How to Remove All Formatting in a Word Document

By Deborah Lee Soltesz

Sometimes the formatting in your Word document simply gets out of hand. Merging multiple documents, revisions by several authors, or copying content from a Web page can lead to formatting mayhem. If you completely remove the formatting from your Word document, you can get rid of unwanted formatting, clean up inconsistent formatting and repair formatting problems. Do a "Keep Text Only" cut-and-paste of your document to remove all the formatting and make a clean start with unformatted text.

Cut-and-Paste to Text Only

Open your document in Word and make sure the Home tab is active. Select the entire document using the "Select All" option in the Select menu. Click the "Cut" button to remove the contents of your document to the Clipboard. Paste your unformatted text into your document by selecting the "Keep Text Only" button in the Paste menu. Your document now contains the text of your original document in your default Normal style.


This technique removes all the formatting, including headings and tables, retaining only the text. It also converts automated text fields, such as tables of contents, to static text. Images, Word Art, clip art, and other illustrations are removed, so make a copy of your document before you begin. If this technique is too drastic, you can clear just the text formatting, returning your document to its default styles (see Resources).