How to Strip Formatting From Word Text

I have a gazillion tricks and shortcuts for making the work I do in Microsoft Word fast and easy. Those tricks, which are now second nature to me, come from years of using Word. When I show people my shortcuts, or explain them in articles, I'm always surprised by the number of people who tell me "Thanks, wish I'd known about this before." Apparently, most users don't already know many of my tricks, and it's gratifying that they've been so well received.

Columnists and writers of articles usually have a word limit, so I always try to find a way to make instructions and explanations as short as possible, making sure the text is clear, easy to follow, and takes no prior knowledge for granted. But I have to make sure I also supply instructions for users of Microsoft Office 2007, and I find that it usually takes a lot more text to tell how to perform any task in Word 2007. Almost everything you do in any application in Office 2007 requires more keystrokes than the same task requires in earlier versions of Office. (Don't worry; after I explain my problems playing Office Hide and Seek, I have a Word tip you should find useful.)

Office 2007 Hide And Seek

Sometimes it takes me a long time to figure out how to perform a task I want to describe for Word 2007 (In fact, after using Word for more than ten years, I had to open the Help file to learn how to print a document the first time I used Word 2007). I have to deal with the "logic" of the Ribbon.

Apparently, Microsoft's programmers decided that the existing menu structure wasn't intuitive or logical, and so they replaced it with the Ribbon. After all, who would instinctively select a menu named Edit to perform editing tasks? Who would instinctively select a menu named Format to format text? So they put a Ribbon, with tabs (like a dialog box), at the top of the application window. To format text, you click the Home tab, click the teeny little button on the lower right edge of the button named Font (you can't just click that Font button—nothing happens), and the Font dialog box opens. There are also some icons for specific text formats on the Home tab, but you have to roll your mouse over them and wait for the ToolTip to appear to determine what they are.

Right, I get it--the logic of "to format, select Home" is certainly more instinctive than the logic of "to format, select Format."

There are now utilities available for download that help you win at "Office 2007 Hide and Seek"; you load the utility, enter the command you would have used in earlier versions of Office, and the utility returns the new (almost certainly longer) set of keystrokes. The popularity of these utilities says something, but I doubt Microsoft will re-think any of this.

To help you deal with the Ribbon, I’ve listed a few resources below. Not all of them are free.

Word 2007 Ribbon Guide: Concordia Software Help

Microsoft Ribbon Guide: Microsoft Office Online

Show Menus & Toolbars on the Ribbon: Addintools Product

Strip Formatting from Text

Here's a Word tip that works the same way in all versions of Word. Some people "over format" text. Not you, of course, but suppose you have to work with a document that contains excessive formatting? You can select the bold text and press Ctrl-B to remove the formatting; you can select color text and return the color to black; you can select text in a strange or unsightly font and return it to Normal style; and so on. However, if a single paragraph has multiple formatting properties, it can take a while to correct each one.

Instead, you can strip formatting from selected text in one fell swoop. Do the following: Select all the affected text (which could be the whole document), and press Ctrl-Spacebar. Voilà. Every character is returned to your default style (usually Normal style). If some formatting is required (tasteful, professional, easy-to-read formatting) you can proceed.

... dontchya wish there were a way to do this for those awful, child-like, over formatted, email messages you receive? If you know about such a utility, please let me know (except it has to work with Eudora, which I absolutely love and won't give up, even for a "fix silly formatting" utility).

Hide comments


  • Allowed HTML tags: <em> <strong> <blockquote> <br> <p>

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.