Styles are one of Word's most powerful time-savers, for five important reasons.
First, styles can dramatically reduce the time it takes to format a document?often by 90% or more. Second, styles can help you make sure that all your documents look consistent, with very little effort on your part. Third, if you export your Word document to a desktop publishing program, you can generally use Word styles to help automate the work done in that program. Fourth, if you need to change the way your styled document looks, you need to change only a few styles, not hundreds of manual formats.
Fifth and finally, it's much easier to take advantage of Word's powerful automation and organization features if you use styles. For example, Word can automatically build and update a table of contents based on the styles in your document. Without styles, you would have to manually apply a field to every single item you wanted to include in your table of contents. In addition to tables of contents, Word styles make it easier to use all these features:
Web Publishing. See Chapter 24, "Using Word to Develop Web Content," to learn how Word uses styles in pages saved in HTML as Web pages.
Outlining. See Chapter 18, "Outlining: Practical Techniques for Organizing Any Document," to learn how styles enable you to easily outline and reorganize your document.
AutoFormat. See Chapter 9, "Automating Your Documents," to learn how styles enable you to format your document automatically, all at once.
AutoSummarize. See Chapter 9 to learn how styles can help Word build an automatic summary of any document.
Outline Numbering. See Chapter 18 to learn how styles enable you to apply automatic outline numbers to your documents and have Word track them automatically.
Tables of Figures. See Chapter 20, "Tables of Contents, Figures, Authorities, and Captions," to learn how styles enable you to build and update figure tables automatically.
Master Documents. See Chapter 19, "Master Documents: Control and Share Even the Largest Documents," to learn how styles enable you to automatically divide a large document into several subdocuments for easy, team-based editing.
For all these reasons, styles are a great foundation for automating your document. Best of all, Word makes styles easy to use. (In fact, as you'll see later, Word's automatic style definition feature might enable you to get the styles you need with almost no effort on your part.)
Word's Themes feature can help you establish a consistent format for your document quickly. Primarily intended for Web pages, themes contain formatting that visually communicates a wide variety of moods and messages, from the informal Loose Gesture to the buttoned-down Corporate.
When you choose a theme, Word changes the styles in your document to reflect the formatting in the theme and (if you want) also adds backgrounds, horizontal lines, and special graphical bullets. The backgrounds and horizontal lines can be viewed only in Web Layout. Documents with themes open in Web Layout view by default.
Themes are covered in detail in the "Using Themes to Change the Styles in Your Template" section of Chapter 11, "Templates, Wizards, and Add-Ins."
Many Word users never bother with styles; they are comfortable with Word's easy manual formatting capabilities. Others use a few styles now and then but don't take full advantage of them. If you fall into either category, this chapter can help you dramatically improve your productivity.
If you can't or won't format your document with styles, Word 2003 gives you two alternative ways to get some of their automation advantages.
You can specify outline levels for individual blocks of text, as covered in Chapter 18, and Word can use those outline levels rather than styles. Keep in mind, though, that it's usually more work to create outline levels than styles. Outline levels don't work with as many Word features as styles do, and you probably need the styles anyway for formatting reasons.
The alternative, as covered in Chapter 4, "Quick and Effective Formatting Techniques," lies in the capability of Word 2003 to track the manual formatting you apply to your document. This allows you to reapply existing manual formatting to other text selections through the Styles and Formatting task pane, much as you would apply styles.
However, this feature is still more cumbersome than styles. For example, you can't name a format, as you can with styles?making it difficult to connect formatting to the role of text in your document. And, as with outline levels, formats applied through the Styles and Formatting side pane don't integrate with other Word automation features that use styles.