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: Noting Formatting Inconsistencies.

Noting Formatting Inconsistencies

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated April 25, 2020)
This tip applies to Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Microsoft 365


Word has had the capability for some time to do "on the fly" checks of both spelling and grammar in your document. Potential spelling errors are marked with a wavy red underline. Depending on your version of Word, potential grammar errors are marked with a wavy green underline, a wavy blue underline, or double blue underlines. Again, depending on your version of Word, formatting inconsistencies are marked with wavy blue underlines or dotted gold line. This last option—to check formatting inconsistencies—is not turned on by default. If you want Word to notify you of these potential mistakes, 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 or a later version, 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 Options section, make sure the Keep Track of Formatting check box is selected.
  5. Make sure the Mark Formatting Inconsistencies check box is selected.
  6. Click OK.

Word now "tracks" the formatting in your document (all behind the scenes) and marks questionable formatting with a wavy blue underline. If you right-click on the underlined text, you can see exactly what Word feels may be wrong with the selection.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (12686) 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: Noting Formatting Inconsistencies.

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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