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Understanding Styles in Microsoft Word

Last edited by Charles Kenyon on Monday 09 November 2015

What You Will Learn

After completing this lesson, you will be able to:
bulletUnderstand the importance of Styles
bulletUnderstand the difference between Paragraph and Character Styles
bulletList all available styles
bulletCreate, Modify and Locate your Own Styles
bulletUnderstand Where Styles Live
bulletAutomate Styles
bulletAssign a Keyboard Shortcut to a Style
bulletCopy Styles
bulletSpecial Properties of the built-in Heading Styles
bulletInsert a Style Separator to put different paragraph styles in a single printed paragraph
bulletUse Heading Styles to Enable quick and easy navigation of a document.
bulletUse the Organizer to Copy Styles to/from a different template or document
bulletCopy Text Formatted in a Style
bulletRecognize Other Word Features that Depend on Styles
bulletUnderstand the different terms that are used in Word 2007-2013 to describe Styles
bulletSelect all text formatted using a particular style (Word 2007-2013 Quick Styles only)
bulletHave a grasp of themes and their interaction with Styles and Quick Style Sets
bullet Troubleshoot Issues with Styles and a macro that you can use to copy the styles from any template into the current document without using the Organizer

Additional Written (and Web) Resources
Word for Law Firms by Payne Consulting Group:
bullet Word 97 for Law Firms (also at UK)
bullet Word 2000 for Law Firms (also at UK)
bullet Word X (2002) for Law Firms (also at UK)
Tips for Understanding Styles in Word by Shauna Kelly, MVP
How Styles in Microsoft Word Cascade by Shauna Kelly, MVP
Working With Styles by Tony Jollans, MVP
Style Basics in Word 2007 (& 2010) - Microsoft
Seven Laws of Styles (Word of Law) by Bob Blacksberg
Styles in a Networked Environment - newsgroup discussion
Create a Template Part 2, John McGhie, MVP.
Template Basics in Microsoft Word by Charles Kenyon
What is the difference between the normal style and the Body Text style?, Suzanne Barnhill, MVP
Yet Another "Use Styles" Verbal Beating! by Dian Chapman, MVP
Letterhead System - styles used to format letters and letterhead
Letterhead Textboxes and Styles Tutorial - two-page template download that demonstrates use of 
bulletStyles that are based on each other and use the style for following paragraph feature
bulletUse of the StyleRef field to insert information from the body of a letter into the continuation page headers automatically
bulletThe AutoText list restricted by styles for the salutation and closing.
bulletTextboxes in headers and footers to reserve space for preprinted letterhead
bulletInsertion of a date automatically that will not change when you open the document at a later date
bulletInsertion of the typist's name as signer automatically by accessing the Author document property.
StyleRef Field Tutorial by Charles Kenyon
IncludeText Field Tutorial - 2 documents with IncludeText links demonstrating switches, interaction of styles, and use of hidden Page field for continuous page numbering of separate documents.
AutoText Sampler - styles used to organize AutoText - see also...
Why does text change format when I copy it into another document? by Shauna Kelly, MVP
What happens when I send my document to someone else, will the formatting change? by Shauna Kelly, MVP
Tying numbering to Styles - How to create numbered headings or outline numbering in Word 2007 and Word 2010 by Shauna Kelly, MVP
How to add pop-up lists to any Word document by Bill Coan, MVP.
Getting Started With Styles by Dian Chapman, MVP (another tutorial page but shorter than this one)
A Global StyleSheet in Microsoft Word? by Charles Kyle Kenyon
Word is always making changes I don't expect. How can I get more control over my formatting? by Suzanne S. Barnhill, MVP, and Dave Rado, MVP.
So You Want to Write a Book Using Microsoft Word - extensive tutorial by MVP Daiya Mitchell with overview of Styles, Templates and Sections and the interactions among these tool/features. Excellent! Not just for those who want to write books!
Word Tips about Styles from Allen Wyatt - Note, most tips have versions for Ribbon versions of Word (2007+) and pre-ribbon versions. A few of the tips are listed below.
bullet Making Sure Styles Do Not Update Automatically
bullet Assigning a Shortcut Key to Styles
bullet Deploying Standard Styles through an Organization
bullet Displaying the Styles You Want Displayed
bullet Preventing Styles from Changing
(Advanced) How to safely update a document's styles from its template without using the Organizer (and how to make the Tools + Templates and Add-ins dialog safe) by Dave Rado, Margaret Aldis, Ian Sharpe and Beth Melton.
How to Apply a Style in Microsoft Word by Shauna Kelly
How to Modify a Style in Microsoft Word by Shauna Kelly
How to Control the Quick Styles Gallery on the Home Tab by Shauna Kelly (Word 2007-2013 (365))
Creating and Sharing Custom Microsoft Word Styles by Deborah Savadrah - especially good on creating new Style Sets and sharing them in ribbon versions of Word
Why Does Text Change Format When I Copy It Into a Different Document? by Shauna Kelly
How Styles in Word Cascade by Shauna Kelly
Table Styles Not Useful by Shauna Kelly
Formatting applied to one paragraph affects entire document by Suzanne S. Barnhill, MVP
Useful StyleRef Field Tricks by Suzanne S. Barnhill, MVP
Styles DropDown Keyboard Access Add-In - (For Word 2002+) Simple Add-In to give keyboard (Ctrl+Shift+S) access to the Styles DropDown in the Formatting Toolbar
Char and Char Char Char Styles - a Bug and fixes

Styles Dialog Box Add-In - (For Word 2003+) Simple Add-In to give menu access to the Styles Dialog Box

How to put Word 2002 (and 2003) back the way they were in Word 97-2000 by Suzanne S. Barnhill, MVP (getting access to the Styles dialog box instead of the Task Pane)
How to Control Bullets in Microsoft Word by Shauna Kelly, MVP. Bullets and outline numbering are very much related in Word. You use styles to implement either in a reliable way.
How to reinstate the Styles combo box in Microsoft Word 2007 - Word 2013 by Shauna Kelly, MVP. (Add the Styles combo box from Word 2003 to the QAT in ribbon versions.)
OutlineNumbering by Shauna Kelly, MVP (see note above)
Changing the formatting rules with compatibility options - these can change how Word treats formatting in styles.
Styles Order of Operations Microsoft Blog
Mousetraining's Intro Guide to Word 2007 found on their site
Mousetraining's Advanced Guide to Word 2007 found on their site
Microsoft Word 2010 Bible by Herb Tyson, MVP
Why Use Styles - part of Video tutorials on Word
Using the Navigation Pane in Word 2010
Style Report - An Add-In to view styles in use and delete unused styles by Greg Maxey and Klaus Linke
Tutorial: Format text with styles in Word 2011 (Mac)

Click to return to table of contents page of Legal Users' Guide to Microsoft Word.Click to go to Microsoft Word new users frequently asked questions site in a new browser window.
(this guide table of contents) ------- (MS Word New Users FAQ)

Styles Overview

Styles are arguably the most important feature in Microsoft Word. Why? Because everything that you do in Word has a style attached. The definition of a style is two-fold. First, you can think of a style as a set of pre-defined formatting instructions that you can use repeatedly throughout the document. Let's say each heading in a document must be centered, uppercase, bold, and a slightly larger font size. Each time you need to apply formatting to the heading, you have to go through the entire process to get the text the way you want it. If you store the formatting commands in a style, you can apply that style any time you need it without having to do all of the reformatting.

