Automatically update wreaking havoc?

Styles that automatically update … sounds good, I know, but (just secretly) I’ve been caught out by this Word feature a number of times in the past.  Have you?

Let me give you a scenario.  I’m working away on my document and decide that a heading which has the Heading 1 style applied needs to stand out from other headings formatted with the same style.  So I underline it.  I keep working away and, lo and behold, scrolling through my document, I realise that all other instances of Heading 1 have been underlined.  This was not the intention!

Now if you’re unaware of this little Word secret, or how the setting is applied, you’ll spend a great deal of time removing and reapplying underlining, trying to make Word bend to your will.  But, in fact, Word is actually already bending to your will: Automatically update has been set and Word is merely following instructions.  There’s a very, very quick fix to this.

Here’s how:

  • Navigate to the appropriate style within the Quick Style Gallery (Home > Styles);
  • Right click the style, and select Modify;
  • Uncheck the Automatically update box (located at the bottom of the Modify Style dialogue box).

So in what scenario would you use Word’s Automatically update feature?  I find it’s best used for updating a style, as it provides a more efficient way to achieve your style changes with direct formatting, rather than via the Modify Style dialogue box.  Give it a go but be sure to go back into the style settings and uncheck the Automatically update box when you’ve finished updating your style!