This article describes styles and lists their many benefits. It explains how to apply styles, modify them, and create new styles. It describes how you can use styles and templates to change things like the default typeface. It also includes a link to an exercise which covers all aspects of working with styles and explains how to set up Word options to make styles work smoothly.
Formatting with Styles
What Are Styles?
Although fewer than one out of a hundred users know how to use them, styles are one of the most useful and important features of every word processing program. If you're not using styles, you're practically still in the age of typewriters.
A style is a saved and named collection of character and paragraph formats which can be applied to text all together, simultaneously.
There are actually five types of styles in MS-Word:
This discussion deals with just the first, most common category of styles: paragraph and character.
All text in a word processing document uses a style. If no particular style is chosen by the user, the default style is applied automatically. The default style in MS-Word is named Normal.
It's easy to see which style is applied to text: position the
insertion point in the text and look at the style gallery. The
active style's button will be highlighted there.
Advantages of Formatting with Styles
There are many, many advantages to using Styles. Most of them boil down to these characteristics:
Multiple formats. Suppose there are certain paragraphs in a document that you want to format the following way:
Standardization. If you needed the same set of formats in the example above for other paragraphs in your document, not only would a style make it easier to apply them, it would also ensure that the formats would be exactly the same in both locations.
Dynamic. Dynamic means that when you modify a style, all text using that style changes automatically to reflect changes to the style. So, if you decide to changes one or more of the formats in the example, you need only update the style in one central place and the job is done. There is no need to track down all individual instances in the document.
Reusable. If you decide you'd like to use a custom style in other documents, add it to a template with just one check and the style will be available in the style gallery of all new (and old) documents based on that template.
Built-in Headings. Built-in Heading styles tap into the power of features like Outline view and the Headings view of the Find (Search) taskpane. Once your document is organized into sections beneath Headings, you can rapidly re-organize topics visually using the Promote/Demote, and Send Up/Down Outline tools. This method of moving text around makes Cut and Paste look like bear skins and knives.
Applying a style works exactly the way direct formatting does (but without all the problems):
That's all there is to it. To make things even easier:
Creating Custom Styles
Creating a custom style is as easy as 1-2-3. Oh, ok. 1-2-3-4.
See example in figures below:
Figure 1: Steps 1 - 2 - 3
Figure 2: Step 4 Type in name for the new style and click on Ok
Figure 3: a_New_Style appears in Style Gallery - apply it to other paragraphs
Modify a Style
To modify an existing style, use the same steps used to create a new style except:
As soon as you update the style, all text formatted with the style is updated to match the changes.
Use Styles to Change Document Defaults
Have you ever wished that every new document you started used a typeface different from the one Microsoft designated as the default? Once you know how to modify a style, it's easy to do.
By default, when you add or change a style in a document, the modification is limited to that document.
However, with one extra step you can save the new or modified style to the document template. When you do this, the change becomes the default for all new documents based on that template.
Here's how to change the default typeface for all your new documents:
The typeface that you chose is the new default for all new documents.
To learn more about templates and how to work with them, see Working with Templates.
Built-in Heading Styles
When you use the built-in heading styles (Heading 1, Heading 2, Heading 3, etc.), to format section headings in a document, you're not only adding formatting, you're organizing the document and giving it structure.
The structure provided by the built-in headings opens the door to the powerful Outline view and it's superb organizational tools: Promote/Demote, Move Up/Move Down.
Completing the Styles and Outlining Exercise will not only teach you how to apply styles, modify them, and make new ones, it will also introduce you to the Outlining view and how it can be used to organize document content.
Keep Your Styles Under Control
In an effort to get more users to actually use styles, Microsoft created an option to have Word create a new style each time that you apply some direct formatting.
Its heart was in the right place, but because we will always use some direct formatting here and there on an ad hoc basis, this option ends up cluttering up the Style Gallery with unnecessary and unneeded styles which just make it harder to find the styles we actually use.
If you notice Word adding new styles without you asking it to do so, you'll probably want to turn this option off. Use either of the following methods:
Bruce Miller, 2000, 2005, 2014
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