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: Retaining Explicit Formatting after Applying Styles.

Retaining Explicit Formatting after Applying Styles

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated September 5, 2015)

I often get documents that have a hodgepodge of styles, and I need to format them in addition to editing them. When I click in a paragraph and apply a paragraph style, Word is not supposed to wipe out any explicit character formatting in the paragraph, such as italics. Sometimes it does and sometimes it doesn't; this probably has something to do with the way the documents were put together, and over which I have no control.

This led me to search for a way to preserve any italics within the paragraphs. I came up with the following general steps:

  1. Choose Find from the Edit menu, or press Ctrl+F. Word displays the Find tab of the Find and Replace dialog box.
  2. Click the More button, if it is available. (See Figure 1.)
  3. Figure 1. The Find tab of the Find and Replace dialog box.

  4. Make sure the Find What box is empty.
  5. Click the Format button and choose Font. Word displays the Font tab of the Find Font dialog box.
  6. Make sure Italic is selected in the Font Style list and click OK. The words "Font: Italic" appear under the Find What box.
  7. Select the Highlight All Items Found In check box. (The drop-down list under the check box should be set to Main Document, by default.)
  8. Click Find All and close the Find and Replace dialog box. Everything that is italics should be selected in the document.
  9. Click the Highlight tool. This highlights all the selected text. All the italics text is now highlighted, in yellow.
  10. Apply paragraph styles as desired, throughout the document. Some of the italics may disappear, some may not, but the highlighting should remain unchanged.
  11. Choose Find from the Edit menu, or press Ctrl+F. Word again displays the Find tab of the Find and Replace dialog box.
  12. Click the More button, if it is available.
  13. Make sure the Find What box is empty.
  14. Click the No Formatting button, if it is available.
  15. Click the Format button and choose Highlight. The word "Highlight" appears under the Find What box.
  16. Select the Highlight All Items Found In check box. (The drop-down list under the check box should be set to Main Document, by default.)
  17. Click Find All and close the Find and Replace dialog box. Everything that is highlighted should be selected in the document.

At this point you can click the Italics button on the Formatting toolbar until all the selected text is shown in italics. You can then click the Highlight tool, again, which removes all the highlighting.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (359) 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: Retaining Explicit Formatting after Applying Styles.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He  is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...

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