There's nothing easy about reformatting text in a Microsoft Word document. You can use the Format Painter to apply the formatting of one paragraph to others with a single click, and Word's Find and Replace features let you remove unwanted characters (or strings of characters), but these tools make their changes one at a time and often require additional cleanup.
I wish I had discovered Greg Maxey's free Clean Up Text add-on for Word years ago. The retired U.S. Navy submarine ordnance officer and former Microsoft Word MVP has created a Word DOT template that removes unwanted leading, trailing spaces and characters, carriage returns, and empty paragraphs. The add-on also applies the default formatting to all or part of the document, applies Normal formatting, and replaces line breaks with paragraph formatting--all with a single click.
Clean Up Text doesn't have to be a permanent addition to Word. After you download the add-on, you can open its ZIP file to access its DOT template file. Double-click the template to open Word with the Add-in enabled. When you close Word, the add-in will disappear.
To add the template permanently, open Word's Templates and Add-ins dialog box, click the Add button, and navigate to and select the Clean Up Text DOT file. To open Templates and Add-ins in Word 2003, click Tools > Templates and Add-ins. In Word 2007 and 2010, click the Add-ins button on the Developer tab.
(If the Developer tab isn't visible in Word 2007, click the Office button > Word Options > Popular and check the Show Developer tab in the Ribbon. In Word 2010, make the Developer tab appear by clicking File > Options > Customize Ribbon and check Developer in the right pane.)
Although designed for Word 97 through Word 2003, the add-on worked flawlessly with Word 2010. Simply select the Display Cleaner Panel button in Word's list of add-ons to open the Clean Up Text & Formatting dialog box. Nearly all of the add-on's options are check boxes or radio buttons, but to remove unwanted characters at the beginning or ending of lines, enter them in the "Remove leading/trailing characters" text box separated by the pipe character (|).
Clean Up Text's plain-vanilla interface won't win many style points, but as a plain-and-simple time-saver, the program is off the charts. If you'd like to spend more of your time in Word writing and less time reformatting, take Clean Up Text for a spin.