Occasional Contributor

I am editing a doctoral thesis which involves returning to the work and fine tuning it multiple times.  I have set up bespoke style settings and turned off 'automatic update'.  However, on some paragraphs, each time I edit, the indent changes or the software just places a few words on a line, 'scattering the paragraph'.  It is very time consuming to constantly correct this.  I would be very grateful for any advice to resolve this problem.  I could not find anything in 'Help' or through a Google search.  Thank you.

13 Replies
It reorganises the words like this:
"The chapter is organised in three major thematic sections, “Neo-Liberal
Performance Culture”, “Redistributing Opportunity” and “Affective Justice”, which reflect key threads foregrounded in the critical literature and my theoretical framework concerning the nature of ethical school leadership in a neo-liberal context.
Throughout the section, I consider how biographical influences shaped headteachers’ discursive

Hello @Christine_Jefferys ,

I have a feeling there is an easy solution for your problem, but I really don't understand what your problems is. I think I identify two potential, different problems, but I can't say for sure. Can you give us an example of those paragraphs? Send a printscreen.

Thank you, Lenka. I think it's to do with 'word wrapping'. I use 1.5 line spacing; 3 between paragraphs. I indent quotations. When I edit a paragraph it may randomly change the font even though I have set the Style to a default template for every document and have taken off the automatic update check. Only I work on the document, but I have cut and pasted from documents created by other users. I've corrected everything painstakingly so don't have examples atm. Best wishes, Christine
best response confirmed by Christine_Jefferys (Occasional Contributor)



Note that if the font changes as you press Enter at the end of a paragraph, the reason could be that the style you are using is set to apply a different style (and that style may define a different font). Look at the "Style for following paragraph" setting in the Modify Style dialog box.


Beyond that situation, when the font changes unexpectedly, a default font hasn't been specified properly. How did you change the font initially? Often, changing the font in the Font dialog box (press Ctrl+D if you are running Word for Windows) and then clicking the Set As Default button will be very efficient. 

Thank you @Stefan_Blom and @lenka-kerumova. I'll try this and let you know, Stefan. Did my previous reply make sense, Lenka? C
Thank you @Lenka_Kerumova. Did my previous reply make sense?

Hello @Christine_Jefferys ,


What I don't understand about your description is this "the software just places a few words on a line, 'scattering the paragraph'. " 

How can a software put a few words on a line? I don't know what that means. Softwares don't do tihings like these. Humans do. That's why one image is better than a thousand words (to paraphrase).


Anyway, in your second reply, you mention something very crucial - copying text from other documents. Learn this very helpful feature: when you copy text from other documents, especially if you have your document styled your way, paste alwyas, always, alwyas as 'Text only'. This is available through the right-mouse menu (context menu).

Because when you copy and paste between documents you also transfer all the styles from those other documents during pasting. The default in Word usually is to 'Keep source formatting' when pasting.


I don't know how you work with your documents, but I am very strick about what styles are in my documents. I always delete all styles that are not used in my document, and I never paste other than text. Too many styles, especially if you use numbering, make the document unstable and prone to berserk behaviour, or even crashing.

Thank you, @Lenka_Kerumova, this advice is like gold. I will now work with my documents in this way all the time. How do you delete styles? I keep setting a default style (Style 2) as my normal template but this is unstable. Will only pasting unformatted text resolve this problem? Thanks, again!



In Word, you can delete custom styles, not the built-in ones. In the Styles pane (Ctrl+Alt+Shift+S), click the Manage Styles icon. Click the Import/Export button to display the Organizer dialog box from where you can delete un-used styles from the active document and from templates.

Hello @Christine_Jefferys ,

there is this very simple macro:

How to clear unused syles in MS Word 2016? - Microsoft Community

It will delete all styles not used in the document, with the exception of built-in styles.


I put it on the quick ribbon as an icon, and I swear by it. It is a part of my troubleshooting routine any time I am fixing an odd document.


I noticed some companies that provide add-ins to Word have a kind of a similar macro as part of their troubleshooting too - not surprised. Documents prone to crashing often have hundreds of unused styles, especially those "char" ones.


Glad to be of help.

@Stefan_Blom Thank you, Stefan.  This is very helpful, again.  Sorry for the delay in replying.

Thank you @Lenka_Kerumova. Once again, your advice has been invaluable. I am sorry for the delay in replying.



For future reference, you may be interested in the following add-in by Greg Maxey: