Here at RedLine, we work with Word every day, so I figured it was high time for—drum roll, please—a Microsoft Word Styles Tutorial.
I found a much easier way (it works for Word 2016, I don't know for earlier versions of Word): - In the document you have created your styles and headings, go to the 'Design' tab and click the downward arrow on the style sets. Then choose 'Save as a New Style Set'. A popup window will open to save the style set as a Word Template (.dotx). Style your favorite websites with themes & skins created by the Stylish community. Hundreds of thousands of backgrounds, color schemes and more at Userstyles.org. This is where you set the two Styles I told you about earlier, +Body and +Headings, which in turn control basic settings for many of the other Styles in a Word document. Just use the drop-down for each to find a font more to your liking. Then you can name your preferred font set before clicking Save. Running Word for Mac 15.28 (Office 365) on Sierra 10.12.1. Cannot get this shortcut to work for some reason. Tired both “Paste and Match Style” and “Paste and Match Destination Formatting” without success. Great tip for those that can get it to work, though. Would love to figure out what I’m doing wrong.
You might be wondering what Word Styles are and what purpose they serve. Well, you’re in the right spot.
Read on for our full Microsoft Word Styles tutorial or click below to skip right to a specific section.
Once you finish this tutorial, learn how to work with a table of contents in Word.
Microsoft Word Styles Tutorial
Throughout this guide, I’ll be using Styles (uppercase) and styles (lowercase). So what’s the difference?
- Styles refers only to the Microsoft Word feature that deals with text formatting attributes.
- styles refers to formatting attributes, too, but in a general sense. For example, I might talk about good heading styles to use in your Word doc (or a Publisher or InDesign file, for that matter).
Benefits to Using Styles in MS Word
The Styles pane appears in the Home tab. This prominent position should give you a clue as to how important the folks at Microsoft think it is.
Here are four reasons why you should use Styles in Microsoft Word:
- You’ll save a lot of time, especially in long documents.
- You can automatically generate a table of contents based on your headings.
- Your formatting will be much more consistent than if you were to set text attributes manually.
- You can use them in Word templates for consistency across documents.
II: Applying Styles
Understanding Heading Hierarchy
No how-to article—especially a detailed Microsoft Word Styles tutorial—would be any good if it didn’t help you do something. So in this section you’ll learn how to apply styles in MS Word.
My example here is an outline for an article about household pets.
My article has different sections (see Figure 1), such as Section 1: Dogs and Cats and Section 2: Hamsters, Gerbils, and Guinea Pigs. These are my level-1 headings, which I’ll call H1 heads for short.
Figure 1. All headings are in a logical order but have not yet been formatted.
Within each section are more specific sections. In the section on dogs and cats, for example, I’ve got a subsection called Dogs and another subsection called Cats. These are my H2 heads, because they fit logically as “children” under the “parent” category above them.
Then, under each of those sections, I’ve listed even more specific subsections: Short-Haired Breeds and Long-Haired Breeds under Dogs, for example. These are my H3 heads.
Finally, under those sections, the content is more specific still: Beagle, Bloodhound, Irish Terrier, and so on. They fit logically under Short-Haired Breeds and are H4 heads.
With each new lower level of head, the content gets more and more specific. An H1 head is general, while an H2 is more specific. An H3 is more specific than that.
I’m talking about my content (the words and ideas) here, not how it’s formatted (font, color, etc.). But it’s important to spend time on this concept because it will inform your formatting choices.
In fact, any self-respecting Microsoft Word Styles tutorial should have at least a bit of information on why you should use styles in the first place: it makes reading easier!
Using Word’s Built-In Styles
This hierarchy of headings displays content to your reader in a logical, sequential way. And the formatting that you’ll apply will reflect that, from broadest (biggest) to most specific (smallest).
MS Word comes prepackaged with a Styles pane in the Home tab. In it you’ll find little windows with labels such as “Title,” “Heading 1, “Heading 2,” “Normal,” etc. You’ll also see dummy text that shows what each Style looks like.
Let’s start applying Word Styles to our example text. (Mine may not look like yours—I’ve styled and restyled these elements several times.)
First, I’ll apply the “Heading 1” Style to the headings that are uppermost in the hierarchy (Figure 2).
Put your cursor anywhere within the line of text that you want to style and then click on “Heading 1.”
Figure 2. Use Word’s built-in styles to format your H1 heads.
Then, I’ll do the same for my H2, H3, and H4 heads using “Heading 2,” “Heading 3,” and “Heading 4,” respectively (Figure 3).
Again, put your cursor in the text to which you want to apply a style and click the style you want.
Figure 3. All headings, from H1 to H4, have been styled.
Pro tip: Use shortcut keys, not mouse clicks, to quickly apply styles in your Word doc.
III: Modifying Styles
What if you’re like me and you don’t like Word’s built-in styles? Then change them!
To modify a style, right-click it in the Styles pane and select “Modify” (Figure 4).
Figure 4. Right-click on the style you wish to change and select “Modify.”
Figure 5. MS Word lets you modify all attributes of a style, including typeface, font color and size, paragraph spacing, and tabs.
A “Modify Style” window will open. Here, you can change the global attributes for that style, including format, font, paragraph, tabs, and so on (Figure 5).
One of the most useful features in Styles is the ability to set a shortcut key. Instead of clicking multiple times with your mouse, you can set a key combination (Ctrl + 1, for example) for the H1 style.
Then, to format all of the H1 heads in your document, you only have to hit Ctrl + 1.
(In the reports that RedLine formats—some of which are over 100 pages—this is a big time saver, so we set up shortcut keys for the most common page elements.)
In my example, I’ve changed the color of the H1 style from blue to dark grey (Figure 6).
Figure 6. Modifying the color of any style changes all instances of that style in your document.
