Twice as many of our Style Survey Respondents report that they use Custom Styles for their reusable proposal content than those who do not.   If you create your styles correctly, formatting your proposals will work like magic. In this post we will look at the steps to create a new Custom Style.

How to Create a New Style

When defined properly and used consistently, Custom Styles provide you with control over your document’s formatting and greatly reduce the time and frustration as well.

The steps to create a New Custom Style are quite simple.

  1. Format an example of content with the appearance you want to create
  2. Click on the Home Tab and open the Style Pane
  3. Select the content (include the paragraph mark if you want to define the paragraph features too)
  4. Click on the ‘New Style’ Button  (That’s the little button on the bottom of the styles pane)

Create a New Custom Style in Microsoft Word

A ‘New Style’ dialog box will appear, with the formatting properties already set.

Tips on Naming your Custom Styles

The first field to be completed is the ‘Name’ of the new style.  If you want to make sure that it doesn’t accidentally ‘blend’ with some other custom style be sure to give it a unique name.  Including part of your company name in the Style name helps to ensure uniqueness.

To make sure that your Custom Style appears on the top of the Style Pane list, consider adding a special character or number in the beginning of the name  so that it will be at the top alphabetically.  Here is our sample ‘* My Special Style’”.


The second field is the style ‘Type’ field.  In this case it is a paragraph style.  You can also choose to create a character style for uses in emphasis, instead of directly using bold or italic.

The Basics of Base Styles

The third field is used to select the style on which to base your Custom Style.  This is important because the default is the original style of the content that you formatted.  In our example it started off as ‘Normal’ which would make the ‘Style Based on:’ to default to ‘Normal’.  But we DON’T want our style to blend with or be affected by the Normal styles of the target document.  So we change that to ‘(no style)’.  This ensures that we keep complete control over our formatting, regardless of how the built-in styles are defined in the target document.


Setting What is to Follow

The fourth field sets the Style for the following paragraph.  In most cases that will be the same as your new Custom Style.  If the field contains ‘Normal’ instead, be sure to select the correct custom style.


How to set the View Options on the Style Pane

Open the Styles Pane.  If the Styles are not already listed Alphabetically, click on the ‘Options’ button and select ‘Alphabetical’ as the list order.   To view the Styles as they will appear, select the ‘Show Preview’ checkbox on the bottom of the Style Pane.

Here is ‘* My Special Style’ listed at the top of the pane.


In the next post we will look at the special case of Custom Heading Styles.

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