Workshop Video #1: Emergency Format Fixes

According to my reader surveys, it's the No. 1 complaint among Word users: formatting snafus.

In this video, I'll show you not only how to diagnose and fix virtually any formatting issue you'll ever come across, but also how to set up your Word environment to minimize the possibility of formatting problems.​

Leave a Reply 55 comments

Patty Esposito Reply

As always, excellent material. Multi-level numbering is my biggest concern in Word formatting, although I have learned a lot about working with it. It is still a difficult topic to teach.

Thanks Deborah!

    Deborah Savadra Reply

    I got a LOT of feedback (i.e., frustration) about multi-level numbering during that survey! It’s a hot topic and one I hope to be able to help with during this series.

Cyndi Reply

I had no idea you could double click on the format painter to fix the areas you needed to. I would have to do it over and over again. Thank you so much for sharing that tip!!

Anne Brown-Robins Reply

Well done! Like the Compare to another selection tip. Can’t wait to share that one. Thank you.

    Deborah Savadra Reply

    I like that trick myself. When all else fails …

Rocket Gal Reply

Thanks, you’re the best !

    Deborah Savadra Reply

    Thank you! Hope you’ll stick around for parts 2 and 3.

Holly Ghere Reply

This video was very informational and I appreciate the time and effort it took for you to post it. I often describe Word as a creation by a left-handed man for a right-handed woman. (Why use ONE click when 50 will do?) That being said, one of my biggest frustrations is getting my formatting to apply to my WHOLE document (especially when trying to “bat clean up” after several attorneys have gotten into it). I don’t want to reinvent the wheel with each paragraph, “section” etc. How do I get my tab settings to apply to my whole document? How do I disconnect ALL “headers” so that I don’t have to go in page-by-page? I want to set it and forget it. How do I make my document one whole section?

    Jennifer Thomas Reply

    Holly – Styles will help with getting tabs set for the whole document (set them in Normal, then base your styles on Normal and you’ll have the tabs in any style unless you specifically changed a particular style’s tab values).

    For unlinking all Headers/Footer, use a macro like this (code is from

    Sub UnlinkHeaderFooter()

    Dim curSection As Section, curHeader As HeaderFooter

    For Each curSection In ActiveDocument.Sections
    For Each curHeader In curSection.Headers
    curHeader.LinkToPrevious = False
    Next curHeader
    Next curSection

    End Sub

    For making your document one section, set the last section to have the Header/Footer content and page setup values that you want for the whole document, then delete the section breaks. Tip: Use Draft view to see the section breaks – they can be hard to see in Print view.

    Hope that helps!

      Deborah Savadra Reply

      Jennifer: That’s a cool macro! Thanks for posting that resource.

Carol Therrien Reply

Thank you for your tutorials. They are always informative with great tips. I especially like the compare tool that you shared in this video. That will come in very useful.

Candy Johnson Reply

I, too, suffer from Holly’s complaint–setting and resetting fonts, tabs, etc., throughout document. I can’t get Word to “lock in” the format I select, even though I choose “Set as Default.”

Great work, Deborah. It is most appreciated!

    Deborah Savadra Reply

    Sounds like a lot of people are “batting clean-up”! Thanks for chiming in.

Hector Reply

I’ve been a WordPerfect user all my life, and I’m 71 years old! Everything is transitioning to Word. Everything you covered is new to me, and I will see the video again. Could you in the future cover a session for former or current WordPerfect users: How to make the transition easy or some similar topic. Thanks again Deborah!

    Deborah Savadra Reply

    Hector: Would a chart connecting WordPerfect commands to Word features be useful to someone like you? That may be something I need to create.

      Hector Reply

      Thanks Deb. Anything would help, but do it only on the major things like reveal codes etc. Since lawyers now do what secretaries use to do, we rely on the existing letterhead template and start from there for letters.

      Nola Jackson Reply

      I would love to have a chart on WordPerfect to Word commands.

Dolores Reply

Thank you for the video. Boy, Deborah, you really know your stuff. I was already on to most of what you covered but the review and reminders of the features was helpful. I did find the Format Painter information very helpful. I was also REALLY glad to learn how to use the “compare to another selection” in the Reveal Formatting menu. That will be really handy for me in my job.

I am looking forward to the next video.


    Deborah Savadra Reply

    Thanks, Dolores! I’m glad the “compare to another selection” tip will come in handy for you.

Pat Unser Reply

Great job! Glad to know about the compare format feature. That will be very helpful. I work with dozens of documents that have been “built” over the years by countless temps, new hires, retirees who no longer work here, etc. So how do I corral all of these misfit documents into a controlled, well-formatted library. Nothing ever seems to “stick.”

Rosemarie Robinson Reply

Thanks for the Reveal Formatting info. I’m looking forward to the other videos.

I, too, have problems with multi-level numbering.

Rita Crampton Reply

Excellent material- ditto the comment below on multi-level numbering. Thanks for this video. I didn’t know about all 3 tools.

Looking forward to the next video. Thank you!

Jessica Reply

Jesse here!!! Loved it!! very informative, I’m always dealing with documents created by other parties and having to reformat, this is right up my ally!!

Mary Jo Koranda Reply

Still hate Word but the two tips I found most valuable were the pimping of the bar on the bottom and the to get links to how fix things. You rock and you look very good on TV!!

I’m so bad at Word, I don’t know the Word terminology to describe current frustrations. I have a large document which is a finding aid for our Law School’s photos. Using a triad of symbol bullets as an organizational tool but often, when I do a Word starts the next line anywhere, I’m always having to use the the little triangles in the ruler to start the lines where I want them to start. I don’t get why Word just seems to do whatever it feels like rather what you want it to do.

Maybe we can’t kill Bill Gates but I wouldn’t mind slapping him around some.

