Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Microsoft 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: Intelligently Starting a New Paragraph.

Intelligently Starting a New Paragraph

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated November 23, 2019)
This tip applies to Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Microsoft 365


If you use styles in your documents, there is a very powerful feature you can use. The Next Style feature is defined when you set up a style and indicate what Word should use as the style following this one.

For instance, let's assume you have two styles defined as: Figure and Caption. The Figure style is used for figures in your document and it is always followed by the Caption style, which is used for the figure caption. You can set the Next Style for the Figure style so that when you press Enter, Word automatically makes the next paragraph a Caption style.

  1. Display the Home tab of the ribbon and then click the small icon at the bottom-right of the Styles group. Word displays the Styles task pane.
  2. In the list of styles shown, hover the mouse pointer over the name of the style you want to change. A drop-down arrow should appear at the right side of the style name.
  3. Click the drop-down arrow and choose Modify. Word displays the Modify Style dialog box. (See Figure 1.)
  4. Figure 1. The Modify Style dialog box.

  5. In the Style For Following Paragraph drop-down list, select an existing style that you want to follow this style. In the above example, this would be the Caption style.
  6. Click on OK.
  7. When you are done, close the Styles task pane if desired.

When modifying a style, you may want to select the radio button called New Documents Based On This Template. This saves the changes you are making in the template file for use in other documents.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (7724) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Microsoft 365. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Word here: Intelligently Starting a New Paragraph.

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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