Possibly more important however is that styles are used to "tag" or identify parts of a document. An example of this is whether text is part of a heading, a footnote, a hyperlink, or body text. These are all examples of styles in Word.

If you're concerned about whether or not you need to learn styles, we can put it rather simply: you do. Styles are the architecture upon which Word is based. Just about everything in Word is style-driven. In fact, many people in the industry refer to Word as a "style-driven" program.

Allen Wyatt has an elegant analogy about styles:

"Styles are nothing more than a named definition of how text should appear. You can best understand this by comparing your text to water (this is your content). The appearance of the water depends on the attributes of the container in which it is placed. If you place it in a glass it will look one way; if you place it in a pitcher, it looks a different way. The relationship between text and styles is no different; if you change the style that has been applied to text, then the appearance of the text automatically changes."  Understanding Styles

Styles allow for quick formatting modifications throughout the document and can be tied into numbering to make working with outline numbered lists easier. See Outline View in Microsoft Word

"While the styles gallery has been available on the Word home tab since Word 2007, some people just assume styles are meant for people who want big blue text.

Styles Gallery - Word 2013

"As it turns out, that’s not true. I’m here to tell you that Styles are handy, and if you use them to format your text as you write your document, you’ll be able to take full advantage of the improvements in Word 2013 that we’ve outlined below."

-- Caitlin Ashley-Rollman, Microsoft Program Manager for Word 2013 in blog on using styles


CK Note: For long documents, documents that are likely to be heavily edited, and documents that may form the basis for other documents, follow the basic rule that to change formatting use Format => Styles... Do not apply direct formatting.

In Ribbon versions of Word (2007+) this is even easier, click on your style from the Styles gallery!

You will save yourself, and others, untold hours of hair-tearing. For shorter one-use documents, direct formatting is OK; you'll only regret not using styles about one time in six, on the other five out of the six, you'll save a bit of time. If you create document templates with direct formatting, you deserve what will happen to you when someone finds out (and it won't be nice). In my opinion, using direct formatting in document templates intended for use by others rates the words malicious and/or incompetent. If the templates are for your own use, you deserve the loss of days, months, even years from your life that you'll spend fighting with Word and trying to figure out why your documents look so bad.

Trying to use Word without understanding and using styles is like pushing on a string. I resisted learning and using styles for years and now regret every day of those years because although that string was still very hard to push, it kept getting longer and longer, and had some very important projects tied to it! Once you understand styles and the Word concept of organizing things into Chinese boxes everything falls into place and instead of pushing a string, you can push a button that turns on the very powerful text processing machine known as Microsoft Word and it will start doing your work for you instead of running around behind you trying to undo what you thought you just did.

These statements should be even stronger for those using Word 2007-13. These versions let you use and change styles even more easily.


I just had occasion to edit a 100-page document that was created without using styles. It was formatted completely with direct formatting. Each page ended with a page break.

Each time it had to be saved, the save took more than 60 seconds, during which time Word was frozen.

A similar-sized document formatted using Styles takes less than 3 seconds for me to save. When a page break must be forced, instead of using a manual page break, the paragraph to begin the new page is formatted using a style that has "page break before" paragraph formatting.

This difference was due entirely to the document being directly formatted - a much higher level of complexity. Each paragraph mark in a directly-formatted paragraph carries with it up to fifty different formatting commands. When formatted using a style, that paragraph mark will carry with it one command - use this style!

--CKK 1 Feb 2012

Tip Tip  Microsoft recommends that you use numbering linked to styles to get the best result for numbered paragraphs, outline numbering and lists.

CK Note: See How to create numbered headings or outline numbering in your Microsoft Word document by Shauna Kelly and Word's Numbering Explained by John McGhie.

There are several reasons for using styles in a document:
bulletConsistency — When you use styles to format your document, each section is formatted the same and therefore, provides a professional, clean-looking document.
bulletEasier to Modify — If you use styles in your document consistently, you only need to update a given style once if you want to change the characteristics of all text formatted in that style.
bulletEfficiency — You can create a style once, and then apply it to any section in the document without having to format each section individually.
bulletTable of Contents — Styles can be used to generate a table of contents quickly.
bulletFaster Navigation — Using styles lets you quickly move to different sections in a document using the Document Map feature.
bulletWorking in Outline View — Styles allow you to outline and organize your document's main topics with ease.
bulletLegal Outline Numbering – Numbering, when linked to styles, allows you to generate and update consistent outline numbering in legal documents, even ones with complicated numbering schemes like municipal law, tax law, and mergers and acquisitions documents.
bulletEfficiency of Word — Files which are predominantly manually formatted are less efficient than those which have formatting that has been imposed by styles: manually formatted files, such a converted documents which have been File, Opened, are bloated in file size (bytes) and do not render to the screen efficiently when you scroll through them. This is because Word is a styles-based application: it first reads the attributes of the underlying style, then has to broadcast anything contrary (e.g. manually formatted on top of that). As such, a lengthy document that has been predominantly manually formatted, will behave sluggishly because Word has to work harder at managing it. Additionally, the print formatting processes are equally labored as opposed to using styles.
bulletHTML AND XML — What lies ahead? A fully structured, styled document will move into HTML and XML incredibly well.

Styles are an essential part of Microsoft Word. In fact, everything you type into a document has a style attached to it, whether you design the style or not.

When you start Microsoft Word, the new blank document is based on the Normal template, and text that you type uses the Normal style. This means that when you start typing, Word uses the font name, font size, line spacing, indentation, text alignment, and other formats currently defined for the Normal style. The Normal style is the base style for the Normal template, meaning that it's a building block for other styles in the template. Whenever you start typing in a new document, unless you specify otherwise, you are typing in the Normal style.

"Avoiding styles is a hobby for some Word users. They go through 35 mouse clicks in 12 formatting dialog boxes, just to avoid using a style." Getting Started with Styles by Dian Chapman

Paragraph vs. Character Styles vs. Linked Styles

There are two types of styles in Microsoft Word; character and paragraph. Paragraph styles are used more frequently than character styles, and they are easier to create. It's important to understand both, however, since understanding styles is so important. 



CK Note: In Word 2002, there is also a hybrid "character and paragraph" style that isn't discussed in this article. Also introduced with Word 2002 are Table Styles. I don't use them and haven't found them helpful. For a discussion of their shortcomings, see Shauna Kelly's article.

Character styles can be applied to individual words — even (you guessed it) single characters. Character formatting is built from the formatting options available from the Format menu, by selecting Font; settings from the Tools menu, by selecting Language, and then selecting Set Language; and in certain cases from the Format menu by selecting Borders and Shading, and looking on the Borders and Shading tabs of the Borders and Shading dialog box. The following table shows the formatting that can be in a style.

