If you would like to add an image to your comment (not an avatar, but an image to help in making the point of your comment), include the characters [{fig}] (all 7 characters, in the sequence shown) in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Maximum image size is 6Mpixels. Images larger than 600px wide or 1000px tall will be reduced. Up to three images may be included in a comment. All images are subject to review. Commenting privileges may be curtailed if inappropriate images are posted.

What is 2 + 5?

2022-11-14 15:36:53


You are Microsoft Word God and I thank you for sharing your knowledge!
I was having a problem where when I opened up a file with styles and then turned "track changes" on and went to edit anything, Word was showing that I was changing the formatting when I was not touching it. I guess my "" formatting was applying itself to the document I was in.
Whatever it was, this fixed it.

2022-11-11 17:34:28

Karyl St Pierre

Recently Adobe has been changing so that they incorporate Microsoft's automatic styles when converting. This resulted in all my style settings to be trashed in the pdf recently. In order to prevent, I did both of the above (embed fonts and uncheck the automatic update), but went much further, following MS SME advice on the MS Forums.

1. In the first screenshot here, I also changed styles "based on normal" to "based on none".
2. In Options - Proofing - AutoCorrect Options, I went through Autoformat and AutoCorrect, and I unchecked everything in "Apply", "Apply as you type", and "Automatically as you type" sections (eliminating use of all built-in styles and autoformats) and also checked the "Preserve Styles".
3. In Options - Advanced, I changed all pasting options to "Keep Text Only" (and paste pictures to "in line with text" for accessibility passing)
4. In Options - Advanced, as extra notifications (but these can be a nuisance), I checked "Keep track of formatting", "Mark formatting inconsistencies", and "Prompt to update style" to help identify styles that didn't match my template or potential style changes.

These have made my documents so much better and resulted in cleaner conversions with the new Adobe changes.

2022-01-03 08:47:20

Yazmin Coveney

OMG!! That fixed it. It's been driving me crazy. Thank you so much.

2021-08-01 12:54:15

Catharine Hay

Thank you so much, Allen! I am a resume editor and in some resumes, the styles would automatically change, and I couldn't figure out why. It drove me crazy. Now I know, and I am so happy!

2021-06-18 04:29:05

James Stockbridge

This does not work as the dynamic setting is not related to the style changes across the document. Rather you need to use the "breaks" option in the "Page Layout" tab to create a "section break". This way, individual sections can have their own styles applied.

2019-05-15 06:42:39

Paul Stregevsky

Save the document as a template file (.dotx). Instruct your authors) to keep it a .dotx file as they edit it and save it. They'll need to open it from the File menu; if they open your .dotx file from their desktop or their email by "double-clicking" the file name, it will open as a .docx and your numbering scheme might be lost.

2019-05-14 21:02:22


I have a problem similar to that discussed here. I edit books, which involves sending Word files back and forth among authors and publishers. Typically I need endnotes with arabic numerals that restart at 1 each section. Since this is contrary to the usual Normal template for endnote styles, invariably endnotes I send out arabic becomes roman on another's computer, and vice versa. I revised my Normal template to reflect my desired endnote styles, but that did not help. Is an implied suggestion above that I should create a different template and use it for the files I send, thus avoiding overruling by recipients' Normal template?

2018-08-04 12:24:23


Hey .I have one problem .while sharing word document on Gmail. Font style ,sizes everything gets changed .how to avoid this ? . because I want to print document but because of this changing font style n everything I can't get it done. Can you help me?

2018-03-20 19:19:57

Stephen Sayad

I'm using Office for Mac 2016. Today, I started up my computer to work on a Word document. Amazingly (?) the formatting on all my Word documents (most of which are legal pleadings) was gone. The text is still there, but misaligned. Never had this happen before but could use some help. Thank you

2017-07-04 07:26:19

Lee Batchelor

No worries, Diana. Thanks for your comments. I totally agree :).

It seems that most annoyances are not solvable using the existing tools in Word. It's only the gifted VBA users who are capable of building macros that skate around some of the many Word blunders. Thank goodness those users are willing to share their knowledge!! I think Microsoft's day of reckoning is coming, and it can't happen soon enough for me.

I will look into Scrivener. Thanks...

2017-07-03 13:32:37

Diana Trimble

Sorry, that was actually for Lee Batchelor, writing below! Cheers.

