MS Office

Working with Multi-Level Lists in Word


Recently in an online forum about Microsoft Word...

A question was asked: "How do I set heading level styles so that I can reproduce what is shown in Figure 1 using Microsoft Word?"

Figure 1

There are several requirements to do this.

The first is to have a thorough understanding of multilevel lists.

I need to add that in Microsoft Word there are 9 heading levels and they are numbered 1 thru 9.

A level 0 does not exist, so what is shown in Figure 1 as level 0 would be the Heading 1 style in Microsoft Word and "3.1 Heading on level 1 (section)" would be a Heading 2 style.

The resource to use for learning about multilevel lists is on the late Shauna Kelly's website, which is still maintained by a group of dedicated Microsoft MVP volunteers.

Then, after reading the article, practicing, and becoming comfortable with making multilevel lists, here are a few other special requirements to make the Heading 1 style look as specified in Figure 1.

  1. The Heading 1 style will require an additional Points Before setting on this paragraph so that it inserts automatically half way down the page. Use Word's Paragraph Formatting Dialog to accomplish this.

  2. The Heading 1 style should be set to Right Aligned. (Paragraph Formatting Dialog)

  3. The Heading 1 style should include the Page Break Before property. (Paragraph Formatting Dialog)

  4. After inserting a new Heading 1 styled text for the chapter, you will manually insert a line feed character (Shift + Return) between the Chapter Number and the Chapter Name. The line feed character will not appear in the TOC.

  5. When making the custom settings for Heading 1 in the Define New Multilevel List dialog, use the Font button on the dialog to set the expanded size of the Chapter Number for Heading 1 only. All other list levels should remain the default size for the paragraph.

  6. The Heading 2 style should be set on the Define New Multilevel List dialog to align left at position 0 with no additional indentation.

I can't stress enough that mastering the creation of multilevel lists is essential if you are going to make this work consistently throughout your document.

Installing Office 2011 for the Mac on a New Computer


“I recently bought a new iMac because my old machine stopped working. Using the Time Machine backup, I reinstalled all my data, but I cannot find my product key for Office 2011. Is there a way to find the product key?”

Assuming that your hard drive on your old machine is named "Macintosh HD" then you can locate the license file here:

  • Macintosh HD/Library/Preferences/

This what to do:

  • Restore the Time Machine backup of the above file to the identical location on your new computer.

In other words, Microsoft Office 2011 will look for the license file, which contains your product key, in the directory folder named Macintosh HD/Library/Preferences/

"And, since Office 2011 is no longer supported by Microsoft, which subscription is preferable: Office365 Home or Office365 Education?"

Based on our understanding of the Microsoft offerings...

While the Office365 Education subscription can be obtained for free, for student or teacher use, you are limited to running either the Mac version or the Windows version. Both are available but you must choose only one.

On the other hand, with a $99 a year subscription to Office365 Home, you can:

  • Use a combination of Mac or Windows versions
  • Load and use it on up to 5 computers
  • And, that same license will support up to 10 additional mobile devices, tablets and phones.

Written by Richard V. Michaels, M.Ed.
Chief Product Architect, Great Circle Learning
Microsoft Word MVP

Numbered Lists that Hold & Answers that Hide in LeaderGuide Pro v13

Numbered Lists that Hold & Answers that Hide in LeaderGuide Pro v13

Facilitator guides and participant guides are often full of numbered lists. Keeping the numbering sequence correct in those lists has always been a problem, until now. Working closely with instructional designers and course writers, the MS Office savvy developer of LeaderGuide Pro has devised a foolproof numbered list style that holds, no matter how many lists a guidebook contains.

Linked Styles - Working with them in Microsoft Word

A linked style is a named collection of formatting that contains both the character properties and the paragraph properties as separate styles.

Some would argue that’s how styles should have been designed in the first place. Well they weren’t. So about ten years ago Microsoft implemented away to make it look as though they had been.

Here is an example of a Linked Style in a Word document.


There we have two heading styles applied to the same paragraph.

  • The orange one is a standard Heading 2.
  • The blue is Heading 1 Style, applied as a linked style.

This is what linked styles are most useful for: where you want some words emphasised in a larger paragraph.

A linked style is in fact two styles that are linked together by the same name. You used to be able to see this in Word’s Style Organizer. The example above would appear as two distinct styles: in this case, Heading 1 and Heading 1 Char. But this used to confuse everyone into applying the wrong one, so Microsoft has now suppressed the display of the linked styles.

How do you make a Linked style?

You don’t. Word will make them for you if you need one. 

