Writers Tips – Using Styles in Word



Some authors spend a long time (or a lot of money) ensuring their works are in the correct format for Kindle, Smashwords or a manuscript. By setting up styles before writing, Word will do most of the hard work for you.

What do they do?

A style is a pre-defined format for text. Any of the modifications you are able to make to a paragraph can be set up in advance using a style. When you allocate a style to a paragraph all the settings are applied to this paragraph.

How do you use them?

In my novel, I have three styles defined.

Chapter Title

12 Point, Italic, Centered, Page break before, Outline Level 1, Style for following paragraph: First paragraph

First paragraph

12 Point, Fully Justified, First line indented 0cm, Style for following paragraph: Main Body

Main Body

12 Point, Fully Justified, First line indented 1.25 cm

It looks like this:

word viewTo create a new chapter, I go to a blank line and select the Chapter Title style. Word starts a new page and allows me to type the chapter title. When I press enter, the caret moves to a new line and the style changes to First paragraph. When I’ve written the first paragraph and press enter I get a new line and the style changes to¬† Main body.

Effectively, I can just type my document and Word automatically formats it for the Kindle.

It it possible to set up styles for Manuscripts too. The main change is to add the following to Chapter Title.

Spacing before 255pt, Spacing after 60pt

You also need to change the two paragraph styles to left justified and double spaced.

The power of styles

If you have set a style for every part of your document and you modify the style, it will change every instance in the whole document. This has two implications:

  1. If you only want to change one instance, you have to be careful!
  2. If you want to reformat the whole document you only need to change a few styles. For example, if you want to change the font on every chapter title, just change the Chapter Title style and they will all change.

You can add styles to a document you have already created but you need to go through and set each paragraph to a style to get the benefit of using them.

Automatic Table of Contents

As I set Chapter Title as Outline Level 1, I can add an automatic Table of Contents. Word will create this and put in all the correct page numbers. You can update it with one click of the mouse.

The automatic Table of Contents feature looks for all instances of text labeled as Outline level 1 and adds them to the table. As all my Chapter Titles have this attribute they are all automatically added to the table.


I hope you enjoy using styles and, more importantly, I hope you save yourself hours of reformatting time.

Further information

Microsoft Style Basics