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 Styles from Changing.

Preventing Styles from Changing

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated September 2, 2017)

Don has run into a problem in his office regarding styles. It seems that when there are multiple authors using a single document, the styles sometimes change unexpectedly. If Don saves a file with certain styles in place and someone else with access to the server opens and saves the same file, then when Don subsequently opens the file, invariably the style definitions have changed.

There are a couple of things to check when this happens. First of all, you need to check to make sure that all users have dynamic style updating turned off. This feature of Word causes changes to a style definition when someone applies an explicit formatting change to something in the document. Thus, with the feature turned on, if someone makes a change to an individual paragraph, the change is also applied to the underlying style, which in turn affects every other paragraph in the document that uses that style. To turn this feature off, all of the users will need to perform these steps if you are using Word 97 or Word 2000:

  1. Select Style from the Format menu. Word displays the Style dialog box.
  2. In the list of styles, select a style name.
  3. Click on Modify. The Modify Style dialog box is displayed.
  4. Make sure the Automatically Update check box, at the bottom of the dialog box, is clear.
  5. Click on OK to close the Modify Style dialog box.
  6. Click on Close to dismiss the Style dialog box.

If you are using Word 2002 or Word 2003, the steps are different:

  1. Choose Styles and Formatting from the Format menu. Word displays the Styles and Formatting task pane, at the right side of the screen.
  2. Hover the mouse pointer over a style name in the task pane. You should see a down-arrow appear at the right side of the style name.
  3. Click the down arrow and select Modify. Word displays the Modify Style dialog box. (See Figure 1.)
  4. Figure 1. The Modify Style dialog box.

  5. Make sure the Automatically Update check box, at the bottom of the dialog box, is clear.
  6. Click OK.

Notice that these steps affect only a single style in a document. That's right—Word allows dynamic style updating to be set on a style-by-style basis. This means that you will need to go through each and every style in your document and follow these same steps. That can obviously get rather tedious if you have a lot of styles in the document. In that case, you may want to use a macro to go through all the styles and change the setting. The following macro will do this rather nicely:

Sub RemoveAutoUpdate()
    Dim s As Style
    For Each s In ActiveDocument.Styles
        If s.Type = wdStyleTypeParagraph Then
            s.AutomaticallyUpdate = False
        End If
    Next s
End Sub

The problem could also be related to the template attached to your document. If, for instance, the document uses Normal.dot and each user's Normal.dot template is different, then this can affect the appearance of the document. The way around this problem is to make sure that the document uses a template other than Normal.dot (preferably one stored on the server and accessible by all users) or that everyone's Normal.dot template is the same.

You might also check to make sure that all of the users have the same fonts installed on their systems. If a document uses a font that is on your system, and then that document is opened on a system that doesn't have the same font, Word will substitute a different font for the missing one. This can affect the appearance of the document, even when you subsequently open it back on your original system. To stave off this issue, make sure that you have Word configured so it will embed TrueType fonts with the document:

  1. Choose Options from the Tools menu. Word displays the Options dialog box.
  2. Make sure the Save tab is selected. (See Figure 2.)
  3. Figure 2. The Save tab of the Options dialog box.

  4. Ensure the Embed TrueType Fonts check box is selected.
  5. If you will be using a small number of characters in a particular font, choose the Embed Characters In Use Only check box.
  6. To save space in the document, choose the Do Not Embed Common System Fonts check box.
  7. Click on OK.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (423) 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 Styles from Changing.

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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