  • If you select only a few words of a paragraph, and apply a paragraph style, Word will create a Linked Style of the same name, containing only the Character properties of the original style, and apply that instead. Thereafter, whenever you want just the Character half of the style, Word will apply the linked style.

If you have a whole paragraph selected, or you have just an insertion point in the paragraph but nothing selected, when you apply a paragraph style, Word will apply it as a paragraph style.

Recall that a paragraph style actually does contain the character formatting properties as well as the paragraph ones. A linked style simply creates a character style of the same name linked to the paragraph style.  Many people believe this is the way styles should always have worked. I am slowly coming around to that idea.

Updating a Linked Style

In the latest versions of Word, you never see the separate styles, so you make changes just as you would to any other style. If you change the font, both the Character and Paragraph halves of the style will get the change.

The only time you may need to be aware of this is if you are working in VBA. If you are, you may need to ensure that you are working with the main (paragraph) part of the style.

For a long time, I grumbled about this. When I apply a style, I need to know that the whole of it has been applied, throughout the document.

But, experience is a great teacher. I have learned to trust the mechanism:

  • If styles are linked, they behave as one style.
  • There is no way to unlink a linked style. 

In PC Word, you can disable linked styles if they really offend you:

  • In the Styles pane (opened with a tiny arrow at the bottom right of the Styles chunk) there is a Disable Linked Styles checkbox at the bottom.
  • If you check that box, linked styles are completely disabled in that document.

Word for Mac does not currently have this control.


Working with Linked Styles

If you apply a style to only part of a paragraph, it will be applied as a Character style. If the style you applied was a paragraph style, a linked style will be created to enable this.

Certain things that will work with a paragraph style will continue to work with a linked style:

  • advanced typography
  • cross-references
  • StyleRef fields
  • Tables of Contents.

Things that depend on paragraph properties to work will not work unless you apply the style to the whole paragraph:

  • Numbering
  • Bullets
  • Spacing
  • Indents
  • Tabs.

Uses of Linked Styles

List of Figures: A neat trick you can use linked styles for, is to have a shorter entry in the List of Figures than the caption. If you subscribe to the modern technique of “action captions” where the figure caption is so long readers do not have to read the text (and in some documents, you should…) then you can get an entry in the List of Figures that spans several lines and looks awful. Linked styles will fix that. Here is an example from a Word document.

  1. You use a style (which you might call “Caption Long”, or whatever enables you to find it easily) for the entire paragraph. The long style sets up the same font and spacing as the Caption style.
  2. Then you apply the “real” Caption style to only the part you want in the List of Figures (the bold bit).

  3. What you will get in the List of Figures is simply “Figure 21: The habitat of the waterhen.” But the reader will see the whole caption when they get to the figure.

StyleRef fields: The List of Figures trick works equally well for StyleRef fields in your running headers. If your heading is too long, apply the Heading style only to the bit you want in the header. Use a second style for the rest of the heading.

Run-In Headings: The real reason linked styles were invented was to do Run-In Headings, as shown in this example from a Word doc.


Run-in headings are a useful typographical trick to save space in certain kinds of documents (legal briefs, text books, etc).

FYI: In earlier versions of Word, you used to have to fiddle around with a strange device named a Style Separator. It looked like a greyed-out paragraph mark, and behaved like one, except that it did not start a new line. It was used to separate a paragraph style from the rest of the paragraph, so it could be used for a run-in heading. Style separators will still work in recent versions of Word, but you can’t create them or insert them. Use Linked Styles instead.

List Styles is our next topic, I promise! Pinky promise!

This blog post has been graciously provided by our Contributor at Large:
John McGhie. 
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. 

Power User Tools for Paragraph Styles in Microsoft Word


To review: Paragraph Styles are a big item in Word - just about the biggest there is. 

A paragraph style is a named collection of formatting that applies only to the paragraph properties of the text.

In our previous article we explained how Customise a Paragraph Style using the obvious parts of Word's Modify Styles dialog.

Now we will dig down one layer to the Power User tools.

These are found under the Format button in the lower left corner of the Modify Style dialog.

To begin:

  1. Right-click on a style to open Word's Modify Styles dialog.
  2. Then, click Format at the bottom left

  3. You will see a drop-down menu with a number of choices. For now, choose Paragraph


The Indents and Spacing Tab


The Paragraph dialog has two tabs.

We start with the Indents and Spacing tab.

These are the settings that most of us think as being the “paragraph” formatting: the indents and spacing. 

The Indents and Spacing tab has 3 parts:

  1. General
  2. Indentation
  3. Spacing

The graphic below shows you what they do. And then we explain how to pull these strings.


Let’s break this down...

