How to Clear All Formatting

If your paragraph formatting changes do not work, it is often helpful to clear all formatting and styles so you can start over.

In Microsoft Word, the most likely cause for formatting changes that won’t stick is that there is an overriding style attached to the paragraph.

Here is how to remove all styles from Microsoft Word documents so you can stop formatting changes from misbehaving.

Clearing styles

To remove all styles from a block of text, open your Microsoft Word document, then follow these steps:

  1. Highlight the paragraph or block of text that contains the problematic formatting.
  2. On the Home tab, click the Styles dialogue box launcher to open the Styles task pane (or click Alt + CTRL + Shift + S).
    Styles window launcher icon
  3. In the Styles task pane, click Clear All.
    Selecting 'Clear All'

That’s it! You now have unstyled text that is ready to be formatted as needed.

How to clear formatting a faster way

The Clear Formatting button on the ribbon
The Clear Formatting button on the ribbon

Want a faster way to clear formatting? If you don’t like launching the Styles task pane, select the text (press Ctrl+A to select all text) then click the Clear Formatting button.

The Clear Formatting button is located in the ribbon, on the Home tab, in the Font group, as shown in the image.

Why won’t the formatting go away?

Using Clear All should remove all styles and formatting from the selected text and strip it down to the Normal style, which is the default text for the document. However, text boxes, headers, and footers have to be cleared individually.

If none of the text cannot be reformatted, the document may be protected from formatting changes. If that is the case, you won’t be able to reformat the document unless you remove the password.

The instructions for removing a password to allow editing are found in the article, Cannot Edit Word Document. The article is in reference to forms, but the process is the same for any document. By the way, you have to know the password to remove it!


  1. Abubakar Bashir Sani says

    I Wholeheartedly thanked you for the tips you are always giving to us thank you with much warm regardness!!