How to Clear Formatting in Microsoft Word

If you’ve pasted in content from other sources, you may need to clear the formatting from a Word document. Here’s how.

Copying text from multiple sources into a Microsoft Word document can be problematic. You could end up with different text sizes and colors, backgrounds, paragraph styles, and more.

This can make a Word document look messy, unprofessional, and difficult to read. If this happens to you, the best thing to do is to clear all of the applied formatting and start again.

Removing the formatting this way could be time consuming at first, but will save you time once you come to edit your document. To clear formatting from a Word document, here’s what you’ll need to do.

Using the Clear All Formatting Button

If you want to quickly clear all of the formatting from highlighted text, you can do so by clicking the Clear All Formatting button in the Word ribbon bar.

To start, highlight the text containing the formatting you wish to remove. If you want to select everything in your document, press Ctrl + A on your keyboard.

Highlighted text in Word

With your text selected, click the Clear All Formatting button, located in the Home tab of the ribbon bar.

Word Clear All Formatting Button

Pressing this will remove all of the formatting from your selected text. Word will instead revert to the default style used for text in your document.

Cleared formatting from a Word document

One thing to note, however. This won’t remove any hyperlinks in your text, so you’ll need to remove these manually afterwards.

Using the Styles Options Menu

You can achieve the same effect by using the Styles options menu.

As with the method above, you’ll need to first select the text you want to format (or press Ctrl + A to select all text).

With your text selected, press the additional options arrow in the bottom-right corner of the Styles section. This is found in the Home tab of the ribbon bar.

Word Styles extra options button

Select the Clear Formatting option.

Clear Formatting styles option in Word

This will remove the formatting, with any hyperlinks remaining in place.

Cleared formatting from a Word document

Using Keyboard Shortcuts

If you’re regularly changing or removing text formatting from your documents, then you can speed things up by learning some easy keyboard shortcuts.

You’ll need to make sure your text is selected first. Once it is, you can use the following shortcuts to manipulate the formatting in your document:

  • Ctrl + Space removes formatting from the text itself, but will leave your paragraph formatting untouched. This method does remove hyperlinks from your text.
  • Ctrl + Q will leaves text formatting in place (so bold or italic text remains), but removes the paragraph formatting. Heading formatting will still stay in place.
  • Ctrl + Shift + N applies the Nomal template (the default Word formatting settings) to your text. This will remove heading and paragraph formatting, but it won’t change the font formatting.
  • If you want to remove all formatting from your text, use Ctrl + Space followed by Ctrl + Shift + N to get rid of everything, including hyperlinks.

Using Paste Special

Another method of removing formatting is to use the Paste Special method. This method is also useful if you want to remove any formatting from text you’re pasting in from another source, such as a web page.

To do this, first highlight the text you’re looking to change. With your text selected, press Cut under the Home tab, or press Ctrl + X on your keyboard. This will cut the text and place it in your clipboard.

Microsoft Word Cut button

Press the down arrow next to the Paste option under the Home tab. From the drop-down menu, select Paste Special (or press Alt + Ctrl + V) to open the Paste Special options box.

Word Paste Special option

Select Unformatted Text, then click OK to paste the text.

Word Unformatted Text paste option

Your text will be pasted back into your document with all formatting removed. This will also remove any hyperlinks found in your original text.

Text with no formatting applied in a Microsoft Word document

As we’ve mentioned, this is often the best method to use if you’re pasting text from other sources. This will allow you to apply formatting to your text using Word itself.

Better Document Creation in Microsoft Word

By removing the formatting from a Word document, you can start again. This is just one of many powerful features in Microsoft Word that you can use to create more advanced documents.

For instance, you could remove page breaks in Word to help format your document pages a little better. If you’re creating different document templates, you could make one page landscape to help you make the most of the page. If you’re feeling creative, you could even draw in Microsoft Word using its built-in design tools.

These features, along with many others, may help you save you time and effort when you’re creating your documents.



  1. Carolll

    July 22, 2022 at 10:05 am

    None of those 3 hot-key deleted any formatting at all.
    Is this “tip” for an extremely hold/useless version of MS Word?

    *ALWAYS* tell which version of Word you are using.

    Mine is “the very latest as of July 2022”.

    • Jennifer

      August 2, 2022 at 8:55 pm

      Which three are you having trouble with? All of the shortcuts on this page work with Office 365 Microsoft Word (as of August 2022).

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