There is an option in Word that certainly sounds good in theory, but it can also be a dangerous little button if you don't know exactly what the function will do. It's called the Automatically Modify Style option. It will be easier for us to see for ourselves how this works if we just apply and use the function. So let's get started. Let's start by opening up the Style Inspector. Remember that it's located on the Style pane. So go ahead and open up your Style pane, and you are going to click on, not New Style, but the Style Inspector.
It's the button right in the middle on this row of three.
If we look at this, each one of these paragraphs has body text supplied.
Select the first paragraph and click on B for bold, and it says Plus:
Close the Style Inspector and do an undo, Ctrl+Z on your keyboard, and we'll get a fresh new start, remove the bold there. Let's see what happens when we choose the Automatically Update option. We are going to modify the style called Body Text. So come over here to your Style pane, and you are going to find Body Text; hold your mouse over it, and click on the down arrow, and then choose Modify. Now, down at the bottom, there is a check box for Automatically update; click it and then click on OK.
Now make sure your first paragraph is still selected. Our scenario is we want to change the first paragraph's formatting only. That's why we selected it in the first place. This time, we are going to apply underline. So click on the U for underline and look what happens; everything changes. Notice how all of our paragraphs changed, which was not our intention at all. Let's also check out this style. If we go back over to Body Text, you'll see that part of this Styles attributes now includes underline.
You could see it here in your tooltips, or you can open this up underneath the Modify, and you could see it down in here, and you could see that underline is also applied. So it became part of the attributes for the whole style. Now, I'll do a cancel here, and we are going to apply italics to the whole paragraph. So I will click on I for italics. Everything is now in italics and underlined. If you check out the style, you'll see that now italics and underline are part of that style.
Another issue with this option that can unknowingly cause problems is if any of the styles were based on the style in which you selected the Automatically Update option, it'll also have underline and italics applied, and it becomes part of its style, as well. It's for this reason that a lot of seasoned style users shy away from using this feature. On the other hand, if this is your intention, it may come in handy in certain circumstances. The key is to understanding how it works, and what using this feature can result in.
Using the Automatic Update feature can affect styles in a way that may be unexpected. Knowing the possible outcome of applying this feature to a style, or related styles, can help you avoid unnecessary grief in the future.
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