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Understanding Styles in Microsoft Word

Last edited by Charles Kenyon on Friday 10 May 2024

What You Will Learn

After completing this lesson, you will be able to:
bulletUnderstand the importance of Styles
bulletUnderstand the difference between Paragraph, Character and Linked Styles
bulletList all available styles
bulletCreate, Modify and Locate your Own Styles
bulletUnderstand the Clear All Command in the Styles Pane and the Clear All Formatting Button on the Home Tab
bulletUnderstand Where Styles Live
bulletUnderstand Spacing-Before and Spacing-After Settings in Paragraph Styles
bulletAutomate Styles - have them cascade
bulletAssign a Keyboard Shortcut to a Style
bulletCopy Styles
bulletUse the Organizer to Copy Styles to/from a different template or document. The Organizer can also be used to Delete Styles from a document or its template.
bulletUse the special properties of the built-in Heading Styles
bulletInsert a Style Separator to put different paragraph styles in a single printed paragraph. Especially useful for Table of Contents.
bulletUse Heading Styles to Enable quick and easy navigation of a document.
bulletReorganize a document or outline using Heading Styles
bulletCopy Text Formatted in a Style
bulletRecognize Other Word Features that Depend on Styles
bulletUnderstand the different terms that are used in Word 2007-2021 to describe Styles
bulletSelect all text formatted using a particular style (Word 2007-2021 only)
bulletHave a grasp of Office Themes and their interaction with Styles and [Quick] Style Sets
bulletUnderstand that Stylistic Sets are completely different from [Quick] Style Sets
bulletKnow more about and use the Styles Task Pane (Ctrl+Shift+Alt+S)
bulletUse the Apply Styles dialog (Ctrl+Shift+S)
bulletAdd Style controls to the [Quick] Action Toolbar (QAT)
bulletAdd the Legacy Styles dropdown and/or [Quick] Styles Gallery to your QAT
bullet Troubleshoot Issues with Styles including a macro that you can use to copy the styles from any template into the current document without using the Organizer and a look at the Default Paragraph Font non-style
bulletKnow the three Update Styles options and how they can cause trouble

Additional Written (and Web) Resources
Word for Law Firms by Payne Consulting Group:
bullet Word 97 for Law Firms (also at UK)
bullet Word 2000 for Law Firms (also at UK)
bullet Word X (2002) for Law Firms (also at UK)
Display, Use, and Manage Styles in Word by Suzanne Barnhill, MVP
bullet The [Quick] Styles Gallery
bullet The Styles Pane
bullet Apply Styles Toolbar
bullet Styles Dropdown in QAT
bullet Comparison of Ways to View/Apply Styles
bullet Using / Creating / Modifying Styles - Types of Styles
bullet Customizing the [Quick] Styles Gallery
bullet The Manage Styles Dialog
bullet Solving Style Mysteries - Style Inspector - Reveal Formatting Pane
Tips for Understanding Styles in Word by Shauna Kelly, MVP
How Styles in Microsoft Word Cascade by Shauna Kelly, MVP
Restrict Formatting to Certain Styles - Microsoft
Themes and Style Sets - What's the Difference? Veriti Labs
Change a theme and make it the default in Word or Excel
Understanding Themes (and Style Sets) at Last! in Microsoft Word by Faithe Wempen
Customize or Create New Styles in Word - Microsoft
Working With Styles by Tony Jollans, MVP
Word Styles from the Beginning - Office Watch
Where are all the Style Controls - Office Watch
Style Basics in Word 2007 (& 2010) - Microsoft
Seven Laws of Styles (Word of Law) by Bob Blacksberg
Styles in a Networked Environment - newsgroup discussion
Create a Template Part 2, John McGhie, MVP.
Template Basics in Microsoft Word by Charles Kenyon
What is the difference between the normal style and the Body Text style?, Suzanne Barnhill, MVP
Yet Another "Use Styles" Verbal Beating! by Dian Chapman, MVP
Headers? Headings? What is the difference?
How to safely update a document's styles from its template without using the Organizer (and how to make the Tools + Templates and Add-ins dialog safe) by Dave Rado, MVP and Beth Melton, MVP
Using Styles in Dissertations - University of Michigan Library
Letterhead System - styles used to format letters and letterhead
Letterhead Textboxes and Styles Tutorial - two-page template download that demonstrates use of 
bulletStyles that are based on each other and use the style for following paragraph feature
bulletUse of the StyleRef field to insert information from the body of a letter into the continuation page headers automatically
bulletThe AutoText list restricted by styles for the salutation and closing.
bulletTextboxes in headers and footers to reserve space for preprinted letterhead
bulletInsertion of a date automatically that will not change when you open the document at a later date
bulletInsertion of the typist's name as signer automatically by accessing the Author document property.
StyleRef Field Tutorial by Charles Kenyon
IncludeText Field Tutorial - 2 documents with IncludeText links demonstrating switches, interaction of styles, and use of hidden Page field for continuous page numbering of separate documents.
AutoText Sampler - styles used to organize AutoText - see also...
Why does text change format when I copy it into another document? by Shauna Kelly, MVP
What happens when I send my document to someone else, will the formatting change? by Shauna Kelly, MVP
Tying numbering to Styles - How to create numbered headings or outline numbering in Word 2007 and Word 2010 by Shauna Kelly, MVP
Customize Styles in Word for the Mac - Microsoft Support
How Templates, Styles, and Building Blocks Relate to One Another in Microsoft Word by legal office guru Deborah Savadra (video)
How to add pop-up lists to any Word document by Bill Coan, MVP.
A Global StyleSheet in Microsoft Word? by Charles Kyle Kenyon
[Quick] Style Sets and Themes in Microsoft Word by Charles Kenyon
Microsoft Word Styles and Why You Should Use Them (hint: you already are!) by legal office guru Deborah Savadra
  Consistent Headings Using Styles by legal office guru Deborah Savadra
  Six Secret Word Style Settings You Should Be Using by legal office guru Deborah Savadra
  Get one-click access to formatting with Styles by legal office guru Deborah Savadra
Word is always making changes I don't expect. How can I get more control over my formatting? by Suzanne S. Barnhill, MVP, and Dave Rado, MVP.
So You Want to Write a Book Using Microsoft Word - extensive tutorial by MVP Daiya Mitchell with overview of Styles, Templates and Sections and the interactions among these tool/features. Excellent! Not just for those who want to write books!
Word Tips about Styles from Allen Wyatt - Note, most tips have versions for Ribbon versions of Word (2007+) and pre-ribbon versions. A few of the tips are listed below.
bullet Making Sure Styles Do Not Update Automatically
bullet Assigning a Shortcut Key to Styles
bullet Deploying Standard Styles through an Organization
bullet Displaying the Styles You Want Displayed
bullet Preventing Styles from Changing
How to Use Styles in Microsoft Word video by Kevin Stratvert
Creating Documents with Style - Jonathan Bailor - blog
Behind the Curtains: Styles' Order of Operation - Jonathan Bailor - Microsoft blog - five types of styles, how styles relate to one another and document defaults,
Behind the Curtain (II) - Styles, Doc Defaults, Style Sets, and Themes  - Jonathan Bailor - Microsoft blog - How do document defaults relate to the Normal style? How do Style Sets relate to Styles? How do Themes relate to Styles?
Behind the Scenes with Document Themes by Stephanie Krieger
(Advanced) How to safely update a document's styles from its template without using the Organizer (and how to make the Tools + Templates and Add-ins dialog safe) by Dave Rado, Margaret Aldis, Ian Sharpe and Beth Melton.
How to Apply a Style in Microsoft Word by Shauna Kelly
How to Modify a Style in Microsoft Word by Shauna Kelly
How to Control the [Quick] Styles Gallery on the Home Tab by Shauna Kelly (Word 2007-2013 (365))
Customize Your [Quick] Styles Gallery by Debora Savadra (video)
Applying and Modifying Styles - A tutorial with video and practice document
Creating and Sharing Custom Microsoft Word Styles by Deborah Savadrah - especially good on creating new Style Sets and sharing them in ribbon versions of Word
Why Does Text Change Format When I Copy It Into a Different Document? by Shauna Kelly
How Styles in Word Cascade by Shauna Kelly
Table Styles Not Useful by Shauna Kelly
Formatting applied to one paragraph affects entire document by Suzanne S. Barnhill, MVP
Useful StyleRef Field Tricks by Suzanne S. Barnhill, MVP
Char and Char Char Char Styles - a Bug and fixes
How to Control Bullets in Microsoft Word by Shauna Kelly, MVP. Bullets and outline numbering are very much related in Word. You use styles to implement either in a reliable way.
OutlineNumbering by Shauna Kelly, MVP (see note above)
Changing the formatting rules with compatibility options - these can change how Word treats formatting in styles.
Styles Order of Operations Microsoft Blog
Microsoft Word 2010 Bible by Herb Tyson, MVP
Default Paragraph Font Explained by Suzanne Barnhill, MVP
Why Use Styles - part of Video tutorials on Word
Using the Navigation Pane in Word 2010
Style Report - An Add-In to view styles in use and delete unused styles by Greg Maxey and Klaus Linke
Styles Copier Application by Paul Edstein, MVP (macropod), document or Add-In - a variation of the Style Organizer
Tutorial: Format text with styles in Word 2011 (Mac)
Style Basics in Word (2007-2021) Microsoft
Word Styles from the Beginning - Woody's Office Watch
XML Hacking: Managing Styles (Ribbon Versions) - John Korchok
vba - List of Style Names and Constants in Multiple Languages - DocTools
Online Tutorials on Proofing and Copy Editing - Writers and Editors
The style guide is “dead”: long live the dynamic style guide!
Create a List of Local (Language) Names for Built-In Styles by Lene Fredborg, MVP
An Alternative to the Styles Organizer by Paul Edstein (macropod) MVP
Create Custom Design Elements - LinkedIn Learning video
Using the Navigation Pane in Word 2010 and Later by Charles Kenyon
A Deep Dive into Styles in Microsoft Word by Greg Maxey (video)
How Styles, Templates, and [Quick] Parts relate to one another (video) by Deborah Savadra
Introduction to Styles - Affinity Group video (37 min.)
  Advanced Styles - Affinity Group video (37 min.)
  How Can I Better Use Styles - Affinity Group video (37 min.)
Word Styles 101 - video by Scott Hanselman
How to Copy Styles from One Document to Another video by Robin Lindbeck
How to Use Microsoft Word Styles Like a Pro - video by Jason Morrell (20 min)
Styles, Style Sets & Style Themes - video by San Diego Schools Office Skills (31 min.)
Creating a wide border in a paragraph style using XML
Renaming Word Styles Using VBA - Stack Overflow


Click to return to table of contents page of Legal Users' Guide to Microsoft Word.Click to go to Microsoft Word new users frequently asked questions site in a new browser window.
(this guide table of contents) ------- (MS Word New Users FAQ)

Styles Overview

Styles are arguably the most important feature in Microsoft Word. Why? Because everything that you do in Word has a style attached. The definition of a style is two-fold. First, you can think of a style as a set of pre-defined formatting instructions that you can use repeatedly throughout the document. Let's say each heading in a document must be centered, uppercase, bold, and a slightly larger font size. Each time you need to apply formatting to the heading, you have to go through the entire process to get the text the way you want it. If you store the formatting commands in a style, you can apply that style any time you need it without having to do all of the reformatting.

