Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Microsoft 365. 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: Preserving Style Formatting when Combining Documents.

Preserving Style Formatting when Combining Documents

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated March 28, 2024)
This tip applies to Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Microsoft 365


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When you merge two documents by inserting one document into another document, the second document is placed within the first document and most formatting options within the first document override the formatting in what used to be the second document. If you think about it, this makes sense—after all, you are adding to the first document. It makes sense, for instance, that the margins remain the same for the document, and not as they were for the second document.

It is a similar story with styles—if both documents use styles with the same names, then inserting the second document in the first causes Word to use the style attributes of the first document, ignoring those of the second. For instance, if the first document has the Normal style defined to be 12-pt. type, and the second document has the Normal style defined to be 10-pt. type, then inserting the second document in the first will cause all the Normal-formatted paragraphs from the second document to adopt the characteristics of the Normal style in the first document. The result is that all the inserted text is now 12-pt. type.

The only way to prevent styles in the second document from adapting to the style formatting in the first document is to make sure that the second document doesn't use any of the same style names as those that exist in the first document. For instance, you could go through the second document (before the merge) and rename the styles used in the document. Make sure that you use names that you know do not exist in the first document. Then, when you do the merge, Word adds the new, renamed styles to the first document. It does this automatically because it recognizes that the styles don't exist in the first document.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (6021) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Microsoft 365. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Word here: Preserving Style Formatting when Combining Documents.

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 3 + 7?

2024-03-28 08:51:11

Randy Garrou

I have taken your excellent course on styles but am still stymied by one vexing problem. I’ve created all my custom styles for doing headings in a legal brief, and then, following your tip, deleted all the text except for a single hard return and then saved that as a template for my custom styles. But when I open that template to start a new Word document, my style for the second level of my headings (which I have set up so a capital letter starts exactly at the left margin) instead always starts with that capital letter indented in by one tab. (By the way, the style for my first heading level is a centered roman numeral, though I can’t imagine that’s related to the problem.). Can you think of any possible cause for this?


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