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Managing the Styles Applied to a Microsoft® Word Document

Techniques for the ministration of styles in pursuit of the most efficient control of document layout and formatting.

Other pages on application of atyles to Word documents:

Last updated on 2020-05-26 by David Wallis.

Styles Applying in a Document

This document's layout and format is determined by five styles:

Word document example

One way to track the styles is to use the Styles pane. Shift+Ctrl+Alt+S is the keyboard shortcut to open it.

Word's Styles pane The heading selected in Styles is the one applying to the paragraph occupied by the editing cursor.

Note the or a to the right of each heading title. For the majority it is , which indicates the style applies to a paragraph as a whole.

For the Normal Blue style, by contrast, the a indicates the style appies to individual characters:

Example Word character style

In the document above the final two paragraphs start with two words set in blue font. It’s to all the characters in each of those words that Normal Blue style has been applied.

Managing the Style Pane

Word may make many styles available to the Style Pane, not necessarily restricting those listed to those in use in your document. To enforce this restriction, click Options… at the bottom right-hand corner of Styles to launch the Style Pane Options dialog box:

Word's Style Pane Options dialog box

By making your choices match those shown in the image above, you will achieve a useful list for applicatioin and management of the styles you choose to use.

Tracking Styles in Draft View

If you work in the draft view of your document, usefully you can instruct Word identify the styles applying:

To give the instruction:

  1. Select the File tab
  2. From the side menu, select Options to display the Word Options dialog box
  3. From the side list, select Advanced
  4. For the Style Area Pane Width in Draft and Outline Views setting, input a value of greater that one. Try starting with 2 if your measurement units are centimeters
  5. Click OK
  6. Make sure you are viewing your document in Draft View.

Your styles for each of your paragraphs should now be identified:

Example of Word document in draft view

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“Correctly using styles in Microsoft Word is the best way to create consistent, well-formatted documents.”

Shauna Kelly (1957 to 2011).