Using Styles Formatting in Word 2010

Have you ever created a Word document and once you were finished had to go through and change all of the fonts, colors and sizes of the title, headings and sub headings?  Changing all of the aspects of heading or title manually is very difficult to do because it requires deciding which font, size, color and format would work best, altering all of these things then remembering what you did and doing it to the rest of the headings individually.  Most people, including myself, manually format all of their documents created in Word, going through and changing each aspect individually which takes so much time.

Style set comparison

Comparing how Style sets and themes can change a document

Fortunately, there are tools on available on Word that allow for documents to be formatted using various styles and themes but only requiring one or two tools.  Using the Styles tool on Word, documents can be enhanced greatly with effective formatting of things such as headings and different themes.  The style sets, color, font and paragraph spacing can all be used to create more effective formatting. A majority of people are familiar with Google Docs and the ability to change text into headings and apply a style formatting to the document.  Word provides the same tools for people to use but in a word document using the styles tool.

QuickStyle Headings

Comparison of heading without and with QuickStyle

As you know from our in class work with Google Docs, we have the ability to insert headings and titles into documents using style which is it very easy to do and improves the appearance greatly.  For more information about using styles in Google Docs see Tabitha C.’s post about Working with Google Docs.

The image to the right shows the difference that simply using the QuickStyles tool in Word can make to the headings and overall format of the document.  The top image is a document not using QuickStyle and the bottom is with QuickStyle, which is more interesting to look at.  The style tools in Word are very simple to use and enhance the documents in a very effective way, so jump in and learn how to enhance formats using the tutorials below.

In the lynda.com course named Word Tutorials, Chapter 6 covers Using Styles for More Effective Formatting, which provides information on style tools in Word for Windows users.  Although these tutorials are for Windows users, the skills can still be used for Macs.  This chapter features nine brief videos, around 50 minutes overall.  The first three videos are being focused on, totaling around 18 minutes.   For those of you that use Macs instead of PCs, tutorials on the same formatting skills are provided at Word for Mac 2011 Essential Training in Chapter 8 covering Using Styles.

The first video, Power formatting with styles, shows you how to simplify the process of formatting a document using the styles tool, rather than the font or paragraph tools which are used to manually format a document.  The image shows the Word home tab ribbon, beginning with the tools in the font and paragraph group and the tools in the style group.  The font and paragraph tools change the font size, color, paragraph alignment and spacing for manual formatting.

Word tool bar

Different tools in Word

The style tool allows a document to be formatted with a click of one button by allocating headings and titles, rather than manually formatting them.  Once headings and a title are assigned the style sets can be used to create different looks for each heading.  Themes can also be changed giving the documents headings a different color and font.  Using the styles tool reduce the time that it takes to format a document, where manually formatting takes much longer to set the font, color and size of a heading then apply it to all of the headings in the document.  Not only does a document formatted with heading styles look better and is easier to format, but it is also accessible to individuals who are using a screen reader so they will be able to extract all of the headings and titles from a document.  Another positive is that a table of contents can be inserted easily because the style tool gives document headings (1,2,3), allowing the table of contents to simply create a list of all of the types of headings.  Styles is an easier way to update documents and apply a theme consistently across several documents using formatted headings and style sets that change the appearance and feel of it.

Themed document

Theme changes the styles of the document

The second video, Changing a document’s theme, shows how to apply themes: a combination of styles, colors and effects, to an entire document.  The styles are based upon the theme that is selected. The video emphasizes that the theme must be changed before the styles can be changed.  It shows you how the colors, style and fonts can be changed into a custom theme and saved for future use.  Using the theme tool allows for documents to be enhanced, by colors and fonts, in the easiest way.  Changing the theme and styles drastically changes the appearance of a document.

Change Styles

Change Styles expansion, style sets

The third video, Changing style sets, color sets, fonts, and paragraph spacing, shows that themes provide a default color set and font for each one, which can be regulated using the style set tool.  Word style sets allow for paragraph spacing, colors, fonts to be changed along with the theme.  If headings have already been applied using the styles tool, the QuickStyle tool allows the font, color, style set and paragraph spacing of the headings to be changed to a personal preference.  The Change Styles tool provides the chance to customize the color and font of a theme, without manually adjusting everything.

These tutorials are a great way to master skills in Word, as well as learning how to improve future document creation.  I encourage you to start using the styles tool in document creation because of the wide range of possibilities that it provides.  To learn more about styles in Word, check out this tutorial from Goodwill Community Foundation about Using Styles and Themes.