A paragraph style contains both font and paragraph formatting which makes it more flexible than a character style. When you apply a paragraph style the formatting affects the entire paragraph. For example, when you center text, you cannot center a single word. Instead, the entire paragraph is centered. Other types of paragraph-level formats that styles control are line spacing (single-space, double-space, etc.), text alignment, bullets, numbers, indents, tabs and borders.

Formatting Character Style Paragraph Style
Font Yes Yes
Tabs No Yes
Border Yes Yes
Spacing No Yes
Alignment No Yes
Indents No Yes
Shading Yes Yes
Language Yes Yes
Numbering No Yes
Word 2002 and Word 2003


There are actually four style types in Word. Each has an icon that appears next to it in the Styles and Formatting task pane. When you use the New Style dialog box to create a new style, the types are available on the Style type list.
bulletParagraph Icon image . Applies to all the text within the end paragraph mark of where your pointer is positioned.
bulletCharacter Icon image . Applies at the character level—to blocks of words and letters.
bulletList Icon image . Provides a consistent look to lists.
bulletTable Icon image . Provides a consistent look to tables.
Word 2007 - 2013 - CK Note Word 2007 introduced linked styles linked style icon microsoft word which can be used for paragraph formatting or character formatting. When used on particular text within a paragraph, they act as character styles, when applied to a paragraph, they act as character styles.
More about Character Styles - CK Section

I have three character styles in most of my pleading documents. Two replace Bold and Italic formatting. The third is for citations. The first two are built-in character styles of "Strong" and "Emphasis." I started using these before Word had a replace formatting feature. I'm not sure they are needed. They provide a simple way of changing how I emphasize something throughout a document by simply changing the style. It starts out that "Strong" is bold and "Emphasis" is Italicized.

The third, though, has proved its worth through time. It is the Citation character style. I set it to Italic and set the language formatting to "no proofing." This means that case citations with it will not alert the spell checker. (Of course, this also means you better have the correct spelling.) It also disables automatic hyphenation. To set this up, you would create a new character style and use the formatting drop-down to add the Italic and "no-proofing" formatting. The Italic formatting comes through the font formatting dialog, and the "no-proofing" comes through the language dialog. In later versions of Word "no-proofing" is known as "Do not check spelling or grammar."

Character styles can also be used as targets for the StyleRef field. This field gives very quick automatic updating. A character style is much less fragile than is a bookmark when used to mark text that may be edited. I will often use character styles that apply to only one word or phrase in a document that I want to repeat elsewhere, instead of a bookmark. Then a StyleRef Field is used instead of a Ref field to repeat it elsewhere.

The Heading Styles - Special or Magic Styles - CK Note

The built in heading styles in Word have special properties that make them almost magical. There are keyboard shortcuts for the top three. They can appear without any customization in a Table of Contents generated by Word, you can link and navigate to them with cross-referencing features, and more. See Why use Microsoft Word’s built-in heading styles? by Shauna Kelly, MVP, for sixteen reasons to use these styles.

Use a Style Separator to Put Different Paragraph Styles in the Same Printed Paragraph - CK Note

The primary reason to do this is when you want a snippet from the beginning of a particular heading to appear in a Table of Contents but don't want the entire heading in the Table of Contents.

The screenshot above, with non-printing formatting marks displayed, shows two different paragraph styles used in one logical printed paragraph. Note the pillcrow (paragraph mark) with the dots around it separating the two. The colors of the styles here are different. The usual use of this, though, would be for the styles to look the same. This was used in automatically generating the Table of Contents. The second part of the paragraph, in the non-heading style did not get picked up in the Table of Contents.

You would not want to base the second style on the heading style though, because then it would also be a heading style. This is, instead, based on the Body Text style and formatted using the same font and size as the Heading 1 Style.

You can add a Style Separator to the end of a paragraph using the Ctrl+Alt+Enter Keyboard Shortcut. Then you add your text for the separate style.

See this thread on the Microsoft Answers forum for more.

Viewing Styles

Styles are listed in two places: the Style drop-down box on the Formatting toolbar and from the Format menu by choosing Style. In Word 2007-2013 they are found in the Styles portion of the Home Ribbon.

Styles area in Word 2010 - help

View Styles with the Style Box

The Style box is the button at the far-left side of the Formatting toolbar. It can be activated by clicking the drop-down arrow to the right of the words in the box, or by pressing CTRL+SHIFT+S on the keyboard.

Tip Tip  Keyboard users can press CTRL+SHIFT+S and then click the up or down arrow keys on the keyboard to move through the list of available styles. Pressing F4 on the keyboard once inside the Style box activates the drop-down list, which you can then traverse with arrow keys.
Tip CK Note  This does not work in Word 2002 or later. A macro is needed, assign it to the key combination. You can download an Add-In that does this from my downloads page.

I miss this in Word 2007-2013 (365). That Add-In doesn't work. You can add this Style Box to your QAT. It is under Commands Not In the Ribbon and is the Style (Style Gallery Classic).

Word 2003 introduced the Styles and Formatting Pane shown below. It appears if you select Format -> Styles.

styles pane word 2003

If instead of hovering with the mouse you right-click, you get the options of modifying or deleting the style (except for built-in styles which cannot be deleted.)

The third option is to modify the style to match the current selection.

Styles modification microsoft word







The styles pane can also be accessed in Word 2007-2013 (365) by clicking in the bottom right corner of the styles group on the Home tab or by pressing the keyboard shortcut Ctrl+Alt+Shift+S.

Styles Group Microsoft Word 2010

The resulting dialog is similar to the Styles Pane and provides more information about the style when you hover.

styles pane word 2010





As with Word 2003, right-clicking on the style name give options to modify or delete the style.

By default this appears as a floating dialog. This dialog can be anchored to the right side of the page making it appear much like the Styles and Formatting Pane.

  In Word 2007 and later there are three buttons and the Options... choice at the bottom of this pane. The first button lets you define a new style. The second gives you the Style Inspector.



The Style Inspector is a floating dialog that lets you type in your document and click to a different spot in the document to see what is going on with Styles there.







The third button gives you the control to "Manage Styles:"



This control has four tabs at the top and is too complex for discussion here. Shown to the left is the Recommend tab which lets you assign recommendation values. Those values determine where styles show up in the Quick Styles gallery and the order if you display styles "as recommended."

It also lets you hide styles from various views either until used or always.

Note the options to have changes only apply to the current document or to new documents based on the template.




Finally, you can also change your style pane's display options.

The Style controls in the Ribbon versions of Word deserve their own page. Here is my draft. - ckk


Note - styles microsoft word Note  If you're using Word 2000, the default is for the Standard and Formatting toolbars to share one row. For this chapter, you may find it helpful to turn off this feature. From the Tools menu, choose Customize and select the Options tab. Uncheck Standard and Formatting toolbars share one row and click OK.

Practice: View a List of Styles
  1. Create a new blank document.
  2. Locate the Style box on the Formatting toolbar. If the toolbar is not visible, alternate-click any toolbar and choose Formatting.

Note - styles microsoft word Note  In Word 2000, styles are listed in alphabetical order. In Word 97 styles listed in the drop-down list are not displayed in alphabetical order. Word 97 lists styles in the following order in the Style Box list:
bulletHeading styles
bulletNormal style
bulletUser-defined styles in alphabetical order
bulletBody Text styles
bulletList styles
bulletAll other styles listed alphabetically.

