Microsoft Word

Reveal and Compare Formatting

Learn how to use Reveal Formatting task pane to see all formatting applied to the selected text without needing to open individual dialog boxes to view font, paragraph or any other formatting. You also can compare the formatting of two selections to see their differences.

There are many ways of checking the formatting applied to an item in Word:

  • To check font formatting, check the settings in the Font dialog box.
  • To check paragraph formatting, check the settings in the Paragraph dialog box.
  • To check tab formatting, look at the ruler or check the settings in the Tabs dialog box.
  • To check the style, open the Styles dialog box with that style automatically selected.
  • To check the language, look at the setting in the Language dialog box.
  • To check the page setup, look at the settings in the Page Setup dialog box.

In Word 2000 you choose Help > What's This? or press Shift+F1 keyboard shortcut, the mouse pointer displays an arrow with a question mark, and you click a paragraph to display details of its formatting, and then press Escape to restore the pointer to its normal self.

In Word 2019, if you like to see all the different formatting at once that applied to the text you’ve selected, use the Reveal Formatting pane. You can display the pane by clicking the Reveal Formatting button in the Style Inspector pane or by pressing the Shift+F1 keyboard shortcut.

Reveal Formatting

The Reveal Formatting pane lists the format settings for the text at the insertion point.

In Word 2019, pressing Shift+F1 shows the Reveal Formatting task pane. This task pane provides a breakdown of the font, paragraph, and section formatting, plus any other relevant formatting, for example, table formatting if the selection is within a table. You can click one of the links to reach the relevant dialog box for more details. The format items are grouped into three basic categories:

Reveal Formatting Task Pane (Shift + F1)
  1. Font
    This group includes format settings that apply to the characters used in the document, including the font type and size, as well as the proofing language for the selected text.
  2. Paragraph
    This group contains format settings for aspects of the paragraph, such as the selected paragraph style, text alignment, indentation settings, and paragraph spacing (before and after spacing, as well as line spacing).
  3. Section
    This group includes the format settings you use to control larger portions of the document, including overall margin settings, page layout choices, and paper selections.

Compare Formatting

You also can use the Reveal Formatting task pane to compare the formatting differences by selecting the “Compare to another selection” check box. Simply choose the second selection and the Reveal Formatting pane shows every formatting difference between the selections.

Check “Compare to another Selection” box for formatting comparison

To access additional options for the compared text, click the arrow to the right of the compared text. Options include:

Additional options in the Reveal Formatting task pane
  1. Select All Text With Similar Formatting
    For example, if you want to select all text formatted as bold, click or select a bold character and choose this option.
  2. Apply Formatting of Original Selection
    Word applies the formatting of the first selection to the second selection.
  3. Clear Formatting
    Clears the formatting of selection.