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Automatically Updating Styles

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: Automatically Updating Styles.

If you have spent much time working with styles, you know that Word includes a feature that allows for styles to be automatically updated based on explicit changes to a paragraph using that style within your document. (The Automatically Update check box in the Modify Style or Define Style dialog boxes controls this feature.)

There are times when you may want to make a change to a paragraph, and you don't want the change to automatically update the style used in the paragraph. If you find yourself in this situation, you don't have to go into the Modify Style dialog box and turn it off. Rather, you can just use Ctrl+Z (undo).

The reason this works is that a change to a style that uses the Automatically Update setting is actually a two-step process. (These steps happen together, so it appears to be one step to the user.) The first thing that occurs is the selected paragraph is changed. The second thing that occurs is the change is propagated to all other paragraphs of the same style. When you press Ctrl+Z, you undo step 2 (the propagation), without undoing the change to the selected paragraph.

Knowing this, you never have to turn off Automatically Update; you simply "roll back" the update step when you don't want it to occur.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (5403) 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: Automatically Updating Styles.

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Comments for this tip:

Lisa    31 Aug 2016, 14:59
If you don't want to click UNDO everytime, this is how to fix it:

Open STYLES. Go into the style you're using, and click MODIFY. Then uncheck the AUTOMATICALLY UPDATE box. Solved. Sweet, sweet relief.
Glen    09 Oct 2014, 12:40
Everyone already knows about CTRL-Z = Undo. I'm looking to not have to do this EVERY TIME I change a font or color to one line. It's a pain to undo continually.
How does one PERMANENTLY UNDO Automatically Update Style feature. You reference "check box in the Modify Style or Define Style dialog boxes" but don't say where to find that

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