  1. Click the Style box drop-down arrow to the right of the button. A list of styles available in the active document displays.

While only a few styles show in this list by default, later you'll learn how to access all available styles.

The list and quantity of styles that displays in the Style list depends on which template you used to create the active document. If you click the New button on the Standard toolbar, you get a blank document based on Word's default template, Different types of documents need different styles. What works in a pleading may not be useful in a letter, fax or memo.

Styles can also share the same name in various templates but have different attributes. For example, in a pleading the Body Text style may be double-spaced, where in a letter, Body Text may be single-spaced.

Another way to see the styles available in the current template is by selecting the Format menu, and then choosing Style. The Style dialog box is shown in the following figure.

Style dialog

Styles list in Word 97-2000. When you select a Style from the list on the left side of the Style box, you see a preview and description of the style formatting on the right.

Practice: Access the Style Dialog Box
  1. From the Format menu, choose Style.
  2. Change the List to display All Styles if necessary.
  3. Select a style from the list and view the Character preview, Paragraph preview, and Description.
  4. Click Cancel or press ESC to close the Style dialog box.

Lists of styles available in this template or all open templates are shown in the Style dialog box.

Listing All of the Styles

When you click the Style button's drop-down arrow, only the styles in use in the current template displays in the list of styles. If you wish to see a list of all of the styles that are available to you in Word, you can do so in one of two different ways. Hold SHIFT and click the style drop-down arrow. This displays all styles available. There are approximately 125 styles to choose from, excluding any user-defined styles. It's also possible to list all styles by selecting All Styles from the Style dialog box's List control in the bottom left corner.

Practice: View All Styles
  1. Create a new blank document.
  2. Click the Style drop-down arrow. Notice how many styles are available.
  3. Click with the mouse in the document to deselect the Style drop-down list.
  4. Hold SHIFT and click the Style drop-down arrow again.
  5. More styles are available when you hold down the SHIFT key.
Applying Styles

The same rules that apply to direct formatting of text apply to style formatting of text. If you want to apply a text attribute to a single word, you can click anywhere in the word and select a formatting option such as bold, italics or underline — Word applies the selected format to the entire word. Similarly, if you want to format multiple words you must first select the multiple words. The same is true for applying character styles. To apply a character style, you can click in the middle of any word and select the character style to format the entire word. If you want to change a group of words you must first select the text before applying the character style.

Applying formatting to paragraphs is a little different. Just click anywhere in a paragraph and apply direct formats such as dragging the ruler to change indentation — since paragraph formats affect an entire paragraph, you don't have to select the paragraph. If you want to affect multiple paragraphs, you must first select the multiple paragraphs. And, similar to applying text formatting and character styles, to apply a paragraph style, click within the paragraph and apply the paragraph style. Or, select multiple paragraphs to apply the same style to each of the selected paragraphs.

Note - styles microsoft word

CK Note: As of Word 2002 (and later) if you attempt to apply a paragraph style to selected text within a paragraph, you get a new character style with the same name. The character formatting from the paragraph style is applied, but not the paragraph formatting. A new hybrid character style with the same name but with "char" appended is created.

To apply a paragraph style to a single paragraph, click within the paragraph without selecting text.

Practice: Apply Styles
  1. Type the following text into a new document.
    Profitability Report
    Entire Firm
    Individual Departments
    Health Care
    Trust and Estate
  2. Click anywhere within the first line, Profitability Report.
  3. Click the Style drop-down arrow and select Heading 1.
  4. Select the two paragraphs: Entire Firm and Individual Departments.
  5. Apply Heading 2 style to the selected text.
  6. Apply Heading 3 style to the department names.

There are several keyboard shortcuts that are useful in applying styles:

Keyboard Shortcut Style Name
CTRL+ALT+1 Heading 1
CTRL+ALT+2 Heading 2
CTRL+ALT+3 Heading 3
CTRL+SHIFT+L List Bullet
CTRL+SHIFT+S Activates the Style Drop-Down List

Tip Tip  The above shortcut keys are standard in Word documents. You can also assign a shortcut key combination to any other styles that you use regularly. This topic is covered in the section Assign a Keyboard Shortcut To a Style.

Display Paragraph Style Names in Normal View

Sometimes it's useful to see what style has been applied to text within a document. You can turn on Word's Style Area feature to see what paragraph styles have been applied throughout the document. The Style Area is a re-sizeable pane on the left side of the window that lists the paragraph style applied to each paragraph. It is only available in Normal View.

Practice: Display Applied Paragraph Style Names
  1. From the View menu, choose Normal (Word 97-2003).
  2. From the Tools menu, choose Options and select the View tab.
  3. Locate the Style area width box.

Options dialog with the View tab selected, available off of the Tools menu

  1. Click the up spin box arrow until it's set to 1.0, or type 1.0 in the box.
  2. Click OK to close the Options dialog box.

In Word 2007-2013 this is done under the Word Options > Advanced > Display

Tip Tip  To make the Style area width larger or smaller without redisplaying the Options dialog box, click and drag the line that separates the style name from the text of the document.

  1. From the Tools menu, choose Options, and select the View tab and set the Style area width back to 0.
  2. Click OK.

How styles show up in Normal view with Style Pane active.  

(What you get. - CK Note)

Printing a List of Styles and their Formatting (CK Addition)

You can print a list of the styles in use in a document along with the formatting that goes into that style by selecting "Styles" in the "Print What" box on the Print Dialog Box instead of printing the document.

Print dialog box in Microsoft Word - Print what? - Print Styles!

Replacing Styles

Let's say you just finished applying styles to a long agreement only to find that you applied the Heading 2 style where you should have applied the Heading 1 style. This can easily be remedied by using Word's Find and Replace feature. Instead of searching for text, however, you can tell Word to search and replace text formatted with a specific style.

Practice: Find and Replace Styles
  1. From the Edit menu, choose Replace. If you prefer keyboard shortcuts, press CTRL+H.
  2. Click More on the Replace tab, if necessary, to display additional options along the bottom portion of the dialog box. If a button says Less, the window is already expanded.
  3. Delete any text, if necessary, that may appear in the Find what and Replace with boxes.
  4. Click in the Find what box and click Format.
  5. Select Style.
  6. Select Heading 2 in the Find what style list and click OK.
  7. Click in the Replace with box and click Format.
  8. Select Style.
  9. Select Heading 1 and click OK. Note that while there is no text within each edit box (Find and Replace), just below each box is a message that Word will find and replace styles that are applied to text within the document.
  10. Click Replace All, then click OK, and finally, click Close.

If you try to use the Find and Replace feature again, make sure to click within each box (Find and Replace) and click No Formatting to reset what Word is to search for.

Create, Modify and Locate Your Own Styles

Now that you understand what a style is and what it can do, it's time to create some styles of your own. Not only can you create your own styles, you can modify existing styles to achieve the result you need.

Create a New Style

The easiest way to create a new style is to format text with the attributes that you want to apply to the style. It doesn't matter what you type, only what type of paragraph and character formatting that you have applied to the text. Formatting is the only thing that is applied when you apply a style. Although you can create styles that have more advanced attributes such as being followed by an entirely different style, the following exercise shows you just how easy the process can be.

