Microsoft Word Styles are the most basic building blocks in Word. One of the first things you’ll need to learn after you master the interface and basic formatting is using the Quick Styles listed on the Home tab. Often, though, the Quick Styles don’t contain a particular Style your document needs.
If the default Microsoft Word Styles don’t fully meet your needs (for example, you need one for block quotes), you can create a new one. There are a couple of different ways to do this. I’ll start with what I think is the easiest one first.
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Creating a new Style from an example
If you’ve already got some text formatted just the way you want it (going back to the previous example, a block quotation that’s already nicely indented with all the right paragraph settings), you can use it to create a new Style. The easiest way is to select the text you want the Style to emulate, right-click and select Styles, then select Create a Style:
You’ll get this dialog box:
You could simply click OK here, but I want you to see what your options are in case you want something other than the defaults Word will choose for you:
- Word will automatically name this Style1; you’ll want to rename it here if you did not already do it in the previous dialog box as I did.
- Word has several Style types: Paragraph, Character, Linked (which combines Paragraph and Character), Table and List. Since this is really intended to be a collection of paragraph settings, Linked isn’t really the best choice, because if I change the font style or size elsewhere in the document and apply Block Quote as a Linked Style, it’s going to change the text back to Calibri 11. The Style type Paragraph is a better choice in this instance.
- If I’m typing a Block Quote paragraph and I press the Enter key, what Style do I want the following paragraph to default to? That’s the question answered here. It’s a matter of personal convenience and obviously depends on what sort of document you’re working on.
- Any changes you make in formatting (see 7) will show up in this Preview window …
- … and you can review the settings themselves in this window.
- These settings control three things: (a) whether you can access this Style in the Styles Gallery on the Home tab (if you want to keep this one handy, leave that box checked); (b) whether you want any Styles to automatically update themselves based on manual formatting you do in your document (for example, if you altered the indentation on one paragraph that had the Block Quote Style applied to it, checking this box means that the Style itself reflects those changes, and all the paragraphs with Block Quote applied will change, not just the one you edited). I recommend leaving this one unchecked—it tends to wreak havoc in documents; (c) whether you want this Style to be available only within this document or any documents you create in the future in this template.
- You can make further format changes to your Style settings in both these places. The area at the top will let you make some font and spacing changes, but Format button will take you to various dialog boxes (Paragraph, Numbering, etc.) for more advanced formatting.
Once you’ve configured everything to your liking, click OK.
Creating a new Style from scratch
If you’ve got a specific set of requirements and are fairly adept with character and paragraph formatting, though, you can simply create a new Style from scratch. For this example, I’m going to create one for quoted deposition text.
To start, click the drop-down arrow at the bottom right-hand corner of the Quick Styles area to open the Styles pane:
Then click Create a Style:
You’ll get the now-familiar dialog box:
You’ll notice that I designated this to be a Paragraph Style. Since this Style is intended to control how the text indents and spaces, I want it to be independent of font settings, etc., so I can use it with any font settings in any document.
To get those indents and spacing, click on the Format button at the bottom and choose Paragraph to go to the Paragraph dialog box:
I did three things here (circled in red):
- I chose a half-inch hanging indent
- I selected Single spacing
- I inserted 12 points of space between the paragraphs and made a point of instructing Word to insert that space even between paragraphs of this same Style.
You can preview the results in the Preview pane (circled in blue above).
Once I click OK in both the Paragraph and New Style dialog boxes (making sure to check the settings at the bottom) and return to my document, applying the Style to the text is a matter of two clicks:
This content is part of a course
What you've learned here is just a small part of my Lawyer's Guide to Microsoft Word Styles course, where you can learn how to leverage the power of Styles to control document formatting and structure and to make global document changes with just a few clicks. Click here for more information.