Clever Clogs tip # 732
2 September 2023

How to fix weird formatting and blank spaces (Microsoft Word) *

Hello and welcome to the September tip! I still cannot get used to the fact that I only do this once a month, having done one weekly for more than twenty years. If you're missing the weekly tips, don't forget to keep up with #CleverClogsTipTime on LinkedIn!

Hope you had a good August, despite the weather in the UK. Speaking of the British weather ... I loved this out of office message:

For those of you who don't know Alicia ... she is an executive assistant and the founder of EA How To, a fabulous and unique blend of professional development, support and networking. Definitely worth checking out! (And no, I'm not getting any commission. ;)

But let's go back to this month's tip, which is about fixing formatting problems in Word. Over the years (remember my slogan: sharing for free since 2003) I've tried to drip-feed ideas, but I feel it might be time for an overview. Oh, and add a new tip ;)

Let's start with the new one ... how to find weird white spaces. Perhaps you dropped something on your keyboard? Or someone used the spacebar to align stuff. Or you opened a PDF from Word and the formatting is an absolute nightmare.

Well, there's a super easy way to remove all spaces except for single spaces between words. A bit like the TRIM Function in Excel, but that'll be a separate tip.

Here's how:

  1. Make sure the insertion point is located at the beginning of the document. (CTRL + HOME anyone?)
  2. Press CTRL + H. (Or click the Replace button in the Editing group on the Home tab if you don't like keyboard shortcuts.)
  3. In the Find what box, type ^w. (If you need a "donkey bridge" as the Dutch call a mnemonic ... It stands for white space.)
  4. Press the TAB key on your keyboard, to move to the Replace with box. (Or use your mouse if you must ;)
  5. Press the SPACEBAR once. (The box will look empty, but if you are very observant you will see a tiny flashing dot.)
  6. Click Replace All.
  7. Click OK.
  8. Press Esc to close the dialog box.

And herewith a link to all other tips related to fixing weird formatting:

  1. Find all occurrences of two spaces after a full stop and replace them with one - tip_565.php
  2. Clear all formatting and styles from selected text - tip_622.php
  3. Quickly show (or hide) paragraph marks and other hidden formatting symbols - tip_394.php
  4. Clear all formatting and styles from selected text - tip_436.php
  5. Undo several actions in one go - tip_522.php
  6. Reveal, select and modify all text with similar formatting - tip_498.php
  7. Applying and modifying Heading Styles to titles and subtitles - tip_423.php
  8. See what styles are applied in a document - tip_575.php

And if you didn't know you can open a PDF directly from Word... check out tip_686.php

Last month's CleverClogsTipTime on LinkedIn

  1. Use it before you lose it!
  2. "Most modern mice now have a mouse wheel between the left and right button."
  3. Car. Van. Mini-bus. Bus. Double-decker. Train
  4. Bet you will love the privacy!
  5. How embarrassing!
  6. No idea whether your Word document will be opened from a mobile phone, tablet or laptop?
  7. I'll never be rich, but I'd rather be happy
  8. Drum roll please
  9. Four eyes or two
  10. Trick to remember you changed your password

That's it. Enjoy September!


PS To help you put these tips into practice I developed a series of 60-minute webinars, giving you the opportunity to see the hints, tips and time-saving shortcuts in action. And as a tip subscriber you are eligible for a 10% discount on all my 'off the shelf' training; see the course and webinar schedule for dates. (Please quote: TIPS.)

* Unless stated otherwise this tip is written for Microsoft 365 desktop apps and Windows 10 users, but might also be useful in Office 2010, 2013, 2016 and 2019.