What are styles? Styles are a way to apply formatting to paragraphs in Microsoft Word with a single click. More importantly, by formatting your documents using styles – the documents will be consistent throughout. Consistency always looks more professional.
I’ve used styles in Word, since the XP version, but this tutorial will focus on how to create and use styles in Microsoft Office 2010 (the same techniques should work for Microsoft Office 360 or Cloud).
The first step in creating a new style is to click on the new style icon. If you don’t see a styles list or styles icon, follow the instructions in How to Customize the Quick Access Toolbar to add the Styles Icon to your Quick Access toolbar. If you have trouble with this step feel free to ask politely worded questions in the Comments.
To create a new style click the Styles Icon:
At the bottom of the Styles list click the new style icon (highlighted below):
Clicking the new style icon will bring up the New Style Dialogue Box. On this first screen name your style. Use a descriptive but short name that describes what the style is for. Here I’ve named the style “Article Text”.
You can also highlight a style that’s already in the Style List, and click the Modify Style icon (the two capital letter As with the pencil). If you modify an existing style, that style name will appear in the “Style based on” space, as seen above.
Next, modify the style to what you need. First, modify the paragraph options by clicking “Format”, then “Paragraph”. This will bring up the Paragraph Style Dialogue Box.
Here you can set paragraph alignment, the line spacing, space after the paragraph, and even the first line indent. By setting space after at 6 pt (point) Word will automatically insert a blank line at the end of every paragraph that uses the style. It is no longer necessary to press return twice at the end of the paragraph to insert a blank line. This also avoids awkward extra spaces, such at page or column breaks. The Special box (set at “first line”, .5 above) means that each paragraph will have a five space indent at the beginning.
These options can be changed as needed. For example, in an academic paper it’s customary to set off a long quote by not only leaving lines before and after it but indenting the quote on both the right and left, with justified text, like this:
Which is accomplished with the following Paragraph Settings:
Plus setting the alignment as “Justify” and updating the font to “Bold”.
Which brings me to the next section for a Style: Font. Microsoft Word includes a large number of fonts, as well as Italic, Bold, and Underline options. You are probably used to using the bold option to emphasize a word in a document, or using the Italic option for titles of other works such as books or films. But you can also specify the font and its options using the Font Dialogue Box while creating a style.
While this might not seem remarkable for body text, where you probably aren’t going to want to use any special options other than picking your body font and size, however, it’s extremely useful when designing styles for headings, subheadings, and special formats such as captions, footnotes, long quotes, etc.
Here you can also see the advantage of using styles – you can simply type your paper, and set the normal paragraphs with the “Article Text” style (or whatever you’ve named the style) and to update a quote you simply highlight it and click the “Long Quote” style in the Style list. Headings and subheadings styles can be created and applied just as easily. If you have several heading and subheading styles, they will be consistent if you use Styles for formatting. It’s also possible to choose your style first, then type what you need, and it will be formatted according to the style.
Try creating and using styles in Word. They save time because it’s no longer necessary to format every paragraph separately. Styles will make your formatting consistent. For example, in the Long Quote Style above the indents are set at .7. If you didn’t use a style, and you formatted the long quotes as you went, in a 30 or 40-page paper, you might have some quotes indented at .5, some at .7 and some at 1.0. But if you use the Long Quote Style for each quote – they will all be exactly the same. And if you need to change or update the formatting, all you need do is modify the style – and the change will occur throughout your document (as long as “Automatically Update” is checked.)