Do you know to use document styles on your word processor?

A few years ago, I started working more extensively with other writers — freelancers, part-timers, veterans, freshers and all kinds. 

And there’s one thing I noticed: So many used the default styles of their word processor. 

You know that Calibri settings that automatically show up when you open a new Word document? That. And then there are others who hate Calibri and would change it to Helvetica or Arial or sometimes more fancy like Avenir or something. Yet, the line spacing would be off, the page breaks were actually multiple line breaks, headings were manually formatted etc. 

And just last week, I saw the cutest use of a word processor: Manually inserting footnotes! One of my interns had formatted the number to a superscript, inserted a line at the bottom of the page and manually entered the notes under it! I absolutely appreciated the care she took in making it look perfect, I almost didn’t notice the difference. But gosh, how much time went in something that could have simply been automated. 

Having a good default style sheet:

  • Brings consistency to all your documents,

  • Makes it easy to skim/search,

  • Gives the convenience of making changes in one place and seeing it reflect throughout,

  • Shows the publisher which is H1, H2 etc. for SEO reasons.

It typically looks great too. Anyway, I’m not going to teach you all the document styles here. But let me list the set up I typically have:

  • Normal text, which forms the body copy. Typically 11/12 pt. Black or dark grey.

  • Line height of 12 pt, above, not below. This makes sure that I don’t have to manually add a line between paragraphs.

  • Title. Typically a very large font. 24/26 pt.

  • Subtitle. Typically 16/18 pt. Lighter grey. Used for the deck or quotes.

  • Three headings of varying weights.

Depending on what you use it for, you might need more styles or fewer. But learn to use the tools properly. Here you go: Dummies for Microsoft Word and Google Docs.

Set it up once, and save time forever!