Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Modify Style Dialog...for global changes

When you display the Modify Style dialog, it looks like you’re just controlling font-related information. You might ask, “So what’s the big deal?” The big deal is the Format button, which gives you access to all sorts of other dialogs that let you control every aspect of a given style. The picture below is just a preview of posts to come in that we will be going through each of the Format options…we have a long way to go.

We’ll start today with Properties on the Modify Style dialog.

The name of the style. If you try to create a new style and you get an error message saying the name already exist, display all styles, find the style, and alter it to make it your own.

Style type
The type of style.  Most likely, you’ll be using paragraph and character styles.
  • A paragraph style applies to an entire paragraph.
  • A character style applies only to selected text.
When you display the Styles (or Styles and Formatting) pane, Word gives you a hint on the style type by adding a symbol to the right of the style name. 
  • A paragraph mark (¶) is the symbol for for a paragraph style.
  • An a (underlined, lower cased) is the symbol for a character style.
When you add a new style, you need to understand the difference between the types of styles so that you pick the right type for the style you are adding.

Style based on
The style from which the current style inherits its characteristics. For example, the font for your style is defaulting to 12 points, red, and italic. Your new style is doing so because it is inheriting those characteristics from the based on style.

The based on style is just a starting point. The changes you make for this style make it unique in your list of style. However, if you make changes to the based on style, the current style can change because it inherits change made to the based on style.

When you create a new style, you might want to pick (no style) from the drop-down list. You have to define every aspect of the style; however, it will not change when you make other changes to styles.

Frequently, the base style is Normal. Normal is the lowest level body text style and the default style when you open a new Word document. I frequently change these based on styles because you can make a change to the Normal style that cascades through every style in the pane when you meant to make one small change for one style.

This effect is referred to as cascading…which should make you think of a cascading style sheet...yep, you just got high tech...when you understand how the style sheets in Word inherit, you understand cascading. And cascading is cascading is cascading wherever you see or use it.

Style for following paragraph
This field will save you lots and lots of time and clicking. When you are typing along and you press the Enter key, the style that is in this field is the style that Word applies to your next paragraph.

Here’s how you can use that piece of information. In the Styles (or Styles and Formatting) pane, right-click a Heading style, and then click Modify. The Modify Style dialog appears. If you haven’t altered anything, the paragraph style will be Normal. Click the drop-down arrow. You can make the following paragraph style anything you want it to be. When I set up a book template, one of the first things I do is change all of the Normal paragraph style to Body Text. When I apply a Heading style and I press Enter, the next style that appears is Body Text. I don’t have to pick anything. I can just keep typing because I’ve told Word to always give me a Body Text style when I press Enter after a Heading style.

Next Post
We’ll tackle Formatting next.

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