10 Microsoft Word Style Secrets

4. Clean Up After Others

Occasionally someone will send you a document that I call a "choc chip cookie," a document dotted with all sorts of styles and fonts. If all you want is a plain text file, or if you prefer a clean document that you can format from scratch, you can remove the existing formatting quickly and easily.

If you want to format a document from scratch, use the Clear Formatting command to strip unwanted styles and formatting from the text.
Select all of the text in the document by pressing Ctrl-A, and then press Ctrl-Space to remove any special formatting. If the text paragraphs have styles associated with them, the styles will remain in place, but any additional formatting will vanish.

If you press Ctrl-Q, all styles will return to their original look. So if someone has altered a styled paragraph by, say, changing its alignment, your key command will undo that alignment change, and the paragraph will revert to the style defaults.

To get rid of absolutely everything, press Ctrl-Shift-N to set the entire document to normal style. Alternatively, you can click the Home tab, display the Styles Gallery drop-down menu, and click Clear Formatting.

5. Borrow Styles From Other Documents

The Organizer lets you copy styles from one document to another so that you can 'borrow' styles and not have to re-create them from scratch.
As I mentioned earlier, Word saves styles with a document. On top of that, you can copy styles from one document to another; all you need to do is launch the Document Template Organizer. To do that, however, you need the Developer tab to be visible on the Ribbon. (If it isn't—it should be the last tab on the right end of the Ribbon—add it by choosing File > Options > Customize Ribbon. Look over in the right panel, place a check next to Developer, and click OK.)

Open the document into which you want to copy the styles, click the Developer tab, and then click Document Template > Organizer. When the Organizer dialog box appears, click the Styles tab. On the left side, you’ll see the styles in the currently open document. On the right side, you’ll see those styles in the current template (typically normal.dotm). Click the Close File button below the right pane, so that you can open another document in this pane. Click Open File, and open the document that contains the styles you want to copy. When its styles appear in the right pane, select any style and then click the Copy button to copy it to your current document.

Word will warn you if you attempt to copy a style with the same name as a style in your current document, but it will give you the choice of overwriting that style with the new one. If you agree to this, any text in your document that's formatted with the previous style will update with the attributes of the newly copied style.

When you have copied all the styles you want, click Close. The newly copied styles will be available in your Style Gallery, so you can use them in your document and Word will save them with it.

6. Create a Custom Checkbox List Style

A custom-made checklist style can speed up the process of formatting a list as a checklist.
If you find yourself creating a lot of checklists, you can create a custom checklist style that will speed up the process. To begin, type a word or two and format the text using a checkbox bullet: Click the Home tab, click the Bullets drop-down list, and select a checkbox from the bullet library. If you see no checkboxes, click Define New Bullet > Symbol and locate a checkbox or another appropriate symbol in the Wingdings font. Select it and then click OK.

Once you have your bullet checklist working, make it a style by selecting the text, clicking the Home tab, and then opening the Style Gallery drop-down list. Choose Save Selection as New Quick Style, give the style a name, and click OK. If you add this item to your normal.dotm file, it will be available to all new documents based on this template, and you’ll be able to use it at any time.

7. Use a Workaround for Picture Styles

Microsoft Word 2010 provides no means of creating a style for a picture that you can use to quickly format all of your images in the future. However, you have a workaround involving Quick Parts. Add an image to your document by clicking Insert > Picture and then choosing a picture in the dialog box. Next, click the picture, select the Picture Tools tab, and choose Format. At this point you can adjust how the text should wrap around the picture, indicate whether the text appears on top of the picture, customize a border for the picture, or what have you.

Once you've applied formatting to your satisfaction, click the image to select it and choose Insert > Quick Parts > Save Selection to Quick Part Gallery. Type a name for the image, and choose to save it to the Quick Parts Gallery. Save it in your Building Blocks.dotx file, and click OK.

A workaround for the inability to save custom picture styles involves saving a formatted image as a Quick Part.

In the future, you can add this formatted image to a file by choosing Insert > Quick Parts and clicking the image. Then, to change it to the image you actually want in the document, right-click the image, choose Change Picture, and select the new image. The new image will appear in the existing border, thus saving you from having to reproduce the border (and other formatting) each and every time you add a picture to your document.

Next Page: Creating a Table of Contents From Headings

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