Working With Styles

Styles are the foundation of document formatting.  The definition of a Style is that it is a named set of formatting attributes that have been rolled up or condensed into one command that can be found in the Styles Gallery.  Using Styles gives you advanced formatting power, streamlines workflow and reduces the amount of formatting time for documents by as much as 80-90%.

Protocols for Working in Styles

There are three very important concepts to understand when working with Styles.  By understanding and adhering to these protocols, you will create clean, well built documents that reduce the risk of instability and glitches.

  1. The first concept to understand is that there are two types of formatting in Word:  Direct and Indirect formatting.  Direct formatting occurs when you directly apply formats to content in a document through the ribbon or mini-toolbar, such as making an item bold, italic or changing font size and color.  Indirect formatting occurs when you apply a style and the formatting attributes inherent to that Style.
  2. The second concept, which is equally important as the first, is that Word uses Styles as the backbone for document formatting.  As such if there is ever a question as to which type of formatting should be maintained when pasting text from one document to another, Indirect formatting will always supersede direct formatting.  If you have ever encountered a problem with uncontrollable formats or formats that seem to change “all on their own”, what you are actually seeing is a conflict between Direct and Indirect formatting.  This conflict between Direct and Indirect formatting can cause document instability.  For this reason, it is very important to use “Paste Special>Text Only” when copying text to and from Word documents in which the styles template differs.  This will “strip out” any formatting from the text and allow you to apply your own formats, without conflict, once the text has been pasted.
  3. The third and final concept is that once you have applied a Style, you modify it correctly and do not go to the Ribbon, Mini-Toolbar or Contextual Menu to adjust the Style.  By using the Ribbon to try and adjust Styles, you are applying Direct Formatting over top of Indirect Formatting and this can cause document instability and uncontrollable or “wonky” formats within the document.  Make sure that you use the “Modify Style” option only when you need to make changes to a Style.
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