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Preventing Changes to Styles in Documents

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: Preventing Changes to Styles in Documents.

You may, at some time, want to prevent changes in template styles in documents. The issue isn't how to protect the template itself (which can obviously be done by making the template file read-only within the operating system), but how to make sure that template styles could not be changed once the template is attached to a document.

For instance, if you attach a template to a document, the styles in that template are now available to use within the document. The template styles can also be changed within the document without affecting the styles stored in the original template. (Word only tries to store style changes in the original template if the Add to Template check box is selected in the Modify Style dialog box.)

Unfortunately, even though you can protect the template itself (by making it read-only or storing it in a protected network folder), there is no way to protect the template styles once the template has been attached to a document. To do so would mean that users could not modify any styles at all, even those the user defined strictly for use within a specific document.

The best solution is to educate your users as to how styles work, how they are changed within Word (in other words, what actions can change them), and instruct them not to make any changes to the styles. It is also a good idea to instruct users to never paste formatted text into a document. The reason, of course, is that such an action pastes style changes into the document as well. Instead, users can choose Edit | Paste Special | Unformatted Text, and then format the pasted text using the styles available from your template.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (1545) 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: Preventing Changes to Styles in Documents.

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