Software

Quickly delete whole paragraphs by searching styles

Using styles often has unexpected perks. For instance, you can delete multiple paragraphs by relying on a style.

Maintaining a large document can take a lot of work. For instance, if you wanted to delete several paragraphs, you'd probably do so visually, one by one. On the other hand, if the paragraphs you need to delete are using a unique style, you can use Word's Find and Replace feature to delete them all at once.

Let's look at a quick example. The following document uses the built-in style Subtle Emphasis for the introductory paragraphs in each new section. All other paragraphs use Normal. You can only see one page of the document, but it could have dozens of introductory paragraphs.

To delete the introductory paragraphs using styles, do the following:

  1. Click the Home tab and then click Replace in the Editing group. In Word 2003, choose Replace from the Edit menu. Or, press [Ctrl]+H.
  2. Click More, if necessary.
  3. Click inside the Find What control. Delete the entry, if there's anything there.
  4. From the Format dropdown, choose Style.
  5. In the resulting dialog, find the style. In this case, that's Subtle Emphasis, and click OK.
  6. If there's anything in the Replace With control, delete it.
  7. Click Replace All.
  8. Click Yes and then OK.

Word deleted all of the introductory paragraphs.

Word will delete all instances of this style, so be careful when using this technique. If you applied this style to other components, such as captions, this method will also delete your captions! When that's the case, use Next and Replace to review each occurrence and decide individually, instead of using Replace All.

About

Susan Sales Harkins is an IT consultant, specializing in desktop solutions. Previously, she was editor in chief for The Cobb Group, the world's largest publisher of technical journals.

8 comments
michael_boardman
michael_boardman

But using Shift>select won't work if the paragraphs are not contiguous. When I need to do this, I place the cursor in a paragraph with the relevant style, pull up the Styles sidebar via the Format> Styles menu, choose "Select All", and press Delete. The provisos Susan refers to about being sure you don't delete something inadvertently apply here too.

calarts
calarts

Just wanted to say I get a lot out of just about every one of your articles. They're brief, clear, and effectively illustrated.

yourwork
yourwork

Look at what you want to delete, place the cursor at the start/beginning hold down the shift key and click at the end of what you want to delete, check, press the delete key. This is a whole lot easier, and quicker.

ssharkins
ssharkins

This is another great way to do this. Thanks for mentioning it! It's especially good if you don't know the current style by name.

ssharkins
ssharkins

That's nice of you to say -- thank you very much. I'm glad you find the articles useful!

Marshwiggle
Marshwiggle

... what if what you want to delete isn't contiguous?

ssharkins
ssharkins

If you're deleting a few paragraphs, yes. If you're deleting dozens, I'd use the Replace trick.

michael_boardman
michael_boardman

In that case, either Susan's or my suggestion should do the trick.

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