Automatically Update Document Styles in Microsoft Word

Deep in Microsoft Word is the choice “Automatically Update Document Styles“.  What does that do and which documents are affected?

There are several similarly worded options to do with ‘Style’ and ‘Automatic’ so let’s be clear … we’re talking about File | Options | Add-ins | Manage | Templates | Go | Templates and Add-ins | Templates  … we did say ‘deep’ inside Word.

This where you can see which template is attached to the current document and change if necessary.

Automatically update document styles

This is one of those poorly worded Word labels. You’re totally forgiven for wondering what’s going on.

What’s being updated?  The template styles or the document?

The document is updated based on the template styles.

The label should read ‘Update document using template style settings’.

That makes sense in the context of this templates dialog box.  You’ve attached a different template to the document – Word needs to know whether to use the styles saved in the document or use the styles (of the same name) in the newly attached template.

If the template has changed, you may want the document updated to reflect those changes.  For example, an organization changes its document formatting guidelines.

On the other hand, you may NOT want the template to update the document.  If the document is a record of something already done (e.g. letter sent, proposal made) you may not want it changed.

What does Word style ‘Automatically update’ really mean?

Change Word style to match current paragraph

Another way to replace one Word style with another

See Word Styles alongside document paragraphs