Style basics in Word

Microsoft Word 2010 makes it easy to use styles without having to know much about them.

This article explains how styles work to save you time and make your document look good, and the relationship between styles and two other features: Quick Styles and themes.

In this article


Styles save time and make your document look good

One of the great things about using a word processor is that you can create documents that look professionally typeset.

  • Headings are in a font that contrasts with body text.
  • Paragraphs are separated with just enough white space.
  • Elements such as bulleted lists are indented.
  • Emphasized text is in a contrasting color.

The document may even include special elements such as a table of contents.

Using styles

Instead of using direct formatting, use styles to format your document so you can quickly and easily apply a set of formatting choices consistently throughout your document.

A style is a set of formatting characteristics, such as font name, size, color, paragraph alignment and spacing. Some styles even include borders and shading.

For example, instead of taking three separate steps to format your heading as 16-point, bold, Cambria, you can achieve the same result in one step by applying the built-in Heading 1 style. You do not need to remember the characteristics of the Heading 1 style. For each heading in your document, you just click in the heading (you don't even need to select all the text), and then click Heading 1 in the gallery of styles.

Heading 1 in text and in the Styles group

If you decide that you want subheadings, you can use the built-in Heading 2 style, which was designed to look good with the Heading 1 style.

Word Ribbon image

Callout 1 The Quick Styles that you see in the gallery of styles are designed to work together. For example, the Heading 2 Quick Style is designed to look subordinate to the Heading 1 Quick Style.
Callout 2 The body text of your document is automatically formatted with the Normal Quick Style.
Callout 3 Quick Styles can be applied to paragraphs, but you can also apply them to individual words and characters. For example, you can emphasize a phrase by applying the Emphasis Quick Style.
Callout 4 When you format text as part of a list, each item in the list is automatically formatted with the List Paragraph Quick Style.

If you later decide that you want headings to have a different look, you can change the Heading 1 and Heading 2 styles, and Word automatically updates all instances of them in the document. You can also apply a different Quick Style set or a different theme to change the look of the headings without making changes to the styles.

Built-in styles turn on timesaving features

The built-in styles (Heading 1, Heading 2, etc.) provide other benefits, too. If you use the built-in heading styles, Word can generate a table of contents automatically. Word also uses the built-in heading styles to make the Document Map, which is a convenient feature for moving through long documents.

 Tip   Try it. If you have a document that uses the built-in heading styles, open it, and on the View tab, in the Show/Hide group, select the Document Map check box. Click a heading in the document map to jump to the corresponding part of the document.

Top of Page Top of Page

Character and paragraph styles

Word provides several style types:

  • Character and paragraph styles determine the look of most of the text in a document. Some styles work as both character and paragraph types, and these styles are known as linked styles.
  • List styles determine the look of lists, including characteristics such as bullet style or number scheme, indentation, and any label text.
  • Table styles determine the look of tables, including characteristics such as the text formatting of the header row, gridlines, and accent colors for rows and columns.

You can find more information about adding lists and tables to your document on the Office support website.

Character, paragraph, and linked styles

Character, paragraph, and linked styles appear in the Styles group on the Home tab. You can quickly apply a style from the gallery of styles. To see more information about each style, click the Styles Dialog Box Launcher.

The Styles task pane opens.

Styles task pane

Callout 1 Paragraph styles are marked with a paragraph symbol: . You can see the paragraph symbol in the Quick Style gallery as well as in the Styles task pane. Click anywhere in a paragraph to apply the style to the entire paragraph.
Callout 2 Character styles are marked with a character symbol: a. Click anywhere in a word to apply the style to the entire word. Or you can select more than one word to apply the style to more than one word.
Callout 3 Linked styles are marked with both a paragraph symbol and a character symbol: ¶a. Click anywhere in a paragraph to apply the style to the entire paragraph. Or you can select one or more words to apply the style to the words that you selected.

Character styles

Character styles contain formatting characteristics that can be applied to text, such as font name, size, color, bold, italic, underline, borders, and shading.

