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Word: Display styles for each paragraph

May 19, 2010

Do you want to see at a glance what style is assigned to a paragraph in your Word document? You probably know that you can click in the paragraph and check the styles pane to see which style is highlighted, but that’s a tedious process and gets old very quickly on a 100+ page document — or with a list of styles that is too long to see without scrolling.

There’s a better way — switch to Draft view (Word 2007, 2010) or Normal view (Word 2003), and set the Style area to 2.5 cm (1 inch) or more to see all the styles used for the body text. (Unfortunately, table styles never show, but you can see all the others — you’ll just have to check your table styles the slow way.)

Here’s how in detail… (Click the images to see them in full size.)

Step 1: Change your Word settings to display the Style area

Word 2003:

  1. Go to Tools > Options on the menu.
  2. On the View tab, set the Style area width to 2.5 cm (or 1 inch if your units are inches). This width is usually enough, but after you’ve tried it out, you can always change the width to make it smaller or larger.
  3. Click OK.

Word 2007, 2010:

  1. Word 2007: Click the Office button (top left corner), then Word Options. Word 2010: Select the File tab, then Options.
  2. Click Advanced.
  3. Go to the Display section.
  4. Check your Show measurement in units at value (e.g. Centimeters, Inches).
  5. In the Style area pane width… field, enter 2.5 if your measurement units are Centimeters or 1 if your units are inches. This width is usually enough, but after you’ve tried it out, you can always change the width to make it smaller or larger.
  6. Click OK.

Step 2: Change your view of the document

Word 2003:

Change the view from Print Layout to Normal by clicking the icon in the bottom left of the window. Word 2007, 2010:

Change the view from Print to Draft by clicking the icon in the bottom right of the window.

Step 3: View the styles and change them, as required

When you set the style area width and change your view to Normal (Word 2003) or Draft (Word 2007, 2010), your document will have an area on the left that shows the paragraph styles used for each paragraph (see the arrows in the screen shot below). Character and table styles are not shown.

In the example above, you can see that Body Text (yellow) has been used for a bulleted list, whereas a similar bullet list (pink) uses the Bullet 1 style. If I was working on this document, I’d change those Body Text bullets to the Bullet 1 style.

Likewise, a Bullet 1 style has been used for a standard paragraph (blue) — I’d change that too.

The quickest way to change the style is to display the Styles pane, click in the paragraph that needs changing (or select multiple paragraphs), then click on the style you want it to use.

11 comments

  1. Love this tip :-) (I use it a lot when reformatting.)

    BTW, if you need to change the width of the “style name” area, put your cursor over the edge so that the “resize” cursor appears. Then drag the edge to adjust the width. (This comes in handy for those really long style names that need more space so that you can see which one is really in use.)


  2. I forgot to mention that thing about resizing the width on the fly — thanks for reminding me, Char!


  3. Great work – I am regularly using these features.

    Some others that might help people out…
    Word 2007
    SHIFT + function key F1 displays a Reveal Formatting pane. While this does not necessarily reflect the details of the style it can be a useful at-a-glance reference to the font, paragraph and section formatting.
    And some great styles shortcuts…
    CTRL+SHIFT+N = normal style
    CTRL+ALT+1, 2 or 3 = Heading 1, 2 or 3 style
    CTRL+SPACE = reset to the font style definition (ie remove any manually applied font formatting)
    CTRL+Q = reset to the paragraph style definition (ie remove any manually applied paragraph formatting)


  4. I think Ctrl+space is my favourite of those! It’s definitely my most used!


  5. [...] If you think that your author has used Normal for more than just the main paragraphs, consider doing this change the slower, but less stressful way by displaying the styles on the left and the Styles pane on the right and checking and applying the correct styles one page at a time. See this earlier blog post for details: https://cybertext.wordpress.com/2010/05/19/word-display-styles-for-each-paragraph/ [...]


  6. [...] Show styles for each paragraph inline with text [...]


  7. Can I print this view so that I can see what styles are applied to each paragraph?


  8. Hi Barbara

    I don’t think so. You can print a list of styles (one of the options in the Print dialog box), but that’s it as far as I am aware. BTW, as I found out the other day, printing a list of styles prints all the styles available, not just the used or recommended ones, even if they are the only ones visible in the Styles pane.

    The only other alternative would be to do a screen capture of each page of the document, either one page at a time, or using something like the scrolling capture in SnagIt (http://www.techsmith.com), but that would be cumbersome in a doc of more than a few pages.

    –Rhonda


  9. Is there a way to do this in Word 2010?


  10. Hi Jen

    It’s almost the same as for Word 2010, except you go to File > Options to set the width of the left panel. I’ll add info about Word 2010 to the article.

    –Rhonda



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