Word 2007: What happened to the Styles and Formatting task pane?

September 11, 2008

The Styles and Formatting task pane in Word 2003 is one I use regularly, as does any power user of Word.

I’m still learning Word 2007, and I had a devil of a time figuring out what happened to it. Microsoft’s Help didn’t help, nor did the ‘where’s everything now’ page on the Microsoft site.

Eventually I found it, but I’m not impressed that Microsoft deemed it necessary to hide this pane so well. It would be nice to have a setting where we could indicate our expertise with Word and thus get quick access to all the powerful settings we use regularly, but which just confuse novice and occasional users.

Anyhow, enough of a rant… Here’s how to display the Styles floating window:

  1. Go to the Home tab > Styles command group.
  2. Click the Dialog Box launcher icon in the lower right corner of the title pane of the Styles command group.Dialog Box launcher button
  3. The Styles floating window opens. Use it like the Styles and Formatting task pane in Word 2003.
Styles floating window in Word 2007

Styles floating window in Word 2007

See also:


  1. […] 2007 has hidden very well from power users is outline numbering. You used to access it from the Styles and Formatting task pane, but don’t try that in Word 2007 otherwise none of your numbered headings will connect to […]

  2. Thanks! A perfect answer to precisely my question. And super clear screenshots to boot.

  3. Jesus, thank you. I’ve wasted hours trying to find things like this in Word 2007 and only occassionally has the Word help been helpful. Does Microsoft hate it’s veteran users? By the time I learn the contorted logic of these ribbons, or just memorize where all the commands are, they will come up with another bright idea of change for change sake to foil me. Is it that important to frustrate Open Office?

  4. Hi,

    I need your help. How can I insert in 2007 an auto-numbered, run-in paragraphs, i.e. 1.1 ELIGIBLE PARTICIPANTS. (a) Each member of the Board from time to time who is not a full-time employee of the Company or any of its subsidiaries shall be a participant (“Participant”) in the Plan. (b) Commencing April 29, 1993, the annual retainer payable to each Participant for service on the Board shall be payable in part in shares of Common Stock subject to any applicable restrictions set forth in Section 6 hereof. Subject to paragraph below, each Participant shall be paid $10,000 of the annual retainer payable to each Participant for service on the Board in shares of Common Stock (the “Stock Retainer”). (c) The Stock Retainer for each year shall be payable immediately following the Company’s Annual Meeting of Stockholders for such year. The number of shares to be paid to each Participant s the Stock Retainer shall be based upon their Fair Market Value (as hereinafter defined), determined as of the business day immediately preceding the date of the Company’s Annual Meetings of Stockholders.

  5. Thanks so much!!! I would never have found these alone, nor with the help of some of your colleagues. There’s some seriously lame documentation out there. Your screenshots and instructions are easy to understand and spot on. Thanks for saving my time.

  6. It would be nice if we could keep the style pane open by default without resorting to visual basic.

  7. Actually you can — sort of. If you drag the pane to the right edge of the window, it will snap into place and stay there. I’m not sure if it’s there when you next open the document, but when you click the dialog launcher for it, it goes back to that snapped-in place and doesn’t interfere or cover the vertical scroll bar for your document.

  8. […] Open the Styles pane. […]

  9. One thing I do miss from Word 2003 is that in the Styles & Formatting task pane, you could select what styles and formatting appeared, including Formatting in Use, Available Formatting, etc. Word 2007 seems to have reverted to a single mode of previewing.
    The upside is the “Show Preview” button. If you happen to use a typeface that is all symbols, before it would appear in that typeface, and thus be unreadable.

  10. I cannot get the styles window launcher to open up!!! It did open when I first used 2007 but suddenly it now appears to be locked. It is so frustrating as I am a Trainer and my next lesson is on Styles and I can’t get the new styles or options to open! Can anyone help me?

  11. Very strange. I can’t see any setting that might have caused it to not display. Is this on one machine or document, or all?

    Have you tried repairing Word? (Word Options > Resources > Diagnose)

    Have you tried adding the Styles pane icon to the Quick Access Toolbar and accessing it that way? Did that work? (QAT > More Commands. Choose Home Tab, then Styles [the one with the AA next to it]. Add it to the QAT, then see if the Styles pane opens by clicking it.)

  12. So much appreciated this !!! Saved me time – Thanks!!

  13. I have created a number of templates for a user community. One question that has been asked many times is: Why aren’t the template styles selectable from the Styles Command Group? So my question is: How does one replace Micro$oft’s (useless) selection of styles with the styles from a user-created template?

  14. Hi Martin

    You can do this.

    • To get rid of a style from the Styles group, right-click it and select Remove from Quick Style Gallery.
    • To add a style to the Styles group, open the Styles task pane, right-click on the style you want to add, then select Add to Quick Style Gallery.

    I just noticed something else too! Because I rarely use the style gallery (those big style buttons), I hadn’t seen this before — when you right-click on one of the style buttons, you get the option to add the gallery to the Quick Access Toolbar. So I suggest you set up the gallery as you want it, then add it to the QAT.

  15. […] no language is set. But if you think a setting on a style may be the issue, check the style. Display the Styles pane, right-click on the style and select Modify. On the Modify Style dialog box, click Format > […]

  16. Very useful, posting; thank you!

    @sam: Selecting which styles and formatting will appear is now hidden under the blue options link at the bottom right corner of the styles pane.

  17. Thank you very much. A huge relief. It actually saved me much more time. Very useful. G. Swarts

  18. Thank you very much for exactly my question. Ribbon?!?! What a stupid name that is first of all and then its logic…? Absent.. none..
    I do not have the words to express how much I detest Microsoft.

  19. Thank you for this solution. Screenshots like this are invaluable. I agree with the negative comments expressed here about Word 2007, its ‘ribbon’, and the utter and complete disregard for the productivity of veteran users. It’s easy to see why people hate Microsoft.

    — Roy Zider

  20. I use word 2007. In my docs all text is a certain style. I don’t know, maybe everyone can say that? I use the style task pane (floating window) as a tool to select different styles. My problem is this. When I edit text, the task pane lists my edits as a new style. I don’t like this because the task pane becomes crowded with styles that I would never select. Ok, it’s probably what you would call a “gold plated” problem, but it’s driving me crazy!! Is there a way I can change the style task pane to show only the original style in our template?

  21. Hi Jeff

    On the styles task pane, click the ‘Options’ link at the bottom. Turn off all the check boxes (I suspect most are checked). That should get rid of (actually, hide) all those character edits you’ve made.

    While you’re in that window, change the top field value (Select styles to show) to ‘Recommended’. Click OK.

    Then click the Manage Styles button and go to the ‘Recommend’ tab. Select the check box for ‘Show recommended styles only’.

    You won’t stop Word from tracking your character formatting, but you will stop Word from showing it to you.


  22. When looking at a document in outline view all the formatting appears as size 12 Times New Roman when it should be arial with headings in bold etc. Any change in formatting still appears as font 12 Times New Roman even although it indicates the font style is arial. When viewed in print layout all the different fonts and styles are visible. Don’t know what I’ve done as the formatting view changed one day and I have been unable to figure out how to change it back so that all the different styles are visible in outline view.

    Any help would be appreciated

  23. Hi Marjory

    The only thing I can think of is that your heading styles are ‘based on’ Normal and that Normal is set to TNR. Can you check if that’s the case?


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