Creating Styles

Until now, you've learned how to use the existing styles Word provides. If you do nothing more than use Word's styles, your documents will look consistent, you will spend less time formatting them, and you'll have access to all the power of Word's automation features.

However, considering that Word is?by far?the world's most popular word processor, your documents will have a tendency to look a lot like everyone else's. Moreover, you might encounter situations in which Word has no applicable built-in style. For example, Word doesn't have a built-in style for chapter summaries, or for tips, or for many other elements you find in this book.

For these reasons, you should know how to create new styles or change existing ones. Fortunately, Word makes this easy to do.

Creating Paragraph Styles Easily with Style by Example

The quickest way to create an entirely new style is to use Word's Style by Example feature, as explained here:

  1. Select and format a block of text the way you want it.

  2. Click inside the Style drop-down box on the Formatting toolbar (or press Ctrl+Shift+S).

  3. Type the new style name in the Style box and press Enter.

Defining Paragraph and Character Styles from the New Style Dialog Box

Character styles can't be defined on the Formatting toolbar (although they can be selected from there after they've been defined); to create a character style, you must use Word's New Style dialog box.

You may also want to use the New Style dialog box when you need total control over the contents of a style. Using the New Style dialog box gives you a systematic way of making sure that all the formatting you want to incorporate in a style is, in fact, included.

To define a style using the New Style dialog box, carry out these steps:

  1. Select a block of text. If you want, you can manually apply formatting to include in your style.

  2. Select Format, Styles and Formatting.

  3. Click New Style. The New Style dialog box opens (see Figure 10.5).

    Figure 10.5. Creating a style in the New Style dialog box.


  4. Enter a style name in the Name box.

  5. In the Style Type drop-down box, choose the type of style you are creating: Paragraph, Character, Table, or List.

  6. If you want to include additional formatting in your style (beyond any formatting you may have applied to selected text in step 1 of this procedure), apply it now.

    • Apply the most common text formatting by using the two rows of formatting buttons at the center of the New Style dialog box.

    • To add formatting unavailable through these buttons, click the Format button and choose the category of formatting you want to apply (see Figure 10.6). When you do, a dialog box appears, containing all the formatting options available in that category.

      Figure 10.6. Click Format to display additional options for including formatting in your style.


    In most cases, this dialog box is identical to the one you would use elsewhere to create manual formatting. For example, clicking Font displays the Font dialog box with three tabs: Font, Character Spacing, and Text Effects. Apply your formatting in this dialog box and click OK to return to the New Style dialog box. Repeat the process for other categories of formatting you want to include.

  7. When you've finished incorporating formatting in your style, click OK.

Working with Based On Styles

The New Style dialog box contains additional settings you can use to enhance your productivity while using styles. The first of these is Style Based On styles, which allow you to specify an existing style that your new style will be based on.

By default, most built-in Word styles are based on the Normal style, and unless you make a change, your new style is based on it also. Of course, Word uses the formats you specify, but where you do not specify a setting, Word makes assumptions based on the Normal style, which includes the following:

  • Font: Times New Roman

  • Size: 12-point

  • Proofing Language: Depends upon your location; for example, in the United States, this will be English (United States)

  • Character scale: 100%

  • Alignment: Flush left

  • Line spacing: Single

  • Pagination: Widow/Orphan Control

  • Outline level: Body Text

At times, you might have a different style you want to use as the basis for your new style?one with formatting that closely resembles the style you are creating. For example, you might want to base all your headings on your Heading 1 style. That way, if you change the font in Heading 1, all the other headings change automatically.

With the New Style dialog box open, click the Style Based On box and choose the style you want to use as the basis for your new style. If you are working with a paragraph style, you can choose from all the styles available to your current document.

If you are working with a character style, your choices are more limited. They include several styles associated with Web pages, including Emphasis and Strong. These are styles that Web browsers have long used to control the display of text on Web sites.


If the Style Based On style you want to use appears in the Style drop-down box in the Formatting toolbar, here's a quicker way to get the same result:

  1. Format a block of text using the Style Based On style.

  2. Reformat the text to reflect any changes you want to make.

  3. Click in the Style box.

  4. Type the new style name and press Enter.

Using Style Based On to Transform the Look of Your Documents

Using Word's Style Based On feature enables you to create a unique look for all your documents with little effort. All you have to do is change the Normal style, which underlies all of Word's styles.

For example, if you're bored with Times New Roman, you can change the Normal style to a somewhat more interesting font, such as Garamond. That change cascades through all the styles based on the Normal style?except for those that already specify a different font, such as Arial.