    Deborah Savadra Reply

    I’m intrigued by the formatting problem you’ve described. I’d like to email you for more information, if you don’t mind.

    Yeah, I hear a lot of “I hate Bill Gates” from readers – it seems to be a popular sentiment, especially among those coming from WordPerfect like I did!

Margy Reply

Great content, thank you SO much. Loved the “reveal formatting” tip. Numbering paragraphs, RFPs, etc. would be something I’d love to see. Especially so that when I add a request, the numbers work out (ie: Request for Production No. ___). Also, paragraph numbering in complaints, etc. where various new paragraphs (headers?) aren’t numbered. Perhaps just how to use styles to create seamless numbering/multi-level numbering and lettering.

Thanks very much!

Vonda Reply

Back when the Corporate and Legal America top dogs switched to Word from Word Perfect, they should have asked their secretaries which Word Processing package they should use instead of making a stupid decision to go with Microsoft Word!

Since I work from home, I get to use WordPerfect. (Woo Hoo!) But having worked in the legal industry for years and occasionally doing temp work, I have to still use Word. I’ve used your tips repeatedly. Thank you.

However, the one thing I’ve never been able to figure out how to do is to retain character features (like Bold, Underline, Small Caps) when I copy a paragraph to another location. My work around has been to create character styles (like Bold, Underline, Small Caps), but is there an easier way to keep the character features from disappearing during copy?

    Deborah Savadra Reply

    I think you’re going to like the next video. In it, I talk about intelligent pasting so you can retain the formatting you want and not import any formatting you don’t want. Stay tuned!

Sandra Thiesen Reply

I don’t work in the legal field. I teach children with dyslexia and use Word for many instructional materials, reports, etc. I found this information very interesting and can’t wait to see how many of them work on Word for Mac (2011). Thanks for doing this series.
I’m looking forward to receiving the next part, which I think will be even more valuable.

    Deborah Savadra Reply

    Since I don’t have a Mac, I don’t know how any of this translates to Word for Mac 2011. I hope you’re able to use these tricks there as well!

Elaine Reply

GREAT tip on the comparing paragraph formatting. Did not know about this. Looking forward to the next video.

Thanks again !!!!!

Michele Reply

Thanks so much for those extremely helpful hints. One of the things that frustrates me most is getting a document created by someone else and having to edit it or cut and paste.

    Deborah Savadra Reply

    Yeah, “batting clean-up” is a thankless task. I wish more people knew how to create “clean” documents!

Lynette Dahmann Reply

Thank you for the video and all the useful information! I knew about some of these features, but it is always good to review because you forget when you don’t use them. I have to say the scariest thing for me is creating and using Styles. It all looks so easy when someone else does it but I can’t seem to get the hang of it.

    Deborah Savadra Reply

    You’ll want to stick around for the third video, then – it’s all about Styles!

Jayme Reply

Love the reveal formatting and the “compare to another selection.” WOW!!! I love this! Never even knew it existed. Thank you so much!

    Deborah Savadra Reply

    “Compare to another selection” may not be “Reveal Codes”, but it’s a great tool to keep handy.

Carter Reply

Reveal Formatting very helpful

Felicity Hardee Reply

I found the video very helpful, particularly the CTL-space, CTL-Q and Clear All Formatting tips. I had received these tips from you by e-mail but the video demonstrated more powerfully how they could be useful when I am crunched for time.


Susan Johnson Reply

Great video. Lots of super tricks!

Ray H Reply

Super helpful. Any thoughts on globally restricting styles in Word to prevent ‘corruption’ through people sharing documents around editing them and returning them? We’ve lost a lot of time through other users going into docs with their helpful suggestions. Can this work for multiple templates?

Many thanks

Bill Dawson Reply

Great video; awaiting the others. Please do one on creating pleading pages w/ numbers down the left side to match the text – a source of real aggravation.

Cindy G. Reply

Wow! I learned so much and can’t wait to try all of these helpful hints. Thank you!

John White Reply

Hi Deborah – Fantastic video & great tips. “Compare to” is a great discovery for me as I do a lot of online research, save to Word & then have to carry out numerous Formatting changes then convert to pdf. Couldn’t understand why I couldn’t see those pesky paragraph breaks in Show/Hide. Really impressed
Thanking you

Fran Chernowsky Reply

Thanks for these videos and tips. I’m another Wordperfect person and Word makes me crazy. Three things that are hard are (a) keeping widows and orphans OFF; (b) lining up the text with the line numbers in a pleading paper format; and (c) having many internal headings with bold and underline prefacing plain text (for example: Interrogatory No. 1 in bold at the margin followed by text that is not bolded but indented, followed by interrogatory No. 2 with bold, and so on. Right now, I need to use the paragraph selection for every paragraph and get rid of bold where I don’t want it.

    Deborah Savadra Reply

    Fran: As far as (b) goes, you might be interested in this: Pleading Paper course

    (c) is really a function of Style Separators, which enable you to start a paragraph with one outline-linked style and then “stop” it before you get to the rest of the text. I’ll keep that question in mind while I work on the Style video.

    Thanks for responding!

Cynthia MOtt Reply

Loved this! Many, many good tips!

Lisa Anderson Reply

I was watching video #1 and it quit working. It was also very hard to hear.

Lisa Anderson Reply

I got to finish the video #1. However, it was still hard to hear.
This was very helpful.
I have problems with automatic numbering–like in a will–matching up centered number with paragraph numbers, etc.

AL Mongeon Reply

Deborah, Not a lawyer but I do create many documents and formatting is my number 1 issue as well. This short tutorial is a great intro. Now how can i see parts 2 and 3?

My number formatting issue is – after I apply a standard set of styles and link the template to the document I frequently find, when I open the document the next time, I’ve lost anywhere from some to all styles.

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