All About Styles

Denise Barrett Olson

Digital Storytelling

Contents
Paragraph styles ......................................................4
Character styles ......................................................4
List styles..................................................................4
Styles and Templates ...............................................5
Assigning Styles .......................................................6
Modifying Styles ......................................................6
Creating New Styles ................................................7
List Styles .................................................................8
Standard Styles ........................................................9
Naming Styles.......................................................... 9
Summary ................................................................10
Resources...............................................................11

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Any writing project becomes easier to manage once the
writer understands and exploits the features of his writing
tools. Larger projects like family histories take advantage
of word processing features not normally used in short,
everyday projects. These features - table of contents
generation, indexing, footnotes and endnotes and
bibliographies - take advantage of another handy feature
- styles. This guide introduces you to styles and shows
you how use them in all your writing projects. And,
because styles are the basis for many other word
processing functions, it is important to understand how
they work and become comfortable using them before
tackling these advanced features.
Styles are pre-defined collections of format settings
which can be quickly assigned to selected text. Not only
does this speed initial formatting, it becomes even more
useful when you want to make format changes to an
existing large document. For example, if the section
headings throughout your document have been styled
using Times New Roman font at 24pt, bold, centered and
black and now you want to change the color to red and
move them to the left margin, all you have to do is
modify the section heading style and your word
processor will automatically update every section
heading within your document. This alone makes
learning to use styles worth the time, but this is just the
beginning of the benefits you’ll enjoy as you become
proficient with styles.
There are three different types of styles: paragraph,
character and list. It’s helpful to understand the difference
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between them so you can put them to best use within
your document.

Paragraph styles
A paragraph is defined as all the text found between one
paragraph break and another. In word processing, you
create a paragraph every time you press the Return key
so your word processor sees headings and even bulleted
lists as paragraphs. Formatting applied to a paragraph is
more than just font type and size. It also includes
properties like line height, indents, space before and
after each paragraph and text alignment. Thanks to
styles there’s no longer a need to add blank lines
between paragraphs.

Character styles
Within the paragraph, there may be some formatting
applied only to a few words. This would be a character
style. Some common examples of character style
formatting include bold, italics, underline and
strikethrough. While these styles may effect color and
style of the text, they generally don’t include layout and
spacing attributes.

List styles
List styles are technically paragraph styles, but with the
addition of several choices for bullet or numbering
options. For this reason, we will discuss them separately.
Some word processing systems include outline styles
which are special purpose lists.
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Styles and Templates
Styles are saved in the document
template. When you create a
document based on a specific
template, you also receive the custom
styles defined for that template.
Every document you create is based
on a template. Even if you don’t
select a specific template, your word
processor will use its default template
to create your document.
When you make changes to styles
and save your document, those style
changes are saved only in that
document. If you want to update the
template with those changes, you
must also edit and save the template
file.
Apple’s Pages offers a styles drawer
to display the current document’s
styles. In other applications, look for
the styles and formatting palette or
window. All show the styles as they
will appear in your text, similar to
what you see here.

Pages’ Styles Drawer

Most applications have several style
names in common. “Title” generally refers to the title of
your project and the various levels of “Heading” styles
are used not only to define formatting styles but also
define text for inclusion in your document’s table of
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contents. In Microsoft Word (for both Windows and Mac),
the “Normal” style is the default style for the body of
your document. In iWork Pages this is the “Body” style.
Most word processing applications include a basic set of
styles for the more common document components like
headings, bulleted lists, captions and footnotes. You can
add custom styles to suit the needs of your specific
document. For example, if you are writing a cookbook
you might have a custom style for the ingredients list
included in each recipe.

Assigning Styles
Assigning a style to a piece of text is really quite simple.
All you do is select the text, then double-click on the
style you want from the style drawer/formatting palette.
For a paragraph style, generally your cursor only needs to
be located somewhere within the paragraph to style it.

Modifying Styles
Changing your mind is easy when you use styles. By
modifying a style you not only change the selected text
or paragraph, but every other instance of this style within
your document. So, should I decide I want all the text
assigned the Heading 1 style to be green instead of blue,
all I have to do is modify the style.
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In Pages, after making formatting changes to styled text,
a red triangle appears to the right of the style name
which opens a menu of options. By choosing Redefine
Style from Selection, I update all Heading 1 elements to
match the new formatting. The process is very similar in
other word processing applications.

Creating New Styles
There are times you will need to create a custom style
specific to your document. In my example, I would like
the the inscription to be centered and use a font more
representative of those found on headstones. No
problem! I just format one instance of inscription text.
The style originally assigned to that text - in this example,
the Details style - shows the red triangle and when I click
on it I see the Create New Paragraph Style from Selection
option. I will be prompted to give this new style a name.
Once that’s done, I’ll see my new style in the list of
available styles. In this case, my new style has been
named Inscription.

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Because this is a new style, there is only one instance of
this style currently in use. I will need to assign this style to
any additional inscriptions in my document.

List Styles
There are two categories of lists: ordered and unordered.
An ordered list is a numbered list. This could range from
a simple list like the top five vacation destinations to a
complex outline combining Arabic and Roman numerals
with alphabetic characters. An unordered list is also
known as a bulleted list. In addition to font and spacing
considerations, you will also need to determine indent
options and what numbering system to use for an
ordered list or which bullet character to use of an
unordered list.
Pages offers the options of text bullets, image bullets
and custom image bullets. I can choose one of the
offered selections or create my own design and assign it
using the custom image option. For ordered lists, I can
choose from Arabic numerals, Roman numerals or
alphabetic characters with several choices for separators
(such as decimal points or parentheses). I can also set up
a tiered numbering system with different number types at
each level. Other word processing applications offer
similar options including the ability to totally customize
them yourself.
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Although these can take some time to
set up, a custom-styled list can
improve the readability of specialized
content such as a text-based
descendant chart. By spending the
time to set indent spacing for each
generation level within your ordered
list, you’ve made your chart much
easier to follow.

Standard Styles
When you compare the custom
templates your word processing
software includes in the package with
the default template, you will find that
a standard set of styles are available in
each. The Heading 1, Heading 2,
Heading 3 example is quite common.
Often these standard style are used
for additional word processing
functions, such as table of contents generation. If you
create custom styles to replace the stock Header styles,
you will also need to manually assign those custom styles
when setting up other features which use the stock styles.

Naming Styles
When creating custom styles for your specific needs, it’s a
good idea to give them names that describe there
purpose. In my earlier example, I named my new style
“Inscription”. Since that document is a cemetery
inventory, Inscription is a style name relevant to the
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document’s content. For this how-to guide, it would not
be suitable. Styles should be named to describe their
purpose.

Summary
Styles help insure a standard look throughout a long
document and make it much easier to maintain a
professional look for your writing project. As you have
seen, styles are not difficult to use or customize and they
are a great time saver. Now that you see how easy styles
are, you’re ready to put them to work simplifying other
aspects of your project - like automatic table of contents
generation, managing indexes, footnotes and endnotes,
and bibliographies.

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Resources
The examples used in this guide were created with
iWorks Pages. The following references provide specific
how-to information for other word processing
applications.
• OpenOffice.org’s Writer User Guide 

[online, no cost]
• iWork ’09: The Missing Manual 

[Amazon, retail $39.99]
• Microsoft Word 2007: The Missing Manual 

[Amazon, retail $29.99]
• Microsoft Office 2008 for Mac: The Missing Manual
[Amazon, retail $34.99]


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Author Info


lson

Denise Barrett O
rida

St. Augustine, Flo
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http://moultriecr
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Twitter - @moultri
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Email - denise@m

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