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How to clear formatting in a word document

Remove formatting you don’t want and get a clean file

How to clear formatting in a word document

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What to Know

  • Method 1: Select the affected text. Go to the drop-down arrow at the bottom of the Styles box. Select Clear Formatting.
  • Method 2: Select the affected text. Choose Clear All Formatting in the upper-right corner of the Font group on the Home tab.

This article explains how to clear formatting in Word in a couple of ways in Word 2019, Word 2016, Word 2013 and Word 2010. It includes information on using a plain text editor to remove formatting.

How to Clear Formatting in Word Using Clear All Formatting

Adding formatting to text in a Microsoft Word document, such as bold, italics, or underlining, can add emphasis and clarity to the file. However, such formatting could also cause trouble in certain circumstances, such as when copying and pasting between documents.

There are several ways to clear formatting in Word using its built-in tools or a plain text editor.

Use the Clear Formatting option in the Styles group to clear the formatting of a section of text or the entire Word document.

Select the text from which you want to remove formatting in Word. Use your mouse to highlight only part of the text or select all the text in the document by selecting anywhere inside the document and pressing Ctrl+A to highlight all the text.

How to clear formatting in a word document

Select the drop-down arrow in the lower-right corner of the Styles box to expand the Styles menu.

How to clear formatting in a word document

Select Clear Formatting. Any formatting applied to the selected text will be removed.

How to clear formatting in a word document

How to Clear Formatting in Word Using the Clear All Formatting Button

The same results can be achieved using a shortcut button on the ribbon. Clear formatting from any or all of the text in a document.

Select the text from which you want to remove formatting in Word. Use your mouse to highlight only part of the text or select all the text in the document by selecting anywhere inside the document and pressing Ctrl+A to highlight all the text.

How to clear formatting in a word document

Select Clear All Formatting in the upper-right corner of the Font group on the Home tab of the ribbon. It resembles an upper-case letter A with a pink rubber eraser in front of it.

How to clear formatting in a word document

Any formatting applied to the selected text will be removed.

How to Clear Formatting in Word Using Notepad

Strip text of any formatting using a plain text editor, such as Notepad. This is beneficial if you’ve copied and pasted text from the internet or want to paste text from Word into an online content management system.

Open the document with the text from which you want to clear formatting.

Type “notepad” into the Windows Search box and press Enter. A new, blank Notepad file will open.

Return to the Word document. Select the text from which you want to remove formatting in Word. Use your mouse to highlight only part of the text or select all the text in the document by selecting anywhere inside the document and pressing Ctrl+A to highlight all of it.

How to clear formatting in a word document

Press Ctrl+C to copy the highlighted text. Alternatively, select Copy in the Clipboard group of the Home tab.

Go back to the Notepad file. Select anywhere inside the window and press Ctrl+V to paste the text copied from Word. Alternatively, select Edit > Paste.

How to clear formatting in a word document

Use the mouse to select the plain text in the Notepad file. Press Ctrl+C or select Edit > Copy to copy the text. Paste it back in Word or anywhere else you want to use it.

There are actually a few ways to go about removing the formatting in a Microsoft Word document. It’s not uncommon to go a bit overboard on the customization when creating a Word document. If you have too many applied formatting changes that do not work, to avoid starting over, it may be far easier to simply clear all formatting from selected text. The way to do this can vary depending on which version of Microsoft Word you’re running.

How to clear formatting in a word document

When using Microsoft Word, there is an overriding style attached to every paragraph, so any paragraph format changes made will also need changes done to the associated style.

Clearing All Formatting On Microsoft Word 2010

Remove all of your formattings and save yourself time without manually mashing the undo option by:

  1. Opening up the formatted document.
  2. Highlighting all text you wish to clear by holding down the left-click and dragging it across the formatted text. Alternatively, if you are having issues using the mouse you can hold down the Shift key while tapping the Right Arrow key to highlight the text. To select all text, press CTRL + A anywhere on the document.
    How to clear formatting in a word document
  3. From the menu ribbon, click on the Home tab located to the right of the File tab.
    How to clear formatting in a word document
  4. Within the Home tab, in the “Font” section, locate and click the Clear Formatting button which is an icon that appears with Aa and a diagonal eraser.
    How to clear formatting in a word document

All of the text you previously selected will now become the default style that is standard with Word 2010. If you’re unsatisfied with how the default format appears, you can press Ctrl + Z to go back to the formatted text option.

Removing the Header Style Without Losing the Format

Sometimes you’re okay with the current formatting but the header just doesn’t belong. In order to change the header while maintaining the current formatting in Word 2010:

  1. Highlight the text.
  2. Right-click to open up the menu and select Paragraph.
  3. Locate “Outline Level” and change it to “Body Text”.

It really is that simple.

Again, for those with mouse issues, an alternative way to do this is to:

  1. Open the Paragraph dialog box by pressing ALT + O + P.
  2. Under the Indents and Spacing tab, TAB to the “Outline Level” drop-down box and select “Body Text”.
  3. Press Enter (or TAB to OK and press Enter).

Clearing All Formatting On Microsoft Word 2013+

Ridding yourself of the unwanted format in your Word 2013/16 document is very similar to that of the 2010 version. The only major difference is the appearance of the clear formatting icon. It will now have a single A along with a pink eraser running diagonally in the opposite direction.

However, if you jumped to this section and bypassed the 2010 run through, here is a short recap.

  1. Open your document and highlight the text you wish to format using the left-click drag option with the mouse, holding Shift while tapping Right Arrow, or selecting all of the text with CTRL + A while inside the document.
  2. Click on the Home tab located to the right of the File tab at the top left.
  3. Within the Font section of the ribbon, click the icon for clear formatting.

All formatting that you’ve highlighted is now set to the default style for Microsoft Word 2013/16.

Clearing All Formatting Using the Styles Pane

  1. Select and highlight the text for which you want to clear formatting.
  2. Head to the “Home” tab and click on the “Styles” section dialog box.
    How to clear formatting in a word document
  3. The “Styles” pane should be displayed. Choose the “Clear All” option located at the top of the list.
    How to clear formatting in a word document
  4. All style for the selected content will default to the “Normal” style.
    How to clear formatting in a word document

Keep in mind that even when using Ctrl + A to highlight the content within your Word document, all content in text boxes, headers, and footers will need to be cleared of formatting separately.

If you are being prevented from clearing any formatting on a certain document then the document may be protected from any and all formatting changes. If this is the case, you’ll first need to acquire the password before being allowed to reformat any of the content.

Alternate Way to Clear All Formatting No Matter the Version of Word

When working with a highly formatted document but the above information is still a bit too confusing for you, here is a quick, surefire way to rid yourself of it:

  1. Highlight the text you wish to format.
  2. Either cut (Shift + Del) or copy (CTRL + C) the text. You can also right-click the highlighted text and select to either cut or copy from the drop-down provided.
  3. While in Windows, open up the Notepad application.
  4. Paste (CTRL + V) the highlighted text located on your clipboard into the Notepad. Notepad can only work with unformatted text and therefore will rid all current formatting and styles associated with the text pasted.
  5. Simply copy or cut the text in Notepad and paste it back into your Word document. The format will now be the default version.