2017-07-03 13:31:15

Diana Trimble

To Tim, writing above - try Scrivener. That is what pro writers use. I agree with all your critiques, Word really sucks as a writing program. It overthinks and second guesses the writer constantly and then it can be very difficult - without the "reveal codes" feature of much-missed Wordperfect - to figure out how to stop the frikkin thing from changing stuff you don't want changed and adding dumb formatting stuff, constantly.

NO, Word, just because I started numbering things doesn't mean I want to suddenly change my indents and line spacing! Yes, Word, I really did mean to capitalize two letters in a row, NO, word I don't want the date changed to today. I hate that there is no way to keep the current line of text in the center of your field of vision rather than scrolling it down to the bottom and then just leaving it there. Ugh! I hate that their own search function is incapable of finding tabs and menus (example, try searching the Help menu for Document Elements, it's like it doesn't exist). So dumb. I hate the Header thing where there are other commands in different menus that overrirde your choices so you can spend ages trying to get different headers in sections, even though you followed the instructions exactly. There are too many horrible things about Word to list here.

We should all switch to Scrivener which is now for PC too.

2017-06-10 08:12:53

Lee Batchelor

Tim, I still think Word is only a good program with which to replace the typewriter. When Microsoft created the program, I wonder if they knew that professional writers would use the program to earn a living some day. Somehow I doubt it. On a professional level the program needs to be scrapped and rebuilt from the very first line of code. Trouble is, and from what I’ve seen, 90 percent of users build documents using direct formatting. The only users I receive documents from who actually use styles, are fellow technical writers and my students. Word text styles are pretty slick. The bullet and numbered styles are so poorly designed, you often spend a lot of time getting them to work consistently. It seems the basic architecture for indents involves a convoluted process that is full of little trap doors.

When you must share documents, your whole Word world comes crashing down. There’s just too much to go wrong. I wish someone would design a reliable word processor that quickly shoves Microsoft off the map. As long as so many people just use the program as a typewriter substitute (direct formatting), Microsoft will never be forced into fixing the bugs in what is otherwise, a pretty good program.

2017-06-09 08:47:20

Tim McInndoo

I think my issue is similar. I want my styles for comment balloons to remain the same from document to document. Mind you, these docs are from students and they are all different. Each new doc has settings for the comment balloons. Each time, I have to go in and change them. Is there a way to ensure that my comment balloon style always override what's in another's doc? Thanks.

2017-02-03 05:59:37

Steven Rendal

I hope you're still doing this... I'm a translator using Word 2016 and frequently paste text from one document to another, all in Word. When pasting the font frequently changes and has to be redone. I've reset all the "paste options" and the default style for, and all the other fixes I've found on the web, but this still happens and wastes enormous amounts of my time. Is there a way to set Word to always use one font (in my case, Times New Roman, 12 pt.)?

2016-12-24 04:48:40

H.Avni Ozan

Hi, I have Office2016 on MacBookPro. I have a .docx of 554 pages several types of fonts inside including Symbol. These are Hearts, Spade, Diamonds and Clubs signs. When I open the document it changes those symbol signs to some another unknown(but in Arial) fonts. Further document opens very slow(16MG RAM). It counts the # of pages on the left bottom and reaches to end say 1-2 mins later. Also the default language of the document changes although I fixed it to English(US). Do you have some suggestions for it? Thanks in advance. Regards. Avni

2016-07-21 16:21:23

Anna CV

I have 2013. I have a template called SOW.dotm. I open a file, go to the style menu, select Manage Styles. At the bottom of that window, I click the Import/Export button so that I can import the styles from the template into my document. I select them all (they are the same because I've not done this 50 times), and select to copy them all. I accept the "overwrite styles?" dialog. It update the styles in my document. I save it. Next time I go back into it, it reverts, again, to the bad styles. I'm getting super irritated with this crap tool. Does anyone have any idea how to prevent this?

2015-06-02 14:13:50

Marc Hichens

Art, the Restrict Editing feature is quite powerful in preventing style updates. However, it also prevents any direct formatting in the document. We have experiemented with several techniques, none of which are perfect.

The proper solution is to prevent style updates, but still allow direct formatting in the document...a solution that doesn't exist.