Possibly more important however is that styles are used to "tag" or identify parts of a document. An example of this is whether text is part of a heading, a footnote, a hyperlink, or body text. These are all examples of styles in Word.

If you're concerned about whether or not you need to learn styles, we can put it rather simply: you do. Styles are the architecture upon which Word is based. Just about everything in Word is style-driven. In fact, many people in the industry refer to Word as a "style-driven" program.

Allen Wyatt uses an elegant metaphor about styles:

"Styles are nothing more than a named definition of how text should appear. You can best understand this by comparing your text to water (this is your content). The appearance of the water depends on the attributes of the container in which it is placed. If you place it in a glass it will look one way; if you place it in a pitcher, it looks a different way. The relationship between text and styles is no different; if you change the style that has been applied to text, then the appearance of the text automatically changes."  Understanding Styles

Styles allow for quick formatting modifications throughout the document and can be tied into numbering to make working with outline numbered lists easier. See Outline View in Microsoft Word

"While the [quick] styles gallery has been available on the Word home tab since Word 2007, some people just assume styles are meant for people who want big blue text.

Styles Gallery - Word 2013

"As it turns out, that’s not true. I’m here to tell you that Styles are handy, and if you use them to format your text as you write your document, you’ll be able to take full advantage of the improvements in Word 2013 that we’ve outlined below."

-- Caitlin Ashley-Rollman, Microsoft Program Manager for Word 2013 in blog on using styles

The dialog drop-down arrow on the bottom-right corner of the [Quick] Styles Gallery will launch the legacy Styles Pane. See more on the Styles Task Pane.


For long documents, documents that are likely to be heavily edited, and documents that may form the basis for other documents, follow the basic rule that to change formatting use Format => Styles... Do not apply direct formatting.

In Ribbon versions of Word (2007+) this is even easier, click on your style from the [Quick] Styles Gallery on the Home Tab!

You will save yourself, and others, untold hours of hair-tearing. For shorter one-use documents, direct formatting is OK; you'll only regret not using styles about one time in six, on the other five out of the six, you'll save a bit of time. If you create document templates with direct formatting, you deserve what will happen to you when someone finds out (and it won't be nice). In my opinion, using direct formatting in document templates intended for use by others rates the words malicious and/or incompetent. If the templates are for your own use, you deserve the loss of days, months, even years from your life that you'll spend fighting with Word and trying to figure out why your documents look so bad.

Trying to use Word without understanding and using styles is like pushing on a string. I resisted learning and using styles for years and now regret every day of those years because although that string was still very hard to push, it kept getting longer and longer, and had some very important projects tied to it!

Once you understand styles and the Word concept of organizing things into nested Russian dolls everything falls into place and instead of pushing a string, you can push a button that turns on the very powerful text processing machine known as Microsoft Word and it will start doing your work for you instead of running around behind you trying to undo what you thought you just did.


These statements should be even stronger for those using Word 2007-19 because styles are even easier to use in the ribbon versions of Word.


I just had occasion to edit a 100-page document that was created without using styles. It was formatted completely with direct formatting. Each page ended with a page break.

Each time it had to be saved, the save took more than 60 seconds, during which time Word was frozen.

A similar-sized document formatted using Styles takes less than 3 seconds for me to save. When a page break must be forced, instead of using a manual page break, the paragraph to begin the new page is formatted using a style that has "page break before" paragraph formatting.

This difference was due entirely to the document being directly formatted - a much higher level of complexity. Each paragraph mark in a directly-formatted paragraph carries with it up to fifty different formatting commands. When formatted using a style, that paragraph mark will carry with it one command - use this style!

--CKK 1 Feb 2012

See an example of a document formatted using styles for two virtually identical documents, one formatted using Styles, the other mostly not using Styles. Both have the same number of words and pages. One is 34K; the other is 48K.

--CKK 6 Jan 2016

In this Word Forum thread, the poster was having a very sluggish response from Word. I advised changing formatting from direct formatting to style-based. Problem solved!

--CKK 30 Oct 2019

Yet Another "Use Styles" Verbal Beating! by Dian Chapman, MVP

Why Use Styles? - (4.5 min. video that may save you months of work.)

Tip Tip  Microsoft recommends that you use numbering linked to styles to get the best result for numbered paragraphs, outline numbering and lists.

See How to create numbered headings or outline numbering in your Microsoft Word document by Shauna Kelly and Word's Numbering Explained by John McGhie.

There are several reasons for using styles in a document:
bulletConsistency — When you use styles to format your document, each section is formatted the same and therefore, provides a professional, clean-looking document.
bulletEasier to Modify — If you use styles in your document consistently, you only need to update a given style once if you want to change the characteristics of all text formatted in that style.
bulletEfficiency — You can create a style once, and then apply it to any section in the document without having to format each section individually.
bulletTable of Contents — Styles can be used to generate a table of contents quickly.
bulletFaster Navigation — Using styles lets you quickly move to different sections in a document using the Navigation Pane (formerly Document Map) feature. Navigation Pane in Microsoft Word
bulletWorking in Outline View — Styles allow you to outline and organize your document's main topics with ease. See Outlining in Microsoft Word
bulletLegal Outline Numbering – Numbering, when linked to styles, allows you to generate and update consistent outline numbering in legal documents, even ones with complicated numbering schemes like municipal law, tax law, and mergers and acquisitions documents.
bulletEfficiency of Word — Files which are predominantly manually formatted are less efficient than those which have formatting that has been imposed by styles: manually formatted files, such a converted documents which have been File, Opened, are bloated in file size (bytes) and do not render to the screen efficiently when you scroll through them. This is because Word is a styles-based application: it first reads the attributes of the underlying style, then has to broadcast anything contrary (e.g. manually formatted on top of that). As such, a lengthy document that has been predominantly manually formatted, will behave sluggishly because Word has to work harder at managing it. Additionally, the print formatting processes are equally labored as opposed to using styles.
bulletHTML AND XML — What lies ahead? A fully structured, styled document will move into HTML and XML incredibly well.

Styles are an essential part of Microsoft Word. In fact, everything you type into a document has a style attached to it, whether you design the style or not.

When you start Microsoft Word, the new blank document is based on the Normal template, and text that you type uses the Normal style. This means that when you start typing, Word uses the font name, font size, line spacing, indentation, text alignment, and other formats currently defined for the Normal style. The Normal style is the base style for the Normal template, meaning that it's a building block for other styles in the template. Whenever you start typing in a new document, unless you specify otherwise, you are typing in the Normal style.

"Avoiding styles is a hobby for some Word users. They go through 35 mouse clicks in 12 formatting dialog boxes, just to avoid using a style." Getting Started with Styles by Dian Chapman

Paragraph vs. Character Styles vs. Linked Styles

There are two basic types of styles in Microsoft Word; character and paragraph. Paragraph styles are used more frequently than character styles, and they are easier to create. It's important to understand both, however.  Linked styles (Word 2007 and later) are a blending of these two that I avoid. I urge you to avoid them as well.  You can do so by checking the box to "Disable Linked Styles" at the bottom of the Styles Pane.



Note: In Word 2002, there was also a hybrid "character and paragraph" style that isn't discussed in this article.

Also introduced with Word 2002 are Table Styles. I don't use them and haven't found them helpful. For a discussion of their shortcomings, see Shauna Kelly's article. Any discussion of them will be in  the Tables chapter. Note that if you have your Styles display set to show all styles, Table Styles will show up in the legacy drop-down menu for styles but not in the Styles Pane.

Word 2007 introduced linked styles which can be used as either. It also introduced a checkbox at the bottom of the Styles Pane which allows them to be disabled. I usually keep this checked.


Character styles can be applied to individual words — even (you guessed it) single characters. Character formatting is built from the formatting options available from the Format menu, by selecting Font; settings from the Tools menu, by selecting Language, and then selecting Set Language; and in certain cases from the Format menu by selecting Borders and Shading, and looking on the Borders and Shading tabs of the Borders and Shading dialog box. The following table shows the formatting that can be in a style.

A paragraph style contains both font and paragraph formatting which makes it more flexible than a character style. When you apply a paragraph style the formatting affects the entire paragraph. For example, when you center text, you cannot center a single word. Instead, the entire paragraph is centered. Other types of paragraph-level formats that styles control are line spacing (single-space, double-space, etc.), text alignment, bullets, numbers, frames, indents, tabs and borders.

Formatting Character Style Paragraph Style
Font Yes Yes
Tabs No Yes
Border Yes Yes
Spacing No Yes
Alignment No Yes
Indents No Yes
Shading Yes Yes
Language Yes Yes
Numbering No Yes
Frame No Yes
Word 2002 and Word 2003


There are actually four style types in Word. Each has an icon that appears next to it in the Styles and Formatting task pane. When you use the New Style dialog box to create a new style, the types are available on the Style type list.
bulletParagraph: Applies to all the text within the end paragraph mark of where your pointer is positioned.
bulletCharacter: Applies at the character level—to blocks of words and letters.
bulletList: Provides a consistent look to lists.
bulletTable: Provides a consistent look to tables.
Word 2007 - 2021 Word 2007 introduced linked styles linked style icon microsoft word which can be used for paragraph formatting or character formatting. When used on particular text within a paragraph, linked styles act as character styles, when applied to a paragraph, they act as character styles. When used on text at the beginning of a paragraph, linked heading styles can be a source for a Table of Contents.

The Style Pane has a checkbox to disable these, which I usually keep checked. Here are MVP John McGhie's thoughts on them. I recommend that anyone contemplating use of Linked Styles for important work read those comments.

It is common to have Headings applied to something other than a whole paragraph not show up in the Navigation Pane. This is because they have been applied as "Linked Styles." Here is a link to my article on this: Headings that do not show up in the Navigation Pane or in a Table of Contents. Here is a link to a short demonstration document. Linked Styles Demo

More about Character Styles - CK Section

I have three character styles in most of my pleading documents. Two replace Bold and Italic formatting. The third is for citations. The first two are built-in character styles of "Strong" and "Emphasis." I started using these before Word had a replace formatting feature. I'm not sure they are needed. They provide a simple way of changing how I emphasize something throughout a document by simply changing the style. It starts out that "Strong" is bold and "Emphasis" is Italicized.

The third, though, has proved its worth through time. It is the Citation character style. I set it to Italic and set the language formatting to "no proofing." This means that case citations with it will not alert the spell checker. (Of course, this also means you better have the correct spelling.) It also disables automatic hyphenation. To set this up, you would create a new character style and use the formatting drop-down to add the Italic and "no-proofing" formatting. The Italic formatting comes through the font formatting dialog, and the "no-proofing" comes through the language dialog. In later versions of Word "no-proofing" is known as "Do not check spelling or grammar."

Character styles can also be used as targets for the StyleRef field. This field gives very quick automatic updating. A character style is much less fragile than is a bookmark when used to mark text that may be edited. I will often use character styles that apply to only one word or phrase in a document that I want to repeat elsewhere, instead of a bookmark. Then a StyleRef Field is used instead of a Ref field to repeat it elsewhere.

The Heading Styles - Special or Magic Styles - CK Note

The built in heading styles in Word have special properties that make them almost magical. There are keyboard shortcuts for the top three. They can appear without any customization in a Table of Contents generated by Word, you can link and navigate to them with cross-referencing features, and more. See Why use Microsoft Word’s built-in heading styles? by Shauna Kelly, MVP, for sixteen reasons to use these styles. In Word 2007 and later, the Heading Styles are Linked Styles by default.

