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  1. #1
    4 Star Lounger
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    Custom paragraph styles being applied globally (2002 SP3)

    This is my first substantial experience with a version of Word later than 2000. I've encountered behavior I don't understand. It seems too obvious to be a bug that slipped through QA, but I can't think of a rationale for the behavior, and as far as I can tell it's not even consistent.

    The problem is: when I apply a one-off formatting change a paragraph with Format/Paragraph, Word sometimes -- not always -- applies the change to the selected paragraph, AND to every paragraph in the document that has the same style. Then, if I select Undo, it undoes the change in every paragraph EXCEPT the selected one.

    Can anyone give me insight into this? I've searched the help file and the Web, but I can't find an explanation of it -- perhaps because I don't understand it already, so I don't know what to search for.

  2. #2
    Plutonium Lounger
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    Re: Custom paragraph styles being applied globally (2002 SP3)

    Word is very helpfully updating the style for you, assuming that when you change the formatting you want it applied wherever you have used the same style. When you use Undo it undoes the style change, but leaves the paragraph change in place, another undo would undo the paragraph change too.

    You need to clear the "Automatically update" attribute of the styles that you are using, you can do this by displaying the Styles and Formatting task pane (Format > Styles and Formatting), click the arrow to the right of the style you are using . Click modify and clear the checkbox for "Automatically Update".

    StuartR
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  3. #3
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    Re: Custom paragraph styles being applied globally

    I understand that, and I can tell my client how to fix the problem, but it sounds utterly bizarre. I'm trying to imagine a situation in which a user who understood what stylesheets are for would want Word to work that way, and I can't.

    A stylesheet must be stable to be useful . A "feature" that automatically and silently changes styles whenever the user invokes a formatting command, even by accident, corrupts the stylesheet in the course of normal use.

    If Word had a mode in which it treated all of the styles this way, one could turn the mode on to create or change a style sheet without knowing the normal commands for that purpose. That would make some sense. But if the feature has to be turned on and off for each individual style, it's far more difficult to use than the usual commands, and probably harder to understand.

    This is now curiosity, not a problem, but can you give me any insight into why Microsoft did this?

  4. #4
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    Re: Custom paragraph styles being applied globally

    Who knows why the powers-that-be make the decisions they do.

    I might guess that only a very very tiny percentage of Word users make use of styles, the huge majority of users just apply manual formatting and wouldn't recognise a style if it jumped off the page and bit them on the nose. In this situation modifying the template so that it matches their manually applied formatting might be useful, and those of us who know what we are doing can disable the behaviour. But that is a complete guess.

    StuartR

  5. #5
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    Re: Custom paragraph styles being applied globally

    >I might guess that only a very very tiny percentage of Word users make use of styles...
    >modifying the template so that it matches their manually applied formatting might be useful...

    It baffles me precisely because it's the type of "feature" for which that rationale does not seem to work. It imposes itself on users who don't t want it and don't understand it, with disastrous consequences.

    Every time I added 6 points of space before the paragraph following a table, Word added 6 points space before every normal paragraph in the document. It was even worse when it happened to a rarely used style, and the consequences weren't even visible when the problem occurred.

    My client and I are both Word gurus (at least through Word 2000), yet somehow this option got set in many of his styles, and we were both baffled. I pity the poor user for whom styles are technical mumbo-jumbo, who won't understand what is wrong even when it is explained.

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