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As per discussion here:

User A has a notebook that uses custom definitions from styles.nb. Now user A passes the notebook to user B. The styles do not show up for B because B does not have styles.nb. This is because the private stylesheet for the notebook inherits from styles.nb (which inherits from Default.nb).

How can I easily copy the definitions from style.nb into the private styles for the notebook i.e. as if style.nb didn't exist and all custom definitions were in the private styles and base inherited from Default.nb

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up vote 21 down vote accepted

In answering the question the underlying assumptions are that the parent stylesheet (myparent.nb) of private stylesheet for a notebook is not a built in stylesheet; and that the stylesheet has one or more custom styles that inherit from myparent.nb.


stylesheetSetter[path_String] := 
 Module[{child, childstyles, parent, nb, tmp, parentparent, 

(* find the parent stylesheet from the private stylesheet, a.k.a child *)
  child = Options[EvaluationNotebook[], StyleDefinitions];
  parent = 
     Cell[StyleData[StyleDefinitions -> x_]] :> x, \[Infinity]];
  childstyles = Cases[child, Cell[StyleData[_, ___], __], \[Infinity]];

(* get the parent *)
  nb = NotebookOpen[path <> parent];
  tmp = NotebookGet[nb];

 (* find the parent definition *)

  parentparent = 
   Cases[tmp, Cell[StyleData[StyleDefinitions -> x_]], \[Infinity]];

 (* scrape the styles *)

  parentstyles = 
   Cases[tmp, Cell[StyleData[x_, y___], z__], \[Infinity]];

 (* merge parents parent, child styles, parent styles *)

   StyleDefinitions -> 
    Notebook[Join[parentparent, childstyles, parentstyles], 
     StyleDefinitions -> "PrivateStylesheetFormatting.nb"]];


  1. I have a notebook.

  2. I chose a user created notebook "mystyles.nb" as my stylesheet (Format > Stylsheet).

  3. In the course of using this notebook I decided I wanted to change some styles. I then edited the private stylesheet to alter the styles for e.g. "Input", "Text" ...whatever. This can be done in a number of ways but most users will do this via Format > Edit Stylesheet...

  4. Find out what the path to your user created stylesheets is. For me it is


path = $UserBaseDirectory <> "/SystemFiles/FrontEnd/StyleSheets/";

Now run the function:


If you now go to Format > Edit Stylesheet... you should now see that your private stylesheet has a built in stylesheet as its parent.

Note that I haven't added checks and condition to see whether a private stylesheet is being used and if it meets the conditions. So this will only work under the conditions described. Another assumption is that a built in stylesheet can be found one parent back from the user created stylesheet.

An alternative is to mix and match styles programmatically. This function will take an existing stylesheet, a list of style data cells, and a new stylesheet name and return the stylesheet:


stylesheetChanger[file_String, mynewstyles_List, 
  stylesheetname_String] := Module[{nb, tmp, parent, cells},

  nb = NotebookOpen[file];
  tmp = NotebookGet[nb];
  (* find the parent definition *)

  parent = Cases[tmp, Cell[StyleData[StyleDefinitions -> x_]], {1, 2}];
  (* scrape the styles *)

  cells = Cases[tmp, Cell[StyleData[x_, y___], z__], {1, 3}];
  (* create a new style sheet that references a built in stylesheet \
and merges the old and new styles *)

  nb = CreateDocument[
    Notebook[Join[parent, mynewstyles, cells], 
     StyleDefinitions -> "PrivateStylesheetFormatting.nb"], 
    WindowSize -> All];
  (* save the stylesheet *)
  NotebookSave[nb, stylesheetname];


myColor = Black;
background = GrayLevel[1];

existingstylesheet = $UserBaseDirectory <> 

mynewstyles = {Cell[StyleData["Input"], FontColor -> myColor, 
   Background -> background, 
   AutoStyleOptions -> {"CommentStyle" -> {FontColor -> 
        RGBColor[0, 0, 1], FontSize -> 11, 
       FontFamily -> "Comic Sans MS", ShowAutoStyles -> False, 
       ShowSyntaxStyles -> False, AutoNumberFormatting -> False}}]}

stylesheetChanger[existingstylesheet, mynewstyles, "newstylesheet.nb"]
share|improve this answer
Nice, but I nearly downvoted you for the use of Comic Sans. – Verbeia Jul 2 '12 at 4:24
This is nice, thanks Mike – R. M. Jul 2 '12 at 4:27
@Verbeia I find that fonts like Comic Sans are very good for comments. :) – Mike Honeychurch Jul 2 '12 at 5:01
@MikeHoneychurch very useful. Thank you! – Black Milk Apr 28 '13 at 4:46

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