Use a Style Separator to Put Different Paragraph Styles in the Same Printed Paragraph - (Ctrl+Alt+Enter) - CK Note

The primary reason to do this is when you want a snippet from the beginning of a particular heading to appear in a Table of Contents but don't want the entire heading in the Table of Contents.

The screenshot above, with non-printing formatting marks displayed, shows two different paragraph styles used in one logical printed paragraph. Note the pillcrow (paragraph mark) with the dots around it separating the two. The colors of the styles here are different. The usual use of this, though, would be for the styles to look the same. This was used in automatically generating the Table of Contents. The second part of the paragraph, in the non-heading style did not get picked up in the Table of Contents.

You would not want to base the second style on the heading style though, because then it would also be a heading style. This is, instead, based on the Body Text style and formatted using the same font and size as the Heading 1 Style.

You can add a Style Separator to the end of a paragraph using the Ctrl+Alt+Enter Keyboard Shortcut. Then you add your text for the separate style.

Here is another screenshot:

If you delete a Style Separator, the entire paragraph will take on the formatting of the text preceding the Separator. See this thread on the Microsoft Answers forum for more.

As of this writing (January, 2024), the Style Separator does not exist on the Macintosh versions of Word. You can create your own by simply pressing Enter at the end of the first part of your text (style 1) and creating your following text in Style 2 in the new paragraph. Then go back and select the paragraph mark at the end of the first paragraph and mark it as Hidden text (Cmd+Shift+H). This method works on Windows versions as well (Ctrl+Shift+H).

Macintosh users can also download the following from my downloads page: Style Separator as AutoText Add-In for the Mac - Macro-free - it holds an AutoText entry with a Style Separator that will work on a Mac. The current keyboard shortcut is Ctrl+Alt+Return, which is the same as the Windows version shortcut. I do not know whether the shortcut will work on the Mac but users can assign a different shortcut if they wish, perhaps Cmd+Opt+Return.

See also Creating Run-in Sideheads by Suzanne Barnhill.

Here is a link to a template with two Style Separators.

When you add a style separator, the insertion point and the style separator will both be at the end of the Word paragraph. If you have a paragraph already written and you wish to separate part of it out, place your insertion point where you want the separation to occur. Instead of pressing Ctrl+Alt+Enter, simply press the Enter key. This creates a new Word paragraph.

Format that new paragraph using a style that will not be picked up in the Table of Contents. Then go to the paragraph that you want to show up in the Table of Contents and press Ctrl+Alt+Enter.

This will rejoin the two paragraphs, with a Style Separator between them.

The Style Separator is formatted as "hidden." If you turn on the option to view hidden text, you will see it. If you use the pillcrow on the Home Tab's paragraph group to toggle non-printing formatting marks you will see it with a dotted line square around it. If you only view hidden text it will appear with a dotted line underneath, like other hidden text.

Note: Style Separators and Automatically Numbered paragraphs. Only the first should be numbered.

You should not use the Style Separator to try to combine two automatically numbered paragraphs. If you do, the numbering will disappear in the text but may still appear as a separate line in the Table of Contents! The numbering will still count, and the next paragraph will act like it is there but the reader will not see it.

The paragraph with the additional text should not be in a style that is designated to appear in a Table of Contents. For examinations  of these problems, look at this Stack Overflow question and my answer here: Delete Blank Space When Using Macro to Insert Style Separator.

If numbering is needed for the joined paragraph, I recommend using SEQ Field numbering insteand of list numbering.
Numbering in Microsoft Word. That way, the numbers will appear in the text. That joined paragraph should not be in a style that appears in the Table of Contents.



Viewing Styles

Styles are listed in several places: the Style drop-down box on the Formatting toolbar and from the Format menu by choosing Style. You can also open the Styles Pane. In Word 2007-2021 (365) they are found in the [Quick] Styles Gallery of the Home Ribbon, in the Styles Pane, and in the Apply Styles dialog.

The Apply Styles Dialog can be reached in the Windows Version of Word with the keyboard shortcut Shift+Ctrl+S.

This dialog lets you type in the name of a style to apply it quickly, or select the style from the drop down box. It has been available since, I believe, Word 97. It also has buttons to let you Modify the listed style, or Reapply the style to the selected text, or (button on the right) call up the Styles Pane.

The Styles Pane can list all the Styles  in your document, depending on its options. You can toggle its display with the keyboard shortcut Shift+Ctrl+Alt+S. Here it is in its short floating form.

It is usually used docked on the right side. You can dock it by double-clicking on the top border of the dialog.


Styles area in Word 2010 - help

This Gallery can be added to the Quick Access Toolbar (QAT).

See Modifying the Quick Access Toolbar (QAT) in Microsoft Word  and Styles QAT Add-In.

View Styles with the Style Box (Legacy Styles Menu)

In Word 97-2003, the Style box is the button at the far-left side of the Formatting toolbar. It can be activated by clicking the drop-down arrow to the right of the words in the box, or by pressing Ctrl+Shift+S on the keyboard (Word 97-2003). (In Word 2007 and later, this shortcut brings up the Apply Styles floating dialog.)

See Legacy Drop-Down Styles Menu below for more.


Tip CK Note  In Word 2007-2021 (365) you can add this Style Dialog to your QAT. It is under Commands Not In the Ribbon and is the Style (Style Gallery Classic). It is included in the Styles QAT Add-In you can download from this website.

Word 2003 introduced the Styles and Formatting Pane shown below. It appears if you select Format -> Styles.

styles pane word 2003

If instead of hovering with the mouse you right-click, you get the options of modifying or deleting the style (except for built-in styles which cannot be deleted.)

The third option is to modify the style to match the current selection.

Styles modification microsoft word







The Styles Pane can also be accessed in Word 2007-2019 (365) by clicking in the bottom right corner of the styles group on the Home tab or by pressing the keyboard shortcut Ctrl+Alt+Shift+S (Mac Cmd+Opt+Shift+S).

Styles Group Microsoft Word 2010

The resulting dialog is similar to the Styles and Formatting  Pane and provides more information about the style when you hover.

styles pane word 2010





As with Word 2003, right-clicking on the style name give options to modify or delete the style.

By default this appears as a floating dialog. This dialog can be anchored to the right side of the page making it appear much like the Styles and Formatting Pane in the menu versions of Word.


  In Word 2007 and later there are two checkboxes, three buttons and the Options... choice at the bottom of this pane. The checkboxes allow you to see a preview of the Style in the Styles Pane and to disable Linked Styles (recommended). The first button lets you define a new style. The second gives you the Style Inspector.



The Style Inspector is a floating dialog that lets you type in your document and click to a different spot in the document to see what is going on with Styles there.

There are no keyboard commands equivalent to the Clear Character Formatting or Clear Character Style buttons. See (Ctrl + Space) Does Not Work as Expected for Microsoft 365.




The third button gives you the control to "Manage Styles:"



This control has four tabs at the top and is too complex for discussion here. Shown to the left is the Recommend tab which lets you assign recommendation values. Those values determine where styles show up in the [Quick] Styles gallery and the order if you display styles "as recommended."

It also lets you hide styles from various views either until used or always.

Note the options to have changes only apply to the current document or to new documents based on the template.




Finally, you can also change your style pane's display options.


Note - styles microsoft word Note  If you're using Word 2000, the default is for the Standard and Formatting toolbars to share one row. For this chapter, you may find it helpful to turn off this feature. From the Tools menu, choose Customize and select the Options tab. Uncheck Standard and Formatting toolbars share one row and click OK.

Clear All / Clear Formatting is not a Style, it is a Command!

Since at least Word 2003, at the top of the Styles Pane's list of styles there is a command to Clear All (Clear Formatting in Word 2003). This is not a style; it is a command. It will appear at the top of the pane no matter how you decide to display or order your styles.


What this does is return the selected text to the normal style. It strips out any other character or paragraph level formatting. It is the equivalent of selecting the text and pressing Ctrl+Spacebar (clear font-level formatting), then Ctrl+Q (clear paragraph-level formatting other than the paragraph style), then Ctrl+Shift+N (apply the Normal paragraph style).

This is the same as the Clear All Formatting button in the Font Group of the Home Tab in ribbon versions of Word.

If the command is missing, see this troubleshooting tip.

The Apply Styles Dialog

In Ribbon versions of Word you can access this dialog using the keyboard shortcut Ctrl+Shift+S. The drop-down menu will give you a list of styles (including Table Styles). The button on the right side of the dialog will toggle display of the Styles Pane.

This dialog is a quick way to access or even modify a style. The style currently in use at the insertion point will be displayed but you can choose a different style to apply.

The Legacy Dropdown Styles Menu

This is the primary Styles display in the menu versions of Word (Word 97-2004). In those versions it is in the Formatting Toolbar. It can be added to the QAT in versions 2007-2021 (365).

It has a display similar to the Styles Pane but without the added features. It is shown below as the QAT addition:

I find it primarily useful in that it displays the name of the currently applied style in the toolbar or QAT. If you know the name of a different style you want to use, you can simply type it in. Using the dropdown is a bit tedious because all Table Styles may be included in the list.

In the menu versions, there is an option to turn the preview on/off.

See Modifying the Quick Access Toolbar (QAT) in Microsoft Word  and Styles QAT Add-In.

Practice: View a List of Styles
  1. Create a new blank document.
  2. Locate the Style box on the Formatting toolbar. If the toolbar is not visible, alternate-click any toolbar and choose Formatting.

Note - styles microsoft word Note  In Word 2000, styles are listed in alphabetical order. In Word 97 styles listed in the drop-down list are not displayed in alphabetical order. Word 97 lists styles in the following order in the Style Box list:
bulletHeading styles
bulletNormal style
bulletUser-defined styles in alphabetical order
bulletBody Text styles
bulletList styles
bulletAll other styles listed alphabetically.

  1. Click the Style box drop-down arrow to the right of the button. A list of styles available in the active document displays.

While only a few styles show in this list by default, later you'll learn how to access all available styles.

The list and quantity of styles that displays in the Style list depends on which template you used to create the active document. If you click the New button on the Standard toolbar, you get a blank document based on Word's default template, Different types of documents need different styles. What works in a pleading may not be useful in a letter, fax or memo.

Styles can also share the same name in various templates but have different attributes. For example, in a pleading the Body Text style may be double-spaced, where in a letter, Body Text may be single-spaced.

Another way to see the styles available in the current template is by selecting the Format menu, and then choosing Style. The Style dialog box is shown in the following figure.

Style dialog

Styles list in Word 97-2000. When you select a Style from the list on the left side of the Style box, you see a preview and description of the style formatting on the right.

Practice: Access the Style Dialog Box
  1. From the Format menu, choose Style.
  2. Change the List to display All Styles if necessary.
  3. Select a style from the list and view the Character preview, Paragraph preview, and Description.
  4. Click Cancel or press ESC to close the Style dialog box.

Lists of styles available in this template or all open templates are shown in the Style dialog box.

Listing All of the Styles

When you click the Style button's drop-down arrow, only the styles in use in the current template displays in the list of styles. If you wish to see a list of all of the styles that are available to you in Word, you can do so in one of two different ways. Hold SHIFT and click the style drop-down arrow. This displays all styles available. There are approximately 125 styles to choose from, excluding any user-defined styles. It's also possible to list all styles by selecting All Styles from the Style dialog box's List control in the bottom left corner.