Paragraph: Indents and Spacing: General



  • Left. Almost always, set Alignment to “Left” in English. This produces text with an uneven (ragged) right margin, but means the letters and words are evenly spaced on each line, which makes the text much easier to read.
  • Centered can be used for captions, and I use it for the style I make to position graphics.

  • Right provides a cunning way to get the page numbers in the correct place in footers, when you are producing a document with mixed portrait and landscape sections.

  • Justified causes Word to try to get both margins straight and even, by adjusting the space between words.  The result is usually fairly ugly and difficult to read: you can improve it a little by hyphenating, but really, I think it is a technique whose time is passed.

Outline Level

This controls the level at which this paragraph will appear in:

  • Tables of Contents, and
  • Outline View.  

Leave this as Body Text, except in headings. The built-in heading styles won’t allow you to change it. We’ll have more to say about this when we talk about Numbering.

Paragraph: Indents and Spacing: Indentation


Left / Before Text

This is what many users think of as the “left margin” of the paragraph. In Word, the left margin is a section property.

Normally, set this to 0 so each paragraph lands on the left margin.

For long and complex documents (technical manuals, reports…) set this to 1 or 2 cm (half or one inch) on your body text styles, and to 0 on your headings.

  • That results in the headings hanging to the left of the text, known as “outdented headings”. This is pleasing to the eye, and helps the reader quickly scan the text to find their way around the document.

Right / After Text

Normally, set this to 0.

For block quotes, you can set both Before Text and After Text to 2 cm (about an inch). 


This affects the first line of the paragraph. First Line indents the first line by the specified amount. 

  • Use this for book paragraphs, then do not specify extra space between paragraphs. Hanging out-dents the first line by a measured amount. 

Automatically adjust

Don’t! If you see this setting option, ignore it.

This setting defines a “grid” in the document, and will align paragraphs to the grid. nice until a few days later when you edit some text and your entire document collapses in an unholy mess. Just don’t do it: you do not deserve such pain!

Paragraph: Indents and Spacing: Spacing



Set this to:

  • 0 for body paragraph styles
  • 2-1/2 times the font height for headings


Set this to 10 points for all styles. 

More about Spacing Before and After

These two settings specify your inter-paragraph spacing. In the printing industry, it’s still called “extra lead” or just “leading”. Because, many years ago, it was actually produced by adding strips of lead between the paragraphs.

Row of Linotype operators at the Chicago Defender newspaper 1941.

 We set space Before on headings to space them from the text above.

  • Set heading to 2-1/2 times the font height to give a balance that is pleasing to the eye and economical to print. If you want to save pages you can close up to twice the font height, but it starts to look too dense.
  • For a modern look you can open up to three times.

We set space After on practically ALL styles.

  • We set only space After on body paragraph styles, to work around a design deficiency in Word’s pagination algorithm. A “real” page layout program (the kind you pay $200,000 for…) will automatically suppress space above a paragraph at the top of the page, so you get a nice regular top margin. Word will do so only when it feels like it, so you end up with your top margin bounding up and down like kids in a jumping castle. The cure is to put all your inter-paragraph space BELOW the paragraphs. We’ll talk more about this in “pagination”.

Line spacing

Normally, set this to “Single” unless you have a reason to use something else.

The choices are:

  • Single
    • Word sets a line height of 140% of the font height (13.8 points here) but it can increase the line height as needed to accommodate the content. 

  • 1-1/2 Lines

    • Sets the line height to 1.5 times 12 points.

  • Double
    • Sets to 24 points.

  • At Least

    • Word sets the line height to whatever you specify, but can increase it as needed to accommodate large letters or graphical elements you insert.

  • Exactly
    • Word maintains the line at exactly the height you set.

    • Use with extreme caution, or expect a few cut-off letters here and there.

  • Multiple

    • Current versions of Word tend to use this one as a default, set to 1.15 lines.  

    • It results in a more open appearance that is pleasing to today's readers.

Don’t add space

This would normally be “off” except for paragraphs that are part of a numbered or bulleted list.

  • Suppressing the space “blocks” the list together so the eye instantly sees the paragraphs in it are related, as a unit of text. 

Snap to Grid

If you see this setting option, don't use it. Microsoft Office Word is a word-processor, not a page layout program. If you need to use grids, do the document in a a page layout program like InDesign, which handles grids properly.

Paragraph: Line and Page Breaks


In the Paragraph dialog, click the Line and Page Breaks tab to get to the pagination controls.

The Line and Page Breaks tab has 3 parts:

  1. Pagination
  2. Formatting Exceptions
  3. Textbox options

We'll look at each in turn.