Character styles do not include formatting that affects paragraph characteristics, such as line spacing, text alignment, indentation, and tab stops.

Word includes several built-in character styles, such as Emphasis, Subtle Emphasis, and Intense Emphasis. Each of these built-in styles combines formatting, such as bold, italic, and accent color, to provide a coordinated set of typographic designs. For example, applying the Emphasis character style formats text as bold, italic, in an accent color.

To apply a character style, you select the text that you want to format, and then you click the character style that you want.

Character style

Callout 1 Click in the word you want to format.
Callout 2 Move your cursor over the Quick Styles to see a preview of the formatting in your document. When you point to a character style, only the word where you clicked is formatted. When you point to a paragraph style or a linked style, the entire paragraph is formatted. Click the character style that you want to use.
Callout 3 The word that you selected is formatted with the characteristics of the style that you chose.

Back to the list of style types

Paragraph styles

A paragraph style includes everything that a character style contains, but it also controls all aspects of a paragraph's appearance, such as text alignment, tab stops, line spacing, and borders.

For example, you can have a character style called Alert that formats text as bold and red. Additionally, you can have a paragraph style called Headline that formats text as bold and red. But the Headline paragraph style also centers the text horizontally and adds 24 points of space above the text.

In this scenario, if you select a paragraph and then apply the Alert style, all the text in the paragraph is formatted as bold and red, but nothing else about the paragraph changes. However, if you select the paragraph and then apply the Headline style, the text become bold and red, extra space is inserted before the paragraph, and the paragraph is centered between the left and right margins.

Word includes two built-in paragraph styles: Normal and List Paragraph. By default, Word automatically applies the Normal paragraph style to all text in a blank, new document. Similarly, Word automatically applies the List Paragraph paragraph style to items in a list — for example, when you use the Bullets command to create a bulleted list.

To apply a paragraph style, you select the paragraphs that you want to format, and then you click the paragraph style you want.

 Note   To select a single paragraph for applying a paragraph style, you can click anywhere in the paragraph. To select more than one paragraph, click anywhere in the first paragraph and drag to anywhere in the last paragraph that you want to select. You do not need to select the entire paragraph.

Back to the list of style types

Linked styles

A linked style behaves as either a character style or a paragraph style, depending on what you select.

If you click in a paragraph or select a paragraph and then apply a linked style, the style is applied as a paragraph style. However, if you select a word or phrase in the paragraph and then apply a linked style, the style is applied as a character style, with no effect on the paragraph as a whole.

For example, if you select (or click in) a paragraph and then apply the Heading 1 style, the whole paragraph is formatted with the Heading 1 text and paragraph characteristics. However, if you select a word or a phrase and then apply Heading 1, the text that you selected is formatted with the text characteristics of the Heading 1 style, but none of the paragraph characteristics are applied.

Linked style

Callout 1 When you select or click in a paragraph and apply a linked style, the style is applied to the whole paragraph.
Callout 2 When you select a word or phrase and apply a linked style, the style is applied only to the selected text.

How is this useful? Consider the scenario above, in which an Alert character style and a Headline paragraph style each format text as bold and red. If the Headline style were a linked style instead of a paragraph style, you would not need a separate character style for formatting words and phrases. Wherever you want a headline in your document (bold, red, centered, with extra space above), you would select a paragraph and apply the linked style. Wherever you want an alert, you would select a word or phrase and apply the same linked style.

Word includes many built-in linked styles, notably the heading styles (Heading 1, Heading 2, and so on).

 Tip   You might want the first few words of a paragraph to coordinate with the formatting of the headings in your document. This type of formatting, known as a run-in head or a side head, is easy to apply by using linked styles. Select the first few words of a paragraph, and then apply a heading style.

Run-in head

Callout 1 Select the first few words of a paragraph and then click a heading style to create a run-in head.
Callout 2 Click in a paragraph and then click a heading style to create a heading.

Back to the list of style types

Top of Page Top of Page

Styles, Quick Style sets, and themes

When you use styles to format your document, the style definitions interact with Quick Style sets and theme settings to provide many combinations of cohesive, professional-looking designs.

