Word ’02 & ’03 – Strange Styles

February 26, 2007

Have you worked in a Word 2002 or 2003 document and noticed oddly named styles?

For example, a style named BodyText may exist – and you notice a style named BodyText + First line: 1″, or BodyText + Italic. Not only do the styles seem oddly named, but if you’re accustomed to working with the Styles and Formatting pane open it gets a bit crowded with all those variations on a style name.

What’s going on? What creates those styles? And, how could this be useful to you, or is this just one of Word’s diabolical evil ways?

Let’s look at Tools, Options, the Edit tab, Keep track of formatting.

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The Keep track of formatting choice, when selected, is the setting that causes Word to create new style names when you manually format a paragraph already using a style.

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For example, you apply a 1” first line indent to a paragraph already formatted using the BodyText style. The Keep track of formatting option does exactly that – it keeps track of the formatting – by creating a new style named BodyText + First line: 1″.

 

Why would we care about any of this?

Well, it can be disconcerting to suddenly see new styles created when you know you didn’t create them. If you know how it happens, you’ll be less leery of Word’s behaviors.

I care about it because I use styles, and I can be lazy. When I’m tempted to add manual formatting to a paragraph instead of creating a new style (which isn’t all that difficult – so you can see I am *really* lazy!), the new style name suddenly appearing is a good reminder and a poke in the ribs to get me to create a new style.

Also, Keep track of formatting provides me with a way to accurately select all paragraphs using the same style. When this option is turned on, the drop-down list on the Styles and Formatting pane allows me to Select all XX Instances of the style. This is useful to me when I must quickly change their formatting, usually by applying a different style.

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So now you know – how to turn this off if you don’t want to track formatting – and why you should keep it turned on if you’re using, or learning to use, styles!

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