Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Office 365. If you are using an earlier version (Word 2003 or earlier), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for earlier versions of Word, click here: Defining Styles.

Defining Styles

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated December 22, 2018)

2

Styles are key to the underlying power of Word. They allow you to consistently define how your text should look throughout a document or a series of documents. There are a number of ways in which you can define styles, but the way you use them will depend most heavily on the version of Word you are using. To define a style in Word, simply follow these steps:

  1. Display the Home tab of the ribbon.
  2. Click the small icon at the lower-right corner of the Styles group. Word displays the Styles task pane at the right side of the screen.
  3. If desired, you can choose one of the pre-defined styles that appear in the list of available styles. In many cases, these can save you a great deal of work for common treatments of text.
  4. If you picked a pre-defined style, move the mouse pointer over the top of the style name, click on the down-arrow to the right of the style name, and then click on Modify. If you want to define a style from scratch, click on the New Style button in the lower-left corner of the task pane. Either way, you see essentially the same dialog box that allows you to set the attributes of the style. (See Figure 1.)
  5. Figure 1. The Create New Style from Formatting dialog box.

  6. If you are defining a new style, make sure you specify the name and type of style you are creating. You can also indicate if this new style is based on (derived from) an existing style.
  7. Click on the Format button to make changes to the actual formatting attributes assigned to the style. The types of formatting available depend on whether you are working with a paragraph or character style.
  8. When you are done setting the formatting attributes, click on OK to close the dialog box. Word updates the style list in the Styles and Formatting task pane, if necessary.
  9. Close the Styles and Formatting task pane, if desired.

Once the style is defined (or an existing style modified), you can use your style anywhere you like within your document.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (5946) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Office 365. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Word here: Defining Styles.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...

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Comments

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What is 4 + 3?

2018-12-26 15:19:14

Christopher Ohland

I'd like to hear your feedback re my comment. When I create a style the name assigned to the style follows the nomenclature of the stock styles but describes the changes. For example: Body Text 06/06LNS used the Body Text paragraph style with 6 pt spacing before and after, left justified, and no space between the lines.

I like to stick with the stock style names but sometimes I need a name specific to its use. For example: Flysheet, Flysheet 2, Flysheet 3. Note how I use the default system of numbering with number " 2" and " 3" as secondary and tertiary levels to "Flysheet."

I also like to create Character styles for font features. Primarily, so that font features are maintain when styles are re-applied without the intention to lost the character fonts. For example Font Superscript is use for superscripting and would be lost if someone re-applied the Body Text style. Others are Font Scale 33% used to create small spaces between numbers and scientific values, Font Condensed 0.3pt so that I can squeeze a paragraph to fit at the bottom of a page.

Lastly, I use the Manage Styles, Recommend feature to list and order (order the style I use with low assigned value and move the most used into the Style Menu shown in the Home tab.


2018-12-24 11:12:41

Marlene Smith-Baranzini

Hello Allen,
Thank you for all the word tips, and Merry Christmas!
Regarding Styles, when you save a new style or one you’ve modified, one choice is whether to update existing documents based on that style (as I recall). I never know what to check — afraid that then older docs I’ve saved using that style will be automatically updated. I fear messing things up if I check yes.
Marlene Smith-Baranzini


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