Practice: Create a Style
  1. Type your first name on a separate line in a document.
  2. Select your name and make the font Blue.
  3. Change the font size to 24-points.
  4. Apply Bold and Underline formatting to the text.
  5. Center the paragraph.
  6. From the Formatting toolbar, click in the Styles box (where the style name Normal is usually displayed).
  7. Type your first name.
  8. Press ENTER. This step is important. If you do not press ENTER your style is not created.
  9. Click the Style drop-down list. You should see your newly created style.
  10. Test this by typing "This is a test" and applying the new style.

You can use the Style dialog box to create or modify a style. Another option for creating and modifying styles is shown in the following exercise. You create a new style by typing text and formatting it, and then from the Format menu, choose Style.

Practice: Create a Style Using The Style Dialog Box
  1. Type the following text:

    Styles help users in law firms master Microsoft Word. (press ENTER)

    Everything in Word is based on a style.

  2. Select the text "Styles help users in law firms master Microsoft Word." and the paragraph mark (Paragraph mark (pillcrow) in Microsoft Word) that follows.
  3. Center the paragraph and apply a 14-point font.
  4. From the Format menu, choose Style.
  5. Click New.
  6. Type My Style as the Name.
  7. Click OK, and then click Apply.
Modifying Existing Styles

There are two ways to modify an existing style. One of these methods is through the Style dialog box. However, an easier method is by changing the style by example using the Style drop-down toolbar button. The Style drop-down is useful if changes have already been manually made to a paragraph formatted in the style to be changed. If this is not the case, styles can be changed using the Style dialog box.

Practice: Two Methods to Modifying a Style
  1. Add several paragraphs to the document from the previous exercise.
  2. Apply the style that you created to the new text.
  3. Select the text Styles help users in law firms master Microsoft Word.
  4. From the Format menu, choose Style.
  5. Click Modify.
  6. Click Format, and then select Font.
  7. Change the font color to Blue and the font size to 20-points.
  8. Close the dialog box and apply the changes that you've made by clicking Apply. Notice that all text formatted with My Style updates to show the recent change.
  9. Select the text Microsoft Word.
  10. Change the font size to 36.
  11. Click on the style name in the white part of the Style toolbar button (not the drop-down arrow) and press ENTER. It's important to press ENTER and not move the mouse up or down the list of style names. This tells Word that you are working with the current style where the mouse is active. If this step was done correctly, the following Modify Style dialog box should display.

    Automatic Modify Style dialog

  12. You can either choose to Update the style to reflect recent changes, or Reapply the formatting of the style to the selection (go back to the original style format). Choose Update the style to reflect recent changes? And click OK.
Note - styles microsoft word CK Note:   This behavior changed in Word 2002. You can modify Word to go back to the previous behavior. Check the box for "Prompt to update style" on the Edit tab of Tools > Options.

You can download an Add-In that restores the CTRL+SHIFT+S behavior from my downloads page.

Do not ever check the box to automatically update the style from now on. This is the equivalent of giving a chain saw to an 8-year-old without supervision. Nothing good will come of it!

Tip Tip  A keyboard shortcut is to press CTRL+SHIFT+S (to put you in the style drop down box), and then press ENTER, which will bring up the above dialog.

The style is changed to reflect the formatting of the selected text and this method is referred to as modifying by example. Notice how all paragraphs with the style are updated automatically.

Warning Warning  We do not recommend selecting the Automatically update the style box especially in a legal environment where multiple users work on the same document. This feature will update the style each time you make a formatting change in a paragraph that has a style attached.

Where Styles Live

A lot of confusion can come from not knowing where styles are stored and when they are available in documents. When new documents are created, the new documents are based on templates. The styles contained within these templates are copied to the new document. Changes made to styles in the document as well as new styles that you create only affect that one new document by default. If you want the change or addition to be added to the template, you have to tell Word to do so.

Practice: Add it to the Template
  1. From the Format menu, choose Style.
  2. Click Modify.
  3. Check the option to Add to template. This makes the style available for any new documents that are based on that template.

The style is added to the currently open template.

Note - styles microsoft word Note  Documents that have previously been created based on this template are not affected when you add a style to the template. To automatically update style changes in templates and files previously created based on the same template, from the Tools menu, choose Templates and Add-Ins. Select the option to Automatically update document styles and click OK. We recommend not checking this option. It can produce unexpected results, especially in legal documents that must conform to court rules.

CK Note: For an excellent tutorial on styles and a methodical look at basing styles on one another and reasons not to base styles on normal, see John McGhie's Create a Template Part 2. For a sample demonstrating styles based on one another, use of the style for following paragraph feature, and the AutoTextList field restricted by styles download the Letterhead Textboxes and Styles Tutorial by Charles Kenyon.


What it means to have a style (style B) based on another style (style A) is that changes in Style A, the underlying style, will be reflected in styles based on it  (style B) unless the new style has deviated from Style A on the feature being changed.

Style A Arial Bold 20 pt Indented .5 inches
Style B Arial Bold 18 pt Indented .5 inches based on Style A

Change Style A to Comic Sans font and Style B will also be Comic Sans
Change Style A to 24 pt - no change to Style B
Change Style A to not Bold - Style B also becomes not bold

See How Styles in Microsoft Word Cascade by Shauna Kelly, MVP

If when you try to create a new style you get an error message that it is based on too many styles, see here.

When you save a style to the template, if that template is the normal template, the style will be available in all new documents.
Assign a Keyboard Shortcut To a Style

If you create your own styles, it's especially helpful to assign a keyboard shortcut to them to make them easier to apply. You can also apply shortcuts to commonly used styles.

Practice: Assign a Keyboard Shortcut to The Quote Style
  1. In a blank line on your document, change the left indent to 1", and the right- indent to 5".
  2. Enter some text.
  3. Click somewhere within the indented paragraph. You will create a quote style that is very common in most law firms.
  4. From the Format menu, choose Style.
  5. Click New.
  6. In the Name box, type Quote.
  7. As Style type, select Paragraph.
  8. Based on should be Normal (your default style).
  9. Click Shortcut Key.
  10. In the Press new shortcut key box, press the keyboard combination ALT+Q. (Always make sure that the shortcut key you have chosen is not in use somewhere else.)
  11. Click Assign.
  12. Click OK, and then click Close.
  13. Click anywhere within your document and press ALT+Q. The Quote paragraph style is applied.

Now you can apply the Quote style using ALT+ Q or through the Style menu.

Note - styles microsoft word Note  If you want to add a shortcut key to a style that already exists, Word lets you do that, too. From the Format menu, choose Style. Select the style to which you want to add a shortcut key and click Modify. Click Shortcut Key and follow the steps from the above exercise.

Following a Style with Another Style

If you apply a paragraph format in Word, it keeps that format until another one is chosen. This is true for styles as well. If you use the "My Style" style (created in the previous exercise), Word continues to use that style each time you begin a new paragraph until another style is chosen. Sometimes the style is only needed for one paragraph at a time (for example a heading style). To cut down the amount of times the user needs to use the Style menu; you can choose which style should be used in the paragraph that follows the new style. For example, after the Heading style, when you press ENTER, you can have the next paragraph automatically formatted with a Body Text style.

