Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Microsoft Word formatting - Next paragraph changes style

Word formatting

I occasionally format books for others so they can publish to Amazon, Smashwords, in print, and to others.  It's rare that anyone sets up their documents to be automatically formatted while they write like I do, so I get a lot of weird formatting issues, none of which relate to the quality of writing, just the way it looks on your eReader.

I had an issue where every time I hit enter on a document I was formatting, it would indent the entire next paragraph instead of the first line.  It changed styles from "Normal".  It took me a couple of hours to figure it out and fix it.  Googling led me to a bunny-load of solutions for other problems, mostly to do with indentation.

The document I'm formatting in this case is "Vanx Malic: The Tome and the Lens" for M.R. Mathias.  You can read the beginning of the series here: The Legend of Vanx Malic: To Kill a Witch  The series is excellent and I highly recommend it.

The problem

You'll see in fig 1 that the new paragraph that I tried to create moves over instead of lining up with the others.  I'm using the "Normal" style edited to fit my book.  However, when I hit enter, it stops using the "Normal" style.  It didn't show me which style it switched to, so I spent a lot of time experimenting how to change it.

fig 1

The highlighted section shows that the entire paragraph was indented 5 spaces to the left.  If you look at the arrows in the ruler at the top, you'll see that the bottom indent is moved to the left of the shaded area instead of lined up with it.

The solution.

To fix this, you need to modify the style you're currently working in. (fig 2)  In this case, we're working in the normal style.  Right click on it and select "Modify"

fig 2

It was here that I discovered the issue in "Style for following paragraph" (fig 3 (I have a sudden craving for figs . . . ))  The style in this case was "Normal Indent", which indents the entire paragraph.

fig 3

I changed that to "Normal" instead of "Normal Indent" and from then on, everything worked the way it was supposed to.


The chances of the average user ever having a problem like this is minuscule.  However, if you do, here's the solution.  This can apply to any style that you may be using in Word, whether it be normal or a heading style.

All my best,

John H. Carroll

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