Legal document styling: how to use and edit styles in MS Word?

Legal document styling

What is the difference between “a rough draft” and “a tidy document, ready for submission”? It’s good old styling and formatting. In MS Word, styling can help arrange and edit any text element in documents – titles, headings, paragraphs, numbering, etc. Using the same-name styles in Word, you can enhance the formatting of your document body and overview it.

In this guide, we will lead you through the basics of styling in MS Word on macOS and Windows and show you the full potential that Word can bring to your documents. If you would like to fix text styles even quicker and more thoroughly, see how you can do it with Loio.

Styling in MS Word: overview

Let’s take a look at style settings in Microsoft Word. On both macOS and Windows, the Styles section in Word is easy to find. It’s in the upper ribbon tab on the right.

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If you open up the styles row, you’ll see more available styles and the Clear Formatting option. Overall, the styles in Word can highlight the key textual elements like titles, headings, fonts, quotes, references, list paragraphs, etc.

Styles row

Alongside the Styles section, there is Style Pane which opens the main styling toolbar. If you’re using Mac, in the toolbar you’ll see a table of the suggested styles. Below you can pick the styles to display: all styles, recommended ones, or the ones in use and in the current document.

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To find the same Style Pane on Windows, click at the bottom right corner of the Styles section. Word will automatically detect styles in your doc and display them in the style toolbar.

Styles Pane 2

At the bottom of Style Pane, there are two more options that can help you see in detail the formatting of each text component. 

On macOS Word, you can number the styles (Show styles guides option) or highlight every part of the text as a style (Direct formatting guides option). 

Styles guides & formatting guides 1

On Windows, similar options are usually hidden for the first pickup. To find them, click Style Inspector below the Styles Pane, and then Reveal Formatting. If you want to mark all parts of the text as a style, tick Show all the formatting marks

Reveal Formatting 1

Truth be told, you don’t have to worry about which OS you should use to learn styling. In line with other Word features, styles are meant to make work with legal documents easier and clearer on any software system. Here we’re moving from theory to practice.

How to start working with styles in Word?

There are two ways how to use styles in MS Word:

  1. To highlight the key parts of the text and create new styles;
  2. To apply default styles in the text body and modify them.

Both these options lead to the same result – a clearly formatted document with an arranged table of styles besides. Step-by-step practicing is the thing that matters – don’t be afraid to try both ways to see which one is the best for you. 

For starters, make sure your document view is clear to you. Select the In current document section from the list in Styles Pane on Mac or Style Pane Options on Windows. 

Styles Pane 1

Style Pane Options 1

MS Word may show the found styles in a messy way. But it is all right, soon you will learn how to fix these results in tables of styles.

Titles and headings

For better navigation within the doc, first add headings and titles to your styles “storage” (called “styles table” on Mac or “styles gallery” on Windows). Consider the first way of styling when you have to create a new style.

To put the doc title into the table, highlight it and press New Style in Style Panes of both OS. The Create New Style from Formatting window will pop up.

Create New Style from Formatting 1

Here are the main styling settings like the style name, style type, and formatting. Extra options below enable you to save new styles to the table, or gallery.  

Now let’s try to modify the in-built styles. Using the example of headings, again highlight the one in your document. Then, choose the appropriate Heading 1 style on Mac or Windows and press Modify Style. The same-name window will appear. Now go on enhancing the default style to fit your doc.

Modify style 1

Having created the styles for titles and headings, you can continue to paragraph styling.

Body text styling: paragraphs

The value of the styling feature of MS Word doesn’t finish at Style Panes windows. Word has many more styling aces up its sleeves like paragraphs and its components.

When setting up a new style for paragraphs, in the Styles toolbar on Mac, click New Style. On Windows, click Create a Style. Then, in both OS, move to the bottom of the popped up windows. Choose Paragraph from the dropdown list. 

Paragraph 1

In the new Paragraph window, you can fill in specific numbers for indentation and spacing plus tick extra options that you need. In another Line and Page Breaks tab, you can manage the formatting of document pages and text boxes. In the end, never forget to press OK to save the new style and its settings.

Now moving on to font styling.

Fonts

Within paragraphs, styling in Word enables users to independently tailor minor parts of the text like fonts, lists, and numbering. 

Whether you want to create a new style or change the default one for fonts, dive into the bottom of the style setting window, the same for Mac and Windows. Choose Font from the dropdown list. The window with font settings will show up.

Font 1

In Font settings, you can manage font type, style, size, and even effects. Advanced settings in the next tab may help you fix character and number spacing. 

Also, you’re enabled to easily adjust fonts in the styles of titles, headings, paragraphs, and other body text elements. 

Finally, the last but not the least essential part of body content is lists and numbering.

Lists and numbering

Creating numbered lists and bullet points works in the same way on both macOS and Windows.

Simply select the Numbering option from the dropdown list below in the style setting window. There are multiple types of bullet points and numbering lists. Clicking Customize at the bottom, you’re also able to set the needed number formats and text positions for the chosen option. If you don’t like the results, you’re free to reset the list settings.

list & numbering

Styling is a great way to organize each part of the text in legal documents. But it can be even greater with AI-powered extensions in Microsoft Word, or add-ins. For instance, Loio has a special feature that makes working with styles in Word even more comfortable.

We hope that with this guide you will become a real wizard who can masterfully operate with styles as a handy tool. Whenever your job demands it, do present your documents safe and neat.

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