Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. If you are using a later version (Word 2007 or later), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for later versions of Word, click here: Defining Styles.

Defining Styles

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated March 15, 2014)

Styles are key to the underlying power of Word. They allow you to consistently define how your text should look throughout a document or a series of documents. There are a number of ways in which you can define styles, but the way you use will depend most heavily on the version of Word you are using. To define a style using Word 97 and Word 2000, simply follow these steps:

  1. Choose Style from the Format menu. Word displays the Style dialog box.
  2. If desired, you can choose one of the pre-defined styles that appear at the left side of the Style dialog box. In many cases, these can save you a great deal of work for common treatments of text.
  3. If you picked a pre-defined style, click on Modify. If you want to define a style from scratch, click on New. Either way, you see essentially the same dialog box that allows you to set the attributes of the style.
  4. If you are defining a new style, make sure you specify the name and type of style you are creating. You can also indicate if this new style is based on (derived from) an existing style.
  5. Click on the Format button to make changes to the actual formatting attributes assigned to the style. The types of formatting available depend on whether you are working with a paragraph or character style.
  6. When you are done setting the formatting attributes, click on OK to close the dialog box. Word again displays the Style dialog box and your style is listed in the available styles list.
  7. Click on Close to dismiss the Style dialog box.

Both Word 2002 and Word 2003 use a task pane in their user interface, which means that there are some differences in how you define styles:

  1. Choose Styles and Formatting from the Format menu. Word displays the Styles and Formatting task pane.
  2. If desired, you can choose one of the pre-defined styles that appear in the list of available styles. In many cases, these can save you a great deal of work for common treatments of text.
  3. If you picked a pre-defined style, move the mouse pointer over the top of the style name, click on the down-arrow to the right of the style name, and then click on Modify. If you want to define a style from scratch, click on New Style. Either way, you see essentially the same dialog box that allows you to set the attributes of the style. (See Figure 1.)
  4. Figure 1. The New Style dialog box.

  5. If you are defining a new style, make sure you specify the name and type of style you are creating. You can also indicate if this new style is based on (derived from) an existing style.
  6. Click on the Format button to make changes to the actual formatting attributes assigned to the style. The types of formatting available depend on whether you are working with a paragraph or character style.
  7. When you are done setting the formatting attributes, click on OK to close the dialog box. Word updates the style list in the Styles and Formatting task pane, if necessary.
  8. Close the Styles and Formatting task pane, if desired.

Once the style is defined (or an existing style modified), you can use your style anywhere you like within your document.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (591) applies to Microsoft Word 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. You can find a version of this tip for the ribbon interface of Word (Word 2007 and later) here: Defining Styles.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He  is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...

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