Please share your thoughts and comments on the effective formatting using styles in Word.  Have you ever used styles or themes in documents, rather than manually formatting the document?  What would be a benefit of using the styles tools and why is it better than manual formatting tools? How can using styles improve formatting of future documents?  Are there any negatives to using the styles formatting tool?  What are the skills associated with using the styles and theme formatting tools in Word?

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19 Responses to Using Styles Formatting in Word 2010

  1. Kelly F. says:

    Hey Katie, your post really captured the usefulness of a tool that is often overlooked. I have used these tools before but I find myself having to reset the colors and fonts from the default, so it normally ends up with me manually changing them. Is there a way to customize it so that when I open the document I can simply click on the heading and it’s formatted the way I want?
    In the future I can see myself using this tool with my students when I am explaining titles to them. Thanks for this awesome post!
    – Kelly

    • Katie H. says:

      Kelly, you can customize a particular style of heading that you want using the Change Styles tool. Set the heading in the particular way that you want it, ie font, size color, then under change styles click set as default. This allows you to save this custom style and apply it to a document when you open it. Thanks for the feedback!

  2. Chelsea R. says:

    I never knew that you could change the style of the entire document. I really enjoyed reading your blog because it could come in handy someday. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Sara R. says:

    Katie, nice job on this post! I had always seen those QuickStyles buttons on the toolbar and, I am not happy to admit, never bothered to find out what their functions were. Like you, I had always been one to manually change the headings and titles of my documents. And since starting class with professor Taylor, that has changed. However, I was completely unaware that there were more aesthetically pleasing options for those headings. As a person who pays close attention to detail–especially stylistic detail–this pleases me. While I understood, before learning about QuickStyles, that using the header feature in the toolbar was important not only for screen readers but also for the sake of easily creating a table of contents, I was not particularly happy that I could not choose a particular font and color that appealed to me. However, now that I know that this is an option, I will have no hesitation whatsoever while using the header feature.

    • Maria H. says:

      Sara, you and I are on the same page! I was always too scared to find out what the QuickStyle option could be used for, and this post was a great explanation of that. All of these headers are both professional and pretty-something I am always looking for! Thanks Katie and Sara!

  4. Steph G. says:

    Katie, I really enjoyed reading your post! I always saw the Heading options in the home ribbon, but I had no idea that’s what they were used for. This was very informative and helpful, I think formatting Word documents in this way is extremely time effective and useful. While I have used headings on Google Docs, I have never formatted a Word document using this tool. These tools will definitely make a document look so much better and more professional. Also, I like that it is helpful for people with disabilities that are using a screen reader. After watching the videos and learning more about it, do you see yourself using these tools more often?

    • Katie H. says:

      Thanks for the feedback Steph! After learning how helpful using the styles tool is in Word, I can see myself using it on just about every document that I create or reformat. It is so much easier to use than manually formatting documents and it provides so many great features that were difficult to create before, such as a table of contents. I also think using headings gives the document a more professional or classy feel with the uniform presentation. I hope you will use these tools in your future formatting of documents as well!

  5. Sydney R. says:

    Hi Katie, I too had always seen the QuickStyle button and never bothered to play around with it and see what it did. Man was I missing out! I can’t tell you how many times I have been using word and have had to go back and format each and every heading individually. Not only does the QuickStyle button make this easier, but it makes the final product look more organized and professional as well. Great post, thanks for sharing!

  6. Chelsea S. says:

    I have used styles actually! In High School I took a computer class and we learned how to use them. My favorite part of the styles is how quick and easy it is to apply to documents and make them look interesting and professional. I have found using styles very helpful since I can be very indecisive at times. When making my own headings I spend more time than is necessary changing things up because I wonder if the font/color/size I chose for Heading 1 matched the font/size/color I used for Heading 2. By using styles that Word has provided I am sure that each heading complements the other. Personally, I don’t think there is anything wrong with using QuickStyles. I understand that QuickStyles aren’t the most original styles since they are provided to everyone with Word, but they still get the point across of which points are under which headings. The skills needed to use styles is to have a basic knowledge of how Word works and the curiosity to explore the tool bar!

