Hyperlinks and link styles explained in Word

Word has special styles for hyperlinks which you can change from the standard blue, underlined look.  Word link styles have some special behaviors to keep in mind.

Word links can look very different or appear no different to regular text.  All these are hyperlinks, believe it or not.

Links have two modes – visited and not visited.  You’ve probably noticed on web pages that links you’ve clicked have a different color to links you’ve never used.

It’s the same in Word – links have two states, not visited or followed.  That’s done with different character styles – Hyperlink and FollowedHyperlink.

Those two in-built character styles default to Blue and Purple which are the colors you often see on web sites.  However, they can be changed, just like any other Word style.

The Hyperlink style is simple.  It’s based on the Default Paragraph Font with the only changes to Blue text with Underline.

(Word Nerd note:  the default color isn’t Blue, it’s ‘Hyperlink’)

Hyperlinks will change font, size and other attributes if you change the Default Paragraph Font character style.

A simple and common change to Hyperlink style is removing or changing the underlining. The solid underline can make the text harder to read.  The change is the same as any other style change in one of two ways.

  • Reformat a link to the way you want, then select the Hyperlink style and choose ‘Update Hyperlink to Match Selection.


  • Choose Modify from the Hyperlink style pull-down menu (see above) then change the style attributes. In this crazy example we’ve changed to Bold, No Underline and a different color.

Just like any other text, a hyperlink can be custom formatted to look any way you like.  Just select the link text then change the font, color etc.

However, that customized link will look different to others in the document and could be confusing.

That change won’t apply to a followed hyperlink.  Once clicked the custom formatting is lost and the FollowedHyperlink style is used.

Would you like to hide the links so they don’t look different to the surrounding text?

As a ‘one-off’ change, select the hyperlink and just re-format it just like any other text.  Change the color, underline etc. to the surrounding text.  That’s quickly done by selecting the link and pressing Ctrl + Spacebar (the Clear Formatting shortcut).

For a whole document or template, go to the Hyperlink style.  DEselect underline and change the Font color to Auto.

Make the same change to the FollowedHyperlink style if you want clicked links to look the same.

If a link is in a Heading it will look like a link but using the matching heading font size.

If you don’t want the special link formatting, select the heading line and choose the Heading style from the Styles Gallery on the Home tab (or Styles pane).  The heading shortcut (Ctrl + Alt + n ) doesn’t work for this, you have to select the style from a menu or gallery.

The link is still there and clickable but that’s only obvious if you hover a pointer over the text.

Because Hyperlink and FollowedHyperlink are Word character styles, you can apply it to any text whether it’s a link or not.  A not-visited link can be forced to look like it’s followed, just change the style to FollowedHyperlink.

We can’t think of a practical use for this, aside from demonstrating that the two styles can be used anywhere.

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