Microsoft Word, since 2007, has developed a confusing mish-mash of lists, galleries and dialog boxes to view, select and manage styles. We’ve received a few questions about finding style options so this Office-Watch.com article will try to make sense of it all.
It’s a guided tour to the various Style setup, configuration and management options spread around Word.
For an introduction to the subject see Word Styles from the beginning
The first and most obvious place for selecting styles is the Style Galley on the Home tab.
Click on a style to apply it to the selection or paragraph.
Right-click on a style to see some style management options.
The Style Gallery is definitely an improvement over the old style list but has various limitations that Microsoft is reluctant to admit, let alone fix.
The Gallery shows some styles, but not all. Not even all the styles in use. Styles have to be manually added or removed from the Style Gallery, usually a right-click will show the ‘Add’ or ‘Remove’ option.
Styles can have shortcut keys to apply it. Headings have default shortcuts Ctrl + Alt + number for Heading 1, Heading 2 etc. But those shortcuts don’t appear on the Gallery tooltips unlike other buttons. See Shortcuts for Word heading styles.
There’s no simple way to control the Style Gallery order. Dragging and dropping would seem obvious but not in an Office Gallery. To change the Gallery order you must dig down to Manage Styles | Recommended tab that we’ll discuss below.
The Style Gallery gives no visual hint about the style of the current selection except if the style is currently visible row. It’s out biggest gripe about Word and the ribbon.
Here’s what you’ll see if you’re working on a para with Normal style and the Normal style is visible in the Gallery. A gray box appears around that style.
But that only works if the style is showing in the Gallery. For example, here’s what I’m seeing as I type this; no mention of the current style:
Because the document is focused on a style other than one of the five in view, the Gallery shows nothing. Even though the current style is in the Gallery in another row, Word doesn’t change the gallery to make it visible.
Add a proper list
To get around some of the Style Gallery limitations, add the older Styles pull down list to the Quick Access Toolbar.
Now there’s an easily visible label of the current style. You can also select any style from this list.
Here’s how to add the pull-down list in Customize Quick Access Toolbar.
The next step from the Style Gallery is the Style Pane. Open it from the little arrow on bottom right of the Gallery.
There are two main viewing options – with or without Preview of the style. The latter shows more styles in the space available.
The pane can be fixed to one side of the document or floating.
Right-click on a style to see some options. Most important is the Modify Style link.
The choices at the bottom of the Styles pane are:
Disable Linked Styles – somewhat confusingly named, ‘Linked Styles’ are paragraph styles that can also be used as a character style to format text within a paragraph.
The buttons at the bottom are:
New Style – opens the Modify Style dialog to make a new style.
Style Inspector – see below.
Manage Styles – also covered later in this article
This is the main place to configure a style.
Under the Format button are all the different formatting options available to a style.
Style Inspector is a floating window to show you what styles and direct formatting apply to the current selection.
In the above example. Heading 3 style is used with no variations. But there’s some italics added to part of the selected text.
Each of the style boxes has a pull-down menu of choices, similar to the same menu on the Style Pane.
You can remove either the style or the additional formatting with the eraser buttons on right. Erasing a style really means switching to ‘Normal’ style and erasing Text level formatting is actually reverting to ‘Default Paragraph Font.
At the bottom are buttons for:
Reveal Formatting – see below
New Style – same as the Style Pane button.
Clear All – removes all formatting
Why does Word have a ‘Reveal Formatting’ option and why is buried deep in Word’s menu’s?
Back in the ‘olden days’ WordPerfect had a much loved feature called ‘Reveal Codes’ which showed where formatting was applied in a document.
Microsoft resisted doing a similar thing in Word, insisting that their superior WYSIWYG display didn’t need such an ‘under the hood’ display. But they eventually relented because many WordPerfect users would not switch to Word without something similar to ‘Reveal Codes’.
That’s why the Style Inspector has a little ‘Reveal Formatting’ button. It shows the detailed formatting settings for the current document selection.
Click on the blue underlined links to open the appropriate dialog box with that setting selected. Click ‘Font’ to open the Fonts dialog. ‘Alignment’ opens Paragraph and Spacing.
Distinguish style source – changes the display to group formatting by style, direct formatting or section.
Show all formatting marks – is the same as the Show All button on the Home tab.
The Compare option can be very useful. It lets you see the differences in formatting between two selections. Choose one as the Reveal Formatting base, then click ‘Compare to another selection’ and choose another part of the document.
In this extreme case, there are a lot of differences because we’re comparing Normal text with a Heading style.
The Manage Styles dialog has been largely replaced by the Styles Gallery and Pane. But it’s still there. The old dialog looked like this (thanks for David G for the screen shot).
It changed significantly but the essentials of the one you’re used to are still there. It’s called Manage Styles. There’s a button for it at the bottom of the Styles pane.
In modern Word, it’s expanded a lot with four tabs and many choices.
There’s no in-built shortcut for it but you can add one. It’s on the Command Lists as Manage Styles.
Change the overall sort order or choose a style to edit. The latter is more easily available from the Style Pane but here all the styles are listed including hidden and un-used styles.
Recommend / Sort
This is an important tab for anyone frustrated by the standard style ordering in the Gallery or Pane.
You can select a style then move it up/down the listing. Also mark a style as visible in the Recommended list – all the time, only when used or never.
This tab works with documents that are protected from changes to set which styles can be used.
Organizer – Import/Export
On each of the four Manage Styles tabs there’s a button in the bottom left corner called ‘Import/Export’. That’s the old style ‘Organizer’.
It’s the way to copy or move styles between templates or documents.
This is another Word dialog that hasn’t changed much for many versions.