Practice: Follow a Style With Another Style

(Save Users Time & Frustration)

  1. From the Format menu, choose Style.
  2. Select Quote style from the list of styles.
  3. Click Modify.
  4. Select Normal style from the Style for following paragraph list.
  5. Click OK, and then click Close.

Modify Style dialog

Notice the style of the new paragraph automatically changes to the Normal style when you press enter after a paragraph formatted with the "quote" style.

CK Note: See Letterhead Textboxes and Styles Tutorial for an example of styles that use the "Style for following paragraph" feature to good effect.

Using the Organizer to Copy Styles

You can copy styles between documents or templates. One of the most effective ways to do this is through the Organizer. The Organizer is a tool built into Word that allows you to quickly copy Styles, AutoText, Toolbars and Macros. You can access the Organizer in one of two ways: from the Format menu, choose Style and click Organizer; or from the Tools menu, choose Templates and Add-Ins and click Organizer.

Word 97 Styles Organizer (above) - note AutoText and Toolbars tabs!
Word 2003 is the same.

Word 2010 (2007, 2013 the same) Styles Organizer.

CK Note: To get to the organizer in Word 2010 and 2007 you need to click on the Import/Export button on the Manage Styles Dialog Box (bottom left corner).

Practice: Copy Styles Using the Organizer
  1. From the Tools menu, choose Templates and Add-Ins.
  2. Click Organizer.
  3. Select the appropriate tab for items that you want to copy. For example, to copy styles from one document or template to another select the Styles tab.
  4. To copy styles from your current document to the template which makes the style available each time you start Word, select the styles and click Copy.
  5. Click Close.

Note - styles microsoft word Note  If a style name that you are copying already exists, you are asked if you want to replace it.

Charles Kenyon Note  I have found it best when copying styles using the organizer to copy them three times if any of the styles is based on other styles or is followed by other styles. I'm not sure why this makes a difference, but I've found that clicking on that copy button three times means that these relationships continue in the destination template. I know that when I copy them only once, they do not and the styles are then followed by the Normal style. See this Knowledge Base  article Q113106 for possible explanation.

Since at least Word 2003, the Organizer will not necessarily show all of the styles in the Normal template. See below in troubleshooting.

You can use a global template as a stylesheet if you include a macro to copy the styles into your document. See A Global StyleSheet in Microsoft Word? for an example of such a macro.

Duplicating Style Definitions within a document or template

If you have defined one of the built-in styles just the way you want but would prefer to be using a style of your own for this purpose, copying the formatting to your new style without it being based on the existing style. If you are comfortable editing vba macros, you can record a macro that calls up the style modification dialog and goes through each of the various format dialogs and closes them. Then create your new style and edit the macro to refect the name of your new style rather than the one in which it was recorded. Run the macro and the new style should match your original one.

Much simpler is using one of the tools that comes in the WOPR Add-In. The Style Duplicator lets you create a new style with the same definition as an existing one. The WOPR Add-In is only available with Que "Special Edition" books about Office and is worth the price of the books by itself.

Copying Text Formatted in a Style

Another way to copy styles is to simply copy and paste paragraphs created in another document containing the style you're looking for. All paragraph formatting is contained in the paragraph mark at the end of each paragraph. Make sure when you select and copy the paragraph text that you include the paragraph marker at the end of the selected paragraph. Then, when you paste it into the target document, the selected paragraph formatting and paragraph style are added to your target document.

Note - styles microsoft word

CK Note:  

If you use Autotext entries contained in a global template that are formatted using a style in that global template, those styles will be copied as well. (For this to work with paragraph styles a paragraph marker in the style must be a part of the autotext entry.)

This method of copying styles by copying text with a paragraph marker only works if the style being copied in is not already "in use" in the document receiving the copied text. Otherwise the style definition in the target document governs.

If you do this and the style already exists in the new receiving document, the existing style in the receiving document is used, not modified. This makes it much easier to maintain consistency within a document but can lead to real headaches if the people who formatted the documents weren't conscious of style use. 

In this case if you wanted to copy the style you would want to use the Organizer. Character styles are also copied this way. This gets complex. Sorry about that. Despite this complexity, use of styles for formatting is the key to using Word.

If you have text in two different documents that you want to combine, and you want to retain the formatting from each rather than having one style system format the text from both documents, you can. You can use Paste Special ... as Word Document Object. This creates a document within a document, with its own set of styles.

Otherwise, if you just want to copy the text, you will need to make some changes to one of the documents before you do the insertion, though. The thing is that if your styles have different names in the two documents, then the formatting will be retained when the text is inserted. So, you'll want to rename the styles in one (or both) of your documents.

None of the built-in styles can be renamed, though. If you have the WOPR Add-In, you can copy styles within a document and then use replace to change all instances using one of the built-in styles to the copy (with a different name). 

If you have problems with copying formatted text from one document to another, take a look at the troubleshooting section below. If you have other formatting problems such as headers and footers or page numbering to worry about, take a look at Sections, Header and Footers

Navigating with the Vertical Scroll Bar (CK addition)

If you apply heading styles, you can use the Vertical Scroll Bar in Word to move quickly to different parts of your document. To do this, click and drag the box (elevator car) in the vertical scrollbar and move it up or down. You will see tip-text next to it that tells you which section (heading) of your document you are in. (end of addition)

Navigating with the Document Map

If you apply heading styles, you can use the Document Map feature in Word to quickly move to different parts of your document. This is a real time-saver when working with long documents. See warning below!

Practice: Navigate Using Document Map - but SEE WARNING FIRST
  1. Create or open a long document formatted with heading styles.
  2. Click the Document Map button on the Standard toolbar, or from the View menu, choose Document Map.
  3. Click on a heading within the document map to move to that section in the document.
  4. Click on a different heading in the document map to move to another section within the document.

To turn off the document map feature, click the Document Map button on the Standard toolbar. The button works as a toggle.

Warning CK Note - Warning:

"While it's true that Microsoft put a Document Map feature into Word 97, the whole thing was so badly botched that only a masochist would live with it.  Here's the primary problem: Word 97 takes it upon itself to scan every document as it's opened and assign heading levels to all the paragraphs.  By doing so, any heading levels you've assigned are thrown away--and there's nothing you can do about it.

"So here's a word of advice.  If you use DocMap on a particular Word document, don't let anybody with Word 97 (or any earlier version of Word, for that matter) open the document.  As soon as your carefully DocMapped Word 2000 document is opened in Word 97, all the level formatting will be irretrievably lost."

Quote from Woody Leonard Teaches Office 2000.

The Document Map feature causes problems in all versions of Word up through Word 2007. Do not use it. In Word 2010 it was replaced with the Navigation Pane which works nicely.

