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: Making Sure Styles Do Not Update Automatically.

Making Sure Styles Do Not Update Automatically

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated November 8, 2021)
This tip applies to Word 2007, 2010, 2013, and 2016


Nancy does a lot of work on templates. She doesn't want the template to "Automatically Update Document Styles." When she unchecks that check box in her templates (including the Normal template) it appears unchecked, but won't stay unchecked—the next time she opens the document or the template, it is checked again. Nancy wants users to create a document based on the template, but be able to modify styles without having that "Automatically Update Document Styles" check box enabled.

There are probably a couple of issues at work here. First, it doesn't really matter what you do with your Normal template in this regard. What matters is what the users you are concerned about are doing with their Normal template. If their Normal template has "Automatically Update Document Styles" selected for various styles, then it may very well affect any subsequent styles they create—even if they've loaded your template that doesn't have it selected.

The reason this works this way is because the Normal template is always loaded. Even if you load other templates, it is still loaded. Combine that with the fact that the "Automatically Update Document Styles" setting is persistent, and you run into the situation where it stays on because it was turned on by the Normal template and remained on even with the subsequent loading of a different template.

If you know that the Normal template on your users' systems has the setting turned off, then it is also possible that there is some third-party add-in that is stopping the setting from being saved as you expect, or it is (perhaps) actively turning the setting on. Tracking down this type of problem can be a bit exasperating, since you need to disable all your add-ins and add them back one at a time, checking after each addition to see if the problem crops up again.

Once you've figured out that it isn't related to an add-in, there are two potential solutions you can pursue. First, you may need to create a new Normal template for each of your users—one that doesn't have the setting selected. Replacing the Normal template for a bunch of users can be tricky, however, unless you have some level of control over those users. (For instance, you might be able to swing this if you are responsible for templates within your company.)

A better solution might be to include a macro in your non-Normal templates that turns off the setting. Consider the following simple macro:

Sub RemoveAutoUpdate()
    Dim s As Style
    For Each s In ActiveDocument.Styles
        If s.Type = wdStyleTypeParagraph Then
            s.AutomaticallyUpdate = False
        End If
    Next s
End Sub

The macro steps through each style in the document and turns off the "Automatically Update Document Styles" setting for paragraph styles. You could easily set up the macro so that it ran each time the template was opened or each time a new document was created from the template.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (11159) 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: Making Sure Styles Do Not Update Automatically.

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 4 - 1?

2023-12-15 06:54:58

Murugaraj Shanmugam

Thank you for this tip and the macro. My 300-page documents lagged so badly due to the automatic updates, and I was wondering if I could disable all instances in one stroke and you helped. Thanks, again.

2020-12-09 18:09:17

Rick vH

A related annoyance occurs when the style of interest is "based on" a different style that is configured to automatically update.
Even if the style of interest does not have the "Automatically Update" setting turned on, it will automatically update anyway, because it's based on a style that automatically updates.
This is meant to be a "feature", in that you can create a hierarchy of styles, with the lower styles being based on styles higher up in the hierarchy.
Therefore, I tend to ensure that my styles are based on "(no style)", to prevent these settings from propagating thru the hierarchy of styles.
To accomplish this In Office 365:
- click the drop-down arrow next to a style (in the Styles panel) and choose "Modify..." in the menu that appears.
- in the Modify Style dialog box, choose "(no style)" in the "Style based on:" drop-down menu.
- and, of course, make sure that the "Automatically update" checkbox is unchecked.

2019-05-25 11:50:09

Charles Kenyon

The macro does not deal with the problem of "Update Styles from Template" setting but only with styles that automatically update when formatting is changed in the document.

2018-09-09 14:35:34

Yvo Gerard Dries-Meeus

Given (December 28, 2017 – Allen Wyatt),
about the confusion between :::
<1:> "[] Automatically Update Document Styles" in the "Templates and Add-in's" dialog box, vs. ::
<2:> "[] Automatically Update" in "Create New Style from Formatting" and "Modify Style" dialog boxes,

=> it seems the VBA code in this article (T011159) pertains to <2:> whereas the actual topic of this article is <1:>.

2015-08-12 18:10:37


This was a life saver! Thanks so much!

2014-12-01 05:44:57


Great article Allen, thanks for that.

But I couldn't solve my Problem.
In Word 2010 the auto update box for the style normal is missing.
I tried to turn off the auto update with your macro but it won't work.
I have to create the macro into my current project (document) am I right?

This issue is really annoying, hope you have a tip for me.


2014-01-10 17:39:24


Thank you for this tip! I think that this FINALLY has fixed my problem!!

This article does need a link though on a "how to" insert macro - I eventually figured it out!

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