When you make a change such as this, you probably need to make a few other changes as well. Some of Word's styles, although they are based on Normal, also specify their own fonts. For example, Heading 1 uses the Arial font. Consider changing these styles to specify a font that complements the one you've now chosen for text.

If you choose a serif font for text, generally choose a sans serif font for some or all of your headings. Serif fonts have tiny tails at the ends of each letter to improve readability; sans serif fonts don't.

Serif and sans serif fonts complement each other well and often are used in combination to make book and newspaper designs more attractive.

You should note one more thing about choosing fonts for your styles. Different fonts have different widths. Times New Roman is unusually narrow, which simply means that more words fit on a line when you're using it. If you choose a wider font, such as Bookman, you may find you've lengthened a long document by several pages.

Choosing a Following Paragraph Style

Think about your documents for a moment. In most cases, after you type a heading, you usually type body text. After you type the first element in a list, you usually type another list element. Word paragraph styles take advantage of this fact. When you specify a new paragraph style, you can also specify the style that should be used in the paragraph that follows it.

By default, the Following Paragraph style is Normal. These steps show you how to specify a different one:

  1. Open the New Style dialog box (refer to Figure 10.5).

  2. Click in the Style for Following Paragraph drop-down box.

  3. Choose the style you want to use.

  4. When you're finished with the settings in the New Style dialog box, click OK.

After you've set a Following Paragraph style, Word applies it automatically as you work. When you press Enter at the end of one paragraph, Word applies the Following Paragraph style to the next paragraph.

Using Automatic Style Changes

The same AutoFormat technology that enables you to create all your styles at the same time can also help you change existing styles automatically. For example, because Word can recognize a line of type as a heading, it can also recognize when you are formatting a line of type manually to look like a heading. It also can automatically transform your manual formatting into a heading style.

Automatic style definition is part of Word's AutoFormat As You Type feature. To use it, follow these steps:

  1. Choose Format, AutoFormat.

  2. Click Options.

  3. Click the AutoFormat As You Type tab.

  4. In the Apply As You Type area, specify the elements for which you want Word to automatically create styles: Automatic Bulleted Lists, Automatic Numbered Lists, Border Lines, Tables, and/or Built-In Heading Styles.

  5. Check the Define Styles Based on Your Formatting check box in the Automatically As You Type area of the dialog box.

  6. Click OK twice.

After you turn on automatic style definition, pay close attention to it for a few days to make sure that it isn't creating styles you don't want. If the formatting in your documents starts changing in ways you don't like, turn off the feature.

For more information about enabling or disabling automatic style updates for specific styles, see "Enabling or Preventing Automatic Style Updates," p. 344.

Template or Document? Where to Store Your Styles

By default, Word adds your new style to your current document only. If you change a built-in style, that change also applies in only your existing document. However, you will sometimes want to make the style available for several documents. You can do this by adding the style to the template associated with the document in which you are working.

It's easy to add a style to a template. With the New Style dialog box open, check the Add to Template check box and click OK.

It's not quite as easy to decide whether you should add a style to your template. Here's what you need to know. Unless you have chosen another template, you are probably working in the Normal template. If you add a new style to the Normal template, you make it available to every document you create.

If you change a built-in style, you likewise change it globally, meaning that it is changed for all documents using this particular style. Be careful not to introduce inconsistencies with existing documents that use Word's default styles.

To learn more about how templates and styles work together, see "How Styles and Templates Work Together," p. 332.


Because the styles in your document aren't included in your template unless you check the Add to Template check box, it's possible for different documents using the same template to have varying styles with the same style names.

Enabling or Preventing Automatic Style Updates

As you've learned, Word can create new styles automatically by transforming your manual formatting into styles as you type. If you want, Word can also change your styles automatically for you whenever you manually reformat them.

In some circumstances, this is a great shortcut, because you can manually reformat one line and your entire document is updated to match. However, it's not always appropriate. Imagine that one of your headings refers to the title of a book, which should be formatted in italic. If Word is automatically updating your styles, all the headings using this style change, even those that shouldn't be italicized.

Word enables you to specify which styles qualify for automatic updating. To set a new style for automatic updating, first create the style by clicking New Style in the Styles and Formatting task pane. From the New Style dialog box, establish the style settings you want. Then, check the Automatically Update check box and click OK.


If you want to automatically update a style that already exists, display the Styles and Formatting task pane (Format, Styles and Formatting); right-click on a style in the Pick Formatting to Apply scroll box; and choose Modify Style from the shortcut menu. The Modify Style dialog box opens; check the Automatically Update check box and click OK.

The Modify Style dialog box is covered in more detail in the "Changing Styles Using the Modify Style Dialog Box" section later in the chapter.

    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