6. Customizing Document Formatting with Word Themes

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Word Themes allow you to make sweeping design changes to your entire document. They change the formatting and color schemes of multiple types of Styles in the document.


Lesson Goal

Overhaul the look of the document with Themes.

What is a Theme

At this stage in the Word Learning Plan, you’re probably already quite familiar with Styles. There are Styles for text, tables, pictures and so on.

Styles reduce tedium by making it easy to manage a wide variety of formatting choices in your document. Ironically, managing a wide variety of Styles can become tedious. This is where Themes come in.

Themes apply a universal palette of colors, font choices to all of your Styles.

Setting and customizing Themes

Themes can be found in the Design tab on the Ribbon.

To the far right, we can choose from a range of Built-In Theme presets. Next to this is another selection of Document Formatting options. These will primarily affect text Styles such as Title, Heading 1, Heading 2 etc.

After this, we can choose to change the color palette. There are even more presets here and we can customize these or create a new palette. Click Customize Colors to open the Create New Theme Colors. To change a color, select one from the palette. Word will display its default colors, but you can insert a custom color by selecting More Colors. From the custom tab, you can choose a color in the selector, or enter a specific RGB code. This is useful for inputting specific colors from a company branding guideline.

Next, we have more font options. Again, there are presets, but we can select Customize Fonts to open the Create New Theme Fonts menu. Here we can choose one font for normal text and one font for all Headings.

We can also choose a default paragraph spacing type and we can set the current Theme as the default for new documents.

Lastly, we have page effects. These can add watermarks, change the page color and add a border to the document. These aren’t used often.


In the previous lesson, we learned about Quick Parts, headers, and footers.

In this lesson, we'll overhaul the look of the document with Themes. Word Themes can be considered a type of style for all styles.

It can quickly apply formatting presets to multiple different types of Word styles.

We'll return to the case study document and finalize this look with a theme before we send it to a designer.

We'll start at the beginning of the document.

It currently has a cover page but not one with any style.

We'll need to replace this cover page with a Word preset cover page.

First, we'll delete the original cover page.

We'll then navigate to the Insert tab and click the Cover Page command to reveal a dropdown of presets.

We'll opt for Slice Dark.

You may have noticed from the appearance of the contextual tab that this cover page is not a unique Word asset.

It's actually just a clever arrangement of shapes and Quick Parts all within a drawing canvas.

The Quick Parts in this cover page are the same as the ones in the footer, so they already contain the appropriate text.

These Word presets are acceptable for internal or personal docs.

For professional external docs, the preset should act as a placeholder for the design expert.

They'll replace it with a custom cover page which matches the company's branding.

At this point, we'll start investigating Themes.

These are all found in the design tab in the ribbon.

We'll start with Word's preset themes.

As we cycle through them, we see that they make considerable changes to the document.

The most noticeable difference is that the colors in the cover page, flowchart and tables all change.

Themes also change the font, size and line spacing.

When we apply one of these headings and navigate to the Home tab, we can see that each of the preset style changed to match the theme.

The document looked better before, so we'll type control + Z to return to the previous look.

Let's save this look as its own distinct theme to use in other documents.

To do this, we'll simply click the Themes command and click Save Current Theme.

We'll keep the default location and call this Custom Theme 1.

Saving custom themes is particularly useful if your company has specific branding guidelines.

The Design tab also let's you make edits to the current theme.

Let's start with colors.

There are plenty of preset pallets to choose from.

We'll opt for Blue Warm.

If you have a company color branding guide, you can use it to create a custom pallet. To do so, click Customize Colors to open a menu called Create New Theme colors.

Each theme must have 12 colors, four for text background, six for accents, and two for hyperlinks.

To customize a color, click one of the color boxes and select More Colors.

In the Colors menu, click the Custom tab.

Your company's branding guidelines for colors should give you an RGB code for each company color.

Type these numbers into the corresponding box to get the exact color.

For example, the color green in the Irish flag is Red 22, Green 155 and Blue 98.

Moving on, we can also choose from a variety of preset text styles.

We'll pick Basic Elegant.

This makes changes to all of the main styles in the document.

The advantage of this is that it adds more uniformity to the styles.

We can choose a preset under the Fonts command to change fonts further.

We can also create a preset by clicking Customize Fonts.

In the Create New Theme Fonts menu, we can choose one font for all headings and another for normal text.

Ideally, these fonts should not clash.

For example, they should both be Serif or both be Sans Serif.

Before moving on, we'll revert back to the theme we saved earlier.

In the future, you may want a theme based on company guidelines to apply to all new docs.

To do this, we'll click on the Set as Default command and click Yes.

Finally, Themes can change the background of the page.

The Watermark command reveals a list of useful watermarks which let the user know if the document is confidential, a draft or a sample.

You can also create a custom watermark.

The Page Color command allows us to change the color of the page. We advise you to stick with white.

Other colors can easily look unprofessional and affect the readability of the document.

It's also an incredible waste of printer ink.

The last option allows us to add a border to the pages.

This can look good in some cases, but we'll choose to opt out for this document.

The lesson and the case study document are now complete.

In the next lesson, we'll show you how to create Word templates.

Designing with Shapes, Pictures, and Themes


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