Paragraph: Line and Page Breaks: Pagination


For each style, you need to think about and assign the standard behaviours you would like all paragraphs of that type to have. 

Widow/Orphan control

An Orphan is a very short line of one or two words stranded at the bottom of a page or column.

A Widow is the same thing, stranded at the top of the next page.

Turning Widow/Orphan on enables Word to flow text to the next page to ensure that at least two lines remain either side of the page break.

These days, I turn Widow/orphan OFF except in legal texts, where a paragraph may go for most of a page. 

Keep with next

Causes Word to hold the end of the paragraph on the same page as the following paragraph.

I set Keep with next for all Heading paragraph styles, because nothing looks sillier than a heading stranded at the bottom of a page. 

Keep with next won’t work unless you also set Keep lines together.

  • Well, it will work, but you won’t like it. If the last word in the paragraph flips to the next page, that has satisfied keep with next.

Keep lines together

Prevents Word from splitting a paragraph across a page break.

Use Keep lines together to prevent Word from splitting this type of paragraph, then Keep with next can be used to throw a block of paragraphs to the next page at a logical break. 

Page break before

Does what it says. We’ll talk about these in detail under “Pagination”.

Page break before you may use on in Heading 1 style. Heading 1 is normally used to start each Chapter (particularly if you are numbering the chapters) so set Page break before to ensure it starts a page of its own, and take off the space before. 

Paragraph: Line and Page Breaks: Formatting Exceptions

2-Paragraph-2FORMATTING Exceptions.png

Suppress line numbers

This setting is used only by lawyers, for headings. Lawyers used to number the lines on each page to enable them to refer to them easily in court. They may not want the headings numbered, because they may not be part of the evidence.

Line numbering in Word is not very reliable. If you print a document someone else sent you with a different printer than the writers' your document will reflow differently and your line numbers won’t match the sender's.

These days, lawyers tend to use Heading styles, customised to look like body text, and with numbering turned on. The numbering is per paragraph, not per line, but much more reliable, and everyone’s numbers are the same.

Don’t hyphenate

Word supports automatic hyphenation. If you are producing full-justified text, you really should be hyphenating to avoid the “rivers of white” problem (wide spaces between word that form columns running vertically down the page). If you are hyphenating, there are places where you absolutely would not do it: headings and captions come to mind. Use this in your style to suppress hyphenation for paragraphs of that type.

More Format Style Options

We have covered the main settings people use in a Paragraph style. In Character styles we discussed the font settings, which also apply to Paragraph styles. And we have discussed the Paragraph settings, which is really what we came here to do.

However, there are additional settings you can make in a Paragraph style, and we need to cover them because you may use them only once a year, but you will use them.

You reach all of these from the Format button drop-down menu in the bottom left of the Modify Style dialog.


Format: Tabs

If Tabs are totally foreign to you, you may want to start by taking a look at the help Microsoft provides about working with tabs in Word and then use the guidance below to supplement your new knowledge.

You can set tab stops in styles.

  • Many people set a “Default tab spacing” in the Normal style, which will be inherited by all styles and thus the whole document.
  • Styles for lists and headings all need a tab set for the hanging indent.

  • TOC styles need three tabs set (a complex operation, in a later article).


Here is an example of the Tabs dialog. 

The tabs in this example are set up for a Table of Contents.

The first one (at 1 cm) places the text half an inch in.  

The second one (at 3 cm) sets the “turnover lines” indented.  

The last one, at 18.5 cm, places the page number and sets leader dots from the end of the text to the page number.  





About the Tabs dialog - by the numbers

  1. The tab stop position is set in absolute measurements in this example, in increments of about 5 points.
    1. The figure in the window is the one you are just about to set, or the one you have selected.
    2. An easy way to do this is to drag the tabs in the ruler to roughly where you want them, then use the Style By Example mechanism (“Update to match selection”) to import what you did with the ruler, then open this dialog to adjust them to exact measurements.
  2. This part of the dialog shows the tabs that are currently set.

  3. This lists the tabs that will be cleared when you click OK.
  4. Alignment: There are five types of tab you can set:

    1. Left: The tab stop sits on the left of the text and “pushes” the text to the right of itself.

    2. Center: The tab stop sits in the middle of the position and centres the text either side of it.

    3. Right: The tab stop sits to the right of the text and “pulls” the right end of the text onto itself.

    4. Decimal: The tab stop aligns a column of numbers so their decimal points all align vertically. Use this in tables to make your dollar amounts all align at the decimal point.  If any number does not contain a decimal point, Word assumes one at its right-hand end.

