Chapter headings turn black in MS Word

January 17, 2017 Sean Catt

Do you write using MS Word?
Ever opened up your latest piece of work to find all your chapter headings have turned into great big black blobs?
Trust me … You are not alone!
I have had this happen to me several times now in Word 2010, and always ended up losing my headings or generally making things worse. No matter what I tried including importing all my text into a new document, the same thing seemed to happen next time I opened the document and the next time. Eventually, it seemed to get cured for a while (usually through more luck than judgment I should add).
However, after it happened to me again, and after much late night trawling of the interwebs, I seem to have found the answer. And here it is!
It’s a little complicated but stay with me on this one.

  • Make a backup copy of your document in case something goes wrong.
  • Find a document which has the correct formatting in it.
  • Save this as a template (.dotx).
  • In the corrupted document go to the styles dialog box. The easiest way to do this is to use CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+S, otherwise you will have to try navigating your way down through the ribbon.
  • Click on the button at the bottom of the box (red arrow).

MS Word styles

  • In the right-hand window of the box which appears, click on close file.
  • Now navigate to the document template and select it.
  • In the scroll box above, navigate to the style (Heading 1 in my case) you want to fix and click on it (single click).
  • The copy arrow should now point to the left, towards the corrupt document.
  • Click on copy
  • Say yes to everything.
  • Close all dialog boxes.

This worked for me. Obviously please don’t blame me if it doesn’t work for you, or breaks your document, (this is why you always back up your work before trying to repair it).