Practice: View All Styles
  1. Create a new blank document.
  2. Click the Style drop-down arrow. Notice how many styles are available.
  3. Click with the mouse in the document to deselect the Style drop-down list.
  4. Hold SHIFT and click the Style drop-down arrow again.
  5. More styles are available when you hold down the SHIFT key.
Applying Styles

The same rules that apply to direct formatting of text apply to style formatting of text. If you want to apply a text attribute to a single word, you can click anywhere in the word and select a formatting option such as bold, italics or underline — Word applies the selected format to the entire word. Similarly, if you want to format multiple words you must first select the multiple words. The same is true for applying character styles. To apply a character style, you can click in the middle of any word and select the character style to format the entire word. If you want to change a group of words you must first select the text before applying the character style.

Applying formatting to paragraphs is a little different. Just click anywhere in a paragraph and apply direct formats such as dragging the ruler to change indentation — since paragraph formats affect an entire paragraph, you don't have to select the paragraph. If you want to affect multiple paragraphs, you must first select the multiple paragraphs. And, similar to applying text formatting and character styles, to apply a paragraph style, click within the paragraph and apply the paragraph style. Or, select multiple paragraphs to apply the same style to each of the selected paragraphs.

Note - styles microsoft word

CK Note: As of Word 2002 (and later) if you attempt to apply a paragraph style to selected text within a paragraph, you get a new character style with the same name. The character formatting from the paragraph style is applied, but not the paragraph formatting. A new hybrid character style with the same name but with "char" appended is created.

To apply a paragraph style to a single paragraph, click within the paragraph without selecting text.

Practice: Apply Styles
  1. Type the following text into a new document.
    Profitability Report
    Entire Firm
    Individual Departments
    Health Care
    Trust and Estate
  2. Click anywhere within the first line, Profitability Report.
  3. Click the Style drop-down arrow and select Heading 1.
  4. Select the two paragraphs: Entire Firm and Individual Departments.
  5. Apply Heading 2 style to the selected text.
  6. Apply Heading 3 style to the department names.

There are several keyboard shortcuts that are useful in applying styles:

Keyboard Shortcut Style Name
CTRL+ALT+1 Heading 1
CTRL+ALT+2 Heading 2
CTRL+ALT+3 Heading 3
CTRL+SHIFT+L List Bullet
CTRL+SHIFT+S Activates the Style Drop-Down List

Tip Tip  The above shortcut keys are standard in Word documents. You can also assign a shortcut key combination to any other styles that you use regularly. This topic is covered in the section Assign a Keyboard Shortcut To a Style.

Display Paragraph Style Names in Draft (Normal) View

Sometimes it's useful to see what style has been applied to text within a document. You can turn on Word's Style Area feature to see what paragraph styles have been applied throughout the document. The Style Area is a re-sizeable pane on the left side of the window that lists the paragraph style applied to each paragraph. It is only available in Draft (Normal) View.

Practice: Display Applied Paragraph Style Names
  1. From the View menu, choose Normal (Word 97-2003).
  2. From the Tools menu, choose Options and select the View tab.
  3. Locate the Style area width box.

Options dialog with the View tab selected, available off of the Tools menu

  1. Click the up spin box arrow until it's set to 1.0, or type 1.0 in the box.
  2. Click OK to close the Options dialog box.

In Word 2007-2021 this is done under the Word Options > Advanced > Display

Tip Tip  To make the Style area width larger or smaller without redisplaying the Options dialog box, click and drag the line that separates the style name from the text of the document.

  1. From the Tools menu, choose Options, and select the View tab and set the Style area width back to 0.
  2. Click OK.

How styles show up in Normal view with Style Pane active.  

(What you get. - CK Note)

Printing a List of Styles and their Formatting (CK Addition)

You can print a list of the styles in use in a document along with the formatting that goes into that style by selecting "Styles" in the "Print What" box on the Print Dialog Box instead of printing the document.

Print dialog box in Microsoft Word - Print what? - Print Styles!

Replacing Styles

Let's say you just finished applying styles to a long agreement only to find that you applied the Heading 2 style where you should have applied the Heading 1 style. This can easily be remedied by using Word's Find and Replace feature. Instead of searching for text, however, you can tell Word to search and replace text formatted with a specific style.

Practice: Find and Replace Styles
  1. From the Edit menu, choose Replace. If you prefer keyboard shortcuts, press CTRL+H.
  2. Click More on the Replace tab, if necessary, to display additional options along the bottom portion of the dialog box. If a button says Less, the window is already expanded.
  3. Delete any text, if necessary, that may appear in the Find what and Replace with boxes.
  4. Click in the Find what box and click Format.
  5. Select Style.
  6. Select Heading 2 in the Find what style list and click OK.
  7. Click in the Replace with box and click Format.
  8. Select Style.
  9. Select Heading 1 and click OK. Note that while there is no text within each edit box (Find and Replace), just below each box is a message that Word will find and replace styles that are applied to text within the document.
  10. Click Replace All, then click OK, and finally, click Close.

If you try to use the Find and Replace feature again, make sure to click within each box (Find and Replace) and click No Formatting to reset what Word is to search for.

Create, Modify and Locate Your Own Styles

Now that you understand what a style is and what it can do, it's time to create some styles of your own. Not only can you create your own styles, you can modify existing styles to achieve the result you need.

Create a New Style

The easiest way to create a new style is to format text with the attributes that you want to apply to the style. It doesn't matter what you type, only what type of paragraph and character formatting that you have applied to the text. Formatting is the only thing that is applied when you apply a style. Although you can create styles that have more advanced attributes such as being followed by an entirely different style, the following exercise shows you just how easy the process can be.

Practice: Create a Style
  1. Type your first name on a separate line in a document.
  2. Select your name and make the font Blue.
  3. Change the font size to 24-points.
  4. Apply Bold and Underline formatting to the text.
  5. Center the paragraph.
  6. From the Formatting toolbar, click in the Styles box (where the style name Normal is usually displayed).
  7. Type your first name.
  8. Press ENTER. This step is important. If you do not press ENTER your style is not created.
  9. Click the Style drop-down list. You should see your newly created style.
  10. Test this by typing "This is a test" and applying the new style.

You can use the Style dialog box to create or modify a style. Another option for creating and modifying styles is shown in the following exercise. You create a new style by typing text and formatting it, and then from the Format menu, choose Style.

Practice: Create a Style Using The Style Dialog Box
  1. Type the following text:

    Styles help users in law firms master Microsoft Word. (press ENTER)

    Everything in Word is based on a style.

  2. Select the text "Styles help users in law firms master Microsoft Word." and the paragraph mark (Paragraph mark (pillcrow) in Microsoft Word) that follows.
  3. Center the paragraph and apply a 14-point font.
  4. From the Format menu, choose Style.
  5. Click New.
  6. Type My Style as the Name.
  7. Click OK, and then click Apply.
Modifying Existing Styles

There are three ways to modify an existing style. One of these methods is through the Styles Pane, a second is through the button on the Apply Styles dialog. However, an easier method is by changing the style by example: (1) Click in text in the style that has been formatted the way you want (different from the style) and then right-clicking on the style name in the Styles Pane or the [Quick] Styles Gallery. You can select the  choice to Update the style to match the selection.

If this you have not reformatted text in the style, styles can be changed using the Modify Style dialog box.

Practice: Two Methods to Modifying a Style
  1. Add several paragraphs to the document from the previous exercise.
  2. Apply the style that you created to the new text.
  3. Select the text Styles help users in law firms master Microsoft Word.
  4. From the Format menu, choose Style.
  5. Click Modify.
  6. Click Format, and then select Font.
  7. Change the font color to Blue and the font size to 20-points.
  8. Close the dialog box and apply the changes that you've made by clicking Apply. Notice that all text formatted with My Style updates to show the recent change.
  9. Select the text Microsoft Word.
  10. Change the font size to 36.
  11. Click on the style name in the white part of the Style toolbar button (not the drop-down arrow) and press ENTER. It's important to press ENTER and not move the mouse up or down the list of style names. This tells Word that you are working with the current style where the mouse is active. If this step was done correctly, the following Modify Style dialog box should display.

    Automatic Modify Style dialog

  12. You can either choose to Update the style to reflect recent changes, or Reapply the formatting of the style to the selection (go back to the original style format). Choose Update the style to reflect recent changes? And click OK.
Note - styles microsoft word CK Note:   This behavior changed in Word 2002. You can modify Word to go back to the previous behavior. Check the box for "Prompt to update style" on the Edit tab of Tools > Options.

Do not ever check the box to automatically update the style from now on. This is the equivalent of giving a chain saw to an 8-year-old without supervision. Nothing good will come of it!

Tip Tip  A keyboard shortcut is to press CTRL+SHIFT+S (to put you in the style drop down box), and then press ENTER, which will bring up the above dialog.

The style is changed to reflect the formatting of the selected text and this method is referred to as modifying by example. Notice how all paragraphs with the style are updated automatically.

Warning Warning  We do not recommend selecting the Automatically update the style box especially in a legal environment where multiple users work on the same document. This feature will update the style each time you make a formatting change in a paragraph that has a style attached.

Using the [Quick] Styles Gallery (Word 2007-2021 (365) - unfinished -

Quick Styles Gallery - Word 2013

[Quick] Styles Gallery - Word 2021


[Quick] Styles Gallery - Word 2013 - Expanded


Buttons on Right End of [Quick] Styles Gallery


Scrolled [Quick] Styles Gallery showing second row of styles (custom)

Quick Styles Gallery - Expanded (custom)


Quick Styles Gallery - Expanded and Resized - custom


Quick Styles Gallery - custom


Use of the [Quick] Styles Gallery to Preview in a Document shown above

Right-Click on a Style in the [Quick] Styles Gallery for this Drop-Down menu

(above images are for future work on Styles Gallery)

Where Styles Live

A lot of confusion can come from not knowing where styles are stored and when they are available in documents. When new documents are created, the new documents are based on templates. The styles contained within these templates are copied to the new document. Changes made to styles in the document as well as new styles that you create only affect that one new document by default. If you want the change or addition to be added to the template, you have to tell Word to do so.

If a style is modified or created in a template, those changes are propogated to new documents based on the template, but do not change existing documents based on the template, absent something updating them.
bullet What is the relationship between a Microsoft Word document and its template?
bullet What happens when I send my document to someone else? Will Word mess up my formatting?

Practice: Add it to the Template
  1. From the Format menu, choose Style.
  2. Click Modify.
  3. Check the option to Add to template. This makes the style available for any new documents that are based on that template.

The style is added to the currently open template.

Note - styles microsoft word Note  Documents that have previously been created based on this template are not affected when you add a style to the template. To automatically update style changes in templates and files previously created based on the same template, from the Tools menu, choose Templates and Add-Ins. Select the option to Automatically update document styles and click OK. We recommend not checking this option. It can produce unexpected results, especially in legal documents that must conform to court rules.

CK Note: Automating Styles: For an excellent tutorial on styles and a methodical look at basing styles on one another and reasons not to base styles on normal, see John McGhie's Create a Template Part 2. For a sample demonstrating styles based on one another, use of the style for following paragraph feature, and the AutoTextList field restricted by styles download the Letterhead Textboxes and Styles Tutorial by Charles Kenyon.


