Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, and 2016. 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: Cleaning Up a Document that Mixes Styles with Direct Formatting.

Cleaning Up a Document that Mixes Styles with Direct Formatting

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated June 28, 2018)

4

When a document is formatted with styles, it is much easier to create and maintain a consistent format. When someone adds direct formatting, it can create some formatting problems. Word provides a relatively easy way to locate the direct formatting. Perform these steps:

  1. Display the Word Options dialog box. (In Word 2007 click the Office button and then click Word Options. In Word 2010 or a later version display the File tab of the ribbon and then click Options.)
  2. At the left side of the dialog box click Advanced. (See Figure 1.)
  3. Figure 1. The Advanced options of the Word Options dialog box.

  4. In the Editing section of the options, make sure the Keep Track of Formatting check box is selected.
  5. Click OK.
  6. Open the document you want to work on.
  7. Display the Home tab of the ribbon.
  8. Click the small icon at the bottom-right of the Styles group. Word displays the Styles and Formatting task pane at the right side of your screen.
  9. At the bottom of the task pane click the Options link. Word displays the Style Pane Options dialog box. (See Figure 2.)
  10. Figure 2. The Style Pane Options dialog box.

  11. Using the Select Styles to Show drop-down list, choose In Use.
  12. Click OK to close the Style Pane Options dialog box.
  13. In the task pane, scroll down your list of styles to locate any entry that does not have either the paragraph mark symbol or raised letter a. These entries will generally display a style name plus some other formatting. These entries indicate direct formatting. For example, Body Text + Right indicates a Body Text paragraph that has been directly formatted as right aligned.
  14. Point to the item in the list, and a drop-down arrow appears at the right side of the item. Click the arrow.
  15. From the menu that appears, choose Select All Instances. Word highlights all occurrences of the formatting.

Once you have all this text selected you have several options. You can reapply the original style, in which case the Modify Style dialog box may appear and you'll have the option of updating the style to reflect the recent changes or reapplying the formatting of the style to the selection. (You want the latter option.)

You can also use Ctrl+Q to set the paragraphs back to their original format, or you can use Ctrl+Spacebar to remove any direct character formatting from the selections.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (6273) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, 2013, and 2016. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Word here: Cleaning Up a Document that Mixes Styles with Direct Formatting.

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. ...

MORE FROM ALLEN

Selective Formatting using Find and Replace

The Find and Replace tool in Word allows you to search for formatting and alter it in your replacement text. What it ...

Discover More

Finding Text Not Using a Particular Font

Word makes it easy to find text that uses a particular font or font characteristics. What it doesn't do is make it easy ...

Discover More

Getting the Names of Defined Bookmarks

When creating a macro, you may need to determine the names of the bookmarks in the document. You can do this using the ...

Discover More

Do More in Less Time! Are you ready to harness the full power of Word 2013 to create professional documents? In this comprehensive guide you'll learn the skills and techniques for efficiently building the documents you need for your professional and your personal life. Check out Word 2013 In Depth today!

More WordTips (ribbon)

Squeezing Everything In

Do you have just a line or two of text that 'spills over' onto another printed page? Here are some ways you can compress ...

Discover More

Aligning Plus/Minus Symbols

Scientific writing often involves the use of special symbols, such as the plus/minus symbol. If you want to align these ...

Discover More

Double-Spacing Your Document

Need to produce a quick double-spaced printout of your document? You can do it by using the simple steps in this tip.

Discover More
Subscribe

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

View most recent newsletter.

Comments

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}] 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 one minus 1?

2015-09-10 23:34:39

Benjamin C. Morin

Reference: Grey Axtell

In general, all Office applications check your spelling and grammar as you type. Misspellings are identified with a RED wavy underline, grammatical problems are underlined in GREEN, and word usage errors (such as their and there; to, too, and two; and which and witch) are considered CONTEXTUAL spelling errors and are identified with a BLUE wavy underline.

The Blue wavy line is part of the spelling and grammar feature. I don’t think it has much to do with formatting consistency or styles. Perhaps that is why you are having problems.

If you want to see the Blue wavy line, try the following (Word 2010):
Click on File.
Click on Options.
Click on Proofing, then under the section "When Correcting spelling and grammar in Word," check the box for “Use contextual spelling” to activate the feature.

I hope this helps.



2015-02-27 17:00:46

Grey Axtell

Earlier I discussed my issue of not seeing the squiggly blue line under an inconsistent format in Word 2013. Today I tried it on a computer running Word 2010. I went to Options, clicked the two items to turn it on. Started a new document with two normal paragraphs. I bolded the second one. I did not get the blue squiggle.


2015-02-27 11:38:30

Grey Axtell

I have checked "keep track of formatting" and "Mark formatting inconsistencies". I then create two paragraphs using the Normal style. I bold the second paragraph. I do not get the wavy blue line under the second paragraph. I am using Word 2013. Using "Reveal Formatting", it shows that the second paragraph has direct formatting of Font Bold. What am I doing wrong? I want to see the inconsistencies in my documents.


2013-01-26 17:58:40

Mary

Great Tip! I knew how to use Styles, but had never thought of using them in this way to fix this problem. I work with people who don't use Word very well, and don't know how to use Styles. I spend soooo much time cleaning up their work! This will be very hepful! Thanks a bunch.


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.

Newest Tips
Subscribe

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.