Understand Styles in Word 2016

By Dan Gookin

In Word 2016, a style is a collection of text and paragraph formats. These formats are saved as a collection, given a name, and applied to text just like any other format. The difference is that when you apply a style, you’re applying all the formats stored in that style. For heavy-duty formatting, styles save time.

Styles are available in all documents, whether or not you choose to use them. In fact, any text you type has a style automatically applied; it can’t be avoided. All text in a blank document uses the Normal style, Word’s primary (or default) text style.

The Normal style is defined with the following formats: Calibri font, 11 points tall, left-justified paragraphs, multiple line spacing at 1.08 lines, no indenting, zero margins, and 8 points of space after every paragraph.

Word’s Style names give you a clue to how to use the style, such as Heading 1 for the document’s top-level heading, or Caption, used for figure and table captions.

Styles are also categorized by which part of the document they affect. Five style types are available:

  • Paragraph: The paragraph style contains both paragraph- and text-formatting attributes: indents, tabs, font, text size — you name it. It’s the most common type of style.


  • Character: The character style applies to characters, not paragraphs. This type of style uses the character-formatting commands.


  • Linked: The linked style can be applied to both paragraphs and individual characters. The difference depends on which text is selected when the style is applied.


  • Table: The table style is applied to tables, to add lines and shading to the table cells’ contents.


  • List: The list style is customized for presenting lists of information. The styles can include bullets, numbers, indentation, and other formats typical for the parts of a document that present lists of information.


These types come into play when you create your own styles, as well as when you’re perusing styles to apply to your text.