What it means to have a style (style B) based on another style (style A) is that changes in Style A, the underlying style, will be reflected in styles based on it  (style B) unless the new style has deviated from Style A on the feature being changed.

Style A Arial Bold 20 pt Indented .5 inches
Style B Arial Bold 18 pt Indented .5 inches based on Style A

Change Style A to Comic Sans font and Style B will also be Comic Sans
Change Style A to 24 pt - no change to Style B
Change Style A to not Bold - Style B also becomes not bold

See How Styles in Microsoft Word Cascade by Shauna Kelly, MVP

If when you try to create a new style you get an error message that it is based on too many styles, see here.

When you save a style to the template, if that template is the normal template, the style will be available in all new documents.
Space-Before and Space-After Settings in Paragraph Styles

Paragraph formatting allows for space before and space after a paragraph. This is normally expressed in points. An exact number can be typed into either of these boxes. If you press the up and down arrows, the number will be either 0 or a multiple of 6.

The dialog shown above is available in Modify Style for Word 2002 and higher. It is also the one shown for a the direct Paragraph formatting in Word 2003 and higher.

Spacing Before is the space that applies when the paragraph follows another paragraph. The Spacing After is space that is given before the next paragraph.

Note that the numbers here are different. B=12, A=6. If two paragraphs with these settings follow one another, the spacing, by default will be 12 (the higher of the two numbers). It will not, since Word 2002, be 18, the total of the two. Here are some screen shots showing how these settings act.

The above screen shots from Word 97 show that the space before and space after settings are added together. Compare them with the following screen shots of the same text with the same formatting from Word 2010.

Beginning with Word 2002 the higher of the space-after setting for the preceding paragraph and the space-after setting for the current paragraph were used. They are not added together.

Note that at beginning with Word 2007, the space-before setting for paragraphs starting on pages other than the first page of a section is ignored.

If the checkbox for "Don't add space between paragraphs of the same style" is checked then despite the before and after settings there will be no extra space between paragraphs of the same style. It will be like both settings were "0." Although this is a style definition setting, it can be applied to selected paragraphs without changing the style beginning with Word 2007.

Assign a Keyboard Shortcut To a Style

If you create your own styles, it's especially helpful to assign a keyboard shortcut to them to make them easier to apply. You can also apply shortcuts to commonly used styles.

Practice: Assign a Keyboard Shortcut to The Quotation Style
bulletRibbon Versions of Word
  1. In a blank line on your document, change the left indent to 1", and the right- indent to 5".
  2. Enter some text.
  3. Click somewhere within the indented paragraph. You will create a quote style that is very common in most law firms.
  4. If it is not already open, open the Styles Pane.
  5. In the the Styles Pane click on the button at the bottom left to create a new style.
  6. In the Name box, type Quotation (Quote style already exists).
  7. As Style type, select Paragraph.
  8. Based on should be your default style, likely Normal.
  9. The Style for Following Paragraph will be set to be your new style by default. In the example, I changed that to Normal.
  10. Decide whether or not to have it appear in the [Quick] Styles Gallery.
  11. Decide whether or not to have the style be available in all new documents based on the template being used for the current document. (likely Normal.dotm)
  12. Click OK to close the dialog. This creates the style in your document. (If you clicked the option have it for new documents, when you close the document, you should  be asked if you want to save changes to the template. Answer "yes" to that query.)
  13. To assign a keyboard shortcut in the Ribbon versions of Word you need to access the Customize the Ribbon Dialog and then, in that dialog, click on the button to Customize the keyboard. That brings up a separated dialog. You can do this by right-clicking in any Ribbon tab and choosing "Customize the Ribbon." Alternatively, you can choose this under File > Options (Windows versions) or Word > Preferences (Mac versions). Once you click on the button to Customize the Keyboard, separate dialog appears:
  14. Click in the box for the new shortcut key and press the key combination that you want to use. If it is already assigned to something it will show that it is currently assigned and to what it is assigned. If it is already assigned, decide if you want to overwrite that. If not, delete the shortcut you entered and choose a different one.
  15. Click on Assign, then Close.
  16. Click on OK in the Customize the Ribbon menu.
  17. Now if you want to apply the Quotation Style to text, you can press Ctrl+Alt+Q and that style will be applied.
  18. Even if you do not assign a keyboard shortcut, the style will be available in the Styles Pane and optionally the [Quick] Styles Gallery.

See also: Assigning Keyboard Shortcuts in Microsoft Word 2007-2019 (365)


bulletMenu versions of Word (Word 97-2003)
  1. In a blank line on your document, change the left indent to 1", and the right- indent to 5".
  2. Enter some text.
  3. Click somewhere within the indented paragraph. You will create a quotation style that is very common in most law firms.
  4. From the Format menu, choose Style.
  5. Click New.
  6. In the Name box, type Quotation (Quote style may already exist depending on Word version).
  7. As Style type, select Paragraph.
  8. Based on should be Normal (your default style).
  9. Click Shortcut Key.
  10. In the Press new shortcut key box, press the keyboard combination Ctrl+Alt+Q. (Always make sure that the shortcut key you have chosen is not in use somewhere else.)
  11. Click Assign.
  12. Click OK, and then click Close.
  13. Click anywhere within your document and press Ctrl+Alt+Q. The Quotation paragraph style is applied.

Now you can apply the Quote style using Ctrl+Alt+Q or through the Style menu.

Note - styles microsoft word Note  If you want to add a shortcut key to a style that already exists, Word lets you do that, too. From the Format menu, choose Style. Select the style to which you want to add a shortcut key and click Modify. Click Shortcut Key and follow the steps from the above exercise.

Following a Style with Another Style

If you apply a paragraph format in Word, it keeps that format until another one is chosen. This is true for styles as well. If you use the "My Style" style (created in the previous exercise), Word continues to use that style each time you begin a new paragraph until another style is chosen. Sometimes the style is only needed for one paragraph at a time (for example a heading style). To cut down the amount of times the user needs to use the Style menu; you can choose which style should be used in the paragraph that follows the new style. For example, after the Heading style, when you press ENTER, you can have the next paragraph automatically formatted with a Body Text style.

Many paragraph styles in Word are set to be followed by the Normal style by default.

Practice: Follow a Style With Another Style

(Save Users Time & Frustration)

Ribbon versions - Word 2007 and later

  1. If the style is in the [Quick] Styles Gallery, right-click on it there and choose Modify.

  2. Select Normal style from the Style for following paragraph list.
  3. If you want the change to be there in new documents, click the radio button for New document based on this template.
  4. Click OK.

Menu versions (Word 2003 and earlier)

  1. From the Format menu, choose Style.
  2. Select Quote style from the list of styles.
  3. Click Modify.
  4. Select Normal style from the Style for following paragraph list.
  5. Click OK, and then click Close.

Modify Style dialog

Notice the style of the new paragraph automatically changes to the Normal style when you press enter after a paragraph formatted with the "quote" style.

CK Note: See Letterhead Textboxes and Styles Tutorial for an example of styles that use the "Style for following paragraph" feature to good effect.

See also:
bulletQuestion and Answer Styles sampler by Charles Kenyon
bulletQ&A Styles in Word by Suzanne Barnhill, MVP

Using the Organizer to Copy Styles

You can copy styles between documents or templates. One of the most effective ways to do this is through the Organizer. The Organizer is a tool built into Word that allows you to quickly copy Styles and Macros. If you have a group of styles that you want to have work together, in ribbon versions of Word, look into [Quick] Style Sets.

Word 2010 (2007, 2013-19 the same) Styles Organizer.
No Toolbars or AutoText tabs.

To get to the organizer in Word 2007 and later you can click on the Import/Export button on the Manage Styles Dialog Box (bottom left corner). (It is also  available on the Templates and Add-Ins dialog on the Developer Tab.)

Word for the Mac

According to Word guru John Korchok, one way to access the Organizer on versions of Word for the Mac is:

  1. Choose Tools>Templates and Add-ins.
  2. Click on the Organizer button.

This is similar to the methods in Windows.

In Word 2003 and earlier, you access the Organizer in one of two ways: from the Format menu, choose Style and click Organizer; or from the Tools menu, choose Templates and Add-Ins and click Organizer.

Word 97 Styles Organizer (above) - note AutoText and Toolbars tabs!
Word 2003 is the same.


See also:

Styles Copier Application by Paul Edstein, MVP (macropod), document or Add-In - a variation of the Styles Organizer

"I developed STYLE COPIER to improve on what I consider to be two disadvantages of the Word Organizer: One, that the Organizer always defaults its Open dialog boxes (“Styles available in”) to all Word templates in the Templates folder, and Two, that it can copy multiple styles but to only one document at a time.

STYLE COPIER’s  Open dialog boxes default to any Word document type, including but not limited to templates, and default only to either the current folder or the last folder accessed using the utility."

For a video on using the Organizer, see How to Copy Word Word Styles Between Documents (The Bit They Don't Tell You) by Jason Morrell (Although he says you can't copy from another document, that is incorrect.)

See also: How to Copy Styles from One Document to Another video by Robin Lindbeck

Using the Organizer to Delete Styles

You can also use the Organizer to delete Styles from your document, its template, or even another document or template.

Use the Organizer to Delete Styles in Word - dialog box with steps

You can use the Close File button on the Organizer dialog to switch to a different document or template. When you close one file, the button switches to an Open button and lets you choose.

If you make changes to an underlying template, including the Normal.dotm template, when you close Word, you likely will be asked if you want to save changes to the template. Answer "yes" in response to the question.

You cannot really delete any of the Built-In styles from a document or template. Even if it looks like you do, Word will rebuild it. You can use the Manage Styles dialog to hide styles or change the order of display. Restrict Formatting to Certain Styles In Ribbon versions of Word you can remove styles from the [Quick] Styles Gallery on the Home tab.

Practice: Copy Styles Using the Organizer
  1. From the Tools menu, choose Templates and Add-Ins.
  2. Click Organizer.
  3. Select the appropriate tab for items that you want to copy. For example, to copy styles from one document or template to another select the Styles tab.
  4. To copy styles from your current document to the template which makes the style available each time you start Word, select the styles and click Copy.
  5. Click Close.

Note - styles microsoft word Note  If a style name that you are copying already exists, you are asked if you want to replace it.

Charles Kenyon Note  I have found it best when copying styles using the organizer to copy them three times if any of the styles is based on other styles or is followed by other styles. I'm not sure why this makes a difference, but I've found that clicking on that copy button three times means that these relationships continue in the destination template. I know that when I copy them only once, they do not and the styles are then followed by the Normal style. See this Knowledge Base  article Q113106 for possible explanation.

Since at least Word 2003, the Organizer will not necessarily show all of the styles in the Normal template. See below in troubleshooting.

You can use a global template as a stylesheet if you include a macro to copy the styles into your document. See A Global StyleSheet in Microsoft Word? for an example of such a macro.

See also An Alternative to the Styles Organizer by Paul Edstein (macropod), MVP. It lets you copy to multiple documents at once.

Duplicating Style Definitions within a document or template

If you have defined one of the built-in styles just the way you want but would prefer to be using a style of your own for this purpose, copying the formatting to your new style without it being based on the existing style. If you are comfortable editing vba macros, you can record a macro that calls up the style modification dialog and goes through each of the various format dialogs and closes them. Then create your new style and edit the macro to refect the name of your new style rather than the one in which it was recorded. Run the macro and the new style should match your original one.


