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This isn't a question about how to do something (well, not directly), but rather an inquiry to see if anyone understands why MS Word behaves the way it does with respect to formatting from a design perspective. This is also admittedly a rant about Word. This is a question that has plagued me, well, every time I open a document in Word, and covers a lot of individual topics, so I'll restrict the discussion here to two concrete behaviors that baffle me.

1) Backspacing over whitespace changes the format of preceding text. This seems to most often occur when the preceding text is a header or list number. The strangest thing about this is the new format of the changed text usually doesn't appear anywhere else in the document.

2) Numbered lists count almost at random. I am working on a document today where the list numbers count as follows: 1, 2, 2, 3, 3. The lettering in the sublists go like this 1: a, 2: a, 2: b c d, 3: e f g, 3: a. Clicking on each number or letter highlights the other numbers or letters that Word thinks it is related to, which are scattered around the document pretty heavily. Attempts to renumber the list have so far proven fruitless, as Word seems to maintain these associations through clipboard copies, etc. Why could this even happen?

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migrated from stackoverflow.com Apr 2 '10 at 16:11

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1 Answer 1

  1. This happens because certain formatting, such as header and list styles, is applied on the paragraph level. When you delete the paragraph break, the text after it becomes part of the previous paragraph, and therefore receives the formatting of the previous paragraph.

  2. This would happen if the list is nested and the margins have been changed. You can select each list item and click Decrease Indent repeatedly to remove the nesting.
    Alternatively, you can select the entire list and pres Ctrl+Space to clear all formatting.

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True. MS-Word formats from the wider to the narrower scope. Widest is Document, then Section, then Paragraph, then Character. –  Etamar L. Apr 2 '10 at 15:35

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