Defining Normal and Header Styles

How to define your most common actions as reusable styles.

Now it's time to start formatting the contents of your book. Rather than formatting characters and paragraphs directly, we'll define styles that can be applied to blocks of text. There are two advantages to this formatting technique. First, you can change the style of an entire document by modifying a single style definition rather than changing the formatting that you applied to all the individual elements in the document. Second, if you use standard Header styles, you can instruct Word to build and maintain a Table of Contents for you.

During formatting, we'll be defining every paragraph in the document as style Normal, except your chapter headings, which will be formatted with the Heading 1 style.

To configure the Normal style, select the Home menu tab and right-click your mouse over the Normal style. Select Modify from the pop-up menu. These actions will display the Modify Style dialog box.

Configure the Normal style to use the font Times New Roman at size 11 with Bold, Italic, and Underscore disabled. Set the orientation to Align Left and the line spacing to Single Space. Now, click the Format button in the lower left of the dialog window and select Paragraph from the pop-up menu. This will cause the Paragraph dialog box to appear.

When formatting paragraphs for a fiction book, I like to put no extra spacing between paragraphs and indent each paragraph. To accomplish this, be sure the Indents and Spacing tab is selected at the top of the dialog box. Set Special to "First line" and By to "0.33". Set Spacing Before to 0 and After to 0.

To format a non-fiction book, such as this one, don't indent your paragraphs as explained above and instead place a blank line between paragraphs. Accomplish this, set Spacing Before to 0 and After to 8 pt.

Conclude by clicking the OK button on the two dialog boxes.

Configure the Heading 1 style in a similar fashion to use the font Times New Roman at size 14 with Bold enabled. Set the orientation to Align Left and the line spacing to Single Space. Format the paragraph setting to Special of (none). Finally, select the Line and Page Breaks tab at the top of the Paragraph dialog box and check the "Page break before" check box.

Continue to configure subheading styles (e.g. Heading 2, Heading 3, etc.) if your document will be using subheadings. Configure these headings to be similar to Heading 1 (e.g. I use italic rather than bold for Heading 3). Exclude the page break from these headings and add a blank line after by configuring Paragraphs to Spacing Before of 0 and After of 8 pt.