    5. Bar: Oh c’mon! Nobody uses these nowadays!! It sets a position that draws a vertical line at the tab stop. Use a table, a graphic line — anything but this

  5. Leader: Only useful for Right tabs, it sets a row of dots between the end of the text and the tab position. This is how you get those leader dots in your TOC.

  6. Set, Clear, Clear All: these buttons either set a tab at the position you typed, mark the tab you have selected to be cleared, or clear all the tabs.

Word will execute the changes you have made when you click OK, or abandon them if you click Cancel.

Format: Border

The ability to set a “border” in a style comes under the heading of “Just because we can, does not mean we should!”


About the Borders dialog - by the numbers

  1. Setting. Enables you to choose the depicted styles. In any long and complex document, remember “less is more”! The fewer marks you put on a page, the less work the reader’s eyes and brain have to do to decode your meaning, and thus the easier and quicker they can read your text. Never make a reader work when you don’t have to.
  2. Style. Choose from an unbroken line, or various perturbations (I have been looking for an excuse to use that word for ages…) of it.

  3. Color. If you want black, choose Automatic, otherwise your ink consumption will become extravagant (and you won’t get “black”).

  4. Width. If you don’t know what to pick, choose ¾ of a point in most documents and print a page  to see if you like it.

  5. Preview. This is the most useful part of the whole dialog. The small squares are buttons that enable you to turn on or off the top, bottom, left, and right borders. If you chose the Custom setting, you can specify a different line weight and style for each.

  6. Apply to. The only option is “paragraph” when we’re working on a paragraph style.

  7. Options. Enables you to set the distance from the text to the border in each direction. Four points is the maximum in most versions of Word (Mac Word 2016 will apparently go higher) and it’s usually the best one.

There are three tabs in this dialog, only two are active.  Click the Shading tab to specify shading behind the text.  These days I quite often use light colour shading to distinguish headings; these work well for web text.

Format: Language


Use the Language setting to mark a specified language on all paragraphs with the same style.

But just because you can “mark” a language, does not mean that your copy of Word has it installed.

Language is a text attribute, similar to “colour” or “font”.

And Language controls the operation of Word's spell-checker and grammar-checker.

Every version of Word arrives with several languages pre-installed.

To see which languages your copy of Word has installed:

  • Open the Language dialog
  • To the left of the name of each language that is currently installed..

  • Look for a tiny little check mark with ‘abc’ above it

  • Any Language so marked is currently installed.


Language impacts Spell-checker & Grammar-checker

Word’s “Proofing Engine” switches languages on the fly, word-by-word, extremely quickly.

Basically, your language setting tells the program which dictionary table to switch to, and since those tables are normally held resident in memory, it can switch from one to the other in microseconds.


  • It cannot switch to a language you have not purchased!
  • You can mark the text with any of the roughly 150 languages Word supports; but unless you have the dictionaries installed for the language you specify, the result will simply be that the proofing tools don’t work (at all!) on that text.

  • You can read about getting extra languages hon the Microsoft Support site.

All text in Word has a language, whether you assign one or not. So better you assign a language, so you know what it is. 

Most of us would like our entire document spelled in the same language.

The easiest way to ensure this is to set the language in the Normal style, which all other styles will inherit unless you change them.

  • Open the Language dialog
  • Select your language
  • Click the Default button after making your selection
  • This will pass your selection through to the Normal template, so all styles in all new documents you create will get the change.

And just for the record: “English” is not close enough. There are 29 dialects of English spoken by the Word spelling checker. Plus American.

Format: Frame


A Frame is a truly ancient mechanism that behaves very much like a textbox.

A textbox is a graphic object that can “float” around the page, and have text wrapped around it, under it, over it, or through it. And it can contain text.

A Frame can do most of those tricks, although a Frame is not a graphic object. A Frame is in fact a part of the paragraph. Like speech balloons in comics, which, in fact, is often what authors use frames for.

Because they are part of the paragraph, Frames can be part of a paragraph style. Which is the only reason they are still around.

There are rare cases when you want to style your text to float in a box in relation to the other text. Side-heads is one. A side-head is a box that places the heading in the left margin of the document.

Because they are so rarely used, and their use is very complex, I am not going to cover them further here. If you would like a topic on frames, by all means email or comment: if we get enough demand, I will produce one.

Format: Numbering

Numbering is an entire topic all to itself. Word’s numbering is complex, powerful, and flexible. But there’s a lot of information you need before you can use it like a pro. And I am one of the best people in the world to get it from.

