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How to Use Styles to Simplify Formatting in Microsoft Word

When working with a large document it is time consuming to format every heading, subheading, quote and paragraph individually. Instead of selecting each individual portion of text to change the font, style and size, you can predetermine these different categories (heading, subheading and body text) in the "Styles". Which means you can instantly change the look with one click.

Adobe InDesign also uses styles, in a future blog post, we'll discuss how it's done. But for now, let's look at MS Word.

How to do it

Step 1: Start by creating the different styles. At first this may seem time consuming, but once the styles are set up, you can use them throughout the rest of the document.

You'll find the styles under [Home] + [Styles] in the ribbon (top menu).

Step 1: Create a  list in excel of the names and addresses.

There are two different ways of setting up a Style.

Creating a new one:

Step 1: Under the [Styles] in the bottom right is a small icon to see the options. Click it.

Step 2: Select [File] + [Save As] and choose Excel Workbook, CSV (Comma delimited) or Text (Tab delimited). Note, for InDesign save as  CSV or Text (Tab delimited).

Step 2: Click [New Style] icon, bottom left.

Step 2: Select [File] + [Save As] and choose Excel Workbook, CSV (Comma delimited) or Text (Tab delimited). Note, for InDesign save as  CSV or Text (Tab delimited).

Step 3: Fill in the details and change the font, size, colour etc.

In MS Word, create a  letter. In the example below, we've highlighted the areas we want to add unique information - the address and name of each person.

Step 4: Click [OK]. The new style will appear first in the Styles menu.

Select Recipients

Redefining a Style:

Step 1: Select the text that you want to base the style on, in this example we have selected the heading.

Choose existing list

Step 2: Right click on the style you would like to redefine - in the example, it is [Heading 1]. You will notice the Style menu sample of the style will now be like the text in your document.

Select Recipients

Step 3: Repeat steps 1 and 2 until all required styles are in the style menu.

Once you have redefined and created the necessary styles, you can now use them throughout the document by selecting the text and clicking on the appropriate style.

Note: To begin with, select all text and select the Bodytext style (as this generally contains the most amount of text and you don't want to be selecting every paragraph between subheadings).