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Working With Styles in Microsoft Word

A style consists of specific formats applied to fonts, paragraphs, headings, subheadings, and text in your document. Word’s default template is preloaded with standard formats which you can use as is or modify to your own specifications. See Style Drop-Down Image.

Styles allow the user to quickly and easily apply consistent formats to all headings and text in any document.

Default Styles

Hovering your mouse over one of the styles gives you a description of the formats that are built into that Style by displaying a dialogue box. See Normal Style Specifications image.

Normal is the Style applied to paragraphs when you begin typing in a new document in Word. It includes Times New Roman at 12 points, single line spacing and Widow/Orphan control.

Modifying Styles

To personalize the Styles, select Format and then Styling and Formatting. Next click the down-arrow on the Style you want to modify and click Modify. See Modify Styles Dialogue Box image.


First look at the Style formatting already included. To change it, select Format and modify font, font color, font size and any other features. See Modify Styles Format image. When you’re finished making your changes, you have the option of making the style you created your default by clicking Add to Template, or you can update all the Styles you applied in the document you have open by clicking Automatically Update.

The advantage here is that you can change your mind about the Styles you used in a document, and in a few simple steps apply the changes instantly and consistently throughout your document.

Table of Contents

Another advantage to using Styles in Word is the ability to instantly create a Table of Contents based on the Styles you applied in your document. When you make changes to your document, you can also update your Table of Contents with a simple click.

To create a Table of Contents, move your cursor to the beginning of your document. Click Insert, Reference and then Index and Tables. Choose the number of levels you want to display and click OK.

You instantly have your Table of Contents. See Table of Contents Dialogue Box image.

The items in the Table of Contents can also be set up as hyperlinks to enable your recipients to quickly access the part of your document in which they have the most interest.

With a little exploring and practice, you can put the Style options available in Word to work for you.


Menus and steps outlined here are done in Word 2003. All versions of Word contain the same options, but may require a few different menu steps. Use Help in your version to find the menus and dialog boxes that apply.


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