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Formatting text by using 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:

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

A table style provides a consistent look to borders, shading, alignment and fonts in tables.

A list style applies similar alignment, numbering or bullet characters, and fonts to lists.

You can create, view, and reapply styles from the Styles and Formatting task pane. Direct formatting that you apply is also stored in this pane, so that you can quickly reapply it.

Apply a different style to text

When you want to change the style of text, you can apply an existing style, also known as a built-in style. If you don’t see a style with the characteristics you want, you can create a new style, and then apply it.

Modify a style

To quickly change all the text that is formatted with a particular style, you can redefine the style. For example, if your main headings are 14 pt Arial, flush left, and bold, and you later decide you want your headings to be 16 pt, Arial Narrow, and centered, you don't have to reformat every main heading in your document. Instead, just change the properties of that style.

Note that when you change a formatting element of the base style in a document, all styles that originate from the base style in that document will also reflect the change.

You can also have Microsoft Word modify a style automatically, meaning that Word detects when you alter the formatting of text containing a style, and then automatically updates the style. When Word automatically updates the style, all text formatted with that style is updated to match the formatting of the text you just changed. Automatically updating styles is recommended for users who are experienced with using styles.

Preview and apply different styles by using the Style Gallery

You can use the Style Gallery to see how your entire document would look if you applied styles from a different template. If you want, you can then apply the styles directly from the Style Gallery. You can also view sample documents showing styles from the selected template, or see a list of the styles used in the template.

View or apply styles with the Style Gallery
1. On the Format menu, click Theme.
2. Click Style Gallery.
3. In the Template box, select the template that contains styles you want to view or use.
4. When you click OK, styles from the template you selected are copied to your document.

Tip
To preview how your document will look with the different styles, click Document under Preview. To see a sample document with styles from the selected template, click Example. To see a list of the styles used in the selected template, click Style samples.

Modify a style

1. If the Styles and Formatting task pane is not open, click Styles and Formatting on the Formatting toolbar.
2. Right-click the style you want to modify, and then click Modify. (Or click on the down arrow next to the style name)
3. Select any options you want.
4. To see more options, click Format, and then click the attribute — such as Font or Numbering — you want to change.
5. Click OK after you've changed each attribute, and then repeat for any additional attributes you want to change.

Tip
To use the modified style in new documents based on the same template, select the Add to template check box. Word adds the modified style to the template that is attached to the active document.

Create a new list style

In addition to the built-in list styles that come with Microsoft Word, you can create your own list style to apply similar alignment, number or bullet characters, and fonts to lists.

1. If the Styles and Formatting task pane is not open, click Styles and Formatting on the Formatting toolbar.
2. In the Styles and Formatting task pane, click New Style.
3. In the Name box, type a name for the style.
4. In the Style type box, click List.
5. Select the options that you want, or click Format to see more options.

Notes
To use the new style in new documents based on the same template, select the Add to template check box. Word adds the new style to the template that is attached to the active document.
You can reuse a new list style by selecting it in from the Styles and Formatting task pane, or from the List Styles tab in the Bullets and Numbering dialog box (click Bullets and Numbering on the Format menu).