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: Intelligently Starting a New Paragraph.

Intelligently Starting a New Paragraph

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated January 31, 2015)

If you use styles in your documents, there is a very powerful feature you can use. The Next Style feature is defined when you set up a style, and indicates what Word should use as the style following this one. For instance, lets assume you have two styles defined—Figure and Caption. The Figure style is used for figures in your document, and it is always followed by the Caption style, which is used for the figure caption. You can set the Next Style for the Figure style so that when you press Enter, Word automatically makes the next paragraph a Caption style. To use the Next Style feature, follow these steps if you are using either Word 2002 or Word 2003:
  1. Select Styles and Formatting from the Format menu. Word displays the Styles and Formatting task pane at the left of the document window.
  2. In the list of styles shown, hover the mouse pointer over the name of the style you want to change. A drop-down arrow should appear at the right side of the style name.
  3. Click the drop-down arrow and choose Modify. Word displays the Modify Style dialog box. (See Figure 1.)
  4. Figure 1. The Modify Style dialog box.

  5. In the Style For Following Paragraph drop-down list, select an existing style that you want to follow this style. In the above example, this would be the Caption style.
  6. Click on OK.
  7. To add or change other styles, repeat steps 2 through 5.
  8. When you are done, click on Close.
If you are using Word 97 or Word 2000, follow these steps instead:
  1. Select Style from the Format menu. Word displays the Style dialog box.
  2. Select the style you want to change from the Styles list.
  3. Click on Modify. Word displays the Modify Style dialog box.
  4. In the Style For Following Paragraph drop-down list, select an existing style that you want to follow this style. In the above example, this would be the Caption style.
  5. Click on OK.
  6. To add or change other styles, repeat steps 2 through 5.
  7. When you are done, click on Close.
When modifying a style, you may want to select the Add to Template option. This saves the changes you are making in the template file for use in other documents.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (1493) 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: Intelligently Starting a New Paragraph.

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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