Viewing Your Custom Styles

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated October 1, 2022)
This tip applies to Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Word in Microsoft 365, and 2021

Fredric often has documents emailed to him. He wants to apply his specific, custom styles to them, but the styles do not appear in the ribbon or the drop-downs. Fredric wonders how to find his specific styles so he can apply them.

When you create a document in Word, it has a template associated with it. There is no way around this; even if you think you don't use styles or templates, Word still dutifully associates the Normal template with a new document.

When you receive a document from someone else, that document was not created on your system. (Sounds obvious, right?) On whatever system it was created, it was associated with a template. More than likely, it was associated with the Normal template on that other system. When the document was mailed to you, Word remembers those styles from the template that was associated with it on that other system.

When you open the e-mailed document on your system, Word checks to see what template the document was associated with. If a template by the same name exists on your system, then the template is loaded and Word is happy. If the template does not exist, then Word uses the styles saved within the document itself.

If you don't see the styles you want to see, it simply means that Word hasn't opened the template that contains those styles. The solution is to associate your template—the one that contains the styles you want to see—with the e-mailed document. To do that, follow these steps:

  1. Load the e-mailed document.
  2. Display the Developer tab of the ribbon.
  3. Click the Document Template tool. Word displays the Templates and Add-Ins dialog box. (See Figure 1.)
  4. Figure 1. The Templates and Add-Ins dialog box.

  5. Click on the Attach button. Word displays the Attach Template dialog box.
  6. Use the controls in the dialog box to locate and select the template you want attached to your document. (This may be the Normal template, or it could be some other template that contains your styles.)
  7. Click on Open. The Attach Template dialog box disappears, and the name of the template you selected appears in the Document Template box.
  8. Select the Automatically Update Document Styles check box to make sure that the styles in the template are applied to your document.
  9. Click on OK.

Your styles should now be available to use with the document. If they are not immediately visible in the Styles task pane, you need to configure the pane to display all the styles:

  1. Display the Styles task pane by displaying the Home tab of the ribbon and then clicking the small icon at the lower-right corner of the Styles group.
  2. Click Options at the bottom of the Styles task pane. Word displays the Style Pane Options dialog box. (See Figure 2.)
  3. Figure 2. The Style Pane Options dialog box.

  4. Using the Select Styles to Show drop-down list, select All Styles.
  5. Click OK.

If you prefer to not mess with templates (even though you really should mess with templates), there is a quick and dirty way to get the styles available in the new document: Copy them. Here's a rundown on the technique:

  1. Open both the e-mailed document and a document that contains your preferred styles.
  2. Select, in the preferred-styles document, the paragraphs that are formatted with your styles.
  3. Press Ctrl+C to copy those paragraphs.
  4. Switch to the e-mailed document and jump to the end of it.
  5. Press Enter a few times.
  6. Press Ctrl+V to paste the copied paragraphs. In the process of copying the paragraphs, Word also copies over the styles for those paragraphs.
  7. Select the paragraphs you just pasted.
  8. Press the Delete key to get rid of them. The styles, however, remain in the e-mailed 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 (9961) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Word in Microsoft 365, and 2021.

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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