When providing feedback to Microsoft, and the feedback is accepted, you won't see the results of such feedback until a few versions later, since the coming versions already have their requirements locked down. I learned that when Microsoft visited us because of the long list of gripes we had with either Word 6 or Word 97 (too long ago to remember which version we were using at the time).

2015-05-26 22:40:18

Michael J Virostko

Art thanks for that tip. Correct me if I am wrong, but if create a Document Template for scratch this might help solve the issue, but it is only a guess at this time.

2015-05-26 09:23:05

Jennifer Thomas

The other cause of this is the Automatically Update Styles option (Developer tab | Document Template).

If checked, when you open the document, the original definitions of the styles in the template replace any modifications the user made to the styles (unless they enabled the 'New documents based on this template' option in the style definition).

It's useful to check that if you want to 'force' the styles, but it confuses the end-user because they don't see the effect until they re-open the document and find their document-specific modifications gone.

2015-05-24 11:36:22

Phil Reinemann

In Mac Word 2011 the styles pane is also on the Home tab, in the Styles section but instead of the small arrow-like icon it is a much larger icon that looks like a window with a header/tool bar and a blue circle with a white paragraph mark in it.
Click that and find the style in the list, and the instructions in this article then apply. Note that in Word Mac 2011 the Normal style does not have the option to Automatically update.
I haven't tried the macro in this article to see if it will work on Word 2011.

2015-05-23 20:32:37


Ernest: Creating macros is, literally, a subject for book-length treatment. You can find a start by clicking on the "WordTips FAQ" link at the right side of this (or any) page. Look in the FAQ for a question entitled "How Can I Use the Macros In WordTips."


2015-05-23 20:05:35

Ernest Dunwoody

You often refer to using a Macro.
e.g. In this tip.

It would be useful if you also gave a glimmer of advice on where do you even find Macro's in Word, how do you go about using them etc. etc.

Presumably you have to bring up a command line window, within Word but where is that. Do you use the Visual Basic window and if so, beyond opening the VB window how do you use it?

Nothing more frustrating than advice which you can't use or apply.

2015-05-23 17:12:09


If you want basic features use wordpad. It is free.
Otherwise learn to use the Word style features.
Word styles were present in Word for DOS ver 5.0. They were powerful then.
Wordperfect 4+ (Dos) had in line character codes for formatting. People loved it. Why did they begin with a windows version that behaved similarly to their biggest competitor.

2015-05-23 12:39:14

Art Osgatharp

Click Developer (Options...Customize ribbon, check the Developer tab). In the Protect group click "Restrict editing". In the Task Pane under Formatting restrictions, check "Limit formatting to a selection of styles". Click Settings below that to select which styles. Microsoft has listened and responded to many requests, they just haven't done a very good job of communicating the solutions. I too am annoyed by Word, but Googling often results in me finding that Word already has a solution, however hidden.

2015-05-23 07:38:45

Lee Batchelor

Excellent tip. The problem of documents inheriting other document properties along the way is one major reason a lot of people despise Word. I have suffered similar issues when sharing my documents with other technical writers, engineers, or SMEs. One time, after sharing my work with five engineers, my document came back loaded with italic paragraph styles at the end of all my paragraphs! It took three hours to fix the problem. Their Word program acting like a virus!
Why can’t I create a document using six styles (for example) and distribute it among several other people, and have it come back with only those formats I created? When I receive a document from another person who created six user styles (for example) the Styles gallery is loaded with all kinds of Microsoft styles that Bill Gates think I should use and display. How does he know? He didn’t ask me. The document creator has the burden of clearing the Styles gallery before composing a new document. This too is a dumb design and totally annoying.
I can tell you why we must put up with these annoyances . Microsoft will not listen to users who need the program for professional use. The Microsoft mind set is stuck in the 80s where the first word processors were simple tools with which to replace the typewriter. Times have changed but Microsoft hasn’t. They need to wake up and do what reliable companies do—ask their users what they need in a program. The Yamaha music corporation listens. Why not Microsoft?
Keep the tips coming. Many thanks.

This Site

Got a version of Word that uses the ribbon interface (Word 2007 or later)? This site is for you! If you use an earlier version of Word, visit our WordTips site focusing on the menu interface.


FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in WordTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

(Your e-mail address is not shared with anyone, ever.)

View the most recent newsletter.