How to Use Styles in Microsoft Word Version 2010

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Even though a lot of us use Microsoft Word every day, we don’t always take advantage of all that it has to offer. Changing a few simple things in Word can make formatting your document infinitely easier, and building a good set of styles in Microsoft Word will actually make formatting faster as well.

When you open the styles menu in Microsoft Word, you will see that the default template has been populated with some basic styles. You can easily use these styles to build the foundation of your document’s formatting.

1. Open the Styles menu by clicking Alt+Ctrl+Shift+S.

2. When the menu opens, you will notice that you can see a summary of each style by hovering over it.

Style summary.

3. If you are dissatisfied with the style, you can click on the drop-down menu that appears when you hover over the style and choose Modify, and the Modify Style window will open. For this example, we will modify the Normal style from the default Microsoft Word 2007 template.

Modify style.

4. From this window, you can easily change the Font, Font Size, Font Type, Paragraph Spacing, Alignment, Indent, and Color. When you make these changes, the preview pane will update.

5. You also should change the Style for following paragraph if you know that the paragraph following this style will need to be a specific style. If you format some of the other basic styles (Heading 1, etc.), it is recommended to set the Style for following paragraph to Normal or whatever the default style of your document is.

6. To change more formatting options, click the Format option. You can choose to format the Font, Paragraph, Tabs, Border, Language, Frame, Numbering and Shortcut key. Choose Paragraph from the Format menu.

Format Menu

7. When the Paragraph window opens, you can format how paragraphs will appear in this style. Microsoft Word 2007 defaults to a Multiple Line 1.15 spacing. If you prefer to use Single spacing, choose Single from the drop-down underline spacing.

Paragraph window

8. You can automatically have Word put space between paragraphs without having to use a carriage return by using the Spacing controls. If you change the point value in the After field to 12 or 18 points, you will not have to add carriage returns to space out paragraphs.

9. Click on the Line and Page Breaks tab. You can opt to Keep lines together and Keep with next if you want the text to which you apply this style to stay on the same page. For instance, if you were formatting Header 2 for use as a section header, you could make sure that long section titles will not be split between pages by adjusting the settings on this tab.

Line and Page Breaks

10. Once you’re done making changes to both tabs on the Paragraph window, click OK to return to the Modify Style window.

11. When you’ve finished changing the style, click OK on the Modify Style window to apply the changes to the style. Congratulations! You’ve modified your first style. Here is what paragraphs of text look like with the new Normal style applied.



Creating and editing styles in Word can become very intricate, and the more you do it, the more you will learn. Once you are comfortable editing styles, you will be able to create document templates that will help everyone save time.


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LAST UPDATED 1/13/2011