Understanding the Basics of Direct Formatting

The techniques you'll learn in this chapter are often called direct formatting because they involve applying formatting directly to text in your document. Even if you've been using Word for some time, this chapter presents many direct formatting techniques and shortcuts you might not be familiar with.

Later, in Chapter 10, "Streamlining Your Formatting with Styles," you'll learn indirect formatting techniques based on styles. In indirect formatting, you create a style that includes specific formats. Whenever you want a block of text to use those formats, you apply the style, and Word, in turn, applies the formats.

To learn more about indirect formatting with styles, see "What Styles Are and How They Work," p. 331.

Direct formatting is easier to learn and often quicker to apply, whereas indirect formatting is more flexible and often more powerful. When should you use each approach? In general,

  • Use direct formatting when you're concerned only with formatting a specific block of text, especially short blocks of text that don't compose whole paragraphs. For example, use direct formatting when you need to italicize the name of a book or magazine. Also rely on direct formatting when you're creating a quick document that won't need to be repeated or built on later.

  • Use indirect formatting when you are applying text formats that you'll need to use frequently throughout your document or in other documents?or for text that might need to be reformatted later; for instance, if your company redesigns all its documents and you must quickly apply new formatting to existing styles. You should especially rely on indirect formatting in large documents, where styles can help you organize both the formats and the content of your document.

As you become increasingly comfortable with Word, you should increasingly depend on indirect formatting: It will help you build more consistent documents, and even automate your documents. However, before you can master indirect formatting, you need to understand the basics of direct formatting covered in this chapter.

Understanding Word's Multiple Levels of Formatting

If you've ever wondered why Word formatting behaves in a certain way, it helps to know how Word "thinks" about formatting. Word has three levels of formatting, all of which work together:

  • Font formatting applies to specific characters. The Format, Font dialog box (also accessible by pressing Ctrl+D) brings together many of Word's font formatting controls.

  • Paragraph formatting applies to entire paragraphs. The Format, Paragraph dialog box brings together many of Word's paragraph formatting controls.

  • Section formatting applies to entire sections of a document. Word allows you to divide a document into sections corresponding to its major components, such as chapters in a manual, and establish margins, headers/footers, and other section formatting individually for each section. Section formatting controls can be found in the File, Page Setup dialog box and a few other locations.

Most day-to-day text formatting is font and paragraph formatting. This chapter covers font formatting first and then reviews several of the most common paragraph formatting techniques. Section formatting includes margins, headers and footers, and other elements that are often established once and then left alone.

For more information on formatting sections of a document, see "Using Word's Page Setup Features," p. 158.

Working with the Reveal Formatting Task Pane

Word enables you to view and manage all your document formatting?both direct formatting, such as font, paragraph, and section formatting, and indirect formatting, such as styles?from a single location: the Reveal Formatting task pane.

To view all the formatting associated with a block of text, select the text (or click the insertion point at the location you are interested in). Then choose Format, Reveal Formatting, or press Shift+F1. The Reveal Formatting task pane appears (see Figure 4.1).

Figure 4.1. The Reveal Formatting task pane.


All formatting associated with the selected text (or insertion point location) is listed in the Formatting of Selected Text scroll box.

To change a formatting attribute, click the hyperlink associated with the category of formatting you want to change. Word displays the dialog box associated with that formatting?the same dialog box that would appear if you chose a menu command to view it. You can then make the changes there.

As discussed earlier?and covered in greater depth in Chapter 10?many attributes of Word formatting are associated with built-in styles or custom styles you create. In other words, the formatting of a specific block of text may be a combination of direct formatting you apply and indirect formatting applied by the styles. If you want the Reveal Formatting task pane to distinguish between direct formatting and formatting applied by a style, check the Distinguish Style Source check box.

To make fine adjustments to formatting, it sometimes helps to see the formatting marks Word places in a document?such as paragraph marks, manual line breaks, and tabs, which are normally invisible. To view the formatting marks in a document, check the Show All Formatting Marks check box.


You can also view formatting marks by clicking the Paragraph Mark button on the Standard toolbar.

To use Reveal Formatting to compare the formatting of two blocks of text, see "Comparing the Formatting of One Text Selection to Another," p. 149.

    Part I: Word Basics: Get Productive Fast
    Part II: Building Slicker Documents Faster
    Part III: The Visual Word: Making Documents Look Great
    Part IV: Industrial-Strength Document Production Techniques
    Part VI: The Corporate Word