Viewing Your Custom Styles

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated August 31, 2020)


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, and Word in Office 365.

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 eight more than 6?

2015-05-04 23:59:24

Jill Sharkey

Bringing in the styles by the first method will cause problems if you ever want to modify the styles in your document. If you leave the checkbox for Automatically update document styles ticked, the document will revert to the style definitions in the attached template every time you open it. Therefore, if you use Method 1, after updating the styles you should go back into the Templates and Add-ins dialog and untick the checkbox.
In my experience it is better to follow Arthur's recommendation and use the Styles Organiser to copy in the styles.
Microsoft don't listen to the users. They removed the right mouse click, add a misspelled word to the AutoCorrect list from Word 2013 - the single most useful feature. I don't want to become a better typist - I just want Word to correct my typos.

2015-05-03 09:34:15

Lee Batchelor

Excellent tip, Arthur. I also teach technical writing, and my point is, we shouldn't have to go through such convoluted processes. When I must mark 125 assignments, there's little time for unnecessary "busy" work.

I am going to use the earlier suggestion, that is, instruct my students to purge the Quick Style Gallery before starting a new document (assignment). When I display their assignments, there will only be the styles used for the assignment, not all the extra bloatware. Fortunately, someone wrote a handy macro a student can use for that purpose :)!

I wonder if anyone at MS is listening. Somehow I doubt it.

2015-05-02 18:56:36

Arthur Osgatharp

The simplest and best solution is to use the Styles Organizer:
1. Click the button on the bottom right corner of the Styles bar on the ribbon.
2. Click the Style Manager button on the bottom center. This displays the Style Manager dialog.
4. Click Import/Export on the bottom left to display the Organizer window.
5. By default, the currently open document and its template are displayed. Use the Close File buttons if necessary to browse to whatever two documents you want to use to trade styles. (One might be a new template that you want to create with styles from someone else’s document. Open the new template on one side and the person's document on the other.)
6. Highlight the desired styles of the document from which you want to copy. (Use Ctrl-click or Shift-click to select multiple styles at once). The arrow next to Copy shows which way the styles will go. Click Copy. If the style exists, you will be asked if you want to replace it. Also, on either side, you can highlight and rename or delete styles. [Note for reference the Macro Project Items tab that lets you quickly copy macros from one document or template to another.]
6. When done, click Close. I think that changes won’t save to the current document until you actually Save it.

2015-05-02 08:09:11

Lee Batchelor

I like the third suggestion the best. It is the fastest and easiest.

This whole topic is one of several reasons why many professional writers and technical writers hate this program. The MS corporation needs to redesign their method of handling styles, except this time, ask us!

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