Noting the Current Style

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated July 30, 2016)


Bruce often needs to determine the style currently applied to a paragraph or to a text selection. He knows that he can figure this out by opening the style pane and scrolling through the styles (to see which one is selected), but figures there has to be an easier way to get this information.

There are actually several ways you can get this information; the one you choose is up to how you do your work and which works best for you.

First of all, if you have the Home tab of the ribbon displayed, you may be able to see the current style in the Styles gallery, in the Styles group. I stress "may" as this approach doesn't always work—for some reason Word doesn't always display the portion of the gallery in which the style appears. The reason for this is unclear, and it is frustrating. However, this approach may work just fine if you don't have many styles defined in your document.

Another approach is to place the insertion point in the paragraph in question or select the text and then press Ctrl+Shift+S. Word displays the Apply Styles dialog box, and the current style is displayed within the Style Name drop-down list. If you change the location of the insertion point, the style name in the dialog box is continually updated to reflect what is selected.

Word also includes a "reveal formatting" command that displays detailed information about a text selection. Just press Shift+F1 and you'll see the Reveal formatting pane at the right side of the screen. You can see the style information in the pane if you make sure the Distinguish Style Source check box is selected at the bottom of the pane. You can dismiss the pane by pressing Shift+F1 again.

An approach that has been available since the earliest days of Word is to display the style area. This only has meaning if you are editing in either Draft or Outline views, but it can be very helpful nonetheless. To display this area, follow 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.
  3. Scroll through the available options until you see the Display area. (See Figure 1.)
  4. Figure 1. The advanced options of the Word Options dialog box.

  5. Set the Style Area Pane Width in Draft and Outline Views field to a value other than 0. (A good starting point is .5, which represents one-half inch.)
  6. Click on OK to close the dialog box.

Now, when you edit in Draft or Outline views, you'll see a small area at the left side of the screen that displays the name of the style applied to each paragraph in the document.

If you've been using Word for several versions, you know that in older, menu-based versions of the program Word displayed a Styles drop-down list on the Formatting menu. You can add this same control to the Quick Access Toolbar 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. Select the Customize option (Word 2007) or Quick Access Toolbar option (Word 2010 and later versions) at the left side of the dialog box.
  3. Using the Choose Commands From drop-down list, choose All Commands.
  4. Scroll through the list of available commands and choose Style.
  5. Click the Add button. The command is moved to the list at the right of the dialog box.
  6. Click OK. The Styles drop-down list now appears on the Quick Access Toolbar.

Be careful when performing step 4—Word provides quite a few style-related commands. You want the one that says "Style", not "Styles". If you hover the mouse pointer over the command you'll see the text "Style (StyleGalleryClassic)". This is the one you want to add.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (11736) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, 2013, and 2016.

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 one more than 8?

2016-12-30 05:43:15

Ken Endacott

A more useful method is to add the Style command to the Quick Access Toolbar. This gives a drop down box with the current style as the top (visible) entry. It is the style at the cursor position or the style of selected text. It is always on display provided the Quick Access Toolbar is showing.

2016-12-29 18:25:21


Thanks for the tips. I replaced my "Styles" group with a custom one using Style (Classic) and now it behaves exactly how I want -- always showing the current style right at the top. Very helpful!

2016-08-01 03:00:36

Richard Price

Clicking on the button with a magnifying glass at the bottom of the full Styles pane gives you yet another option, the Style Inspector. This differs from Reveal Formatting in that it only shows the Paragraph and Text styles plus any direct formatting, without all the formatting details inherited from those styles.

2016-07-30 08:29:07


In Word 2013 if you put the insertion point in the paragraph of interest and right click you will get a Styles drop down box. It acts somewhat differently than any of the options described above, and gives access to other commands to Create, Clear, Apply, or Modify the style.

2016-07-30 05:10:43


Very useful information, many thanks. I wasn't aware of the Ctrl+Shift+S or Shift+F1 shortcuts. I've now put 'Reveal Formatting' on the Quick Access toolbar so I don't forget.

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