Tuesday, 10 May 2016

Why Document Styles Can Save Your Sanity #TipsTuesdays 27

Welcome to my blog as we return to the regularly scheduled programming after the wonderful madness that was the AtoZChallenge.

Why Document Styles Can Save Your Sanity

Now I know many, many people already know all about this, but having bumped into a few who still don't I decided to write a post about it for Tips Tuesdays 27. I will be talking specifically using examples from Microsoft Word, but the same principle applies to most document software and even HTML. It's also not just books it's useful for, but any other kind of document as well. This post is using styles - only simple ones because I use the defaults, but they are still styles.
  • Styles save time
  • Styles save headaches
  • Styles can be very important when creating documents to convert to eBooks (okay so this one is book specific ;)).
  • Styles may in fact save your sanity :)
Very simply a style is a way to format your document/web page in a centralised manner. This gives you one huge advantage:

If you want to change how all your headings look or how your main text is spaced etc, all you have to do is change it in one place, not many.

In Word these styles are in the ribbon across the top of the program under the Home tab:

All you have to do is either:
  • Click on the paragraph you want to format and select the style you want to use from the styles section. This will format the whole paragraph.
  • Highlight the specific piece of text you want to format using the mouse and select the style you want to use from the styles section. This will format just what you select.
Once you have your document using styles there are then several ways you can change its look.

Alter how the text looks on the page and use this to modify the style.

Also on the Home tab in Word there are options to manually format text. This can be very useful if you just want to play around a bit to sort out how you want to style your headings etc. Once you have your style the way you want it you have 2 options.
  1. Find the style in the styles section (it will be the one highlighted when the cursor is in the paragraph you have been editing).
  2. Right click on the style.
  3. Select "Update [name of style] to match selection"
  1. Right click on the paragraph you have just formatted.
  2. Select "Style" from the menu that appears.
  3. Select "Update [name of style] to match selection"

Use the Modify option.

If you know exactly what you want to change on the style and don't want to play around first, you can edit the style directly.

To do this you:
  1. Find the style in the styles section.
  2. Right click on the style.
  3. Select Modify.
  4. For basic changes, e.g. changing the font or size, you can use the default dialogue that comes up.
  5. For more complex changes, e.g. paragraph formatting, you can select what you wish to edit from the Format menu at the bottom of the dialogue.
    This, for example, is the paragraph editing dialogue that comes up when you select "Paragraph" from the Format Menu.

Creating A Style From Scratch

You can also simply create a new style to use for anything you want, by playing around on the page.

  1. Once you have the style you want, right click on the paragraph.
  2. Select "Styles" from the menu that appears.
  3. Select "Save Selection as New Quick Style"
  4. Choose a name for it and click OK.
So that's it, styles in Word in a nutshell. You may use a different word processor, but all the ones I have used have had similar methods for keeping your document straight.

  • If you share documents, everyone editing the document after you will thank you if you use styles. 
  • Reformatting your document for someone with different prerequisites becomes a matter of moments.
  • Styles are your friends :).

You can even then create templates of your styles so you can load them for any document in the future - but that a whole other post :).

Do you use styles? Do you have any short cuts to share? Have you ever had the nightmare of being given a 100 page document that has been formatted by hand without styles?


  1. Yes I use styles - a lot - both in my job as a project manager when writing reports, and in my job as a writer when writing books. They are the best thing since sliced bread!

    And yes, I have been given documents that have been formatted without styles and my god is it a nightmare! Hours spent reformatting rather than 2 minutes. I am still eulogizing to some of my colleagues about styles!

    1. I may possibly have had you in mind when I asked the question ;) I was mostly lucky when I was at work - I didn't handle many documents from other people.

  2. I've tried so hard to use Styles before, but I really just don't get it. Which is vexing for me, because I do usually get most software packages relatively quickly.

    1. I really learned about styles when writing up my PhD - my thesis would have been a nightmare without them. They really do save so much time when formatting.

  3. I use styles all the time when writing. It's useful and I like modifying them to make the draft look how I want.

    1. They make life so much easier don't they :) I can't remember what it was like trying to format a document without them.

  4. Cool post. I'm pretty sure I came up with a style on Word a while back, but later I couldn't for the life of me remember how I did it. I'll have to reference back to this is the future. :D

    1. Thank you :) I find styles so useful - I even have different templates for different types of document so I don't have to faff about setting them all up over and over again :).

  5. I can't say that I use styles. Sounds like something I should probably something I should look into.

    1. As I may have mentioned a couple of times in my post - they are really useful :). I couldn't live without them.


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