In our last post we shared some basic formatting tips for your Word documents. This week, we’re going to go a bit more in-depth and look at styles.
Styles are sets of text formatting rules that make it quicker and easier to ensure consistency in your documents. If you apply the style Heading 2, for example, all headings throughout your document will be formatted identically. Already written half your document, but want to make some formatting changes? Instead of going back through and manually changing everything, just modify the style’s attributes and Word will automatically update all text based on that style.
Here’s a quick overview of Word’s different style types and how they can be applied in a document:
Character styles contain formatting rules for:
Paragraph styles contain formatting rules for:
- Text and paragraphs
- Tab stops
- Line spacing
- Text alignment
Table styles contain formatting rules for:
- Table lines
- Cell shading
List styles contain formatting rules for:
- Multilevel lists (up to 9 levels)
- Numbering or bullet schemes
Linked styles can be used as both paragraph and character styles. If you apply a linked style to a paragraph, it will be applied as a paragraph style. A linked style applied only to words or phrases will be applied as a character style.
Another major plus point of styles – probably the biggest, actually – is the Table of Contents. Especially useful for longer documents, where doing it manually is simply unthinkable, Word automatically generates the Table of Contents as well as lists of tables and figures. And again, it’s so easy to make modifications.
Word offers a number of predefined styles, which can be found in the Styles gallery on the Home tab:
You can apply these to your text as-is, or modify them to your liking. To do this, click the small arrow under the bottom right corner of the Styles gallery to open a smaller, floating Styles pane. Hover your mouse over the style you want to change, click the drop-down arrow and select Modify.
In this screenshot we have chosen the style called “Normal”, it is highly advisable to NOT modify this style, we have just used it for an example screenshot.
To create a new style, the simplest method is to format a block of text the way you want it, select all that text, and then click the New Style button at the bottom of the Styles pane.
If you want to create a new style by defining formatting rules in a dialogue box, click the lower downward arrow to the right of the Styles gallery, select Create a Style, and click the Modify button. Or, click the aforementioned New Style button on the Styles pane. Either way, the Create New Style from Formatting dialogue box will open.
Start by entering a name for your style in the Name field. This makes it easier to find in the Styles gallery next time you want to use it. While we’re on the subject, make sure the Add to the Styles gallery box (at the bottom of the dialogue) is checked.
Now let’s define the style’s properties. In the first drop-down menu, select a Style type. This will determine which controls are available in the formatting dialogue box. Then select a parent style from the Style based on menu (not available for List styles). Any formatting left undefined in your new style will be copied from this style. Select a Style for Following Paragraph (only for Paragraph and Linked styles) to control the appearance of paragraphs after you press Enter.
In the Formatting section of the dialogue box, use the control buttons to define text formatting attributes such as font, size, alignment, and line spacing. If the formatting attribute you want to change isn’t available, click the Format drop-down menu in the bottom left corner to open other formatting categories.
Finally, you can define how your new style will be available: Only in this document or New documents based on this template. Click OK to save your new style in the Styles gallery.
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