Tip of the Day Blog
    The Web
« » GotVoice | Main | Videora iPod Converter »

Losing All Formatting in a Document

From WordTips

Summary: Does Word keep changing all the text in your document to match the last change you made? Here's why, and how to fix it. (This tip works with Microsoft Word 97, Word 2000, Word 2002, and Word 2003.)

Emily Baumbach wrote with a concern about how she keeps losing her document formatting in Word 2000. Every time she highlights a section of text and then changes the font or margin alignment, Word changes the whole document into that new font or margin.

Before explaining how to fix this, it is necessary to do a bit of a review about how formatting is handled in Word. In general, there are two types of formatting in Word: implicit and explicit. Implicit formatting, which is formatting done by "default," is implemented through the use of styles. Explicit formatting is done through the use of formatting commands, such as those found on the toolbars, in the menus, and in various dialog boxes.

All default formatting in Word begins with styles. You can't get away from them; they are always there, even if you try to ignore them. If you change what is within the definition of a style, then you've changed the formatting applied across all paragraphs or characters that use that style. If you create new styles, you are creating new "default" formatting that can be applied to various elements of your document. If you try to ignore styles, then most, if not all, of your paragraphs use the Normal style.

Any explicit formatting you do is always done as an overlay to the underlying style-based formatting. For instance, if you select a few words in a paragraph and then click the Bold tool, the selected text is formatted as bold, but you haven't removed the style that controlled how the text was originally formatted. You can't remove it; you can only override it.

Starting with Word 97, Microsoft made what many people consider to be an ill-advised change in how Word handles the relationship between implicit and explicit formatting. What they did was make it possible for explicit formatting to not just override the implicit formatting, but to become the implicit format. They did this by allowing Word to "absorb" explicit formatting changes into the underlying style. Once this was done, any other document elements that used that style would automatically change to reflect the newly applied format.

The reason that many people consider Microsoft's change ill-advised is that it muddies the water for those people just learning how Word handles formatting. All of a sudden, local formats can be propagated globally, and that results in what appears to be strange behavior on the part of Word. (It seems that regardless of how ill-advised some of us may think the change was, it is here to stay--the change has persisted in the last four versions of Word.)

How to solve the problem? Turn off the setting in Word that causes explicit formatting to be absorbed into the underlying styles. You do that by following these steps:

  1. Choose Style from the Format menu. Word displays the Style dialog box.
  2. Select the style you want to change, and then click Modify. Word displays the Modify Style dialog box.
  3. Clear the Automatically Update check box.
  4. If the style is stored in a template (it is not defined only for the current document), then I find it a good idea to choose the Add to Template check box.
  5. Click on OK.

If you are using Word 2002 or Word 2003, then the steps are slightly different:

  1. Choose Styles and Formatting from the Format menu. Word displays the Styles and Formatting task pane.
  2. Hover the mouse pointer over the style you want to change. A drop-down arrow should appear at the right of the style name.
  3. Click the drop-down arrow and choose Modify. Word displays the Modify Style dialog box. (Click here to see a related figure.)
  4. Clear the Automatically Update check box.
  5. If the style is stored in a template (it is not defined only for the current document), then I find it a good idea to choose the Add to Template check box.
  6. Click on OK.

That's it; that's how you stop Word from applying the explicit changes to the underlying style. Of course, if you've inadvertently changed styles earlier (because the Automatically Update check box was selected), then you'll need to go back and change the style definition so that text appears as you want it to. You'll also need to go through and perform these same steps on any other styles in the template or document.

Source: Losing All Formatting in a Document

EmailEmail Article to Friend