Funny (True!) story:

Five of us MVPs were standing in the Microsoft headquarters in Redmond chatting to the Software Architect who actually designed Word’s numbering mechanism. We were complaining about it, as is our wont. I said “There are only about five people in the world who understand Word’s numbering, apart from the folks who work for Microsoft, and they are all standing within an arms-length of you!” He looked at us for a second or two, smiled a little smile, and responded “If you had been in the meeting I have just come from, you would think there are only five people in the world who understand Word’s numbering, and NONE of them work for Microsoft!”

Format: Shortcut key


You can assign a keystroke to instantly apply a style.

While most of us use a tiny number of styles in our actual work, you can assign a keystroke to each, so you rarely have to lift your hands from the keyboard.


  • If you use the standard styles, you can have those styles configured with different formatting in different documents.
  • I use the same six styles in all my documents, but they have different formatting.

Personally, I no longer assign keystrokes, because in my real work, I use too many styles to remember them all.

Instead, I use the Styles Customizer (which the nice folks at Great Circle Learning are giving away free…) to customise my styles chunk so I can use it instead.

Format: Text Effects

If you are creating a newsletter or possibly a one page flyer and you want to get a bit creative with a headline or callout, the Text Effects formatting might be something for you to explore.

This formatting function allows you to add "Word Art" artistic flair to a specific paragraph style and might be handy is you have a certain creative "look" for text you find yourself often repeating in your publication. 

The feature is only available on PC versions of Word, the Mac version does not contain this function.

And that’s the end of the Paragraph Styles topic.  Bet you thought I would never finish? Hell, I thought I would never finish…

Next time: Linked styles. Much less pain, I promise! See you then!

This blog post has been graciously provided by our Contributor at Large:
John McGhie. 
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. 

All About Paragraph Styles in Microsoft Word - Part 1


Paragraph Styles are a big item in Word: just about the biggest there is. Smart Office workers format almost all of their documents entirely with paragraph styles, rarely using the other types of styles Word offers. So what are Paragraph Styles?

A paragraph style is a named collection of formatting that applies only to the paragraph properties of the text.

How do you Make a Paragraph Style? The short answer is “If at all possible, don’t!”

Because Word contains more than one hundred built-in styles, one for almost every purpose you may have. Thus, you likely will never have to “make” one. But you will frequently need to customise them to your requirements. 

How to Customise a Paragraph Style

Well, first you need to select a style to work with in in your Quick Styles pane on Word's Home tab ribbon, or bring up Word's Styles window.

Either way, right-click on the paragraph style and choose the option to Modify. You will see this dialog:

Before we go any further, let’s just say it: This is one of the most poorly-thought-out dialogs in Word (yes, there are worse, but not many). Sadly, most of what you will need is not on this dialog; and most of what is, you will not (or should not) use. If you think of the Word user interface as being set up in three “layers” then this dialog is the Level One layer, designed for use by undemanding newbies — but such users are unlikely to be using styles. Still it’s been this way from the beginning: all pleas to improve it fall on deaf ears.

Let’s follow the red numbers:

1. Name: If you are making a new style, type the name of it here. 

Word has three “groups” of styles in each type:

  • Default
  • Built-in
  • Custom


  • The default styles will not allow you to change their names, but you can add an alias to their name and hide the default name. I most often see this done with the Heading 1 through Heading 9 series of styles. But, adding alternative names is not a practice I recommend because:
    • it confuses users accustomed to the standard names
    • and if the name string gets too long it can corrupt the style table (above about 250 characters). If that happens you usually lose the entire document, and there’s no way to fix it.
  • Our AuthorTec Quick Styles Customizer utility enforces the Heading 1 to 9 name standards so the program can find them in the styles table, which also protects you from yourself!

2. Style type: If you are making a new style, set the type of it here.

  • Note: If you are customising a style, you cannot change the type.

3. Style based on: When making a new style, you can save a lot of thought and effort by setting the "Style to copy from".

  • When you do that, all of the formatting properties of the style you nominate are copied into the style you are making.
  • Be careful with this: don’t do it if either style has a number formatting included because that will confuse Word.

Having set a “Based on” style, any properties you change in the current style replace the ones that were copied. You use this to set chains of similar styles that all inherit from the master. I typically do this for the Heading series, if I am not numbering them. For example:

In Heading 1, I set a font of Calibri, then I base Heading 2 on 1, Heading 3 on 2, Heading 4 on 3 and so on, all the way down to Heading 9.

I also set any other properties that I want to propagate down the whole chain (e.g. Space After of 10 points).

If I then decide to change the font to Cambria, I need change only one style: Heading 1. All the others will inherit the change.

However, I will set a font Size for each of the nine styles. Each setting replaces the one inherited from above. Each property you set drops out of the chain of inheritance. This can get quite complex: for example, if I set a size in Headings 1, 2, and 3, the font size in Headings 4 to 9 will continue to inherit: but from Heading 3. If you get muddled, the only way to restore the inheritance is to unset, then re-set the Style based on setting.  You have to keep your mind on the job when setting up chains.