Some Other Features That Depend on Styles - (CK addition)

This section (other features) was added by CK and is not in the original text. Four features that depend on use of styles in a document are:

bulletAutoText Lists
bulletTables of Contents
bulletThe StyleRef field
bulletThe Vertical Scroll Bar

AutoText Lists

AutoText lists are an implementation of the AutoTextList field. They are found on the Header and Footer Toolbar and the AutoText toolbar. They are also in a number of the templates supplied with Word. A non-apparent factor with their use is that they are sensitive to styles. AutoText entries are organized by Word according to the style in which they were created. Often only AutoText entries saved in a particular style will show up in an AutoText list field. When such a list is missing entries, the first thing to check is whether the insertion point (cursor) is in the expected style.

See the Web Resources page for more on AutoText. See How to add pop-up lists to any Word document for more on the AutoTextList field. See the Letterhead Textboxes and Styles Tutorial for an example using some of Microsoft's default AutoText entries for letters.

Tables of Contents

Tables of Contents are very easily generated in Word if you use heading styles to mark your headings. See Complex Documents for more on how to do this. Creating a Table of Contents without using styles is a painful experience, although it can be done.

The StyleRef field

The StyleRef field is used primarily in headers and footers. If you have something like a directory or a phone book document you can have dynamic content in your header/footer like:

Allen - Brady

With a properly set up letterhead template the styleref field can be used to put information about the addressee and subject into the continuation page header automatically. See the Letterhead Textboxes and Styles Tutorial for a detailed example. See my StyleRef Field Tutorial, Using Fields in Microsoft Word, and Useful StyleRef Field Tricks for more on the StyleRef field. The StyleRef field is especially handy because it updates instantly without any user intervention.

The Vertical Scroll bar

This was covered earlier.

Word 2007-2013 Styles terminology

A style is a collection of formatting characteristics, such as font name, size and color; and paragraph alignment and spacing.

A quick style set is a collection of styles that are designed to work well together. The built-in quick style sets in Word 2007-2013 are called Distinctive, Elegant, Fancy, etc. You can also create your own style sets.

Location: The English-language built-in quick style sets for Word 2007 should be in the folder:
C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Office\Office12\1033\QuickStyles ("1033" refers to US English). Word 2010: Office14 instead of Office12. Word 2013: Office15 instead of Office12.

If you are running 64 bit Office on 64 bit Windows (or 32 bit Office on 32 bit Windows), the program files folder will be called Program Files (without "(x86)").

Your custom quick style sets (those you create) are located in a completely different location. That folder will depend on your operating system.

These custom files are in the following folders:

Windows XP Location:
c:\Documents and Settings\{your username}\Application Data\Microsoft\QuickStyles\

Windows Vista & 7-8 Location:
c:\Users\{your username}\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\QuickStyles\

These are hidden system folders. If your Start menu has a search function searching for %APPDATA% will lead you toward the correct folder.

Each style linked in a style set is called a Quick Style. Most styles are not part of a quick style set. Quick Style Sets do not contain styles, themselves. They link to styles in the template and the document and change certain attributes of those styles. Quick Styles are also the styles displayed in the Quick Style Gallery.

The Home tab of the ribbon includes the Styles group. The Styles group includes the Quick Styles Gallery and the Change Styles button. When you choose a quick style set for your document, the individual quick styles in the style set appear in the Quick Style Gallery. The styles in the document that are part of a Quick Style Set will change when you change sets to the definitions in the new set.

To see another representation of the quick styles shown in the Quick Style Gallery - one that will be familiar to someone who has worked with Word 2003 and earlier - click on the sloping arrow in the lower right corner of the Styles group (or press Ctrl+Alt+Shift+S) to open the Styles Task Pane. This also shows styles that are not Quick Styles, though. That is, you get access to all styles (or can if your options are set to display not only recommended styles or styles in use, but all styles).

When you change to a different style set, it changes two defaults in your document. Since the Quick Styles are based on those defaults, they all change. The first default is your base fonts. The second is which styles are labeled as Quick Styles and displayed in your Quick Style Gallery.

Quick Style Sets can only be used in Word 2007 and later. In all versions of Word, cascading styles are available, though, where various styles are based upon one another and a change to one style can ripple through others. See How styles in Microsoft Word cascade. This can give you many of the advantages of Style Sets in any version, but are a bit more work.

Selecting All Text Formatted in a Particular Style (and only that text)

The Quick Styles Gallery also allows the user to select the text formatted with a particular style, and only text formatted with that style. You do this by right-clicking on the Style name in the Quick Style Gallery as shown below.

Once you have done this all instances of text in that style (and not instances of text in a style based on that style or other styles) will be selected in your document. A word count of the selection will appear in the status bar.

The screenshot shows the result for a linked style which has been used as both a paragraph and a character style.

Note, this works only with styles that have been designated to appear in the Quick Style Gallery.

Using Themes in Microsoft Word

Themes were introduced in Word 2007 to allow dramatic changes  in the appearance of documents that work together.  "One way to think about themes is as design elements that affect the aesthetic appearance of a document. Styles, on the other hand, are geared more to the formatting of text and paragraphs." Herb Tyson, MVP, Microsoft Word 2010 Bible p. 157

Every Office theme defines two fonts — one for headings and one for body text. They can be the same font (used everywhere) or two different fonts. . . In addition, Quick Style Galleries for text and WordArt use these same theme fonts.

Your author knows little about themes. So, rather than expose ignorance, here are some references:

bullet Exactly what settings are changed when the Word 2003 theme is applied?
bullet What is a theme?
bullet Changing your style in the new Word (2013)


Troubleshooting Styles — Issues To Watch Out For

While styles are an integral part of using Word in a law firm or any environment, there are a few things that cause users difficulty. This doesn't mean that you should not create your own styles; you just need to know how to solve some common problems and understand how you can avoid them in the future.

A style has changed unexpectedly

Check to see if automatic updating is turned on for the style. With automatic updating, a style is updated automatically when you make additional changes to the style, meaning that every paragraph in your document assigned to that style will change automatically. To turn off this feature, click the Format menu, and choose Style. Select the style in the Styles box, and then click Modify. If the Automatically update check box is selected, clear it.

Your style may have been based on another style that has changed. Changes to a base style affect other styles in the document that are based on it. For example, if you change the font in Normal to the Arial font, Word changes the font for the styles used in footnotes, headers, footers, page numbers, and other text. If you don't want a certain style to change when you change the base style, make certain your style is not based on another style. On the Format menu, click Style. In the Styles box, click the style you want to modify, click Modify, and then click (no style) in the Based on box.

CK Note: See also Word is always making changes I don't expect. How can I get more control over my formatting? by Suzanne S. Barnhill, MVP, and Dave Rado, MVP. and Formatting applied to one paragraph affects entire document by Suzanne S. Barnhill, MVP

Warning Warning  When you base a style on No Style, you will need to set the Language because the default will be No Proofing.

Charles Kenyon note: I recommend that you not base any styles on normal and that you change the built-in styles so that they are not based on normal. This is particularly true for any styles that are involved in paragraph numbering. (But, I have been told by someone whose opinion I respect that my reluctance to use the normal style is based on an urban myth.)

If you change the styles in a template and then reopen a document based on that template, styles in the current document may be updated, based on their new definitions in the template. If you don't want the styles in documents based on a particular template to update when you open the documents, click Templates and Add-Ins on the Tools menu, and then clear the Automatically update document styles check box.