Copying Text Formatted in a Style

Another way to copy styles is to simply copy and paste paragraphs created in another document containing the style you're looking for. All paragraph formatting is contained in the paragraph mark at the end of each paragraph. Make sure when you select and copy the paragraph text that you include the paragraph marker at the end of the selected paragraph. Then, when you paste it into the target document, the selected paragraph formatting and paragraph style are added to your target document.

Note - styles microsoft word

CK Note:  

If you use Autotext or other Building Blocks entries contained in a global template that are formatted using a style in that global template, those styles will be copied as well. (For this to work with paragraph styles a paragraph marker in the style must be a part of the autotext entry.)

This method of copying styles by copying text with a paragraph marker only works if the style being copied in is not already "in use" in the document receiving the copied text. Otherwise the style definition in the target document governs.

If you do this and the style already exists in the new receiving document, the existing style in the receiving document is used, not modified. This makes it much easier to maintain consistency within a document but can lead to real headaches if the people who formatted the documents weren't conscious of style use. 

In this case if you wanted to copy the style you would want to use the Organizer. Character styles are also copied this way. This gets complex. Sorry about that. Despite this complexity, use of styles for formatting is the key to using Word.

If you have text in two different documents that you want to combine, and you want to retain the formatting from each rather than having one style system format the text from both documents, you can. You can use Paste Special ... as Word Document Object. This creates a document within a document, with its own set of styles.

Otherwise, if you just want to copy the text, you will need to make some changes to one of the documents before you do the insertion, though. The thing is that if your styles have different names in the two documents, then the formatting will be retained when the text is inserted. So, you'll want to rename the styles in one (or both) of your documents.

None of the built-in styles can be renamed, though.

If you have problems with copying formatted text from one document to another, take a look at the troubleshooting section below. If you have other formatting problems such as columns, orientation, headers and footers or page numbering to worry about, take a look at Sections, Header and Footers

Reorganizing a Document Using Heading Styles and the Navigation Pane or Outline View
bullet Moving/Reorganizing Pages in Microsoft Word

These pages give directions on how you can use Heading Styles in outlining and in reorganizing your documents. Again, the styles are the key.

Navigating with the Vertical Scroll Bar

If you apply heading styles, you can use the Vertical Scroll Bar in Word to move quickly to different parts of your document. To do this, click and drag the box (elevator car) in the vertical scrollbar and move it up or down. You will see tip-text next to it that tells you which section (heading) of your document you are in.

Navigating with the Navigation Pane (Document Map)

See Using the Navigation Pane in Word 2010 and Later. If you apply heading styles, you can use the Navigation Pane (formerly Document Map) feature in Word to quickly move to different parts of your document. This is a real time-saver when working with long documents. See warning below!

Practice: Navigate Using Document Map - but SEE WARNING FIRST
  1. Create or open a long document formatted with heading styles.
  2. Click the Document Map button on the Standard toolbar, or from the View menu, choose Document Map.
  3. Click on a heading within the document map to move to that section in the document.
  4. Click on a different heading in the document map to move to another section within the document.

To turn off the document map feature, click the Document Map button on the Standard toolbar. The button works as a toggle.

Warning CK Note - Warning:

"While it's true that Microsoft put a Document Map feature into Word 97, the whole thing was so badly botched that only a masochist would live with it.  Here's the primary problem: Word 97 takes it upon itself to scan every document as it's opened and assign heading levels to all the paragraphs.  By doing so, any heading levels you've assigned are thrown away--and there's nothing you can do about it.

"So here's a word of advice.  If you use DocMap on a particular Word document, don't let anybody with Word 97 (or any earlier version of Word, for that matter) open the document.  As soon as your carefully DocMapped Word 2000 document is opened in Word 97, all the level formatting will be irretrievably lost."

Quote from Woody Leonard Teaches Office 2000.

The Document Map feature causes problems in all versions of Word up through Word 2007. Do not use it to reorganize your document.

In Word 2010 it was replaced with the Navigation Pane which works nicely.

The Navigation Pane displays three levels by default. This default setting cannot be changed but ou can change it within a particular document for that Word session.

The simplest way to get something to show up in the Navigation Pane is to use Word's built-in Heading Styles. Why use Microsoft Word’s built-in heading styles? by Shauna Kelly

In the screenshot shown above, the paragraph has been assigned the Outline level of one. This screenshot also demonstrates that collapsing outline levels in the document is separate from collapsing them in the Navigation Pane. (Collapsing in the document body applies only in Word 2013 and later.)

Some Special Uses of Built-In Character Styles

This discusses the Emphasis, Strong, Hyperlink and FollowedHyperlink styles. These are set in Style Sets is versions of Word that use them (Word 2007 and later). It also looks at the use of a character style to skip Spelling and Grammar checking on certain words.

I use the Emphasis and Strong styles instead of direct formatting using Italics and Bold. This is so that if I change the document style set, they will follow the set rather than the direct formatting. This is a good reason to use styles, period, but tends to be neglected where these two attributes are involved.

Greg Maxey created a macro that changes the buttons on the home tab to apply these styles. You can find a discussion of that here.

Two others that are a part of [Quick] Style Sets are the Hyperlink and FollowedHyperlink styles. These are hidden until used by default. The Hyperlink style is used by Word whenever a hyperlink is inserted. The FollowedHyperlink style is used whenever a hyperlink within the document is followed. Since these are styles, they can be modified and you can change the visibility of them using the Manage Styles dialog.


You can mark text to be proofed in a particular language or to not check spelling or grammar in specific words using a character style that changes the language attribute. For more on this see Using Styles for Proofing Language Settings, Creating "No proofing" styles in Microsoft Word - No Spell Check character style and Code paragraph style - keep text from being checked for spelling or grammar , and Mastering the Spelling Checker.

Some Other Features That Depend on Styles

Four features that depend on use of styles in a document are:

bulletAutoText Lists
bulletTables of Contents (and Tables of Figures)
bulletThe StyleRef field
bulletThe Vertical Scroll Bar

AutoText Lists

AutoText lists are an implementation of the AutoTextList field. They are found on the Header and Footer Toolbar and the AutoText toolbar. They are also in a number of the templates supplied with Word. A non-apparent factor with their use is that they are sensitive to styles. AutoText entries are organized by Word according to the style in which they were created. Often only AutoText entries saved in a particular style will show up in an AutoText list field. When such a list is missing entries, the first thing to check is whether the insertion point (cursor) is in the expected style.

See the Web Resources page for more on AutoText. See How to add pop-up lists to any Word document for more on the AutoTextList field. See the Letterhead Textboxes and Styles Tutorial for an example using some of Microsoft's default AutoText entries for letters.

For many purposes, the AutoTextList field has bee supplanted by the Building Blocks Gallery Content Control in Word 2007 and later. That control does not function in the Mac versions, though; the AutoTextList field does.
You can download a document which demonstrates both and compares them from my Downloads page.

Tables of Contents

Tables of Contents are very easily generated in Word if you use heading styles to mark your headings. See Complex Documents for more on how to do this. Creating a Table of Contents without using styles is a painful experience, although it can be done. Likewise, Tables of Figures or Illustrations build on particular styles being used in captions.

The StyleRef field

The StyleRef field is used primarily in headers and footers. If you have something like a directory or a phone book document you can have dynamic content in your header/footer like:

Allen - Brady

With a properly set up letterhead template the StyleRef field can be used to put information about the addressee and subject into the continuation page header automatically. See the Letterhead Textboxes and Styles Tutorial for a detailed example. See my StyleRef Field Tutorial, Using Fields in Microsoft Word, and Useful StyleRef Field Tricks for more on the StyleRef field. The StyleRef field is especially handy because it updates instantly without any user intervention.

Note there are potential problems if the document will be opened on systems with different Language settings. Built-in Style names change with the language version of Word.

The Vertical Scroll bar

This was covered earlier.

Word 2007-2019 (365) Styles terminology (jargon)

A style is a collection of formatting characteristics, such as font name, size and color; and paragraph alignment and spacing. As before, you can have paragraph, character, and linked styles.

A [Quick] Style Set is a collection of styles that are designed to work well together. The built-in [Quick] Style Sets in Word 2007-2019 are called Distinctive, Elegant, Fancy, etc. You can also create your own style sets. If you read something about Word style sets, it is talking about [Quick] style sets. Here I use the full name of [Quick] Style Sets to emphasize the linkage between the [Quick] Styles Gallery and the [Quick] Style Sets. (Stylistic Sets are something completely different from [Quick] Style Sets.)

Here are two screenshots of the same [Quick] Styles with different [Quick] Style Sets applied:


The [Quick] Style Sets distributed with Word have the following twenty-five styles in them:

bulletHeadings 1-9 (Only 1 & 2 shown in gallery until one above is used)
bulletTOC Heading (but not TOC 1-9) (not shown until used)
bulletTitle and Subtitle
bulletQuote and Intense Quote
bulletList Paragraph
bulletStrong (character)
bulletEmphasis, Intense Emphasis and Subtle Emphasis (character)
bulletIntense Reference and Subtle Reference (character)
bulletBook Title (character)
bulletCaption (paragraph)
bulletNo Spacing (paragraph)


Each style in a [Quick] Style Set is called a [Quick] Style. Most styles are not part of a [Quick] style set and are not in the [Quick] Styles Gallery. All that distinguishes a [Quick] style is its placement in the [Quick] Styles Gallery.
[Quick] Style Sets are templates that have certain styles in the [Quick] Styles Gallery. While the standard set has the 25 styles listed above, a custom set can have more or less.
If you are going to be using a custom set with a Table of Contents, I would recommend including the TOC 1 - TOC 9 styles.

The Home tab of the ribbon includes the Styles group. The Styles group includes the [Quick] Styles Gallery and the Change Styles button (Word 2007-2010) which gives access to the [Quick] style sets. When you choose a [Quick] style set for your document, the individual styles in the [Quick] Style Set appear in the [Quick] Style Gallery. The styles in the document that are part of a [Quick] Style Set will change when you change sets to the definitions in the new set. In Word 2013 and later the [Quick] Styles are found on the Design tab in their own gallery.

To see another representation of the [Quick] styles shown in the [Quick] Style Gallery - one that will be familiar to someone who has worked with Word 2003 and earlier - click on the sloping arrow in the lower right corner of the Styles group (or press Ctrl+Alt+Shift+S (Mac Cmd+Opt+Shift+S)) to open the Styles Task Pane. This also shows styles that are not [Quick] Styles, though. That is, you get access to all styles (or can if your options are set to display not only recommended styles or styles in use, but all styles).

[Quick] Style Sets can only be used in Word 2007 and later. If you are trying to save your own [Quick] Style Set, make sure that the styles you want to include are set to display in the [Quick] Style Gallery. [Quick] Style Sets are .dotx files and can be directly edited. When creating/editing them, you want to have only the styles you want to import as part of that style set set to display in the [Quick] Styles Gallery.

Location: The English-language built-in [Quick] style sets for Word 2007 should be in the folder:
C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Office\Office12\1033\QuickStyles ("1033" refers to US English). Word 2010: Office14 instead of Office12. Word 2013: Office15 instead of Office12. Office 16+:
C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Office\root\Office16\1033\QuickStyles

If you are running 64 bit Office on 64 bit Windows (or 32 bit Office on 32 bit Windows), the program files folder will be called Program Files (without "(x86)").

