A Quick Guide to Clear Formatting in Google Docs


Proper formatting is crucial to creating a professional document, but there can be many situations where clearing formatting may be necessary. For example, if you copy/paste text from a page with a different font style, it will mess up your current formatting.

Thankfully, Google makes it really easy to remove formatting from whole documents or specific text and make them plain text. In this post, I will talk about the reasons why you may need to clear formatting, what exactly it clears, and how to clear formatting in Google Docs.

Why Clear Formatting in Google Docs?

There can be many situations where clearing formatting can be easier than manually fixing issues. Below I am listing some common situations where users need to use the clear formatting feature:

  • When collaborating with others, people can apply different formatting to the same document which can create inconsistency. Clearing the formatting of individual portions can help in that scenario.
  • Pasting text using Ctrl+V retains formatting from where you copied. If you do that, then you’ll have to clear formatting to make it consistent with your document. You can also use Ctrl+Shift+V to paste text that will remove formatting automatically.
  • Removing formatting turns documents into plain text, which can be useful to simplify complex documents.
  • When importing documents from a different tool, it could break formatting. The clear formatting option will fix that.
  • You may also reset the formatting of a document if you want to completely change its formatting for any other purpose, such as printing. It’s easier to fix plain text than unruly formatting.

Clear Formatting Limitations

Clearing formatting doesn’t magically turn the document into plain text. It has its limitations and scope. It will mostly remove direct formatting applied to text, such as strikethrough, bold, color, font size/type, superscript, and underline. It will still apply the default formatting of your Google Docs document, such as your default font style.

Below I am listing some common things that clear formatting will not affect:

  • Document headings will stay.
  • Hyperlinks will not be removed. Although the formatting of their text will be removed.
  • Images and objects will stay.
  • . and suggestions will not be affected.
  • Text in the header and footer will stay the same.
  • It will not remove lists and bullet points.
  • The overall page layout will not change either.

Most of the changes it will remove are related to the formatting applied to the individual text, overall document format will stay consistent.

How to Clear Formatting in Google Docs

If you are ready to use the clear formatting feature after knowing its uses and limitations, here’s how to apply it:

First, highlight the text that you want to clear formatting from. You can highlight individual text or press Ctrl+A keys to highlight all the text in the document.

Afterward, click on the Format menu at the top and select Clear formatting. Alternatively, you can also highlight the text and press the Ctrl+\ keys on the keyboard to apply the Clear formatting option.

That’s it, all the formatting will be cleared from the selected text and you can continue formatting your document as you like.

Ending Words

I found the most need for this option when I used to copy/paste something from a different document or page without using the Ctrl+Shift+V shortcut. Ever since I learned about it, I rarely have to use it. Although from time to time when I need to handle a document written by someone else, this option comes as a lifesaver.

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