Make your documents look better and save time: Use style sheets!

Q: My long document has a lot of headers, but it’s taking me forever to get it formatted so that it looks consistent. Is there a better way?

A: Yes! Using style sheets will solve this problem for you.

What is a style sheet?

A style sheet is a way to make different types of text (headers, body copy) look consistent throughout your document. It can be a character style (and so applies to individual characters, like making certain words bold or italics) or a paragraph style (which applies to an entire paragraph, like a header or an extract).

How do I get started?

We have a video on our Word page that takes you through it step by step—sometimes, it is easier to show than to tell! It demonstrates where to find style sheets in Word. (Hooray: they're probably already visible in your main work screen!)

  1. Tag your text: That is, assign a style sheet to each paragraph. (You can often use the Normal style sheet for most documents.) See our Word template, which has style sheets (with WSU colors and College of Medicine branding!) already set up. Make sure all of your text headers are assigned to whatever level they need. If you have extracts, create a style sheet for that.
  2. Modify style sheets (as needed). Once your text is tagged, you can adjust the appearance of all text that is tagged the same all at once! No more fiddling and trying to remember if you set your A-head at 14 points or 16—it’s set up in the style sheet, so any changes will apply to all.


Now you can create a sleek, clickable Table of Contents at the top of your documents! See this handy video with all of the details.

Double bonus

Using style sheets is a way to help make your document accessible. By tagging your document with style sheets, you are indicating the structure of your materials, so anyone using a screen reader can identify the outline of your text. (The header level is read aloud by the screen reader, too.) If you’re exporting to PDF, just make sure that you export your PDF with tags (check the Enable Accessibility box in Word).

I need more help.

Get in touch with us at the Office of Technology! We can get you right on track.

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