After you apply styles, you can quickly change the look of the document to suit your needs by choosing the Quick Style set that you like. You can refine the look of the document even more by selecting a theme that you like.

Quick Style sets multiply the usefulness of styles

Previous versions of Word included a set of built-in styles that were designed to look good together. But it was only one set. If you wanted headings to be centered in some documents but aligned on the left margin in others, you either used separate templates or you created separate styles for each kind of formatting.

In Word 2010, you can use the same document template and the same styles for different kinds of documents. For a document with centered headings, you can use the Formal Quick Style set, and for a document with left-aligned headings, you can use a different Quick Style set, such as Word 2007. Switching Quick Style sets automatically updates the formatting of all the styles in the document.

You can see the effect of a Quick Style set by pointing to the various style sets before you click one. On the Home tab, in the Styles group, click Change Styles, point to Style Set, and then point to the various style set names.

Quick Style sets

Callout 1 A document with the Word 2007 style set applied. Title, and Heading 1 styles are used to format the title and headings.
Callout 2 The same document, using the same Title and Heading 1 styles, looks very different when the Formal style set is applied.

Themes provide font and color schemes for Quick Style sets

When you apply a theme, you simultaneously apply a font scheme, a color scheme, and a set of graphic effects. The font scheme and color scheme from the theme are carried over into the Quick Style sets.

For example, if the Office theme (the default theme) is applied to your document, all of the Quick Style sets use Cambria for headings, Calibri for body text, and the Office color scheme. If you switch to the Metro theme, all of the Quick Style sets — and the text in your document — switch to Consolas for headings, Corbel for body text, and the Metro color scheme.

Themes

Callout 1 A document with the Office theme applied.
Callout 2 The same document with the Metro theme applied switches to a different font set and color scheme.

To apply a theme, click Themes in the Themes group on the Page Layout tab.

You are not required to apply a theme wholesale. You can apply the font scheme and color scheme that you want independently.

For example, if you like the color scheme and graphical effects of the Civic theme, but you don't want to use Georgia as the font for headings and body text, you can apply a different font scheme. On the Home tab, in the Styles group, point to Change Styles and then point to Fonts.

Applying custom font choices

Applying a theme or a font scheme defines font choices for headings and body text that are designed to go together. The font choices stay in effect regardless of which Quick Style set you choose, until you switch to a different theme or font scheme.

If you want to specify that text be displayed in a particular font regardless of the theme or font scheme, create a custom style. Or you can use direct formatting by selecting the text and applying the font that you want.

 Note   If you don't want the font to update to reflect updates to the theme or font scheme, be sure to format the text with a font whose name is not followed by (Headings) or (Body). These are listed as Theme Fonts in the gallery of fonts.

Fonts

Callout 1 The fonts that you select among the Theme Fonts will be updated to a different font scheme if you apply a different theme or font scheme to the document.
Callout 2 Click a font among the Recently Used Fonts or All Fonts to quickly apply a font that is not subject to changing the theme or font scheme.

Applying custom color choices

You can apply a color scheme that is designed as a coordinated set of colors. When you define the color of text, you can choose one of the theme colors, or you can select from a range of standard and custom colors.

If you choose a theme color, the color might change if you switch to a different color scheme or theme. However, if you choose a standard or custom color, text is displayed in that color regardless of the color scheme or theme that you apply to the document.

Font color

Callout 1 Colors that you select from the Theme Colors are updated to a different color scheme if you apply a different theme or color scheme to the document.
Callout 2 Colors that you select from the Standard Colors are not changed even if you apply a different theme or color scheme to the document.
Callout 3 Click More Colors to select from a wide array of color choices. These colors also are not changed even if you apply a different theme or color scheme to the document.

Palettes of choices for applying layers of formatting

Let's put all these formatting choices together. Think of themes as palettes that provide font and color schemes, and Quick Style sets are like collections of brushes that you use to apply formatting to your document. The palettes are labeled things like Office, Apex, and Aspect. The brush collections are named things like Word 2007, Manuscript, and Traditional. Each brush collection is prestocked with brushes named Normal, Heading 1, Emphasis, and so on.

