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Changing Body Text to a Heading

Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. If you are using a later version (Word 2007 or later), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for later versions of Word, click here: Changing Body Text to a Heading.

Word contains a powerful outlining system that allows you to make changes to document structure quickly. You do this in Outline view, which is most easily invoked by clicking on the Outline view button on the status bar. When you enter Outline view, Word displays an Outline toolbar at the top of the document window. You use the controls on the toolbar to change indentation levels for your outline, as you've learned in other issues of WordTips.

Besides headings, you may have body text within your document. You may wish to change a paragraph of body text to a heading. You can do this in any of these ways, after positioning the insertion point on the paragraph you want to change:

  • Using the mouse, click on the Promote tool. This is the one that looks like a left arrow.
  • Apply a heading level style.
  • Using the mouse, drag the body text indicator (the small square to the left of the body text paragraph) to the left.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (769) applies to Microsoft Word 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. You can find a version of this tip for the ribbon interface of Word (Word 2007 and later) here: Changing Body Text to a Heading.

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Comments for this tip:

Gregory Hardt    02 Jan 2015, 14:36
Select the text you want to change to/from and Outline level.
Right-click on the text and select Paragraph...
For text that is "locked", the entire contents of the heading may be included as part of the heading. Under View, check the box for Navigation Pane so that it shows. Right-click on the heading you want to change in the Navigation Pane and select "Select Heading and Content". THEN right-click on the selected text and see if it will allow you to demote the text to Body Text.
Note that Headings have to end with a Carriage Return (<-'), not a newline (Shift+ <-').
R. Powell    01 Dec 2014, 15:44
MS Word 2013 Paragraph Outline Level is lightly shaded and It is not allowing me to change the Paragraph Outline Level. This is located in the Indents and Spacing tab. Others have worked on this Word document. It is almost as if this field has been locked. Is there a way to change settings so that I can change the Outline Level. It is currently on Level 3 and I would like to change it to Body Text. I know how to change it but as I say, it seems the field has somehow been locked. Thanks very much.

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