MS Word

Copy Intricate Formatting Instantly

The Problem:

After some intensive work in the Font dialog box, I've finally got this word formatted exactly right. Now I need to apply the same formatting to five other words in the document.

The Solution:

You can fix this annoyance easily in any of three ways:

  • Select the word you've formatted, double-click the Format Painter button on the Standard toolbar (it's the button with the paintbrush icon), and then drag over each of the words you want to format, in turn. Press Escape (or click the Format Painter button again) when you've finished.

  • Copy the formatted word, paste it in over the first of the other words, select the pasted word, and retype the required word. Repeat as necessary. This method isn't as good as using the Format Painter button, but it's sometimes useful.

  • Create a character style from the formatted word. Select the word, click in the Style listbox at the top of the Style drop-down list, and type the name for the new style. You can then apply the style to selected text from the Style drop-down list.

How Word's formatting works

Word offers enough formatting options to stop a Humvee in its tracksand more than enough to waste plenty of your time. Here's what you need to know:

  • A style is a collection of formatting for a regular paragraph, a list paragraph, a table cell, or one or more characters. For example, a Heading 1 style for top-level headings might use a different font than normal body text, a larger font size, different indentation, and extra space before and after it. Word 2003 and Word XP support four types of styles: paragraph styles, list styles, table styles, and character styles. Word 2000 and earlier versions have only paragraph styles and character styles. If you use a version of Word that supports list styles and table styles but need to work with people who use Word 2000 or earlier versions, it's best not to use list styles or table styles. Styles are the preferred way of applying almost all formatting in Word, because you can quickly find or change a style globally in your documents.

  • Direct formatting is formatting that you apply directly to an object, such as a word or paragraph. For example, you might apply bold or italic formatting to a word or change the alignment or line spacing of a paragraph. When you use direct formatting, which you should do seldom rather than as a rule, use it in addition to applying a style (rather than instead of applying a style).

  • Page layout formatting controls the overall layout of the page: the paper size and orientation (portrait or landscape), the page margins, the header and footer position, and so on.

  • Section formatting controls the layout of a particular section (subdivision) of a document. The page layout of a document can vary from one section to another.

  • A theme is a suite of canned elements (such as a background image, bullets, and icons) and styles (for headings, the Normal style, and hyperlinks) designed to give a document a particular look. The styles in a theme override those in the document's template. The main purpose of themes is to make web pages created using different templates share the same look, but you can also use themes in other documents if you choose.

Here's the best way to apply formatting:

  1. Create a template that contains the styles you need.

  2. Apply a paragraph style to each non-list and non-table paragraph, as your primary means of formatting. Apply a list style to each list paragraph and a table style to each table paragraph or cell. (If your documents need to be fully compatible with Word 2000 or earlier versions, use paragraph styles rather than list styles and table styles.)

  3. Apply a character style when needed to pick out a particular element in a paragraph. For example, if a word must be bold and italic, you might apply a Bold Italic style that you have created (as described in "Get Started with Styles," later in this tutorial).

  4. Apply direct formatting only when absolutely necessary. If you need to apply the same direct formatting to multiple items in the same document, create a style for it.