Modifying Body Text style in Microsoft Word

Office for Mere Mortals helps people around the world get more from Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook. Delivered once a week. free.


The default ‘Body Text’ style in Word needs some changes to suit your needs. Here’s some suggestions for things to alter or check to make sure they suit your, er, style.

Can’t see a Body Text style? See Make Body Text style appear in Microsoft Word

Body Text style can be different

The default Body Text style in a Blank Document/normal.dotm might be different on your computer.  It depends on the version of Office, Windows or Mac, changes made previously and, perhaps, your horoscope.

Word 365/2019 for Windows

This is the current Word 2019/365 for Windows default Body Text style, at least on our test machines.

img 5c17091a233f8 - Modifying Body Text style in Microsoft Word

Word 365 for Mac

Word 365 for Mac has Body Text style also with the style is based on Normal, instead of (no style).   There are other differences like Line Spacing is Single.

modifying body text style in microsoft word microsoft office 25099 - Modifying Body Text style in Microsoft Word

Your mileage may vary a little, but not much

Your ‘Body Text’ style may well be different but the settings and options will be the same (or almost the same).  This is an area which has not changed much for many versions of Office/Word.

Change ‘Style Based on’

The main reason you use ‘Body Text’ instead of ‘Normal’ for most paragraphs is to avoid any inheritance problems if you change the main paragraph settings.  Microsoft knows this, but still the ‘Body Text’ style is based on Normal.

modifying body text style in microsoft word microsoft office 25100 - Modifying Body Text style in Microsoft Word

This is important and the first thing we’ll change.  Switching to ‘(no style)’ reveals all the style settings as listed below.  ‘(no style)’ means that the settings from ‘Normal’ are copied into ‘Body Text’ (copied not linked) to make a standalone style which inherits no settings from any other style.

Body Text default settings

Here are the default settings as seen above for Word 365/2019 for Windows.  The listing in the Word dialog isn’t entirely clear with some strange wrapping (e.g. Space … After ).

Linked style – it can apply to both a paragraph and characters.

Style based on:  (no style).

Style for following paragraph: pressing Enter to end a paragraph in this style, the next paragraph will be: Body Text.

  • Font: (Default) +Body (Calibri)
  • (Justification) Left
  • Line spacing: Multiple 1.08 li,
  • Space After: 6 pt
  • Widow/Orphan control,
  • Style: Linked
  • Hide until used
  • Priority 100 (order in styles list)

Add to Style Gallery:  No

Changes to the document formatting do NOT change the style  (‘Automatically update’ is OFF)

Any style changes only apply to the current document (not ‘New documents based on this template’ i.e. change the style settings in the template).

Body Text settings to check or change

The Body Text style settings may be different on your computer. Here’s some settings to check or change to suit you.  All these settings are available from Modify Style, mostly via the ‘Format’ list.

modifying body text style in microsoft word microsoft office 25101 - Modifying Body Text style in Microsoft Word

The basic settings like Font, Justification,Line Spacing, Space before/after, Indents are on the Modify Style box with a very simple preview:

modifying body text style in microsoft word microsoft office 25102 - Modifying Body Text style in Microsoft Word

Style based on

We’ve already mention this. Change ‘Style based on ..’ to (no style) which makes Body Text standalone from any other style changes.

Font

Choose another font, suggestions for body text include Times New Roman, Garamond or Georgia.

Justification

The default is Left justification which is the standard for document drafts.

Change to Justify whenever you like, most commonly for the final stages before publication.

Line Spacing

Increase the line spacing for drafts, especially printed drafts or using digital ink markup.

Switching to, say, 1.5 or double spacing gives you more ‘scribble’ room.

For the final release, change Line Spacing to single line spacing or similar.

Language

Make sure the Language setting is correct because it effects the spell and grammar checking done by Word.

There are often language variants like English (Canada) or English (UK) to choose instead of English (US) which appears as the default all over the world.

It’s a similar story in French, Spanish and other languages.

For multi-lingual documents, you could have extra styles linked to ‘Body Text’ with only a language change e.g.  ‘Body Text – Finnish’ ‘Body Text – German’ etc.  That will ensure the correct spell and grammar checks are applied.  Modern Word has automatic language detection, but many users find it’s more reliable to specify the language.

modifying body text style in microsoft word microsoft office 25103 - Modifying Body Text style in Microsoft Word

Use the ‘Do not check spelling or grammar’ choice for computer code, quotations or other text that doesn’t need spell/grammar checks.  Make a linked style ‘Body Text – no proofing’.

Quick Style Gallery

Do you want the style to appear in the Styles Gallery (i.e on the ribbon)?

Add to Styles Gallery on Modify Styles will do that.

modifying body text style in microsoft word microsoft office 25104 - Modifying Body Text style in Microsoft Word

Word for Mac has the same option except it’s called a ‘Quick Style List’.

Shortcut key

The quickest way to apply a style is a shortcut key.  See Add a Fast keyboard shortcut for any Word style  and Shortcuts for Word heading styles.

For Body Text we use Ctrl + Alt + `  because the third keypress is immediately to the left on the of the Heading 1 shortcut (Ctrl + Alt + 1).  An alternative could be Ctrl + Alt + 0 at the right side of the keyboard number row.

modifying body text style in microsoft word microsoft office 25105 - Modifying Body Text style in Microsoft Word

Another choice is Ctrl + Alt + N which will override the default shortcut for Normal style.

This document or the template?

Are these style changes for the current document only or all documents based on the current template?

modifying body text style in microsoft word microsoft office 25106 - Modifying Body Text style in Microsoft Word

Make that choice from:

  • Only in this document
  • New documents based on this template

See Make Body Text style appear in Microsoft Word

Why choose Body Text vs Normal in Word


Want More?

Office Watch has the latest news and tips about Microsoft Office. Independent since 1996. Delivered once a week.