Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated December 6, 2022)
This tip applies to Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Microsoft 365
Megan is working with styles in Word and she has set up all of her own styles. If she applies a paragraph style (named MyBody) to a paragraph in the document, and then she bolds a word within that paragraph, Word automatically adds a duplicate style to my style list, one that is named "MyBody + Bold". Megan wonders how she can keep Word from doing this.
The truth is, you can't keep Word from doing it. But to understand that answer, you need to understand a bit more about how Word handles what styles you see in the Styles task pane.
The Styles task pane (displayed when you click the small icon at the bottom-right of the Styles group on the Home tab of the ribbon) generally lists all the styles available for use within the current document. You can modify the actual styles displayed by clicking the Options link at the bottom of the task pane.
In addition to the available styles, the Styles task pane also lists any variations from the styles. Thus, if you have a paragraph formatted as MyBody, you select the paragraph, and then you explicitly apply some formatting (such as bold or italic), then you'll see a new entry in the Styles task pane. This entry will be something such as "MyBody + Bold," indicating that the document now contains at least one instance of this deviation from the standard MyBody style.
You can't get rid of these new entries; Word needs to keep track of the formatting changes you make in the document. You can hide the entries, however, by following these steps:
Figure 1. The Advanced options of the Word Options dialog box.
You can also, if you desire, turn off the display of the entries in this manner:
Figure 2. The Style Pane Options dialog box.
Regardless of which method you apply, the variants are still there—Word still has to keep track of them—but you won't see them in the Styles task pane.
If you truly want to get rid of the variants, the only way to do so is to create styles that reflect the ways that you format your document. In other words, instead of explicitly making some text bold or italic, you should create character styles that apply the bold and italic for you. You can then apply the styles where you need that particular formatting and Word won't display anything in the Styles task pane except the style you applied.
Now that you know how to turn off the display of these variants, let me make a plea that you don't turn it off; that you allow Word to display them. Why? Because then you can see where your formatting could be "tightened up" and improved. If you see a style where there are lots of variants, then you know that is someplace where you might want to create a new style and then apply that style in the document.
Another reason to not turn the display off is that seeing what is there can help you clean up a document that you receive from someone else. You can easily see places where the user applied manual, explicit formatting to get a certain result rather than using styles that were developed in, say, a company template. With the display of the variant formatting turned on you can easily reapply your standard styles in the following manner:
When you do this, the variant formatting entry in the Styles task pane disappears and your formatting is now more consistent and standardized than it was before.
WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (7834) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Microsoft 365.
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!
Smart quotes can be helpful in making a great-looking document, but at times, they can be a real pain. Wouldn’t it be ...Discover More
Word always relies on styles to define how text appears in your document. If you don't understand how Word applies ...Discover More
Styles are a powerful component of Word. You use them to determine the way that your text should appear. This tip ...Discover More
FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in WordTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."
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.
Visit the WordTips channel on YouTube