When you create a new document and start entering text, that text has the attributes of Word’s default ‘Normal’ text style. Styles are basically a collection of attributes that is applied to text whenever that style is used.
Text style basics
Let’s take a main heading (or Heading 1) as an example. Perhaps you want a heading to be in 18pt, Times New Roman bold. You also want it to be in dark blue and want it centred on the page. These characteristics are called style attributes. Of course, you can apply those attributes manually: change the font from the pull-down menu; change the size from the pull-down menu; click on the Bold button; change the colour from the Font Color pull-down menu; and then finally use the Center button.
If this sounds like a lot of work, it is. Imagine having to do that every time you wanted that particular heading style?
How to apply a default text style
Best practice suggests that you would create a ‘style’ for that heading. There are a number of ways to create and revise text styles in Word, see our posts How to apply text styles and How to change text styles. But in the meantime, check out Word’s built-in styles. They’re called Quick Styles and you’ll see them on the Home tab under the Styles group. You can also access text styles via the Styles Pane by clicking on the arrow to the right of the Styles group (as circled below) or by using the keyboard shortcut Alt + Ctrl + Shift + S.
Using styles means that your documents will be visually consistent – and therefore more professional – and take you less time to put together. You’ll also be able to easily revise the document if, for example, you want your headings to be in 24pt Arial regular and coloured dark green.