Who knew Microsoft Word could give you a power rush? That’s what you feel when you create a one-click, customized Style Sheet that automatically applies font, paragraph, layout, and other settings to any document. It’s a great way to create consistency for monthly reports or other routine pieces of content. Once you get the hang of Style Sheets, formatting text one paragraph or section at a time will feel as primitive as Sumerians writing cuneiform on wet-clay tablets. Style Sheets also work in PowerPoint, and we’ll show you those as well.

In Word 2016, the process for creating styles and Style Sheets is similar to the processes in Word 2010 and 2013. Veterans will recognize most of the commands, and novices should catch on quickly, especially in the user-friendly Word 2016. The only real differences (aside from the aesthetics) are the location of these features on the menus, the addition of many new templates and themes that use Style Sheets, and some new options that make this feature more proficient and accessible.

Create a custom Style Sheet in Word

Imagine that you must create a weekly report for your branch of the company that will, eventually, be merged into a bigger report for the corporate offices. The CEO has instructed you to create a Style Sheet for everyone in all the branches to use, so the reports can be merged seamlessly with minimal reformatting. For the sake of brevity, we’ll create just one custom style for that Style Sheet. You can then use these instructions to create all the remaining styles such as titles, subtitles, and so on.

Using the Styles panel in Word

01 styles panel JD Sartain / IDG Worldwide

Word’s Styles panel

On the Home tab, click the expansion arrow in the lower right-hand corner of the Styles menu. The default Normal Style Sheet panel drops down and displays a list of all the paragraph, character, link, table, and list styles in that Style Sheet. You can add new styles to this Style Sheet or modify the existing styles and save them under a different name. Or you can clear these styles and start fresh, then re-save your custom Style Sheet with a new name.

For this example, we’ll just add new styles to the existing Normal Style Sheet, then re-save it as the “Corp Report” Style Sheet.

In the Styles Panel, select the New Style button on the bottom left (mouse roll-over displays the button description), and the Create New Style from Formatting screen appears. In the Name field, enter the style name BoxText. For Style Type, select Paragraph from the drop-down list; in Style Based On, select No Style from the drop-down list; and in the Style for Following Paragraph, select Normal. Later, when you add your own custom body text style (such as BodyText), you can modify this field and re-save.

Formatting section

In the Font section under Formatting, select a large serif font like Bookman Old Style. Choose 11 point from the Font Size drop-down list. In the box that says Automatic (color options), choose a dark blue for your font color. Common Character attributes (bold, italic, and underline) are the buttons between the Size and Color fields.

The next row of buttons are the most common Paragraph format options: Justification, Line Spacing, Spacing (before and after paragraphs in points), and Paragraph Indents. Note that the Sample text in the large, center panel changes based on your selections, so you can view them live, and the following panel provides a text description of the options you’ve chosen.

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