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: Understanding the Normalize Text Command.

Understanding the Normalize Text Command

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated August 15, 2017)


In the process of doing some customizations to Word, Toya was looking through the list of commands that could be added to the menus and toolbars. (This is in the Customize dialog box.) One of the commands is "Normalize Text." Toya can find next to nothing about this command, and hopes to understand more.

Good question, Toya. You are right that there is virtually nothing about this command available on the Web. So, we did a little detective work within Word itself to see if we could figure out more. We were able to come up with one other tidbit of information.

When you use the Customize dialog box (as you did), it is a great way to see all of the commands that are available within Word. It isn't terribly helpful on giving you information about what each command does, however. To do this, you need to pull up the Macros dialog box. Follow these steps:

  1. Display the Macros dialog box. (Easiest way is to just press Alt+F8.)
  2. Using the Macros In drop-down list, choose Word Commands.
  3. Scroll through the list of commands until you can see and select (click once) the NormalizeText command.

In the Description box (just under the Macros In drop-down list) you should see a very terse description of what the NormalizeText command does: "Make text consistent with the rest." This is the only clue—anywhere—that we could find as to what this command does.

Exactly what effect the command has, we can't tell. We created some documents and applied various formatting to paragraphs and characters. We then selected the text and executed the NormalizeText command. There was nothing that happened to any of the formatting.

Thus, it is reasonable to conclude that the consistency referenced in the description has nothing to do with formatting. It could also be very possible that the command has no effect in English, but instead is used for text in other languages. (There are all sorts of internal commands that Word uses, for instance, to work with Asian languages and others that don't rely on the Roman alphabet.)

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (420) 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: Understanding the Normalize Text Command.

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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What is 1 + 1?

2021-04-10 09:12:34


OR, as is frequently the case in Office programs, a command is built for an activity in a context that you are not in.

(One could regard the example given, of working only upon Asian language charaacter typing, as a context, and since you are not doing so, you are not in that context and so the command has no effect upon what you are seeing or working with. A little bit of "tenuous" applies to regarding it that way, but surprisingly little.)

In this case, what I've found suggests that the command is for use in building custom UI's and, POSSIBLY, in the particular area of Tables. So if not building a custom UI using an XML schema, then it simply has nothing to do when running it. (And actually, some posted commentary says it can seem to run, but end up grayed out and inaccessible afterward with no obvious effects having occurred. Comparable to a website presenting you a two step task, say to download Google Drive files, in which it presents the download option, spends 20 minutes zipping files, then tells you "Oh, you can't really do that" and you're done. Instead of examining the proposed operation, deciding you can't do it, ending things there, and never making you wait 20 minutes for the zipping that was never going to be needed: so Word shows a huge list of commands without examining which CAN be run in your situation (context), letting you choose an inapproptiate one and after finding it is that, only NOW graying it out or removing it from the list... in other words, AGGRAVATING!)

Naturally, that doesn't in any way further explain what it might bring to the table if you are in a context it is meant for. But the context aspect matters a lot for many commands and functions. They can be richer, or sparser, depending upon their use context. For common things, that can be readily apparent due to grayed out choices and so on, but many times, especially for more specialized uses, MS does not go to the effort to "prettify" the function: or in other words, dumb it down for the masses (like me), rather expecting anyone who is there and about to use it to bring with him the knowledge to handle the small stuff.

A guess, given the custom UI aspect? The guess is that it would attempt to establish a pattern for the existing creation (as in identifying headers and titles vs. end result text (kind of like building an outline structure)) and then applying the formatting shceme for other elements in the structure according to the understanding of the structure it was given as an example. So one layer of titling might get Bold, 16 point font formatting while a sublayer might get not-Bold, 14 point formatting, and a bottom layer might get not-Bold, 12 point formatting. More or less like marking some text as the pattern text, the program building an ad hoc Style, then applying it to anything else in the available layout that it can identify as matching the marked pattern-generating material. So your custom UI would be a consistently formatted structure, not a badly non-professional "ransom note" of formatting.

That guess is "way, way, way... out on a limb" to say the very least. Context, though, is often hugely important and seems to be so here as well.

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