Have you noticed how experts make it look “easy” to achieve stunning results?
This topic enables you to format Word documents that way. By becoming an expert!
In the previous topic, Style(s) Over Substance, I explained why you should use styles.
In this one, I will show you how. And in the next one, I will explain how to make the styles you need produce the formatting you want.
The easy way to apply a style is to click in a paragraph, then click the style you want from the Styles chunk on the Home tab of the ribbon.
All of the text in the paragraph will instantly take on the formatting of the style (OK, there’s a list of exceptions, let’s not poke that bear yet…)
But first, we need to do a little housekeeping, to make the Styles chunk usable. In an effort to be “helpful” Microsoft put every style that seemed like a good idea into the Styles chunk.
Sadly, most of those styles were not a good idea. Look at that mess! And it gets worse if you expand the Styles chunk to try to find what you need!
Almost every style you will never need; right there, getting in your way! We need to clean them out, to make room for the ones you do want!
First, I will show you how to expand the styles chunk, since we’re in the neighbourhood (yes, I spell in Australian, you love it, right?) and you will never find it in the help…
On the PC, it’s either a tiny little arrow at the right-hand bottom of the Styles chunk or the little down arrow on the right-hand side of the Styles chunk:
Sadly, in Mac Word, it is completely invisible. Hover over the middle of the bottom of the styles chunk and it will magically appear.
Now: Let’s make an assumption that you are writing a corporate document of some sort (report, agenda, book…). The only styles you really need are these:
If you have a big screen, you might add List Bullet 2 and List Number 2. If you’re writing a book, you will need Heading 3 as well. If you are editing an academic thesis you will need Caption and perhaps Quotation.
First, we get rid of the trash:
- For each style you don’t need, right-click on it in the Styles chunk
- And choose “Remove from Style Gallery”.
Now, open the Styles task pane to add the styles you do need:
- Click the tiny arrow, at the extreme bottom right of the Styles chunk. (On the Mac, it’s a button, to the right of the Styles chunk.)
- Find each style you need, and drop down the disclosure triangle at the right end of its name.
- Choose “Add to Style Gallery”. (On the Mac, you have to choose “Modify style” then at the bottom of the dialog “Add to Quick Style gallery” — again, they’re supposed to be fixing that soon.)
It is a laborious task, but it only has to be done once for each document: whatever you set will save with the document.
And if you do it to your Normal template, every new document will open with the Styles chunk correctly set.
Once you have the styles you need on your ribbon, using them is just a matter of point and click!
Place your insertion point in the paragraph to format; then click the style name.
If you are working in PC Word, you can weed your Styles chunk rapidly with a FREE custom add-in macro we created for you, the CustomizeQuickStyles.dotm
Sadly, the add-in macro does not work in Mac Word (Yet: they have been promising to fix this for more than two years, it might happen soon…) Don’t try it: you will get a compile error. Come back in a few months and we will let you know if it has been fixed yet.
To use this macro:
Simply add it to Word's STARTUP folder and it places a new button on the Home tab near the Styles chunk. Clicking the new "Quick Styles Customizer" button launches the program that will set the Quick Styles chunk the way you want it to look. Save the document to make it stick.
If you are not familiar with where Word's STARTUP folder is located, on a PC it is here:
"C:\Users\<Your Home Directory>\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Word\STARTUP"
If you do not find a folder named "STARTUP" in that path on your computer, then simply create one.
The link above downloads a compressed ZIP folder named AuthorTec and inside the folder you will find the CustomizeQuickStyles.dotm template that you copy to the STARTUP folder.
Let us know how you like it!
This blog post is the second in series graciously provided by our new Contributor at Large:
Among other fine accomplishments, John is a Microsoft MVP (Word, Mac Word) and a Consultant Technical Writer at McGhie Information Engineering Pty Ltd in Sydney, Australia.
Our new free Quick Styles Customizer tool is the result of a collaboration between John McGhie and our Chief Product Architect, Rich Michaels.