See the first part of this subject: Make Professional Looking Documents in Word (Part 1) before reading any further.
OK, so you have a document that now contains styles, whether you applied the styles or you inherited a document from someone else that contains styles.
Here are 3 reasons why you need to use styles to make documents look professional:
1) Using styles you can easily update the look of your entire document by changing the formatting attributes of one style. (I talked about this in the first article, but it’s so important and useful that I wanted to draw your attention to it again.)
OK, so let’s take an example. The default style in Word is called “Normal” and it may be preset to be Arial font, size 11, with single line spacing.
Open the style and check the formatting attributes if you want to see what is preset. Here’s a picture of the default formatting attributes for the “Normal” style in my document (I’ve opened the Style pane, clicked on the style called “Normal”, and selected “Modify Style”):
Let’s say you now want double spacing and you want a different font. So you change “Normal” to be double spaced and Helvetica font size 12. Here are the 4 quick steps that I took:
After I click “OK”, every spot where the “Normal” style was applied in the document gets automatically updated in one fell swoop. Yippee!! No more fiddling around line by line, only to have to redo formatting work if you add or subtract content. It’s an incredible timesaver.
2) Using styles, you can make use of the (hidden) document structure of your document.
Translated: when you build a professional looking document, you will want headings and subheadings. It makes the document easier to read if it’s well organized.
Some of the Word styles are set up for this. Look for outline styles called Heading 1, Heading 2, etc. As you apply these styles, you are building the document structure. You can only see the document structure when you turn on the Document Map.
I find the concept of having a document structure built into my document very useful when I start to write, especially if I’m experiencing writer’s block or am dealing with a complex subject. I can always start writing in one section where I know have information to contribute and I typically find that as I start, it becomes easier to write in the other sections.
For example, I’ll take a few minutes to outline the main sections of my document, as in:
|Name of my section||Style to apply|
|Main Point 1||Heading 1|
|Sub Point 1||Heading 2|
|Sub Sub Point 1||Heading 3|
|Sub Point 2||Heading 2|
|Main Point 2||Heading 1|
Then as I write, I turn the Document Map on and off as I want so that I can make sure that the logical structure of my document is intact. It is SO USEFUL – you’ll love it.
3) Using the built-in outline level styles (e.g. heading 1, heading 2, heading 3, etc), you can have the software generate and update a table of contents for you.
When you build professional lengthy documents, a table of contents will help organize your sections by putting together an index that lists your section titles and the starting page numbers for each section.
As you add and remove content, you’ll want to help the reader navigate to specific sections and page numbers will change…alot, especially the more modifications you make to your document. So by using styles, and auto-generating a table of contents, your document section titles match their page numbers and your document looks even more professional. Another timesaver!
Next, you will want to find out what to do if you get a document that has messed-up styles. Read on…