Word Style inheritance made clear and simple

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Styles in Microsoft Word would be very cumbersome if you had to set up each one individually.

To make it easier, styles have inheritance.  A new style is usually a copy, linked to an existing style with just some changes to selected items.

Here’s an example of inheritance in a simple Word document.

img 5873190746ee8 - Word Style inheritance made clear and simple

This is the base style for our headings.   It has all the formatting settings.  This is the Modify Style dialog for our Heading 1.

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Style Based on:  (no style) means this is a base style.

Below the sample text is a description of the style. All the settings that are combined under that style.  Because it’s a base style, there’s a lot of settings.

img 58731951e7cc9 - Word Style inheritance made clear and simple

Heading 2 is based on Heading 1 so all it need to save is the differences from the base style.  Namely, red font color and 24pt font size.

img 587319809d45b - Word Style inheritance made clear and simple

Heading 3 is based on Heading 2.  The font size is changed to 16pt.  The font color is same but the text isn’t bold, so the style has a ‘Not Bold’ setting to reverse it (there is also Not Italic etc).

word style inheritance make clear and simple 11920 - Word Style inheritance made clear and simple

Note:  this inheritance is an example only.  In a default Word document, Heading 1 and other headings are directly based on the Normal style.  However many Word users change that to cascading inheritance like that shown above.

See also Shortcuts for Word heading styles

Inheritance at work

Inheritance isn’t just to make the setup easier.  It lets you make a single change with flows through to related styles.

Here’s the same heading styles as above, but the Heading 2 font changed to Broadway.  Heading 3 changed automatically because it inherits the font setting from Heading 2.

img 587319d52f3d4 - Word Style inheritance made clear and simple

This feature of inheritance is what confuses people who don’t expect it.  They change a single style only to see other changes in their document.  The change they made in a style was inherited by ‘child’ styles.

Check out

What is a Style in Word, Excel or Outlook?

Word: get a list of styles in a document

Word Styles from the beginning

Word: where are all the Style controls?

Word Style inheritance made clear and simple

Styles in Excel

OneNote 2010 Heading styles

Style Separators in Word

 


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