Styles and templates
Formatting your document using styles and templates helps you to develop a logical structure and layout.
When you are writing a document, each content type (eg heading, paragraph, text box) has a different look. For example, headings are usually larger than paragraph text. The space before and after a heading also gives important visual navigational cues to readers (eg to ensure that it is clear what text the heading belongs to, the space after a heading should not be larger than the space before it).
Do not format documents manually by highlighting each content type and using toolbars to set the font size and attributes (eg bold, left aligned). This is time-consuming, prone to error and inconsistency, and difficult to update throughout the document.
Using styles means that you set up a ‘style’ for each of your different content types in a word-processing program such as Microsoft Word. In this context, a style is a set of text formatting characteristics such as font size, type, alignment and spacing.
Styles and templates are key writing tools because they allow you to:
- ensure that the look of different headings and other content types is consistent
- repeat the look of a document in other documents
- restyle the document quickly and consistently
- create a table of contents
- check and change the table of contents to create the most logical structure
- create accessible documents.
Using styles also helps if the document is being sent to a designer – the designer will use the styles to format the document accurately into the heading levels you want. If you have styled the whole document as Normal text and then applied bold, italics and so on to indicate headings, the designer will need to guess the correct level for each heading, and errors can creep in.
This section covers: