The writing process

Word Tip 1: A Matter of Style

What did you do when asked to send your file in a different format? You selected the whole document and changed the font and size.

Microsoft Word Tips for Authors

Welcome to the first in a series of tips on using Microsoft Word, geared towards authors.
Most Word advice is rather complicated and full of things you’ll never need to know.
I shall do my best to keep it simple, because you’re not stupid… just busy.
Please note: 
– Not all versions of Word are the same, but most are near enough.
– There are different ways of doing the same thing. I shall demonstrate just one (or two).

You might think this one is a bit complex for a first tip. But I will be mentioning styles in most of the other tips, often along with alternatives, so I had to start by explaining what they are.

If you’ve never used styles, the chances are that everything you write uses the Normal style. The chances are that you just started writing using the font, font size, indentation and spacing that were defined for the Normal style. What did you do when asked to send your file in a different format? You selected the whole document (hopefully you know that Ctrl/A does that) and changed the font and size.

But what if you have headings (chapter headings or short story title)? Changing everything at once changes the headings, too. You might have to go through the novel, changing all the headings back to the way they were.

Instead, you can define the Heading 1 style for your chapter headings and keep the Normal style for the text. Here’s how:

  1. Click the arrow in the bottom right corner of Styles, which is in the Home tab. The Styles box appears.

    Styles Box in Word
    Styles Box
  2. Hover next to Heading 1 and click the arrow that appears.
  3. Choose Modify. The Modify Style window appears.
  4. Click Format (at the bottom) and choose Font.
  5. In the Font window, you can change Font style, Size and other details.
  6. Remember to click OK at the end.

Similarly, you can change the Normal style.

How do you define a chapter heading as Header 1? Here are two possible ways:

  • Click in the header and click Header 1 in Styles.
  • Click in the header and press Shift/Alt/

You can also use the Heading 2 style for sub-headings. Next week, I’ll show you why that might be useful when editing a novel.

Questions and suggestions for future topics are welcome in the comments below.

By Miriam Drori

Author, editor, attempter of this thing called life. Social anxiety warrior. Cultivating a Fuji, edition 3, a poignant, humorous and uplifting tale, published with Ocelot Press, January 2023.

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