  7. Mary F. says:

    To be completely honest I never even knew, or tried to find out, what the heading option in Microsoft Word did. I had seen it over a hundred times, it’s hard to miss, but I never thought it was important. I learned about it in this CIS class but still my information about it was limited. This blog post helped me out a bunch. I never knew how to change the style of it and even from there that you could change the colors of the style. After reading this post I went around and played with it a ton. The headers make the page so much easier to read and so much more aesthetically pleasing. Thanks for all this information! I will definitely be using it in the near future.

  8. Anna B. says:

    Hey Katie! I really enjoyed reading your post! I, like others above, have always known that there were styles and formats readily available to me when using Microsoft Word, but I had never played around with them or formatted them to make them my own. When creating anything in Word in the past, I always manually changed headings, fonts, and colors instead of using the tools that were right there for me to use, probably because I did not know how to really change them to get them to do what I wanted. Your post really clarified for me what all the styles and themes in Word can do and how they can make life a lot easier! Another cool thing that you mentioned that I had not thought of before at all was the fact that by using styles and automated headings, making a table of contents is a breeze because Word will make it for you! I cannot tell you how many times I have sat at my computer spending what felt like hours manually making a table of contents by copying all the headings, typing out rows of periods, and figuring out what page that heading was on only for it to change ten minutes later. Knowing that using the styles tools in Word can allow it to make a table of contents FOR me it great news! I know that from now on I will definitely be using styles formatting, especially since I can make the styles my own by changing the fonts, spacing, and colors! This will be helpful to me starting immediately, and is a tool that will help me stay organized the rest of my career, especially when I am a teacher and want to make good-looking documents for my students, their parents, and my fellow teachers.

  9. Laura H. says:

    This is super helpful! I am usually stuck in my ways with this sort of thing, and I think it is easier to go through and change things (like formatting and colors) individually. I also have a constant fear of completely destroying a document I am working on! So after reading this I definitely feel more confident making document wide changes that will definitely save time.

  10. Tabitha C. says:

    I’ll be honest, using the “theme” settings can be a little scary to me. I can be afraid to commit to one theme for the entire document, but I recognize that it can be more practical and more professional to use one theme instead of alternating different colors. I guess these style sets are something I’m going to have to get more comfortable with as I move into my professional career!

    • Anna B. says:

      Tabitha, I have the same problem! I love to use different colors and such, but now knowing that this tool makes formatting so much easier I know I will definitely use it to it’s full advantage!

  11. Victoria B. says:

    Like everyone else, I never tried to figure out what the heading option in Microsoft Word did either. After learning about the headings in class, I never thought to use headings outside of google docs. After reading your posts and watching the Lynda videos for further clarification, I played around with the heading options on Word. I found the entire process to be much easier than I had expected and the resulting document was organized and easy to scan through. Unfortunately, when using a Mac, you cannot view a certain heading or theme style unless it is first applied. But, everything else worked well for me! Thanks for sharing!

  12. Alexia M. says:

    Katie, your blog gave a lot of useful information about how to use different formatting styles. I have never used styles or themes in Microsoft Word documents before, although I have noticed that I had the option of doing so. However, for most assignments that I have to turn in, they have to be in MLA format, so I wouldn’t be able to use all of these cool tips and tricks when it comes to formatting an assignment for a class. However, if I was to make a document that wasn’t to be graded, it would be very useful to make the design of it look the way that I want. It is better to do this because manually formatting can take up a lot of time, and it is also effective for someone with a screen reader, just as you said.

  13. Angie E. says:

    Great job Katie! Your post made me want to play around in word some, and I figured out some of the way cool formatting stuff you were posted about. Though most of what we write now for school doesn’t require a lot of this fancy schmancy formatting, I think it will be super useful when we create handouts for our students. The table of contents feature could be helpful for documents that we are creating for our classes now. I also like that the styles are very customizable, so I could create documents that are unique to me. Thanks!

  14. Winna P. says:

    Hi Katie! This blog post really taught me new information about formatting. When the new Word came out I was at first very annoyed by all the formatting options because I really didn’t understand how to use them. Now that I do I want to format all documents I create in Word! Too bad you can’t really do that for school related assignments. But it’s great to use when taking notes in class or even when creating a document that doesn’t have a specific format. Thanks for sharing!

  15. Robin G. says:

    Thanks for an awesome post Katie! Similar to Sara’s comment, I was also unaware of the functions of QuickStyles. Until taking CIS 220, I would always manually format and change my headings and titles. It is nice to know that there are options other than the heading formats which we learned in class. I will definitely start using these default settings for my future assignments that need headings.

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