Friday, March 11, 2011

Removing Formatting

When newer users begin to use paragraph styles, most immediately understand the concept. You click in a paragraph, click a paragraph style from the Styles list, and the format of the text in the paragraph changes. If you select several paragraphs and click a paragraph style, the format of the text for all of the paragraphs changes.

When newer users begin to use character styles, they can get carried away. I suggest that users limit the use of characters styles to family and place names. However, I know the temptations that exist to create more character styles.

In addition, when users copy and paste text from other sources (for example, text copied from a website that includes invisible HTML coding), you can get all sorts of mixed result. Mixed results are also possible when you generate from genealogy software and save an RTF file as a Word document. You can have multiple fonts, with multiple font sizes, and various attributes applied.

Lots of times it’s easier to get rid of all formatting, and then apply the formatting you want rather than trying to track down applied formatting and fix it. Following are strategies for getting rid of paragraph styles, character styles, and anything else lurking in text.

Paste Special
When you copy text from another source, Word places a copy of the text on your clipboard. The copy includes formatting (style selections and HTML code), which can be hard to get rid of. Here’s a suggestion to solve the problem.

1. Click in the document where you want to paste the text, and press the Enter key to add a new empty line.
2. Open the Styles pane, and then select the style you want to apply to pasted text.
3. Display the Paste Special dialog.
--In Word 2007 or 2010, click the Home tab. Click the drop-down arrow on the Paste button. A small menu appears. Click Paste Special. The Paste Special dialog appears.
--In Word 2003, click Edit, and then Paste Special. A small menu appears. Click Paste Special on the menu. The Paste Special dialog appears.
4. Select Unformatted Text, and then click OK. Word pastes the text using the style you selected in step 2.

Note: This note applies if you are using Word 2007 or 2010. Complete steps 1 and 2, and then click the Home tab. Click the drop-down arrow on the Paste button. A small menu appears. Look at the buttons at the top of the menu. The button to the far right is the Keep Text Only button. Click the button and Word pastes text only with no formatting. You can display the same set of button by right-clicking in your document to display a floating menu. Click the Keep Text Only button from this floating menu to accomplish the same task. As I have said before, frequently Word offers more than one way to accomplish the same task.

Keyboard Shortcuts for Removing Formatting
It’s easy to forget to use Paste Special when copying text. As a result, your document can become a mishmash of formatting…a general mess. You want the text but you also want to remove the formatting. Here’s a suggestion for doing that task.

1. Select a few paragraphs in your document. Or, select the entire document (Ctrl + A).
2. Get rid of as much formatting at you can automatically. Hold down the Ctrl key, press the spacebar once, and then type the letter Q.
--When you press the spacebar, Word removes all character formatting and attributes.
--When you type the Q, Word resets all applied styles to their original settings.

You can stop here. Or, you can select another style to apply to all of the selected text. For example, you might want to select Normal, and then scan your document to apply other styles where appropriate.

Note: If you use Word 2007 or 2010, you have an additional option. Select text (step 1), and then in the Styles list, select Clear All. Word strips all formatting from the text and applies the Normal style for you. Again, Word gives you multiple methods to accomplish the same task.

This post may not seem to be very useful at the moment. However, I promise there will come a day when knowing how to get rid of formatting is as important as knowing how to apply it using styles. So tuck away these pieces info for that frustrating day.

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