I keep being asked to show people all the cool features in Microsoft Word that not many people realise exist or how to take advantage of. Many people struggle with auto generating contents pages, bibliographies and proper page numbering when Word 2007 makes it so easy. I will do a three part series explaining how to use Word 2007 properly: starting with using Styles.
Styles are very important when it comes to auto generating content such as contents pages, and also makes it very easy to change the layout of the document.
When you begin the type in Word, the ‘Normal’ style is selected. This is the default font for the document. To change this, select some text and format it to how you wish. I suggest justifying the text, changing the line spacing to 1.5 (for an essay) and picking a nice font. When you are happy with it, right click on the text, select “styles” and then “Update Normal to Match Selection.” Now all your text will be formatted the same. If you want to make changes later on, follow the same procedure and all the text will automatically update.
Use the Heading1 style for headings in your document. You can change the styles like above. The larger the number (Heading2, Heading3 etc) the smaller the sub-heading. Other styles exist for captions underneath figures and quotes. You can even make your own styles, for example if you need to show command line text in your document, highlight the text, change the font to Courier New, make the background black and text white and then right click > “Styles” > “Save Selection as New Quick Style”. This style now appears in the styles box. Every time you need to write some command line in the document, just select the style you defined and the text will automatically be formatted for you.
The advantages are twofold: firstly it means if you want to make a change that affects all the text in the document, or all the headers, captions etc, you can edit a small amount, press update and everything is done for you. Secondly – Word understands styles and will auto generate contents pages for you if you have used Heading1, Heading2 etc. For example if this is your document:
When you go to the Reference tab, and then press “Table of Contents”:
This will appear:
The table will auto update occasionally, but you can force it to by clicking on the contents and click on “Update Table”.
There are lots of style ‘templates’ available under “Change styles” next to the style box in the Home ribbon. These have already formatted the text and headers to suit a particular type of document.