Pro tip: Any change that you make to a style will change all instances of that style throughout your document. (So if there’s any attribute of that style that you don’t want to apply elsewhere, then either create a new style or change the formatting manually.)
IV: Creating Your Own Styles
The next section in our Microsoft Word Styles tutorial has to do with creating your own styles. Moreover, you can base these new styles on existing styles.
Why Create a New Style?
For example, let’s say that you have a long document consisting of a main report and several annexes. For consistency, the headings in the document should be styled the same regardless of whether they appear in the main report or in an annex.
But you may not want your annex headings to populate the table of contents. What you can do is create two separate styles that look identical but that have different names.
How to Create a New Style in MS Word
I’ll use the same document as before. This time, though, it has ballooned from a feature article into a downloadable resource guide for would-be pet owners, so I’ll need a table of contents (TOC).
However, I don’t want every single heading within the annex to appear in the TOC. Solution? Create a new style.
In my example, I’m creating a new style specifically for headings in the annex. The first one is based on the Heading 2 style, so I put my cursor in the text that reads Dogs (it’s styled as an H2) and then click on the “Styles Pane” button (Figure 7). (In Office 2016 for Mac, this appears to the right of the Quick Styles pane.)
Figure 7. Open MS Word’s Styles Pane to create a new style.
Then, within Properties, I change the name of the style from “Heading 2” to “Heading 2 Annex” (Figure 8). Again, it looks like Heading 2—same typeface, same color, same spacing, etc. But now I can control whether it appears in the table of contents.
Figure 8. Give a descriptive name to your new style.
Pro tip: Click within your “template style” (the style on which your new style is based) before you create the new style. This will automatically base the new style on the highlighted style.
V. Next Steps
Well, you’ve reached the end of this little Microsoft Word Styles tutorial.
Download the dummy article I “wrote” for this post to see how the different headings are styled. Then try the following for yourself:
- Apply a style: Put your cursor in a heading and click a different style in the Styles pane to see what happens.
- Modify a style: Pick any style in the document and modify it. (For example, change the color of the H3 heads from red to blue.)
- Create a new style: Create a style called “Heading 3 Annex”. (It will look identical to Heading 3; it will just have a different name.)
This may not be the only Microsoft Word Styles tutorial you’ve read, but I hope it’s been helpful. (Feel free to ask me questions in the comments if you need help on a specific problem.)
If you need help styling your reports, let us know. The majority of our report formatting work is in MS Word. Thanks for reading!
If you’d like to read more content about Microsoft Word, see how to work with nonbreaking spaces.
Word 2019 provides styles and style sets to help you customize your content. Using a style — a named set of formatting specifications — makes it easy to apply consistent formatting throughout a Word 2019 document. For example, you might apply the style named Heading 1 to all headings in the document and the style named Normal to all the regular body text. Here are the advantages of this approach:
- Ease: Applying a style is easier than manually applying formatting. And changing the formatting is a snap. If you want the headings to look different, for example, you can modify the Heading 1 style to change them all at once.
- Consistency: You don’t have to worry about all the headings being formatted consistently; because they’re all using the same style, they’re automatically all the same.
Of the several types of styles in Word 2019, the most common type (by far) is a paragraph style. A paragraph style can contain formatting specifications, such as font, font size and color, indentation, alignment, and line spacing.
Unless you specify otherwise, each paragraph is assigned a style called Normal. In Word 2019, this default uses a Calibri 11 point (pt) font and left-aligns your text. (Calibri is a font that comes with Office.)
Points (pt) measure how large the text is.
In the Styles group on the Home tab, you can find samples of several different styles. This is the Styles gallery. Not all available styles appear in the Styles gallery; each individual style’s definition specifies whether or not it appears there.
To assign a different style to a paragraph in Word 2019, follow these steps:
- Click your mouse anywhere in the paragraph you want to change.
If you want to apply the style to multiple paragraphs, select them first.
- Click the Home tab.
- Click the More arrow (the down arrow with the horizontal line above it) to the right of the Styles gallery, opening the full list of the Styles gallery styles.
A few of the Styles gallery styles are visible without clicking More. If the one you want to apply appears, you can skip Step 3.
- Click the style you want.
Other styles are available besides the ones in the Styles gallery. To see them, click the dialog box launcher in the Styles group to open a Styles pane that contains a larger list. You can select any style by clicking the style in the Styles pane.
Select the Show Preview check box in the Styles pane if you want to show each style’s name with the formatting the style contains.
If the Styles pane floats (that is, it’s not anchored to the right side of the screen), you can anchor it there by dragging it to the far right until it snaps into place. You can make it float again by dragging it by its title (Styles) back out toward the center of the Word window.
The definitions of the styles are determined by the style set in use. Different style sets can quickly change the look of an entire document by redefining each built-in style (fonts, sizes, colors, line spacing, and so on).
To change to a different style set in Word 2019, follow these steps:
- On the Design tab, point to one of the style sets in the Style Sets gallery in the Document Formatting group.
The new style set is previewed in your document’s existing text.
- Click the style set you want.
If you don’t like any of the choices displayed, click the More button for the gallery to open the full gallery of choices. Notice that you can reset to the default style set from this gallery menu, or save the current settings as a new style set.
You can also manually modify any style’s definition. Suppose that you want the body text in a document to be a little larger. To do this, follow these steps:
- Open the Styles pane by clicking the dialog box launcher for the Styles group (on the Home tab).
- In the Styles pane, point to the style you want to modify so that a down arrow appears to its right.
- Click the down arrow to open a menu.
- Click Modify.
- In the Modify Style dialog box that appears, make any formatting changes as desired.
This dialog box contains a variety of text and paragraph formatting settings.
- Click OK.
Basic Stylish Style Set Word
Check out these other cool Word 2019 tricks.