Your custom [Quick] style sets (those you create) are located in a completely different location. That folder will depend on your operating system.

These custom files are in the following folders:

Windows XP Location:
c:\Documents and Settings\{your username}\Application Data\Microsoft\QuickStyles\

Windows Vista & 7-11 Location:
c:\Users\{your username}\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\QuickStyles\

These are hidden system folders. If your Start menu has a search function searching for %APPDATA% will lead you toward the correct folder.

In all versions of Word, cascading styles are available, though, where various styles are based upon one another and a change to one style can ripple through others. See How styles in Microsoft Word cascade. This can give you some of the advantages of Style Sets in any version, but are a bit more work.

Quick Style Sets only include Styles in the [Quick] Styles Gallery

That means they do not include List styles nor Table Styles. See What are the limitations on [Quick] Style Sets?

You can look at what the styles in a [Quick] Style Set look like in a document by holding your mouse pointer over that style set in the gallery.
I have prepared a macro-free document that shows the twenty-five styles that come in distributed [Quick] Style Sets that you can download from my downloads page.
This is a companion to the Themes Sampler document mentioned below.

See A Global Stylesheet in Microsoft Word? for another way to import groups of styles. A [Quick] Style Set with nine levels of outline numbering is distributed as a part of the Outline Heading Styles Global Stylesheet package on my downloads page. The "Black & White (Numbered)" set that comes with recent versions of Word does bring in numbering.

This was prepared using the following procedures:

Creating a [Quick] Style Set
  1. You can have any styles you want in a custom [Quick] Style Set.
  2. I recommend including all twenty-five of the ones that come with the distributed [Quick] Style Sets. If you do not want any of these in your custom [Quick] Styles set, remove them from the [Quick] Styles Gallery.
  3. The distributed [Quick] Style Sets use Theme Fonts and Colors. Unless you have a reason to not use these, I recommend using them.
  4. You can modify the built-in styles to be in your custom [Quick] Style Set. You can add additional styles to your custom set by including them in the [Quick] Styles Gallery. (How to control the [Quick] Styles gallery on the Home tab in Word by Shauna Kelly)

See also [Quick] Style Sets and Themes in Microsoft Word - my shorter article on the Microsoft website

Macro to show styles that are in the [Quick] Style Set for the current document.

Here is a short macro that will create a new document that shows all of the [Quick] Styles in the current document.

Sub describeAllQuickStyles()
  ' by Jessica Weissman 2012-12-05
  ' modified for [Quick] Styles by Charles Kenyon 2023-02-07
  Dim docActive As Document
  Dim docNew As Document
  Dim styleLoop As Style
  Set docActive = ActiveDocument
  Set docNew = Documents.Add
  For Each styleLoop In docActive.Styles
    If styleLoop.Type < 3 Then
      If styleLoop.QuickStyle = True Then 'ckk
        ' show only character and paragraph styles, not list or table styles
        With docNew.range
          .InsertAfter Text:=styleLoop.NameLocal & Chr(9) _
          & styleLoop.Description
        End With
      End If 'ckk
    End If
  Next styleLoop
  Set docNew = Nothing 'ckk
  Set docActive = Nothing 'ckk
  Set styleLoop = Nothing 'ckk
End Sub


Stylistic Sets

Stylistic Sets are OpenType font characteristics or features. These have nothing to do with [Quick] Style Sets but rather have to do with font charcacteristics.
Their only relationship to Styles is that they can be part of styles, like other font characteristics.
As far as I know, they can only be used with OpenType fonts. They are accessed in Word in the Font dialog on the Advanced tab or through the Text Effects drop down..

bullet How to access advanced OpenType features in Word
bullet Using OpenType Fonts in Microsoft Word
bullet Spiffy ligatures and stylistic sets in Microsoft Word
bullet OpenType Ligatures
bulletThink You Know What Open Type Is? Part I, Part II


Selecting All Text Formatted in a Particular Style (and only that text)

The [Quick] Styles Gallery and Styles Pane also allows the user to select the text formatted with a particular style, and only text formatted with that style. You do this by right-clicking on the Style name in the [Quick] Style Gallery or the Styles Pane as shown below.

Once you have done this all instances of text in that style (and not instances of text in a style based on that style or other styles) will be selected in your document. A word count of the selection will appear in the status bar.

The screenshot shows the result for a linked style which has been used as both a paragraph and a character style.

I generally keep linked styles disabled.

Using Office Themes in Microsoft Word

Office Themes were introduced in Word 2007 to allow dramatic changes  in the appearance of documents that work together.  "One way to think about themes is as design elements that affect the aesthetic appearance of a document. Styles, on the other hand, are geared more to the formatting of text and paragraphs." Herb Tyson, MVP, Microsoft Word 2010 Bible p. 157

Recent versions of Office also have Display Themes like Colorful and Dark; that is a different feature. Here we are discussing themes that make changes in your document, itself. The Office Themes being described here change the printed document, not just the way it looks on the screen.

Word Online does not seem to use Office Themes, exactly, but does seem to use something close to [Quick] Style Sets without Theme connections. See [Quick] Style Sets and Themes in Microsoft Word - my shorter article on the Microsoft website that deals with the Designer menu in Word Online.

Themes are in a Gallery that lets you preview the effect of a Theme change on text.


I believe the themes offered with Office 2016-2019 are identical to those from Office 2013. MVP Doug Robbins has posted the theme sets shown above on his OneDrive. Word Themes - OneDrive . (That appears to be inactive, here is my mirror)

I am unsure when Microsoft added some more, but here are the Themes found in Office 2021.


Every Office Theme defines two fonts — one for headings and one for body text. They can be the same font (used everywhere) or two different fonts. . . In addition, [Quick] Style Galleries for text and WordArt use these same Theme fonts.

All of the styles in the [Quick] Style Sets distributed with Word use the Theme fonts and often the Theme colors and effects.

Themes also incorporate Theme Effects. As far as I can tell, these are primarily about Shapes. Unlike Theme Fonts, and Theme Colors, you cannot create your own.
You can use the Themes Sampler document to explore them, though.


By default, custom Themes are stored in:

C:\Users\%UserName%\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Templates\Document Themes

C:\Users\%UserName%\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Templates\LiveContent\Managed\Document Themes (old location)

If your user Templates are stored elsewhere, the Custom Themes will be in a Document Themes folder in the User Templates Folder.


Suzanne Barnhill shed light on the subject in a post in a forum:

"The font for many styles in Word (unless you change it to a specific font) is defined as being either the Body font or the Heading font. This is determined by the theme. If, instead of assigning a specific font to a style, you choose Body or Heading, then if you apply a different theme that uses different Body and Heading fonts, your styles will change automatically. You still define the font size and other properties (Bold, Italic) in the paragraph style, but the font itself can be variable. If you want only specific fonts for the styles (and this would especially be true in a template that used more than two fonts), then you can define them in the template styles; they would then not change if you applied a different theme (though some other elements, such as colors, might).

"You can see how this works (with Live Preview) by selecting a document that has both headings and body text in it and then hovering over the various theme font sets" ...

In Word, the main component of Themes other than the two Theme fonts is Theme colors.

Here are the Word 2013 [Quick] Style Sets with three different Themes applied:

You can set your own Theme Colors. On the Design Tab, under Colors, choose Customize Colors to get the following dialog:

That dialog changes the color palette you see when trying to change any color in the document.


bullet Apply, Customize and Save Document Themes in Word and Excel
bullet Change a theme and make it the default in Word or Excel
bullet Exactly what settings are changed when the Word 2003 theme is applied?
bullet Changing your style in the new Word (2013) Microsoft Blog
bullet Themes and Style Sets - What's the Difference? Veriti Labs (This is an archive page. Pick a date before 2018.)
bullet Understanding Themes (and Style Sets) in Microsoft Word by Faithe Wempen (12 short pages, very good stuff)
bulletSee also [Quick] Style Sets and Themes in Microsoft Word - my shorter article on the Microsoft website

I have created a document that uses all of the theme colors, has a shape to demonstrate any theme effects, and shows the Heading+ and Body+ fonts applied. You can download it here.


Troubleshooting Styles — Issues To Watch Out For

While styles are an integral part of using Word in a law firm or any environment, there are a few things that cause users difficulty. This doesn't mean that you should not create your own styles; you just need to know how to solve some common problems and understand how you can avoid them in the future.

A style has changed unexpectedly
bulletCheck to see if automatic updating is turned on for the style. With automatic updating, a style is updated automatically when you make additional changes to the style, meaning that every paragraph in your document assigned to that style will change automatically. To turn off this feature, click the Format menu, and choose Style. Select the style in the Styles box, and then click Modify. If the Automatically update check box is selected, clear it.
bulletYour style may have been based on another style that has changed. Changes to a base style affect other styles in the document that are based on it. For example, if you change the font in Normal to the Arial font, Word changes the font for the styles used in footnotes, headers, footers, page numbers, and other text. If you don't want a certain style to change when you change the base style, make certain your style is not based on another style. On the Format menu, click Style. In the Styles box, click the style you want to modify, click Modify, and then click (no style) in the Based on box.  See How styles in Microsoft Word cascade by Shauna Kelly.

CK Note: See also Word is always making changes I don't expect. How can I get more control over my formatting? by Suzanne S. Barnhill, MVP, and Dave Rado, MVP. and Formatting applied to one paragraph affects entire document by Suzanne S. Barnhill, MVP

In Ribbon versions of Word the XML for Automatically Update Styles is found in word\settings.xml file of 


(Thank you Doug Robbins, MVP, for the XML information.)

Warning Warning  When you base a style on No Style, you will need to set the Language because the default will be No Proofing.

Charles Kenyon note: I recommend that you not base any styles on normal and that you change the built-in styles so that they are not based on normal. This is particularly true for any styles that are involved in paragraph numbering. (But, I have been told by someone whose opinion I respect that my reluctance to use the normal style is based on an urban myth.)

If you change the styles in a template and then reopen a document based on that template, styles in the current document may be updated, based on their new definitions in the template. If you don't want the styles in documents based on a particular template to update when you open the documents, click Templates and Add-Ins on the Tools menu, and then clear the Automatically update document styles check box.

Charles Kenyon note: I recommend that you keep the Automatically update styles check box unchecked. Especially if you will be sharing your documents with others, leaving it checked can result in truly bizarre formatting and make your documents ugly or even unusable. This is true even if you are using a custom template and not because...

if the template that contains the style definitions is missing or damaged, styles in the current document use the style definitions from the Normal template.

Applying a style turns off bold, italic, or underlining

Sometimes when you apply a style that has specific formatting attributes to text already formatted this way, the reverse formatting may occur. For example, when you apply a style that contains bold formatting to a paragraph that contains some bold text, the bold text may lose its bold formatting. This problem will not occur if you apply character formatting— either through a character style or direct formatting — after you apply a paragraph style. Apply the style first, and then select the words to have other formatting and apply the formatting directly.

Tip Tip  To make sure that no direct formatting has been applied to the text, first select the text completely and then press Ctrl+Q followed by Ctrl+Spacebar. This removes manually applied formatting (including, unfortunately, character styles). Now when a style is applied, there is no reversing situation to occur.

Paragraphs with the same style applied look different.

