Writing With Styles

A while back we discussed how using templates in your word processing software (and other programs) can save quite a bit of time and money. Another nice feature of many programs is the ability to use styles to quickly format (and reformat) whole sections of text at once.

As an example, let's look at Microsoft Word since it is the most common word processing software. Word starts with a blank document, based on your "Normal" template. By default there is a drop-down box on the left of one of the toolbars at the top of the screen that says "Normal." Pull this box down. Notice that Word has several predefined styles, such as Heading 1, Heading 2, and so on. To apply a style to text, type some text in the document, pull down the box, and select Heading 1. This changes the current paragraph to 14 point text.

How does Word know to do that? To see, select the Format menu and click the Style... choice. Notice the Heading 1 style is selected, and to the right Word tells you this style is "Normal + Font: 14 point, Keep with Next, ..." Click the Modify button to change various options such as font size, color, paragraph spacing and alignment. If you have a large document with dozens of section headings, simply change the definition of Heading 1 to quickly change the formatting of all headings on all pages to use a different font.

Or, change the Normal style's font to change it throughout your document. Normal is the base style, and other styles' formatting begins with it. This means you can change the Normal style in your Normal.dot template to have Word start in a certain font for every new document.

Predefine styles in a template to quickly apply a style to entire sections of text in new documents.

October 2000

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