There are five different types of style (collection of formatting settings) in Microsoft Word. There’s three styles for text plus Tables and List styles.
Originally, Word only had paragraph styles. Styles could only be applied to an entire paragraph. Any changes to an individual word or phrase had to be done individually.
More recently, we got Character Styles. A character style can apply to any group of letters or words within a paragraph.
For example, a Style called ‘Names’ can ensure that all names in a document are consistently formatted say, in bold or italic, upper case etc.
Character styles were a welcome addition but created a new problem. Users had to make two styles with the same formatting settings, a Paragraph style and a matching Character style.
Linked (paragraph and character) style is a (relatively) new and special type of style. It can act as either a paragraph style or a character style depending on how you use it.
Here’s the Heading 1 style used as both a paragraph style in heading and as a character style within the paragraph.
Before Linked Styles, users needed to maintain two styles – a paragraph version (eg ‘Heading 3’) and a character style (eg ‘Heading 3 char’).
As we’ve noted before, ‘Linked’ isn’t the best choice of terms for this type of style. Most styles are already ‘linked’ to others through style inheritance. ‘Merged’ or ‘Combined’ might have been clearer to most people – but we’re stuck with ‘Linked’.
All three text styles, Paragraph, Character and Linked are shown on the Modify Style | Style Type.
Icons for Paragraph, Character and Linked styles
A quick way to see what type of style is on the Styles list, look at the icon at right.
- ¶ (pilcrow) for Paragraph style
- a for character style
- ¶a for linked style
There are now other Styles – List and Table let you group settings for these Word elements under a single name.
All the Table design settings can be grouped into a Table Style. The in-built Table Styles are on the Table | Design tab in the Table Styles gallery.
Pull-down the large Table Styles gallery, at the bottom there are style options. Or right-click on a style in the gallery to see more choices.
It’s similar for multi-level lists. There’s a gallery of in-built or custom List styles.
A list style can define the look of each level of a list as well as overall settings.