Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Microsoft 365. 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: Formatting In Your Outline.

Formatting In Your Outline

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated September 21, 2019)
This tip applies to Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Microsoft 365


Normally, Word tries to display on the screen what you would see when you print your document. Working in Outline view is no exception; Word displays formatted headings as you have them defined. There are many times that "pretty" formatting can detract from the work you want to do when in Outline view. For this reason, Word allows you to "turn off" formatting while in Outline view.

When you are working in Outline view (click Outline from the View tab of the ribbon), Word adds a tab to the ribbon: the Outlining tab. The Show Text Formatting check box (in the Outline Tools group) controls the presence or absence of formatting. By default, the option is selected. If you unselect the check box, then Word immediately removes formatting from what is displayed in Outline view.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (12610) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Microsoft 365. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Word here: Formatting In Your Outline.

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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