Why style sheets are a must for writers

No matter which word processing software (WORD, Scrivener) you are using, getting setup before you start writing is a must.  I find it so much easier formatting my document as I go and it really saves on the editing.

So what are style sheets?

Quite simply, they are templates for the layout of your document.  One of the things that really frustrates me is when I get a document from someone who has used the bold, underline and font size buttons to change the look and feel.


Because when I then want to change the layout of the document, it takes forever.  Whereas if a style e.g. Heading 1 has been used, I would simply have changed the properties for Heading 1 and all of the Heading 1’s would have changed automatically each time I updated them.  Basically, changes with a single click.

Having style sheets also ensures uniformity and consistency throughout a single document or several documents based on that style. Word comes with a few pre-defined style sets which you can modify to suit your needs and allows you to add new ones.

example style

Thinking about your chapter layout, what styles might you need?

  • Chapter heading
  • Headings 1-5
  • First paragraph, if you are differentiating first paragraphs from the rest which are normally indented
  • Normal paragraph
  • Quote
  • Bulleted and numbered lists

Where would you find these styles?

Open up a Word document and they are right in front of you.




Each one of these styles has a set of properties, which you would set for your document.  Then as you typed, you would format as you went along.


  • Uniformity and consistency
  • Easy to make global changes
  • Makes creating and updating a table of contents easier
  • Makes editing and navigation easier when using the Navigation Pane

As a writer setting up style sheets will save you endless hours of editing.

It really is worth learning your word processing package, and utilizing all of it’s labour saving tools.

Lessons from Microsoft



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