Word for Writers, Part 11 – Creating and Using Styles 7


WHEN A WRITER HAS NOT YET LEARNED how to use Styles, she applies formatting manually. For example, to format a title, she might select the title, apply bold formatting, make it a slightly larger font size, and center it.

Applying formatting in this manner is called “direct formatting.” If you generally use direct formatting you’ll know that it can be a tedious process. For example, to format all the titles in your book, you would have to repeat the direct formatting process for each title, being careful to select the same paragraph formatting and font size every time. It’s easy to make mistakes, to unintentionally vary the formatting, and after all that work, you might still end up with a manuscriptthat isn’t consistently formatted.

By contrast, using styles to format your manuscript allows you to quickly and easily apply a set of formatting choices consistently throughout your manuscript.

What are Styles?

So what is a style? According to Microsoft, “A style is a set of formatting characteristics, such as font name, size, color, paragraph alignment and spacing.”

Styles are a powerful feature that allows you to quickly format or change formatting for an entire document. Once you learn to use this feature, I promise you’ll never look back!

How do styles work?

Using the title-formatting example above, instead of taking three separate steps to format your heading as 16-point, bold Cambria, you could achieve the same result in one step by applying Word’s built-in Heading 1 style. For each title in your manuscript, you’d just place your cursor somewhere in the title (you don’t even need to select all the text), and then select Heading 1 in the gallery of styles. Presto! You now have a perfectly formatted title.

Creating and Applying Styles

The easiest way to create and apply a style is to direct format a title or paragraph of text and then create a style based on formatted text. The following steps walk you through this simple process.

Please note: the screen captures included in the following instructions are from Word 2011 for Mac and Word 2010 for PC. The dialogue boxes and menus for newer versions of the software will have a different appearance, but the functions are essentially the same and these directions will still apply. Newer versions will also offer alternative methods for accomplishing the same steps. For the sake of brevity, I do not demonstrate every method of accomplishing these tasks in this article.

  1. Select a chapter title in your piece (or any line of text, just for experiment’s sake). Be sure to select the whole line, including the paragraph return at the end.
  2. Apply your title font. (In my example shown after step 5, I used a 13 pt. Gill Sans Light font.)
  3. Next, open the Paragraph Formatting dialog box.
    • On the Mac, select Paragraph from the Format menu (or press Command-Option-M).
    • On the PC, click the Formatting button on the toolbar as shown in the following illustration.

      Paragraph-Formatting-Section
  4. If you want your chapter titles to appear at the top of a new page, select the Line and Page Breaks tab and then select Page break before. When you create and apply your Chapter Title style, this will automatically place each title on a new page.

    2-Page-break-before
  5. Click the Indents and Spacing tab and specify the alignment, space before, and space after your title. In the example shown below, I have specified centered alignment, no left or right indentation, 36 pt. before my title (which pushes it further down the page, and 13 pt after, which gives some space between the title and the text that follows it.

    3-space-before-and-after

The formatted title

4-Formatted-title-example

Creating a Style

Now that you have the “model” title, use it to create the style for your titles:

  1. Place your cursor anywhere in the title.

    On the Mac: Pull down the Format menu and select Style. Click the New button, give your style a name (I’ve used “Chapter Title” in the example), click OK, and then click Apply.
    5-mac-creating-style

    On the PC: Right-click in the title, select Styles, and Save Selection as New Quick Style. Enter a name (Chapter Title) and click OK.

    PC-Save-as-New-Quick-Style

Applying a Style

The final step is to apply the style to every title in the Manuscript.

  1. Scroll down to your next title. Place your cursor anywhere within the title, and then select Chapter Title in the Styles menu. That’s all it takes!

    On a Mac: you can select the style from the drop-down menu on the toolbar in two places: the quick style menu on the Home tab and the drop-down menu in the formatting ribbon.

    7-quickstyle-menu-on-mac
    8-mac-drop-down-style-menu

On a PC: select the style from the Quick Styles menu on the Home tab:

9-pc-quickstyle-menu

Modifying Styles

Now, when you decide to change something about your title formatting — for example, you want your titles to appear further down on the page, or you decide you’d like them to be a different font or font size — all you have to do is modify the style and, voilà!, all your titles are instantly and magically changed at once, without the tedious process of highlighting and direct formatting each title.

To make a change to a style:

  1. Right-click on the style in the Quick Styles menu and select Modify

    mac modify quickstyle
  2. Select the type of formatting you want to change from the drop-down Format menu, such as paragraph formatting to change line spacing or font formatting to change font type or size.

    10-modifyingstyles2
  3. Specify your changes in the dialogue boxes and click OK.
  4. All the text to which that style was applied will now conform to the changes you made.

At this point, I encourage you to play a little with modifying styles just to see how wonderfully it works. For the sake of experimentation, go ahead and modify your newly created style so that your text is 36 pts. and bold. Scroll through your document to see what happened. Now change it back to the way you like it.

It really is magic, isn’t it!



This article is excerpted from my book, Publish Your Chapbook! Six Weeks to Professional Publication.

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