Copywriter, technical writer, translator (FR>EN, ES>EN, IT>EN), journalist

Introduction to styles

No, this isn’t a post about the latest fashion trends…

Do you regularly write reports, computer manuals, brochures and other long (or even short) works that require some graphic elegance?

When you write a document, you actually do two things:

  1. write content
  2. format content

Many writers develop time-saving techniques for writing, but few do so for formatting. For example, to make a heading stand out, you can bold the text, make it bigger, apply a different font and colour, hard-return a few lines underneath and insert a page break before. You could call this “direct formatting.”

The bad news: doing all of that for multiple headings increases time spent creating the document. Needlessly.

That’s because today’s word processors offer a great graphic layout-type feature that lets writers do all of the above (and more) in one step. Yep, jes’ one.

In Microsoft Word, that feature is known as styles. Master styles, and you will greatly reduce the time it takes to make your documents look great.

Where do you find styles?

In Word 2007 and beyond, check the Ribbon. In previous versions of Word, check the left side of the formatting toolbar for a drop list containing words like “Normal” or “Body text.”

Note: instructions for stuff in this blog post varies according to the version of Word that you use, not to mention other word processors not made by Microsoft. But they all handle styles in much the same way.

How do styles work?

Click in a paragraph, choose a different style and voilà! the appearance of that paragraph changes to match the style you choose.

Can I make a style look different?

Certainly! You can make styles match the look you want.

Changing a style also changes the appearance of every paragraph that shares the style you change. And that’s exactly what you want – a quick, clean way to manage your document’s appearance. It’s a great time saver!

Do I need to spend time creating my own styles?

No. Check the web for free document templates that you can download, reverse-engineer and adopt to your needs in far less time than it would take to create your own template.

Do styles have any other uses?

Tons! Using styles, you can quickly create or enhance create the following features. Check out upcoming blog posts for quick tips on doing these things:

1 Comment
  1. This is an awesome blog! I LOVE using styles! I got introduced to them many years ago with Venture Publishing (yup, showing my age there) but they save A LOT OF WORK! Kudos on the blog!

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