Charles Kenyon note: I recommend that you keep the Automatically update styles check box unchecked. Especially if you will be sharing your documents with others, leaving it checked can result in truly bizarre formatting and make your documents ugly or even unusable. This is true even if you are using a custom template and not because...

if the template that contains the style definitions is missing or damaged, styles in the current document use the style definitions from the Normal template.

Applying a style turns off bold, italic, or underlining

Sometimes when you apply a style that has specific formatting attributes to text already formatted this way, the reverse formatting may occur. For example, when you apply a style that contains bold formatting to a paragraph that contains some bold text, the bold text may lose its bold formatting. This problem will not occur if you apply character formatting— either through a character style or direct formatting — after you apply a paragraph style. Apply the style first, and then select the words to have other formatting and apply the formatting directly.

Tip Tip  To make sure that no direct formatting has been applied to the text, first select the text completely and then press CTRL+SPACEBAR. This removes manually applied formatting. Now when a style is applied, there is no reversing situation to occur.

Paragraphs with the same style applied look different.

Often a style will be applied within a document, and later, specific text in the document is selected and additional formatting is applied-without updating the style. This is called direct formatting. While direct formatting may be your intention, if you share documents with others, it can be confusing because text formatted differently can have the same style name.

To remove direct formatting, select the paragraph, including the paragraph mark, and then press CTRL+SPACEBAR to remove character formatting and CTRL+Q to remove paragraph formatting.

Practice: Remove Direct Formatting & Return the Style to the Original Definition
  1. Apply a style such as Heading 1 to text.
  2. Apply formatting such as Bold, Italic, and Underline to this text.
  3. In the same document, apply the same style to different text and note that the text displays the same style name but appears with different formatting.
  4. Select the Heading 1 text that has the directly applied character formatting applied in step 2.
  5. Press CTRL+SPACEBAR to remove the directly applied character formatting.
  6. Indent and center the text so that paragraph formatting is now directly applied on top of the style.
  7. Press CTRL+Q to remove the directly applied paragraph formatting.

Both paragraphs should now look the same.-


CK Note:  

The following is not in the original chapter.

Copying text formatted with a style from one document to another.

First, think about using Paste Special... As Word Document Object. This may do what you want without your having to do a lot of work to otherwise understand how your styles are working. If it doesn't, read on...

When you copy text formatted in one style to a different document, different things will happen depending on whether that style is already in use in the original document. If the style is based on a different style, it will also matter whether or not that style is in use. The basic rule is that if the style is in use in both documents, the formatting of the style in the target document governs. If the style is not "in use" then the formatting of the style from the source document will be carried into the target document and override a style definition for that (unused) style in the target document. Direct formatting can also cause problems.

When you run into a problem with this, first undo and close your documents. Make some copies and work with the copies. Try first clearing any direct formatting in the source document text. Then copy and paste again. If your problem still pops up, then try using Edit => Paste Special... => Unformatted Text. You may have to reapply the appropriate styles to the pasted text. The pasted text will pick up the paragraph format of the paragraph into which it is being pasted (even if the pasted text contains multiple paragraphs).

To see something of how styles interact when copied from one document to another, take a look at the IncludeText Field Tutorial. It shows what happens with styles that are (1) in both documents, (2) only in the source document but based on a style in the target document, and (3) only in the source document and not based on any style in the target document.

Changes I make to my default styles don't stick!

Changes to styles are changes to the normal template ( or normal.dotm). When you tell Word you want a style modification to apply to all documents based on this template, you are making such a change.

A number of "Add-Ins" prevent these changes from sticking because of poor programming. There are three methods to get around this.

  1. The most comprehensive is to talk to the people who wrote the Add-In and get them to fix the problem they are causing you. See Add-Ins in Microsoft Word - Helper files that can cause problems.
  2. The next is to disable the Add-In. Enable or disable add-ins in Office programs - Support -
  3. The third is to open the normal template directly - as a document - make your changes, and save that. You do not want to put any text, including headers or footers, in the normal template! How to find or open the normal template in Word. See also Numbering Style Changes Won't Stick!
Style Organizer Not Showing All of the Styles in the Normal Template

Beginning at least with Word 2003 there is an apparent bug in which the styles displayed for the normal template may be a short list. See below:

Word 2003 Organizer (safe mode)

Word 2010 Styles Organizer - not showing all styles in normal template

As of this writing (Nov 2013) I have no explanation for this. In Word 2010 (but not Word 2007) changing the styles viewed in the Styles Pane expands the list of styles shown in the Organizer (but not necessarily to showing all styles).

Note that it is rare to use the Organizer to copy styles from the normal template; I can't think of any reason to do this. You can copy all of the styles from the normal template (or any other template) by attaching the template to the current document with the option checked to update styles from the template. You do not want to leave this option checked, though!

Here is a macro that will do this.

Sub RefreshNormalStyles()
' RefreshNormalStyles Macro
' Written 2013-11-09 by Charles Kyle Kenyon
' Applies stored styles in normal template to current document.
' Note, this macro does not care where your user templates
' and normal template are stored.
' Word already knows that.
' This macro should work in any version of Word from
' Word 97 on but I've only tested it with Word 2010.
Dim strNormal As String
strNormal = Application.NormalTemplate.FullName
With ActiveDocument
.UpdateStylesOnOpen = True
.AttachedTemplate = strNormal
End With
ActiveDocument.UpdateStylesOnOpen = False
End Sub

See Installing Macros by Graham Mayor for instructions on what to do with this macro if you don't know.

Automatically Update Styles - three controls with the same name spell trouble!

Word has three places where you can control automatic updating of styles. Each controls something a little different, two should be left turned off as a rule, the third should always be turned on.

The first is in the style definition itself. The dialog box below is from Word 97, but the checkbox is in the style modification / definition dialog for all versions of Word thereafter. Leave it unchecked!


The second big one is in the document template dialog, also called the Templates and Add-Ins dialog box. Directly under the name of the attached template is a choice to automatically update styles. Leave it unchecked! Again, basically unchanged through the versions:

Finally, Word has had an option since Word 2002 to be prompted for a style update. This was the default in earlier versions of Word. Leave that one CHECKED.

Based on Too Many Styles Error When Creating a New Style

The maximum depth for style nesting is ten levels. That is, you can have Style01 based on no style, Style02 based on Style01, Style03, based on Style02, ... Style11 based on Style10. When the insertion point is in Style11, if you try to create a new style, Word assumes you want to base it on Style11 and gives you the following message:

Error: the style you want to create is based on too many styles.

That is because, with Style11 you have already reached the maximum level of nesting. If you get this message, try applying the normal style to your text and then creating a new style. if you still get he error message when starting from the normal style, you may have document corruption.

Highlighting in Styles - Use Shading Instead

Highlighting is apparently a "poor relation" to the other formatting options. It does not show up on the font dialog and cannot be a part of a Style. However, font shading can be part of a Style. It is accessed through the borders and shading dialog.

The colors on the palette will not necessarily be identical. If need be, custom colors can be used.

In the Syle modification dialog, this is reached under the Formatting button by selecting Borders.



(end of CK Addition)

See also Troubleshooting

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