by Allen Wyatt
(last updated August 1, 2015)
Tim notes that when editing an older document that has been through many hands (who generally haven't a clue about styles), the document invariably ends up with loads of very similar styles, all with minor tweaks. He wonders about the best way to minimize this problem and get such documents back to a single set of sensible styles.
This problem has been a frustration to editors and other heavy-duty Word users for years and years. Unfortunately, there is no easy way around this frustration. The real problem is that styles (as you know) are very powerful, and with that power comes a need to use them properly. If you have users who don't use them properly, then that can cause havoc with a document, over time.
The solution, then, is to educate users on the proper use of styles. This, however, is not always feasible; you can't always expect your users to become experts in this area of Word.
It takes a bit of work to get rid of the similar styles that show up over time. By way of example, let's say that you send out the document using a custom style called MyStyle. When the document comes back you see it contains variations on the style such as MyStyle1, MyStyle2, MyStyle+Bold, MyStyle+Centered, etc. (There could be any number or variety of these similar styles.) To get rid of them, follow these general steps:
As you can tell, this process is very tedious and we've never been able to find a macro-based solution to make it less tedious. You can, of course, simply "start over" by opening a brand new document that uses your preferred style sheet, copy all the text from the messed-up document, and use Paste Special | Unformatted Text to get it into the new document. You would then need to go through the pasted text and reapply all the styles as they should be applied.
Which approach is easier (delete unwanted styles vs. reapplying all styles) depends on the length, complexity, and number of unwanted styles in the document.
WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (13394) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, and 2013.
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