The effect of using any of the individual brushes depends on which collection (Quick Style set) it belongs to, as well as which palette (theme) is in use.

Palettes of choices

When you apply brush strokes (styles) to your document, Word applies the formatting in layers. Each layer overrides the previous layer, providing an increasing degree of fine-tuning and a decreasing degree of flexibility.

The bottom layer is the Normal paragraph style. Text formatted as Normal can automatically change its appearance when you switch themes or Quick Style sets. The top layer is direct formatting. If you select a word and apply the standard red color to it, the word remains red no matter what theme, Quick Style set, or style you apply to it.

Layers of formatting

 Note   You can see the layers of formatting by using the Style Inspector. On the Home tab, in the Styles group, click the Styles Dialog Box Launcher. At the bottom of the Styles task pane, click Style Inspector.
Styles task pane
Boxes in the Style Inspector show you the style and direct formatting that are in effect for the text at the cursor's location. You can click Reset to Normal Paragraph Style, Clear Paragraph Formatting, Clear Character Style, or Clear Character Formatting buttons to remove formatting from the text, one layer at a time.
Style Inspector

Emphasize or italicize?

For example, if you are using the Word 2007 Quick Style set, and you want to emphasize a word in a paragraph, you can select it and then do one of two things:

  • Format it with the Emphasis Quick Style.
  • Italicize it (for example, by pressing CTRL+I).

Emphasized text contrasts with the surrounding text, but it doesn't necessarily need to be italicized. On the other hand, you may want to use italics if the text is a book title.

When you use the Word 2007 Quick Style set, the Emphasis style italicizes the text. However, if you switch to the Fancy Quick Style set, the body text is displayed in italics, and text formatted with the Emphasis style is displayed in a contrasting color with a shaded background. If you switch to the Elegant Quick Style set, text formatted with the Emphasis style is displayed as bold, small caps.

The Emphasis style is a design element within the Quick Style set, not an explicit format.

Top of Page Top of Page

Customized styles

If you want formatting choices that are not available from the built-in styles, Quick Style sets, and themes, you can create custom styles to suit your needs.

The easiest way to create a custom style is to modify a built-in style and then save it as a new style.

For example, you might want to format a paragraph of quoted material with a half-inch indent from the left and right margins, single spaced. There is no built-in style to accommodate this, but you can create a custom style by doing the following:

  1. Click in the paragraph you want to format.
  2. On the Home tab, click the Paragraph Dialog Box Launcher.

Paragraph Bullets

  1. In the Indentation section, type 0.5" in the Left and Right boxes.
  2. In the Spacing section, in the Line spacing list, click Single.
  3. Click OK.
  4. Right-click in the paragraph, point to Styles, and then click Save Selection as a New Quick Style.
  5. In the Name box, type a name for the style, such as Block quote.
  6. If you want the style to be included in the gallery of styles on the Home tab, and if you want the style to be a linked style, click OK.
  7. If you don't want the style to be included in the gallery, or if you want the style to be either a paragraph or a character style, click Modify and do one or both of the following:
    • At the bottom of the dialog box, clear the Add to Quick Style list box.
    • In the Style type list, click Paragraph or Character.

If you switch to a different Quick Style set, you may need to adjust the settings of your custom style. In the example here, if you create the Block quote style while the Word 2007 Quick Style set is applied, and then you switch to the Traditional Quick Style set, you can change the Block quote style to remove the first-line indentation that the Traditional Quick Style set introduces. To change a style, do the following:

  1. On the Home tab in the Styles group, right-click Block quote, and then click Modify.
  2. Click Format, and then click Paragraph.
  3. In the Indentation section, in the Special list, click (none).

The more characteristics that you specify for the style, the less the style is affected by switching Quick Style sets or themes.

Top of Page Top of Page

 
 
Applies to:
Word 2010