MS Word Tips

Using Styles in MS Word

You can create professional quality documents by taking advantage of the software’s exceptional formatting tools.

The cardinal rule of word processing should be followed by students and businessmen alike: “Key in your data first, format last.”

Why?  Efficiency – by typing up your 30 page research paper, 20 page report or two page memo, you will be able to focus on content without the distraction of stopping, highlighting (selecting your text) and applying formatting on the fly.  Since Microsoft Word is designed with powerful formatting tools, you will be able to apply paragraph and character formats later with simple clicks of your mouse.  Save valuable time by sticking to this rule.

Formatting when used in this context is simply the appearance of your text, e.g., font size, bold, italics, underlines, color etc.

The following guide should be followed AFTER you’ve completed your deliverable, e.g., essay, thesis paper, or letter.  Once it’s been proof read, you can then take full advantage of MS Word’s formatting tools.

Let’ say that you plan on placing emphasis on specific words throughout your document using an underline, making the word(s) bold or a different color.  MS Word will speed up this task by enabling you to format once and then to reapply it over again with a click of your mouse.

You can use Format Painter on the Home ribbon to apply text formatting and some basic graphics formatting, such as borders and fills.

  1. Select the text or graphic that has the formatting that you want to copy.
  2. On the Home ribbon, click Format Painter. The pointer changes to a paintbrush icon.

To apply formatting to more than one block of text or graphic, double-click Format Painter.

  1. Click the text or graphic that you want to format.

If you’re creating a lengthy document, e.g., term paper, thesis or newsletter you may want to incorporate Word styles.  A style is a set of formatting characteristics that you can apply to text, tables and lists in your document to quickly change their appearance. When you apply a style, you apply a whole group of formats in one simple task.

For example, instead of taking three separate steps to format your title as 16 pt, Arial, and center-aligned, you can achieve the same result in one step by applying the Title style.

The following are the types of styles you can create and apply:

  1. A paragraph style controls all aspects of a      paragraph’s appearance, such as text alignment, tab stops, line spacing,      and borders, and it can include character formatting.
  2. A character style affects selected text within a      paragraph, such as the font and size of text, and bold and italic formats.

If you’re not seeing the Styles group, move to the Home ribbon

  1. Select text in your document and apply the formatting you wish to develop, e.g., bold, italics, size 14 font, blue.
  2. Under the Styles group (on the Home ribbon), click the More button then choose Save Selection as a Quick New Style.
  3. In the Name box, type a name for the style.
  4. In the Style type box, click Paragraph, Character, Table, or List to specify the kind of style you are creating.
  5. Select the options that you want, or click Format to see more options.

By utilizing styles throughout your document, you will be able to create professional indexes or a table of contents (TOC) more effectively.  The biggest benefit of applying styles in your document is consistency.  Main topics, headings all the way down to sub-topics will have identical formats.  Moreover, your table of contents will become dynamic, i.e., if you add or delete pages to your document, the TOC can update with the click of the mouse without having to manually renumber your pages.

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