Using Styles in Microsoft Word

In Microsoft Word, a “style” is a collection of formatting instructions. There are several reasons to use styles when creating a document, including:

• Consistency in formatting

• Ease of modification

• Creating a Table of Contents

• Enhancing document navigation

• Improving the performance of Word

• Increasing document accessibility

Consistency in Formatting

By utilizing Styles, you will not need to manually alter the formatting in your document, including headings, titles, quotes, or emphasis (Kenyon, 2017). Styles also offers a variety of built-in options that can also be modified for your needs or preferences. You can also create new Styles though the Styles pane. 

Ease of Modification

If you want to make a change within your document, you only have to change a Style once (Bradley, 2012). The change will be carried through the Style use in the rest of the document. This also helps with efficiency in document editing and minimizing human error (missing a change, etc.). 

Creating a Table of Contents

When using Styles, headings can be utilized to automatically generate a Table of Contents for your document (Bradley, 2012). Even if you edit your document, you can easily update the Table of Contents when using Styles. 

Enhancing Document Navigation

When using Microsoft Styles, the headings you create will appear in the Navigation Pane (Kelly, 2011). This makes it easier to navigate through a document with a single click on the heading. 

Improving the Performance of Word

Using Styles can help to eliminate lag in Microsoft Word’s performance, as the programs don’t have to render each instance of manual formatting (Kenyon, 2017). 

Increasing Document Accessibility

Utilizing Styles helps to increase the accessibility of documents for blind and visually impaired users (Microsoft, 2017). The use of Style headings, particularly in the correct order (heading 1, heading 2, etc.) helps screen readers convey the appropriate information. This particular feature is in strong alignment with UC’s focus on digital accessibility. 


Microsoft Styles are collections of formatting that can be applied to a document. By using the Styles feature, you can not only improve your usage of Word but also make your documents more accessible for others. 


Bradley, H. (2012). 10 Microsoft Word style secrets. PC World. Retrieved from

Kelly, S. (2011). How to use the Document Map in Microsoft Word. Retrieved from

Kenyon, C. (2017). Understanding styles in Microsoft Word. Retrieved from 

Microsoft. (2017). Make your Word documents accessible. Retrieved from  

Written for the Accessibility Network by IT@UC eLearning Instructional Designer, Megan Wuebker.

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