How to clear persistent "Normal" style, after exporting from Google Docs

Copper Contributor

All right, this is really bugging me. I started a document in Google Docs and worked on it for several weeks. Finally needing some more advanced formatting options, I exported it to a Microsoft Word .docx file and opened it in the desktop app Microsoft Word 365 for Enterprise (Version 2403, Build 17425.20176 Click-to-Run, for Windows).


From the moment I first did the import, I noticed there was something "off". The text had a background color:


Screenshot 2024-04-23 191629.png

It's barely noticeable, but it's enough to really niggle my OCD.

Especially when I discovered I couldn't remove it. It seems to be "burned into" the "Normal" style.


Screenshot 2024-04-23 192038.png


The background color is set as a "Pattern: Clear (Custom Color(RGB(250, 250, 250)))." Okay, well I know how to unset that. But in the border/shading settings for the "Normal" style, it already seems to be unset:


Screenshot 2024-04-23 192255.png


So I tried setting a different shading pattern, hoping that would overwrite the offending setting and then I'd be able to remove it, but no. Now there are two shading patterns set on top of each other, and I can't get to the underlying one to unset it:


Screenshot 2024-04-23 192443.png

Screenshot 2024-04-23 192511.png


Really vexed now, I decided to try to hack the file. In word/styles.xml inside the .docx, I found this:


Screenshot 2024-04-23 192652.png


I deleted the whole <w:shd> element from the XML and saved the file. Then I zipped it back up and renamed it back to .docx. 


But when I opened the file, it was back to its old shenanigans. I saved the file again as a different filename and hacked into the file again. The <w:shd> element had re-set itself. And sure enough, there are now two <w:shd> elements in the "Normal" style.

Screenshot 2024-04-23 193115.png


Where is this coming from? How do I get rid of it? Is there some other, Platonic ideal, "super-Normal" style that the "Normal" style depends on? I checked the Normal.dotm template and it wasn't set there.


I already tried starting a new document and copying everything from the old one to the new one, using destination styles, but somehow this transferred with the text. I suppose next I'll have to do it again, copying only text, or passing it through a plain text editor. But then I'll lose 20 pages worth of formatting, ugh.

1 Reply

@jtrichardson Can you upload a copy of the document so that we can investigate the issue.