Keeping the Styles Pane Open by Default

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated June 10, 2017)


Anthony regularly works with client's Word files that contain many styles, and each set of styles is different from client to client. It would be great if he could set the Styles pane to remain open and docked by default. Currently, the Navigation pane automatically opens and docks at the left side of the screen by default, which is great. He's had no luck, though, figuring out a way to make sure the Styles pane remains open. Whenever he starts Word or opens a document, the Navigation pane remains where he wants it, but the Styles pane needs to be manually displayed. Anthony wonders if there is any way to have both of these panes open, docked, and available by default each time a document is opened.

As Anthony has figured out, there is no way to display the Styles task pane, by default. Instead, you'll need to use a macro to display and position it. This macro will do the trick:

Sub DispSetup()
    With Application
        .TaskPanes(wdTaskPaneFormatting).Visible = True
        .CommandBars("Styles").Position = msoBarRight
    End With
    ActiveWindow.DocumentMap = True
End Sub

The .TaskPanes(wdTaskPaneFormatting) property is the one that controls whether the Styles task pane is visible or not. Turning it on, however, is only half of the task—Anthony also wanted it docked at the right side of the document. This is where the .CommandBars("Styles") object comes into play. Setting the position of the object to msoBarRight places it exactly where it should be docked.

Note that this macro (DispSetup) must be executed every time you want to display and position the two panes. You could, if desired, change the macro to have the name AutoOpen, and then it would be run every time you start Word. You could also add more commands to the macro to have it adjust other display features, such as what zoom factor you commonly use. (I have a high-resolution monitor, so I normally set my zoom to somewhere between 150% and 200%.)


If you would like to know how to use the macros described on this page (or on any other page on the WordTips sites), I've prepared a special page that includes helpful information. Click here to open that special page in a new browser tab.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (5944) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, 2013, and 2016.

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. ...


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What is one more than 3?

2019-11-18 17:35:10


I can't get this macro to work on my Mac, I get a runtime error. Does it only work with Windows?

2017-06-10 09:36:38

Ken Endacott

What you want is to display the Styles pane when Word is initially loaded, when an existing document is loaded or when the user creates a new document. To cover all three you will need to program in VBA as follows.

These instructions are for placing the code in the Normal Template. They could be placed in an add-in template instead if you don’t want to change the Normal template.

1. From a blank document ALT + F11 to display the VBA Project window.
2. In the Project pane select Normal and expand it
3. Click Insert > Class Module. Rename the module to clsAppEvent in the Properties window. If the properties window is not visible then click View > Properties Window.
4. Copy the following into the Class module window:

Public WithEvents App As Word.Application
Private Sub App_DocumentOpen(ByVal Doc As Document)
App.TaskPanes(wdTaskPaneFormatting).Visible = True
End Sub
Private Sub App_NewDocument(ByVal Doc As Document)
App.TaskPanes(wdTaskPaneFormatting).Visible = True
End Sub
Private Sub App_WindowActivate(ByVal Doc As Document, ByVal Wn As Window)
App.TaskPanes(wdTaskPaneFormatting).Visible = True
End Sub

5. Click Insert > Module. This will create a module with a default name typically Module 1
6. Copy the following into the module:

Dim X As New clsAppEvent
Public Sub autoexec()
Set X.App = Word.Application
End Sub

7. CTRL + S to save the Normal template
8. Close Word. When you restart word then the styles pane will be displayed..

2017-06-10 05:46:27


"As Anthony has figured out, there is no way to display the Styles task pane, by default. Instead, you'll need to use a macro to display and position it."

There is no need for a macro at all. To get the Styles pane to dock simply drag it to the edge of the window and it will dock.

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