Styles In Word

Note : This applies to MS Word 2010 and later.  For earlier versions of Word the steps involved maybe different.

Styles in Word allow you to quickly format sections of your document – headings, subheadings, paragraphs, indents, etc.

When putting together a large document, I use the Styles mostly to highlight headings and subheadings.  One other advantage to using them is how quickly a table of contents can be put together and updated as changes are made.

This post will cover the basics of Styles in Word and creating and updating a Table of Contents – I would recommend playing around with different options and settings yourself to learn more about them.  There are too many options to fully cover in one post.



Under the “Home” ribbon/menu in Word, you will see the Styles section of the menu bar.

Styles Ribbon in Word

By highlighting any text in my document (a heading for example) I can then select the “Heading 1” style from the menu bar.  This changes the format of the selected text and sets it as a Heading.  The format is different for Heading 2,3, etc.

Using the Styles options here keeps the formatting of the whole document consistent, and can take the pain out of repeating the same formatting for each heading/paragraph/emphasis/etc.

Below are 3 lines that I have formatted as Heading1, Heading2 and then normal.

3  styles in word

Changing Styles

There is also a button in the Styles section of the menu bar to change styles.  By selecting a different style from the list given, this will change all the Heading 1, 2, 3, paragraphs, indents, etc automatically.  You do not have to select each piece of text and update the format yourself.

Change Styles button

Using the above Style example, below are just a few examples of how the style changes by selecting different style themes.

Different Styles in Word

Table of Contents

As mentioned earlier, one advantage of using styles and setting the headings is that it helps speed up the process of putting together a table of contents.

Table of Contents


The option to insert a Table of Contents is on the References ribbon/menu.  There are different options for the layout of the TOC (Table of Contents).  Go to the start of your document, and enter a TOC.

Word then populates the TOC  with the headings and subheadings that you set in your document, along with the page numbers that they appear on.  Depending on the layout selected, subheadings may be indented under main headings, making the TOC easier to follow.


If you are viewing a Word document on screen, by holding the Ctrl key and clicking on a heading or subheading in the TOC, Word will jump to that point in the document.



If you update your document – change page numbers, add/delete/change headings and subheadings you should click on the TOC and select to update the entire table.



The video below demonstrates some of the points in this post.  Again, I would recommend that you try out different options and settings yourself to see what preferences you have.

The timeline of the video is as follows:

  • 0-23 seconds : Setting headings, subheadings and sub-subheadings
  • 23-37 seconds : Inserting a Table of Contents
  • 38-54 seconds : Moving some of headings to a different page and updating TOC to show change in page number
  • 55-76 seconds : Some other changes and TOC updates
  • 1minute 16 seconds + : Holding Ctrl and clicking on item in TOC to jump to that point in the document

If you have problems playing the video below, you can watch it from here on YouTube.



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