Resizing Drop-Down Lists

I work a lot with styles in Microsoft Word, and I like being able to look up at the drop-down style list on the formatting toolbar to see the name of the current paragraph style. I also like giving my styles long, descriptive names, such as Normal Text 2, Normal Text 2 No Indent, Normal Text 2 Block Quotation, and so on. The problem is, Word’s drop-down style list isn’t wide enough to display the entire name of the style, so I usually end up looking at something like this:

Normal Text 2

–even when the name of the style should be displayed like this:

Normal Text 2 Block Quotation

I have the same problem with Word’s drop-down font list, especially with font families that have long names and lots of members (Franklin Gothic Book, Franklin Gothic Demi, Franklin Gothic Demi Cond, and so on). Yes, I can click the arrow on the right of the list to see the full name, but I hate reaching for the mouse, especially when all I want to do is display something.

If you, too, have this problem, there’s an easy way to fix it. You can resize the drop-down list to show the full name of a style or font:

1. Click the “Tools” menu.

2. Click “Customize.” The Customize dialog box will appear.

3. Click inside of the drop-down list you want to resize. A black border will appear around the list window.

4. Move your mouse pointer to the right edge of the list window. Your cursor will change into a vertical bar with arrows sticking out of the sides (indicating that you can resize the window).

5. Click and hold your left mouse button.

6. Move the edge of the list window to the right until the window is the size you’d like it to be. Don’t be shy–give yourself plenty of room.

7. Release the mouse button.

8. Click the “Close” button in the Customize dialog box.

Now, isn’t that better? You may be surprised at how much frustration this saves from day to day. I know I was.



After reading our article on creating an exclude dictionary, here–

–April Karys wrote:

In creating an exclude dictionary, as I did following your excellent directions, I found out that those of us running on a Mac platform using Word 2001 must save the document not in “text only” or “plain text,” but in “speller exclude dictionary.” Saving in plain text won’t work. [This is also true in Word 98.]

In an article on searching with wildcards–

–I mentioned the fact that wildcard searches can’t be set to find whole words only. Callie Jordan wrote with a workaround for this problem:

It’s true that Word doesn’t have “whole word” as an option, but if you include a space before and after the word(s) you’re looking for, it won’t find butter when you’re looking for b?t–it also won’t find “bat” [in quotation marks] though, because that word isn’t followed by a space. So there’s still a limit. But there aren’t as many words in quotes as there are just plain whole words. . . . It also won’t find words at the end of a sentence, or with any punctuation. You could just run the Find/Replace a second time and don’t do a global replace, verifying each find. There wouldn’t be as many words to check after most of them had been replaced.

Thanks to April and to Callie for their useful tips.



If you’re interested in learning the nitty-gritty details of using Microsoft Word, you can’t afford to miss the MVP Word site, which includes tutorials and a great FAQ put together by various people associated with Microsoft’s Most Valuable Professional program:

To navigate the site, click the items on the menu bar at the top of the Web page.

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