11. Keeping Formatting Consistent with Styles

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Building on all of the varieties of formatting options we’ve used so far, we introduce Word styles, showing the user how to apply them and how to create custom styles.


Lesson Goal

Learn how to use Styles to apply headings to the document.

Consistency vs structure

Consistency is an important part of making a document look professional. This means picking a font, size, color, line spacing, etc. and sticking with it. But you may break consistency to add structure to your document.

Titles, section headings, and subsection headings add structure to your document and make it easier for people to read it. In order to effectively do this, they need to stand out. That can mean changing the font, size, color, bolding, indentation, etc.

But consistency within each type of heading is still important. For example, all the main headings (i.e. not subsection heading) must use identical formatting if you want to maintain a professional look

These different consistencies can be managed with Word Styles.

What Is a Style?

A Style will keep track of your very specific formatting options for each type of text you have in your document. Using Styles, you can distinguish normal text, multiple layers of headings for sections and subsections, titles, captions and so on.

This will allow you to make changes to the formatting of one type of Style without affecting the others. Styles also allow you to make formatting changes to your document very quickly.

For example, if you decide you want to change the look of your normal text without changing any headings, simply modify the associated Style and all normal text in your document will be updated.

Styles can be accessed from the Ribbon by navigating to the Styles Group in the Home tab. Right-clicking and selecting modify will give you access to the Modify Style Menu.

What formatting can be applied to a Style?

Styles can track a wide variety of formatting options. You can apply all of the formatting options covered so far in this course to a Style. To recap, these are:

  • Font
  • Size
  • Color
  • Bold
  • Italic
  • Underline
  • Alignment
  • Indentation
  • Line Spacing

Styles can also apply many other forms of formatting which have not yet been covered.


Up to this point, we've made a lot of changes to the formatting of the document's text.

In this lesson, we'll learn how to use styles to apply consistent formatting.

As we've stated previously, it's important to apply consistent formatting throughout a professional document.

However, it's actually a little more complex than that. It's more accurate to say that formatting should be consistent across all paragraph text.

In the same vein, formatting should be consistent across all section headings.

However, section headings should look different from paragraph text.

Titles and headings add structure to your document and enhance readability.

In order to effectively do this they need to stand out. That can mean changing the font, size and color.

These varieties of formatting choices are called styles. Manually keeping track of all these different styles can be very tedious.

Fortunately, Word allows users to track all their styles. Word displays its default styles in the Home tab of the ribbon.

There are a wide variety from headings and titles to subtitles, emphasis and quotes.

In this lesson, we'll focus on the normal and heading styles.

Word styles remember more than just text formatting.

They keep track of alignment, indentation and line spacing as well.

The two default paragraph styles, normal and no spacing represent two different approaches to line spacing. By default, Word will set the style as normal when you start typing a new document.

Let's set the text under the first heading of the document to no spacing to see what that looks like. We'll highlight the desired text and select no spacing in the styles group.

This is not an improvement, so we'll undo this change with Control + Z.

Next, there are two heading styles.

Unlike the paragraph styles, these two options refer to a hierarchy instead of alternative approaches.

If Heading 1 refers to a specific section of text, Heading 2 refers to a subsection.

Let's explore what that means by going to the top of page two.

To start, we have a section called Introducing Fetch Cuisine where the section heading uses the same format as the paragraph text, so it doesn't stand out.

It needs a different style. We'll choose Heading 1.

The next heading looks to be announcing a new section, so we'll apply Heading 1 here as well.

Moving on to page three, we'll also apply Heading 1 to always improving.

On the next page, we see an example of the hierarchy we briefly mentioned before.

You'll notice that under our process, we have a crude diagram showing the company's process.

In a section below, the steps in detail, we see the same information broken down in more detail.

This really doesn't warrant a completely different section, because we're not thematically changing the topic. What we have here is a subsection. We'll apply Heading 1 to our process and Heading 2 to the steps in detail to reflect this.

Notice that the font size for Heading 2 is slightly smaller.

This indicates that the reader has arrived at a subsection, rather than a new section. Next, we'll head to the final page and apply Heading 1 to the section title there.

At this stage, you might decide that you don't like Word's default heading styles.

Perhaps you think they should be bigger. Let's first see how this will look by increasing the size of the final heading from 16 to 18.

It looks good, but the other headings are still at 16.

We can quickly fix that.

We'll ensure that the enlarged heading has been selected, right click Heading 1 and click Update Heading 1 to Match Selection. Now all text with the Heading 1 style is 18 point.

If we want to make some drastic changes, it's often better to create an entirely new style.

To do this, we'll click the down arrow on the styles box and select Create a Style. We want to make an alternative to Heading 1, so we'll call it alt heading 1. We'll then customize this style by clicking Modify.

We'll base this new style off Heading 1, so we'll ensure that Style based on is set to Heading 1.

From here, we can make changes to the font type, size, and color. We can also adjust alignment, spacing and indentation.

Note that we can see a preview of any changes we make in real time through the window at the center. In the box below the preview window, Word summarizes all the characteristics of our style. Finally, there's a button labeled Format on the bottom left.

If we select it, we can see a variety of menus.

Each menu provides more customization than the base menu.

For example, if we select Paragraph, we can see the advanced paragraph options we saw in previous lessons.

Let's stop here.

As you can see, using styles allows users to very quickly adjust formatting across a document.

Typing and Formatting Text in Word


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