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: Getting Rid of Modify Style Message.

Getting Rid of Modify Style Message

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated November 7, 2015)

Like many Word users, Judie uses custom styles in her documents. Periodically Judie sees a "Modify Style" message asking if she wants to "update the style to reflect recent changes?" or "reapply the formatting of the style to the paragraph" with a checkbox to "automatically update the style from now on." Judie does not want to see this message at all; she wants her styles applied exactly the way she created them and she will explicitly choose whether to modify a style or not.

Getting rid of this message can be accomplished by following these steps:

  1. Display the Word Options dialog box. (In Word 2007 click the Office button and then click Word Options. In Word 2010 and later versions 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 dialog box, make sure the Prompt to Update Style check box is cleared.
  5. Click on OK.

With the above steps firmly in mind, it is important to understand why someone would see the Modify Style message described by Judie. Let's say you have a paragraph that has the MyPar style applied to it. (This is a custom style you previously created.) If you try to reapply the MyPar style to it and there have been no explicit formatting changes to the paragraph, then you won't see the message. If you try to reapply the MyPar style to it and there have been explicit formatting changes, then you will see the message. Why? Because Word thinks you might want to "codify" the explicit changes you made so they are saved in the style.

The short way around seeing the message—even without explicitly turning it off, as described above—is to not reapply a style. Instead, select the paragraph and press Ctrl+Q to return paragraph formatting to whatever the underlying style says it should be, or press Ctrl+Spacebar to return character formatting to whatever the style says it should be. Both shortcuts bypass the unwanted message concerning styles and get you to the same point that you would be at if you chose to simply reapply the style in the message's dialog box.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (10688) 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: Getting Rid of Modify Style Message.

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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