When I assemble a document or insert a document from a DropDown List, the fonts, styles and/or layout are different from what I had in the source document. Why?

   Unexpected style or formatting changes can have one of two distinct causes:

   1. Typically they happen when the name of a style in the source document is identical to a style name in the receiving document. The receiving document (almost) always controls.

For example:

Let's say that the 'Heading 1' style of the source document is "Arial, 18 point, bold, italics, no numbering." When you look at the source document, everything appears in order.

Let's further say that the 'Heading 1' style of the receiving document (based on your normal.dot template) is "Times New Roman, 14 point, bold, w/ numbering."

Since the style of the receiving document 'trumps' the style of the source document, the paragraph formatted with style 'Heading 1' will appear as  "Times New Roman, 14 point, bold, w/ numbering." While you nicely laid out headings from your source document now appear all messed up, in fact, they are not messed up. It's just that the rule is working, even when you do not want it to.

The Solution: Make sure that the receiving document always contains the same style names and formatting as the source document. The most effective and efficient way to do this is to create a template based on a properly configured, but more or less ‘blank,’ source document. Click here for step by step instructions on how to create such a template.

   2. Headers and footers are controlled by a document's ‘Page Setup’ settings. If the settings of the source document don't match those of the receiving document, the receiving document again controls, and an undesired result may occur.

The Solution: To make sure that the receiving document always contains the same header and footer settings as the source document, you should create a template based on a properly configured, but more or less ‘blank,’ source document. Click here for step by step instructions. (Not to worry. They are the same instructions as in paragraph 1 above.)

   3. Here is a another 'factoid' that you should know about Word. The formatting for a specific paragraph (its style, fonts, case, emphasis, indents, color, and the like are all stored in the paragraphs 'pilcrow' (¶) at the end of the paragraph. (This is as opposed to Word Perfect where are changes are stored at the start of the document and then modified at the specific point in the document when each style change is made.)  Therefore, the result may be different when you copy and paste in a paragraph (or section of a paragraph) with the pilcrow as opposed to without it.

   4. Couple of more things to know to more fully understand styles.

Styles are paragraph based. Each and every paragraph (a block of text that ends with one of those pilcrws) has a style associated with it. On top of that, you can manually augment the paragraph style by highlighting a section (or the whole paragraph, or multiple paragraphs) and add additional formatting. You can change the font, the size of the font, the color, the paragraph spacing . . . anything you want. It will appear that the text has a new 'style' but in fact the 'style' never changed. Just the look of the text changed because you manually changed it. You can prove that the style never changed simply by putting your cursor inside the changed text and checking the Styles section of the toolbar. Nothing different. You merely overlaid a new look, but not a new style. This new look is stored at the character level, not in the pilcrow. How Microsoft does that so quickly is the magic of Word. Just accept it as a good thing.

There are non-charater styles. Indenting. Alignment. Numbering. These, too are store in the pilcrow, but as additions to the style settings for these attributes.

Determining/Correcting Style Issues:

   Word provides two very helpful keyboard shortcuts which may help in your quest of determining the origin of style issues, and making your document styles uniform.

Ctrl-Space: As discussed in paragraph 4 immediately above, individual characters can be formatted independently of the paragraph within which they reside. (That way you can make letters within a word a different colors or fonts. You can reset a character (or group of characters) within a word to the style of the underlying paragraph by placing the curson within the word and pressing Alt-Spacebar. (Or highlight a group of words. All highlighted words will be reset to underlying the paragraph style.

Ctrl-Q: Word makes it easy to add non-font changes to a base style. Example: indenting, alignments, spacing. You can 'clean' a paragraph of such changes, and cause it to revert to the base style by pressing Alt-Q. So, if the base normal style is "Times New Roman, 12 pitch, no indent" and the current paragraph is "Normal + Indent .25 Before", pressing Ctrl-Q within the paragraph will remove the "Indent" and restore the paragraph the the standard "Normal" configuration.

Use them both: When things appear hopelessly mis-formatted, highlight the 'confused' section of text and press both Ctrl-Space and Ctrl-Q (in that order). The first command returns the paragraph to the underlying character formatting as defined in the style and the second returns the paragraph to the underlying paragraph formatting defined in the style. If, after pressing these two shortcut keys, the text looks different than it did before, then there was explicit formatting applied. That explicit formatting would carry over and affect the look of the text any time that it is called.

Clear Formatting: If you activate the Styles menu (by pressing the south-east pointing arrow in the lower right corner of the Styles section) and click the "Clear Formatting" (sometimes labelled "Clear All") selection (at or near the top), all added attributes of the selected text will be cleared and the text will be assigned to 'Normal' style. If no text is selected, the entire paragraph is voided of additional attributes. This is sometimes the easiest way to start from scratch.

Yet another tool--the Eraser: In the Font menu (Home tab), there is an icon containing the letter A with an eraser superimposed. Clicking it duplicates the Clear Formatting function described above.

Copy styles: You can easily copy styles to and from your Normal.dot to another template or active document.

oClick the 'southeast' pointing arrow in the Styles box (Home tab) to bring up the Styles menu. Click the Manage Styles icon at the bottom of the screen. (It's the third one from the left. It's not labeled, but you can hover over the icon to reveal its purpose.) Click the Import/Export button at the lower left. Click the items you want to copy in either list, and then click Copy.
The above steps takes some practice to get the feel for how all of this works. But these tools are very helpful as you purge your base documents of what often times are complex combinations of styles and fonts embedded in your source documents that serve no purpose.

Style Sheets:

   You can create and then use several (up to 5) documents as 'style sheets.; These style sheets would  contain font, case, emphasis, indent, header and footer setups, and other 'style' elements that you have assigned.  You can quickly call up a style sheet to pour those attributes into the document you are currently creating. Using style sheets, you can quickly turn a letter into an inter-office memo, or to a fax coversheet and back again. Read more about Style Sheets beginning here.

See Also

Templates Q & A

Assign Template to Book

Assign Template to Document

Styles (FAQs)

Paragraph Styles (Templates)