Often a style will be applied within a document, and later, specific text in the document is selected and additional formatting is applied-without updating the style. This is called direct formatting. While direct formatting may be your intention, if you share documents with others, it can be confusing because text formatted differently can have the same style name.

To remove direct formatting and character-style formatting, select the paragraph, including the paragraph mark, and then press Ctrl+Spacebar to remove character formatting and CTRL+Q to remove paragraph formatting.

Practice: Remove Direct Formatting & Return the Style to the Original Definition
  1. Apply a style such as Heading 1 to text.
  2. Apply formatting such as Bold, Italic, and Underline to this text.
  3. In the same document, apply the same style to different text and note that the text displays the same style name but appears with different formatting.
  4. Select the Heading 1 text that has the directly applied character formatting applied in step 2.
  5. Press Ctrl+Spacebar to remove the directly applied character formatting, including character styles.
  6. Indent and center the text so that paragraph formatting is now directly applied on top of the style.
  7. Press Ctrl+Q to remove the directly applied paragraph formatting.

Both paragraphs should now look the same.-


CK Note:  

The following is not in the original chapter.

Copying text formatted with a style from one document to another.

First, think about using Paste Special... As Word Document Object. This may do what you want without your having to do a lot of work to otherwise understand how your styles are working. If it doesn't, read on...

When you copy text formatted in one style to a different document, different things will happen depending on whether that style is already in use in the original document. If the style is based on a different style, it will also matter whether or not that style is in use. The basic rule is that if the style is in use in both documents, the formatting of the style in the target document governs. If the style is not "in use" then the formatting of the style from the source document will be carried into the target document and override a style definition for that (unused) style in the target document. Direct formatting can also cause problems.

When you run into a problem with this, first undo and close your documents. Make some copies and work with the copies. Try first clearing any direct formatting in the source document text. Then copy and paste again. If your problem still pops up, then try using Edit => Paste Special... => Unformatted Text. You may have to reapply the appropriate styles to the pasted text. The pasted text will pick up the paragraph format of the paragraph into which it is being pasted (even if the pasted text contains multiple paragraphs).

To see something of how styles interact when copied from one document to another, take a look at the IncludeText Field Tutorial. It shows what happens with styles that are (1) in both documents, (2) only in the source document but based on a style in the target document, and (3) only in the source document and not based on any style in the target document.

Changes I make to my default styles don't stick!

Changes to styles are changes to the normal template ( or normal.dotm). When you tell Word you want a style modification to apply to all new documents based on this template, you are making such a change.

A number of "Add-Ins" prevent these changes from sticking because of poor programming. There are three methods to get around this.

  1. The most comprehensive is to talk to the people who wrote the Add-In and get them to fix the problem they are causing you. See Add-Ins in Microsoft Word - Helper files that can cause problems.
  2. The next is to disable the Add-In. Enable or disable add-ins in Office programs - Support -
  3. The third is to open the normal template directly - as a document - make your changes, and save that. You do not want to put any text, including headers or footers, in the normal template! How to find or open the normal template in Word. See also Numbering Style Changes Won't Stick!
Style Organizer Not Showing All of the Styles in the Normal Template

Beginning at least with Word 2003 there is an apparent bug in which the styles displayed for the normal template may be a short list. See below:

Word 2003 Organizer (safe mode)

Word 2010 Styles Organizer - not showing all styles in normal template

As of this writing (Nov 2013) I have no explanation for this. In Word 2010 (but not Word 2007) changing the styles viewed in the Styles Pane expands the list of styles shown in the Organizer (but not necessarily to showing all styles).

Note that it is rare to use the Organizer to copy styles from the normal template; I can't think of any reason to do this. You can copy all of the styles from the normal template (or any other template) by attaching the template to the current document with the option checked to update styles from the template. You do not want to leave this option checked, though!

Macros to copy styles from the Normal Template

Here is a macro that will do this.

Sub RefreshNormalStyles()
' RefreshNormalStyles Macro
' Written 2013-11-09 by Charles Kyle Kenyon
' Applies stored styles in normal template to current document.
' Note, this macro does not care where your user templates
' and normal template are stored.
' Word already knows that.
' This macro should work in any version of Word from
' Word 97 on but I've only tested it with Word 2010-2019.
Dim strNormal As String
Dim strMyTemplate as String
strNormal = Application.NormalTemplate.FullName
strMyTemplate = ActiveDocument.AttachedTemplate.FullName
With ActiveDocument
.UpdateStylesOnOpen = True
.AttachedTemplate = strNormal
.UpdateStylesOnOpen = False
.AttachedTemplate = strMyTemplate
End With
End Sub

Word MVP Hans Vogelar proposed something much simpler:

Sub CopyNormalStyles()
   ' Copies styles from normal template
   ' 2019-12-01   Hans Vogelar
   ActiveDocument.CopyStylesFromTemplate (NormalTemplate.FullName)
End Sub

Here is one that will copy all of the styles from a global template other than the Normal template. See A Global StyleSheet? for more on this and a safer implementation.

Sub CopyAllStylesGlobal ()
' Copies all styles from Global Template
' 2020-01-12  Charles Kenyon
 ActiveDocument.CopyStylesFromTemplate (ThisDocument.FullName)
 End Sub

Here is a macro developed with Hans Vogelar that copies a named style from the Normal template upon opening any document.

'   Charles Kenyon and Hans Vogelar  23 March 2021
'   Optionally copies a particular style from the normal template into an existing document.
    Const strSTYLENAME As String = "MyStyle"    '  Replace "MyStyle" with the name of the Style you want to copy
    Dim msgResponse As VbMsgBoxResult
    Dim blnChecked As Boolean
    On Error Resume Next
    blnChecked = ActiveDocument.Variables("Checked")
    On Error GoTo Oops
    If Not blnChecked Then
        msgResponse = MsgBox(Prompt:="Do you want to copy the style " & strSTYLENAME & " to this document?", _
            Title:="Copy " & strSTYLENAME & " Style?", _
        If msgResponse = vbYes Then
            Application.OrganizerCopy Source:=ThisDocument.FullName, _
                Destination:=ActiveDocument, _
                Name:=strSTYLENAME, _
            ActiveDocument.Variables("Checked") = True
        End If
    End If
    Exit Sub
    MsgBox Prompt:="The Style " & strSTYLENAME & " does not exist in this template.", Buttons:=vbCritical
End Sub

See Installing Macros by Graham Mayor for instructions on what to do with a macro listing if you don't know.

Automatically Update Styles - three controls/options with the same name spell trouble!

Word has three places where you can control automatic updating of styles. Each controls something a little different, two should be left turned off as a rule, the third should always be turned on.

The first is in the style definition itself. The dialog box below is from Word 97, but the checkbox is in the style modification / definition dialog for all versions of Word thereafter. Leave it unchecked! (I do keep it checked for TOC styles only.)


The second big one is in the document template dialog, also called the Templates and Add-Ins dialog box. Directly under the name of the attached template is a choice to automatically update styles. Leave it unchecked! Again, basically unchanged through the versions:

Finally, Word has had an option since Word 2002 to be prompted for a style update. This was the default in earlier versions of Word. Leave that one CHECKED.

Based on Too Many Styles Error When Creating a New Style

The maximum depth for style nesting is ten levels. That is, you can have Style01 based on no style, Style02 based on Style01, Style03, based on Style02, ... Style11 based on Style10. When the insertion point is in Style11, if you try to create a new style, Word assumes you want to base it on Style11 and gives you the following message:

Error: the style you want to create is based on too many styles.

That is because, with Style11 you have already reached the maximum level of nesting. If you get this message, try applying the normal style to your text and then creating a new style. if you still get the error message when starting from the normal style, you may have document corruption.

Maximum Number of Style Definitions

The maximum number of styles in word 2007 and later is 4,079. See Operating Parameter Limitations.

I have no idea why anyone would want so many.

Highlighting in Styles - Use Shading Instead

Highlighting is apparently a "poor relation" to the other formatting options. It does not show up on the font dialog and cannot be a part of a Style. However, font shading can be part of a Style. It is accessed through the borders and shading dialog.

The colors on the palette will not necessarily be identical. If need be, custom colors can be used.

In the Syle modification dialog, this is reached under the Formatting button by selecting Borders.

Note in the above dialog, Apply to: is set for text, not paragraph.

Default Paragraph Font - Looks Like a Character Style but is not

In the Styles Pane if you have display of all styles turned on, you will see something called the Default Paragraph Font listed as a character style. This is not a style and you cannot directly modify it!

See Default Paragraph Font Explained by Suzanne Barnhill for as much sense as anyone has made of this. It is the font of the underlying paragraph style. If you change the underlying paragraph style, you change the Default Paragraph Font for paragraphs that use that style.

As is explained in the article, for most purposes applying Default Paragraph Font is the same as pressing Ctrl+Spacebar to clear direct formatting. It can be useful with the Replace dialog to replace all instances of certain direct formatting without changing the same formatting when it comes from the paragraph style.

It can also be useful when defining a new character style where you do not want to define the font or typeface. The Emphasis and Strong character styles are based on the Default Paragraph Font. I regularly use a Citation character style which is based on Emphasis and adds the proofing language characteristic to not check spelling or grammar.

This can be modified through vba, but it is unwise to do so. You can't return it to the underlying paragraph font once you do.

Hierarchy of Formatting and Styles

According to Jonathan Bailor's blog "Behind the Curtain: Styles' Order of Operation", the hierarchy of formatting and Styles in a Word document is as follows:

  1. document defaults are the base (found on the Set Defaults tab of the Manage Styles dialog box) control unless one or more of the following are applied
  2. list style unless one or more of the following are applied
  3. table style unless one of the following are applied
  4. paragraph style unless one or more of the following are applied
  5. character style unless direct formatting is applied
  6. direct formatting

These pile on top of one another. Remember that attributes like Bold, Underlining, and Italics are toggle attributes. They can be turned on in one level. Applying them in the next level toggles the setting. That is: If the paragraph style applies bold formatting and a character style or direct formatting applies bold, the result is not bold.

More about the Styles Task Pane

The Styles Task pane predates the Ribbon in Word.

Here is the basic Styles Task Pane as launched by the launcher in the bottom-right corner of the Styles Gallery.

This is a floating task pane. It can be anchored by double-clicking at the top by "Styles." It can be anchored left or right but is usually on the right.

I recommend checking the box to Disable Linked Styles.

It is showing recommended styles in the order recommended. You can change this in the Options. Here is the anchored version with the options set to show all styles in alphabetical order:

Both of the above screenshots do not show a preview of the style.

Note, changing options for the order and which styles are displayed also applies to the Legacy Styles Drop-Down Menu. It does not effect the Apply Styles Dialog.

Here is a four-column pane with preview turned on. You get extra columns by resizing. The ability to do this was stripped from Word 2016. Here is the UserVoice suggestion for this. Feel free to comment and vote if you think this would be useful to you.

Here is a four-column pane with preview turned off.

Note that with preview turned off, you can see a lot more styles! Also note that I keep the Disable Linked Styles checked.

Again multi-column display was removed with Word 2016. Complain in feedback and at UserVoice.


The Clear All Command does not appear is Styles Pane

There is an XML setting that controls display of this in the Ribbon versions of Word. It must be set to "1"; if it is 0, the command will not appear.

Thank you Andrew Lockton for this tip.

Otherwise, use the Clear All Formatting button in the Font group on the Home tab.


(end of CK Addition)

See also Troubleshooting

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