sensible styles

My favorite style is sensible. And I'm not talking about fashion here, I'm referring to the feature that is found in word processing applications like Word and InDesign. Why are styles sensible? They save time and help you produce better looking documents. A style is a basket for a group of formatting commands. If you decide to make your chapter titles 37 pt Bold Dark Teal Verdana on chapter 1 you may not recall exactly what you did by chapter 13. Styles would save the day! You can name your 37 pt Bold Dark Teal Verdana text "Chapter titles" and then apply the "Chapter titles" style wherever you like, without remembering all of the details. Another sensible trait of styles is the ease with which you can change your formatting. Down the road, around chapter 32 of your book, you decide you want the chapter titles to be purple and small caps. Styles save the day again. Instead of selecting and changing each of your 32 titles individually (hello, time-consuming!) you can modify your "Chapter titles" style and every instance of it will be updated.

If styles only assist in making things look pretty they wouldn't be supergirl-in-disguise-worthy. Add functionality to styles and now we're talking. Remember the days of typing out your table of contents only to have more edits come in. The edits change the pages and the table of contents you carefully typed is useless. Those days are over. Let's go back to your 32 chapter book. Because you used "Chapter titles" for every chapter tile in the book you don't have to retype anything. Instead you will insert a dynamic table of contents based on your style. The table can be updated to reflect edits to your document without retyping or counting pages. [In Word Help keyword search "Table of Contents" to learn more.]

Using styles can seem complex at first. Don't give up, supergirl, they're worth learning. Begin with the built-in styles in Word. Apply them, modify them, see just how many different options you have. When you're getting the hang of things look for an online tutorial to teach you more. Let's see where sensible styles take you.

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