I don’t use inheritance chains very often these days: they are really useful only in large commercial jobs where you anticipate wanting to make global changes, say to re-purpose the text for both paper and internet use.

However... it is worthwhile to break the inheritance from Normal style. Whenever you get a completely default Word document, every style will be set Based on Normal style. It only takes one idiot to make a change to Normal style and your whole document may be ruined. You may consider it worth setting your important styles to be Based on “no style”.

4. Style for following paragraph: For paragraph styles, nominate here, the style to be automatically applied to the following new paragraph. Put some thought into getting this correct: it’s a massive time-saver.

For example, I set all my Heading styles to be followed by Body Text.

This means I have to touch the ribbon only once to put in a heading: I type the heading and hit Enter — the Body Text style is automatically applied ready to type.

5.  Add to template: If you check Add to template, the style you spent so much time creating will be available for use in other documents you create. You may choose not to set this, if the style change you are making applies only to the current document. 

6. Add to Quick Style list: If this is a style you will use several times an hour, add it to the Quick Styles gallery so it’s near to hand. But if it’s one of those styles you use once per document, uncheck this: no point in cluttering the styles chunk with useless stuff.

This setting is what the Quick Styles Customizer actually does, setting or unsetting this property is how it works.

7. Automatically Update should ALWAYS be OFF, except for the TOC styles.

If it is on, whenever you make any formatting change to any paragraph that has this style, the style and all the paragraphs will instantly adopt whatever change you make. A classic horror story is about the poor souls who set this on for Normal style. The moment they bold a word, the entire document turns bold, and they have no idea what caused it, or how to recover from it. Now you know better!

Next time -  we will dig down one layer in the user interface to the Power User tools.

This blog post has been graciously provided by our Contributor at Large:
John McGhie. 
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. 

Types of Word Styles


There are five types of styles in Word:

  1. Character Styles

  2. Paragraph Styles

  3. List Styles

  4. Table Styles

  5. Themes

We have shown you how to “use” styles and explained why you would want to.

And we offer you the Styles Customizer - a free tool to help you manage your styles.

Now it’s time to get a little deeper in. Working in Word, you will normally concern yourself only with Paragraph styles, which is why we started there.


The word “style” is originally a printing/publishing term that refers to both the formatting and the content of a piece of text.

A typical example is the banner heading of your favourite newspaper: the whole thing, including the date and the weather and the edition number are a single “style” called as a single directive to the computer.

However, in the Microsoft world, the word “style” means simply “a named collection of formatting”.

Unlike FrameMaker or InDesign, Word’s styles cannot (yet?) also contain text. The name enables you to find the style and use it again.


Word contains about 120 built-in styles, one for almost every imaginable purpose.

So you will very rarely have to create one, although we will tell you how for those times when you do. 

One of the most important things to understand about Microsoft Word is that ALL formatting is a style.

The reason for this is simple: speed!

What eventually killed WordPerfect is that it became very slow as the size of the document grew to around 100 pages. To work out how to format a word, WordPerfect had to read the entire file from the beginning, because the formatting was embedded in the text.


In Word, all of the formatting is held in a style table.

The only formatting component in a “run” (a string of text) is a pointer. The pointer is the name of the style, and indicates which row of the table stores all of the formatting properties for that style.

Since the formatting table is relatively compact, Word can keep the whole thing resident in memory, which means every time it needs to format something, it can get the recipe almost instantly (a microsecond or so).

The style table is stored in a Word document beyond the end of the document.

It is hidden after the last paragraph mark in the document: remember that — it will become very significant if your document corrupts.

Fun fact:

  • If you don’t give a style a name, Word will: but it will then hide it from you.

Less fun?

People who continue to “directly format” their documents will never see the thousands of styles Word creates to keep track of things.


Now, let’s have a look at the “types” of styles Word has:

Character Styles

Character styles contain only the character formatting of a style. 

But we mean a little more than font, face, and colour. Language and proofing and advanced typography are in there too.  We will cover character styles in depth in a future topic.

Paragraph Styles

Paragraph styles are what many Word users think of when they say “styles”.

They contain spacing and indents and such, and various properties that enable you to control how Word paginates your document. Again: in-depth in a future topic.

List Styles

List styles contain all of the bullet or number formatting.

To Word, bullets and numbering are the same thing, except that it does not “increment” bullets. List styles are quite tough to explain, and once you get the hang of them, you will find you rarely need them. Where they come into their own is when you want to copy bulleted or numbered text from one document to another. Expect a topic on those, too.

