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: Retaining Explicit Formatting after Applying Styles.

Retaining Explicit Formatting after Applying Styles

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated January 17, 2015)

9

I often get documents that have a hodgepodge of styles and I need to format them in addition to editing them. When I click in a paragraph and apply a paragraph style, Word is not supposed to wipe out any explicit character formatting in the paragraph, such as italics. Sometimes it does and sometimes it doesn't; this probably has something to do with the way the documents were put together and over which I have no control.

This led me to search for a way to preserve any italics within the paragraphs. I came up with the following general steps:

  1. If you are using Word 2007, press Ctrl+F. Word displays the Find tab of the Find and Replace dialog box. If you are using a later version of Word, press Ctrl+H to display the Find and Replace dialog box, then click the Find tab.
  2. Click the More button, if it is available. (See Figure 1.)
  3. Figure 1. The Find tab of the Find and Replace dialog box.

  4. Make sure the Find What box is empty.
  5. Click the Format button and choose Font. Word displays the Font tab of the Find Font dialog box.
  6. Make sure Italic is selected in the Font Style list and click OK. The words "Font: Italic" appear under the Find What box.
  7. Click the Find In drop-down list and choose Main Document. Word selects all instances of italics text in the document.
  8. Click Close. The Find and Replace dialog box is closed and everything that is italics should be selected in the document.
  9. Click the Highlight tool. This highlights all the selected text. All the italics text is now highlighted, in yellow.
  10. Apply paragraph styles as desired, throughout the document. Some of the italics may disappear, some may not, but the highlighting should remain unchanged.
  11. If you are using Word 2007, press Ctrl+F. Word again displays the Find tab of the Find and Replace dialog box. If you are using a later version of Word, press Ctrl+H to display the Find and Replace dialog box, then click the Find tab.
  12. Click the More button, if it is available.
  13. Make sure the Find What box is empty.
  14. Click the No Formatting button, if it is available.
  15. Click the Format button and choose Highlight. The word "Highlight" appears under the Find What box.
  16. Click the Find In drop-down list and choose Main Document. Word selects all instances of italics text in the document.
  17. Click Close. Everything that is highlighted should be selected in the document.

At this point you can click the Italics tool in the Font group of the Home tab of the ribbon until all the selected text is shown in italics. You can then click the Highlight tool, again, which removes all the highlighting.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (9594) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, and 2013. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Word here: Retaining Explicit Formatting after Applying Styles.

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

Quickly Duplicating Drawing Objects

Excel provides a couple of different ways that you can quickly duplicate drawing objects in a worksheet. Committing these ...

Discover More

Error Opening Second Workbook

If you try to open a second workbook and you see an error message, it could be because of the way you are opening the ...

Discover More

Viewing a Revision History for a Document

Need to know how a document has evolved over time? Docs has your document's history available at all times. How you access ...

Discover More

The First and Last Word on Word! Bestselling For Dummies author Dan Gookin puts his usual fun and friendly candor back to work to show you how to navigate Word 2013. Spend more time working and less time trying to figure it all out! Check out Word 2013 For Dummies today!

More WordTips (ribbon)

Underlining Quoted Text

Do you have a document in which you need to convert all the quoted text (text surrounded by quotes) to underlined text? If ...

Discover More

Font Substitution Problems

When your document uses fonts that are not available on your computer system, Word substitutes other fonts that it feels are ...

Discover More

Understanding Underlines

Part of the formatting you can add to your text is underlining. That simple word (underlining) represents quite a few ...

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 8Mpixels. 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 7 - 0?

2017-02-13 09:25:36

Jennifer Thomas

To clarify - I mean click a color from the highlight tool on the Word Ribbon before you click Replace All ... just so you know it's not an option in the dialog box and don't waste time looking :)


2017-02-13 09:22:53

Jennifer Thomas

Dave, I was able to replicate your issue and found the solution - you have to actually click a highlight color before you click Replace All (even if you want the default yellow).

Hope that helps!


2017-02-11 08:47:02

Dave

I highlighted all italics as outlined above, but Word 2016 will not allow me to highlight the selected text. If I just select some random text I can highlight now problem, but I cannot highlight the italicized text I select using Find. Is there any reason for this that you might know of?


2015-02-14 20:20:36

Ben

Thanks!


2015-02-12 10:53:49

awyatt

Ben: It does that because Word returns to whatever the font is for the underlying style for the paragraph. If you change the font in the style to what you want, then you won't have the issue.

-Allen


2015-02-12 10:45:07

Ben Winter

Thanks for this post.

I have a related question: why is it that, after italicizing a word, Word will change the font back to the template default? For example, I'm writing a paragraph in Garamond, I hit control-i to italicize, then write the word and hit control-i again--and then all of the sudden I'm back in 11 Calibri!


2015-01-20 14:20:16

Jennifer Thomas

I wondered for years about why styling sometimes removes explicit formatting and somtimes doesn't; I finally stumbled across the possible answer in an MVP article so I thought I'd share.

The idea is that if 50% or more of the paragraph is explicity formatted in a way not matched by the paragraph style's font attributes, then the paragraph style's formatting 'wins' and the explicit formatting is replaced.

For example, if I apply a non-bold style to a paragraph that has more than 50% of the characters bolded explicitly, then the entire paragraph becomes not bold. If I apply that same style to a paragraph that only has a few words bolded explicitly (less than 50%), then the bolding is retained.

This theory seems to hold up in real-world testing, but if anyone has another explanation or a refinement to this idea, I'd love to hear it!


2015-01-20 08:37:01

Lisa Herider

I would think you could also search for all italics and give it a character style called "italics". Paragraph formats don't wipe out character styles.


2015-01-20 07:07:03

Nick London

Good tip. I suppose one could record a macro to do this.


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.