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Modify the Structure and Appearance of Text in Microsoft Word 2016

Apply built-in styles to text

You don’t have to know much about character and paragraph formatting to be able to format your documents in ways that will make them easier to read and more professional looking. With a couple of mouse clicks, you can easily change the look of words, phrases, and paragraphs by using styles. More importantly, you can build a document outline that is reflected in the Navigation pane and can be used to create a table of contents.

Apply styles

Styles can include character formatting (such as font, size, and color), paragraph formatting (such as line spacing and outline level), or a combination of both. Styles are stored in the template that is attached to a document. By default, blank new documents are based on the Normal template. The Normal template includes a standard selection of styles that fit the basic needs of most documents. These styles include nine heading levels, various text styles including those for multiple levels of bulleted and numbered lists, index and table of contents entry styles, and many specialized styles such as those for hyperlinks, quotations, placeholders, captions, and other elements.

By default, most common predefined styles are available in the Styles gallery on the Home tab. You can add styles to the gallery or remove those that you don’t often use.

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The Styles gallery in a new, blank document based on the Normal template

Initially, the Normal template displays only a limited number of styles in the Styles gallery, but in fact it contains styles for just about every element you can think of. Although they are available, these styles aren’t actually used unless you apply the style or add the corresponding element to the document. For example, nine paragraph styles are available for an index, but none of them is used until you create and insert an index in the document.

You can display style names or previews in the Styles pane, and configure it to show all styles, styles that are in the template, styles that are used in the document, or recommended styles.

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The Styles pane can display style names or previews of the styles

If you don’t have room to display the entire Styles pane, you can apply styles from the floating Apply Styles pane. The Style Name list in the Apply Styles pane displays the same set of styles that are in the Styles pane; that is, if the pane shows only the styles in use, so does the Style Name list.

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The Style Name box displays the style applied to the active selection

There are three primary types of styles, identified in the Styles pane by icons:

  • Paragraph These styles can include any formatting that can be applied to a paragraph. They can also include character formatting. Paragraph styles are applied to the entire paragraph containing the cursor. In the Styles pane, a paragraph style is identified by a paragraph mark to the right of its name.
  • Character These styles can include any formatting that can be applied to selected text. They are applied on top of the character formatting defined for the paragraph style. Like direct character formatting, character styles are applied to selected text; to apply them to an entire paragraph, you must select the paragraph. In the Styles pane, a character style is identified by a lowercase letter a.
  • Linked These styles are hybrids. If you click in a paragraph and then apply the style, the style is applied to the entire paragraph like a paragraph style. If you select text and then apply the style, the style is applied to the selection only. In the Styles pane, a linked style is identified by both a paragraph mark and a lowercase letter a.

Styles stored in a template are usually based on the Normal style and use only the default body and heading fonts associated with the document’s theme, so they all go together well. For this reason, formatting document content by using styles produces a harmonious effect. After you apply named styles, you can easily change the look of an entire document by switching to a different style set that contains styles with the same names but different formatting.

Style sets are available from the Document Formatting gallery on the Design tab.

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Pointing to a style set in the gallery displays a live preview of the effects of applying that style set to the entire document

To open the Styles pane

  1. Do either of the following:

    • On the Home tab, click the Styles dialog box launcher.
    • Press Alt+Ctrl+Shift+S.

To change which styles are displayed in the Styles pane

  1. At the bottom of the Styles pane, click the Options link to open the Style Pane Options dialog box.

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    To make it easier to find specific styles, sort the list alphabetically

  2. In the Style Pane Options dialog box, do any of the following, and then click OK:

    • In the Select styles to show list, click one of the following:

      • Recommended Displays styles that are tagged in the template as recommended for use
      • In use Displays styles that are applied to content in the current document
      • In current document Displays styles that are in the template that is attached to the current document
      • All styles Displays built-in styles, styles that are in the attached template, and styles that were brought into the document from other templates
    • In the Select how list is sorted list, click Alphabetical, As Recommended, Font, Based on, or By type
    • In the Select formatting to show as styles area, select each check box for which you want to display variations from named styles
    • In the Select how built-in style names are shown area, select the check box for each option you want to turn on

To display or hide style previews in the Styles pane

  1. Open the Styles pane, and then select or clear the Show Preview check box.

To open the Apply Styles pane

  1. On the Home tab, in the Styles group, click the More button (in the lower-right corner of the Styles gallery pane) to display the Styles gallery and menu.
  2. On the Styles menu, click Apply Styles.

To apply a style from the Apply Styles pane

  1. Do either of the following:

    • To apply the style that is shown in the Style Name list, click the Reapply button.
    • To apply a different style, click the Style Name list and then click the style you want to apply.

To apply a built-in style

  1. Select the text or paragraph to which you want to apply the style.

  2. In the Styles gallery on the Home tab, or in the Styles pane, click the style you want to apply.

To change the style set

  1. On the Design tab, in the Document Formatting group, click the More button if necessary to display all the style sets.
  2. Point to any style set to preview its effect on the document.
  3. Click the style set you want to apply.

Manage outline levels

Styles can be used for multiple purposes: to affect the appearance of the content, to build a document outline, and to tag content so that you can easily locate it.

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Click to view larger image

Heading styles define a document’s outline

Each paragraph style has an associated Outline Level setting. Outline levels include Body Text and Level 1 through Level 9. (Most documents make use only of body text and the first three or four outline levels.)

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Most documents use only two to four of the outline levels

Paragraphs that have the Level 1 through Level 9 outline levels become part of the hierarchical structure of the document. They appear as headings in the Navigation pane and act as handles for the content that appears below them in the hierarchy. You can collapse and expand the content below each heading, and move entire sections of content by dragging the headings in the Navigation pane.

To display the document outline in the Navigation pane

  1. In the Navigation pane, click Headings to display the document structure.

To expand or collapse the outline in the Navigation pane

  1. In the Navigation pane, do either of the following:

    • If there is a white triangle to the left of a heading, click it to expand that heading to show its subheadings.
    • If there is a downward-angled black triangle to the left of a heading, click it to collapse the subheadings under that heading.

To expand or collapse sections in the document

  1. In a document that contains styles, point to a heading to display a triangle to its left. Then do either of the following:

    • If the triangle is a downward-angled gray triangle, click the triangle to hide the content that follows the heading.
    • If the triangle is a white triangle, click the triangle to display the hidden document content.