Exploring Office 2007: Taming Word 2007 Styles

Monday Oct 15th 2007 by Helen Bradley
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Working with Styles in Word 2007.

Styles are a key tool in any word processing program and Word 2007 is no exception. Styles allow you to quickly format your text and tables in a consistent way. They reduce the time it takes to format a document and the time spent making changes when you determine that, say, Calibri isn't the font you want to use.

Without using styles it might take you many steps to format a paragraph of text to your exact specifications. You select the font to use, the size and style, and perhaps the line spacing, with each option involving at least one click.

By using a style, all the effects can be applied in one or two clicks and they'll be applied consistently throughout the document. When you need to change the document, if you've applied your formatting using styles you can then quickly make a change to the font, for example, and have the change flow through to every piece of text in the document that uses that style or which inherits its qualities.

As with many other features in Word 2007, Styles have been given a makeover, so what you're used to seeing in Word 2003 is often quite different in Word 2007. In this article we'll show you not only what changes have been made but also how you can revert some of those changes where necessary to the old Word 2003 settings and why you might want to do this. We'll also help you to understand how to tame styles so you can confidently create some great-looking documents.

To apply a style to text in your document, select the text to apply it to or click somewhere in the paragraph to format, and from the Home tab's Styles area choose a style to use. Like other galleries of options in Word 2007 you can hold your mouse over a style to see it applied to the text below, allowing you to preview what the result will be if you select that option. Click to apply the style you like.

» Apply a Style

You can create your own styles so they do exactly what you want of them. It's best to start with your mouse in a paragraph that has formatting that is similar to what you want to create as a style. Then click the more options button in the bottom right of the Styles area on the Home tab or press Control + Alt + Shift + S to display the styles window.

Across the bottom of this dialog are three buttons. Click the New Styles button to open the Create New Style From Formatting dialog.

This dialog is similar to the one used in earlier versions of Word. Type a name for the style and select its type — typically this is paragraph for styles that affect an entire paragraph or character for a style that only effects individual characters.

You can choose to base the style on an existing style so it inherits its characteristics — this is a very powerful feature to use. Use it, for example, when you want to create a style for an indented paragraph in a document.

If you base this style on the style you use for the remainder of the document it will inherit its font and other characteristics. If you later change the font in the document base style, all paragraphs formatted with the indented paragraph style will inherit this font too.

To specify the options for your style, configure the formatting options in the dialog. You can also click the Format button to display other options available for configuring styles. You can add the style to the Quick Style list so that it is visible on the Ribbon and available to other documents — do this by clicking the Add to Quick Style list checkbox. Then select whether the style should be available Only in this document or to New documents based on this template. When you are done, click Ok to finish.

To find your new style, if you opted to have it added to the Quick Style it will appear in the Quick Style list on the ribbon. You can click to apply it from here. If you didn't choose this option it will be available from the list in the Style Window.

If there are styles in the styles area on the Ribbon that you never use you can remove them. To do this, right click the style in the gallery and choose Remove from Quick Styles Gallery from the shortcut menu. This removes the style from the gallery only — it doesn't remove it from your computer.

» What Style Is That?

The Style Inspector helps you determine what style has been used in a particular section of the document. To use it, click where the text has been formatted with the style that you are interested in inspecting, and from the foot of the Styles window click the middle button to view the Style Inspector. The Style Inspector dialog shows the currently applied style and offers options for making new ones and resetting the currently applied style.

In earlier versions of Word you could display a style area with a list of the names of the styles applied to various paragraphs in the document. To do this in Microsoft Word 2007, click the Office button and choose Word Options. Locate the Advanced group and scroll to locate the Display options.

Next to the item entitled Style area pane width in Draft and Outline views type a value — start with "1" and click OK. Now, when you choose the View tab and choose either Draft or Outline view you will see the style area on the left of the screen and the style names used for those paragraphs. Drag on the divider to adjust the width of the style area.

» Style Sets?

When you're working with styles in Word 2007, it helps to understand the interrelationship between Styles, Style Sets and Themes. On the Ribbon on the Home tab the styles you see and can choose from are individual styles, you might use one for a heading, another for a list and another for a title, for example.

These are then grouped into Style Sets and you can change the look of all the styles in the Quick Style area and your document by choosing another style set. To do this, on the Home tab choose Change Styles, Style Set and then roll your mouse over the various style sets in the list including Formal, Manuscript, Modern, Simple, Traditional, etc.

When you select one of these options you will notice that not only do the styles on the ribbon change but also all styles in use in the document are updated as well.

You can further adjust the formatting of the document by changing the theme. Select the Page Layout tab on the ribbon and select a different Theme. When you do this the colors and fonts applied to the document via the Styles will change accordingly.

It can be a little confusing working out what option (style, style set, or theme) is responsible for a specific piece of formatting in your document as there are just so many options available. As a result, it's advisable when you find a combination you like to make a note of not only the Style and Style Set in use but also the Theme.

» Working with Older Documents

If you're using documents that have been created in an earlier version of Word you may find some Word 2007 options are not available or look different to how you have come to expect them to look. You can tell if you're looking at an older document from the title bar — if it says [Compatibility Mode] you're working on a pre-Word 2007 document. So, for example, if you try to apply a Theme to this document using the Page Layout tab you'll see that Themes are disabled.

To make these options available, upgrade the document by clicking the Microsoft Office button then click the Convert command. The document is converted to the new Microsoft Word 2007 format, and its filename will now have a .docx as its extension and you can use Themes with it.

» Revert to Word 2003

One of the new changes in Word 2007 is, of course, the new styles and the most obvious part of this is the new default font called Calibri. Calibri is a clean and attractive font and its default size for new Word documents is 11 points. Other style changes include a little extra space between lines (line spacing is set to 1.15 lines) and Word 2007 adds an extra 10 points of space after each paragraph so you only need to press Enter once. Other changes affect the way styles like Heading1, Heading2 are formatted.

While you won't want to go back to using Word 2003, there are situations where you might want to revert to the styles you used in Word 2003, for example, if you're working on documents that you will be sharing with other Word 2003 users.

One simple way to bring your favorite Word 2003 styles into Word 2007 is to locate a file that contains the range of styles that you typically use such as Heading1, Heading2, Title etc. Open this document in Word 2007 and from the Change Styles dropdown list, choose Styles Set and then Save as Quick Style Set and give the style set a name and click Save. You can now use this style set with any new Word 2007 document by clicking the Change Styles button and choosing your Style Set from the list.

To make this new set of styles your default style set, on the Home tab click Change Styles yet again and click Set as Default.

The new features in Word 2007 at one level make styles easier to use than before and at another level add many more layers of depth and options to what has been available in the past. Spending a little time familiarizing yourself with the new Style options will help you work more efficiently and effectively in Word.


Helen Bradley is a respected international journalist writing regularly for small business and computer publications in the USA, Canada, South Africa, UK and Australia. She blogs at http://www.projectwoman.com/blogger.html.

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