Table Styles

Table styles are an oddity (some would suggest they should never have happened…) I disagree, but they’re very tricky to understand.

One key to this is to understand that a “table” is in fact a special case of “paragraph”: it’s a paragraph that contains child paragraphs! So a table style contains an unholy mixture of font, paragraph, and border formatting. Word’s user interface makes understanding them almost impossible.  But not quite: wait patiently!


Okay, this is the one I believe should never have happened. What we (the MVPs…) wanted and asked for was “Cascading Style Sheets” for Word. The ability to attach more than one template, and have each contribute to the formatting. What we got was themes.

Apart from providing unskilled users with the ability to destroy your carefully formatted document in a single click, I cannot think of a use for them.

Microsoft seems to be slowly understanding the Frankenstein monster it has created — themes seem to be slowly being de-emphasised. I will try to tell you how they work, but I doubt if you will use them any place but PowerPoint.

OK, I have overrun my word-count again; I am very fortunate the Editor lives on the other side of the planet…  Catch you next time!

This blog post has been graciously provided by our Contributor at Large:
John McGhie. 
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. 

Lazy Perfection


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:
John McGhie. 

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.

 Style(s) Over Substance


A Lesson Learned

One of the better lessons I learned very early in my computing career was:

“Always look for the lazy user: he or she will find the most efficient way to do everything!” 

I am one of the laziest you will find.

Improve Your Life

The use of styles in Microsoft Word is one of those things I can pass on to you: it’s not quite sliced bread, or a better mousetrap. But it will improve your life, by releasing a lot more of it for you to spend on things you like doing.

What is a style?

At its simplest, it’s a “named collection of formatting”. Formatting we assign a name to, so we can find it and use it again.  We collect formatting so we can apply it with a single click. Using styles, I can format well over 400 pages of text in a day, to press-ready standard.  Many people would struggle to do ten pages a day, unless they were using styles.

Let’s make some assumptions: 

You often produce substantial documents. Substantial documents are necessarily complex.

Quite often, these documents are “customer-facing” (i.e. documents that outside customers will see) so you will format and print with careful attention to design and printing, since your reputation is at stake. You often keep such documents in service for many years. And of course, you maintain them by adding and moving text around.

That’s the “Professional Documents” use case, how professionals work.

Dramatically different from the “single use” (throw-away!) documents you often see school kids produce. We all do those: write ‘em, email ‘em, delete ‘em. Presentation is not a primary concern in those.

Up there with godliness

In professional documentation, consistency is up there with godliness, and, some would suggest, well ahead of cleanliness. Consistent documents are quick to create, easy to maintain, and rugged when kept in service for many years. Styles are the way to achieve this: automatically, without thought or effort.

Remember we said a style is a “named collection” of formatting? OK, so let me format this paragraph… Because the entire world is younger than me, I chose a sans-serif font (anyone born after 1970 will struggle to read anything else). So Calibri, because I like it. I chose a font size of 11 points (12 points is a little large for corporate documents, and 10 points means us oldies have to find our glasses to read it). Then I chose a line height of “single” (that means Word will automatically adjust the height of each line to contain the font on that line). In a further article, we can discuss variations on that. On an 11-point modern font, each line will be automatically adjusted to about 14 points high. Next I need to specify the text colour (“automatic” because “black” burns up too much ink) and a face (not bold) and a variant (not italic) as well as decoration (not underlined, not strike-through…). To space the text out nicely on the page, we specify some inter-paragraph leading (10 points in this case, and always “space after”. I will explain why in another article, but it makes pagination automatic.) I justified the text flush left (ragged right) because full justification looks embarrassingly ugly and it’s hard to read. I specified… I could go on for pages here: there are something like 1,200 bits of formatting a piece of text can have in Word…

Did I apply all of this formatting to each paragraph? Yes. Every paragraph? Yes. How long did that take?  One click!


You got it!  I clicked the “Body Text” style. All formatting was applied instantly.

If the style is right, the formatting is right

Actually, I didn’t work that hard: I set my styles to automatically apply themselves each time I create a new paragraph: but that’s another thing that will have to wait for the next article, because I am running out of space here!

I do a lot of editing and proofing for a living, and some of my documents run more than 2,000 pages. I never need to check the formatting: it cannot be wrong, throughout the whole document; because all of the formatting is contained in the style. If the style is right, the formatting is right — don’t have to look, don’t have to think, every character is correct.

Wouldn’t you like your documents to be like that? Stay tuned…

This blog post has been graciously provided by our new Contributor at Large:
John McGhie. 
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.