Thursday, 15 May 2014

Why does Word sometimes override bold and italics when I change a style?

If you need to change the style of your text but have added direct formatting to it; bold text or italic text, beware! MS Word can really mess it up.

Here's an experiment to try to explain what I mean

Set up a document containing these two styles:
Font: (Default) Times New Roman,
11 pt,
Indent: First line:  0.5 cm, Justified
Line spacing:  single,
Widow/Orphan control,
Style: Quick Style

No Indent
Indent: First line:  0.01 cm,
Style: Linked, Quick Style
Based on: Normal
Following style: Normal

 Now type this in in 'Normal' style:
Using ‘Normal’ style, copy these two paragraphs of text into MS Word. Make this first paragraph italic.
Using Normal style, copy these two paragraphs of text into MS Word. In this second paragraph make just the last word italic.

Now select the first paragraph and change its style. I’m going to make it, my style of ‘No Indent’.
Now select the second paragraph and change its style. Again change it to ‘No Indent’.  
Before – as ‘Normal’ style:

After applying ‘No Indent’ style to each separate paragraph:

Now undo the ‘No Indent’ style changes, select both paragraphs and then re-apply ‘No Indent’ style to both at once. You get:

Notice what happens to the italics? The same thing happens for any other direct formatting you apply whether it’s a font, a font size, bold, italics, color… whatever.
Apparently the rule is meant to be that if a paragraph has less than 50% of direct formatting then this will be retained if the style is changed. If it has more than 50% then the direct formatting is lost.
…but it’s not consistent!
Select more than one paragraph and all the direct formatting is changed.
…but even that is not consistent!
If you have a document with multiple styles and you wish to change just one of them, then right clicking the style, selecting all X instance(s) and then changing the selected items may give you either effect.

So how do you do it?

I had a book which used a ‘Publisher’ style. I wanted to change this to a ‘Normal’ style. The trouble was I had used italics for emphasis, the remote ends of telephone conversations and thoughts. Simply selecting all occurrences of the ‘Publisher’ style and replacing them with ‘Normal’ style lost lots of the italics – too many for me to want to go through and change them all back manually. Here’s what I did:
Step 1 – find all the italics using search & replace and highlight them in green. To do that
  • Select ‘Replace from the Home toolbar
  • Use Format > Font and select ‘Italic’ in both the find and replace boxes.

  • Select green highlighting from the home toolbar.
  • Select Format > Highlight

Here’s what you get:

Step 2 – Select all instances of the style you want to change and change them to the new style. Some of the italics will be lost but the green highlighting will remain.

Step 3 Use the replace menu to find all instances of green highlighting and replace them with italics and no highlighting.

Once you have used ‘Replace All’, your style will be changed and the italics back to normal.

This method can be used if you’ve used bold, colored or any other direct formatting within a style. You might want to use a different highlight color for each.

What a tedious chore! I can understand why Microsoft did this but it would have been so much nicer if they had given us a checkbox labelled ‘Change all direct formatting within style.’

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