Formatting Text in Microsoft Word: Layout & Style

Instructor: Sebastian Garces

Sebastian has taught programming and computational thinking for University students and has Master's degree in Computer and Information Technology

In this lesson, we are going to learn how to style our documents for different purposes and how to switch their layouts to find the most appealing format.

Paragraph Styling

In this lesson, we're going to explore how to apply style and format to our Microsoft Word documents. For purposes of this lesson, we are going to be working with Microsoft Word 2016; keep in mind that if you're using a different version, what you see might differ from this content.

Paragraph styling gives us a more efficient way to write and create documents, even if we don't want to change much in the styling.

First, we need to familiarize ourselves with the Style pane. Is the small box on the top right of the Home tab:

Style Pane
Style Pane Box

To start formatting our paragraphs, we select the part of the text whose style we want to change. Keep in mind that there are several options for the different parts of a document, or you can change the whole document, but you have to select the part that what you want to work with. For example, if we select the whole text of our document and then select the header style, Microsoft Word is going to put the entire text in header style, like it were all one big title.

Speaking of, let's start with the title. Go ahead and select the title and find the option you like best in the Style Pane.

Header Style
Header Styling in Word

We can now see how our title is formatted.

Ok, what about the rest of the paragraph text? Let's say that we don't want to have spacing between paragraphs. Just select the whole text and applying the 'No Spacing' option in the Style Pane.

No Spacing
No Spacing Style

We can see that there are multiple styling options that not only help us customize how our document looks, but can also make it easier to add extra things to it. For example, adding a content table with the default styles will set up everything automatically without us having to tweak the content table itself. Or if you've customized the content table style for that document already, you can now apply it to any new content tables that you add without having to do it all over again.

Adding Styles

If we are not content with the styles that Microsoft Word offers for our documents, we can always create our own. To do this we just need to click on the Style pane button at the top right corner and find the New Styles option:

New Style Option
Adding a New Style

This way we can create our new styles, from the type of text you are styling to the font formatting, spacing. Once it's created, we can even add it to the Quick Formats list.

Creating a New Style
Create your own style


Now, let's talk about layouts. Layouts are the way our paragraphs are going to be arranged in our documents. So far, most of what we've seen is a standard document layout where every paragraph uses all the width of a page. What if we wanted something more appealing, or we were trying to publish a document in a magazine or journal with a different format?

There is a Layout tab in the top menu bar just for this. We can adapt our style according to what we need:

Layout Options
Layout Tab in Word


The first option we will see is margins. This indicates how much of the page we want to cover with text and how much space we want free around the edges.

Margin Options in Word

The margins option is pretty self-explanatory. We even get some images of the different options of margins and a way to customize them.


The orientation option simply lets us choose if we want our document in portrait layout (vertical) or landscape (horizontal).


The size option will let us choose the actual size of the page that we are working on. This is really important if we're printing our document. If the size of your page in the layout options doesn't match the size of the paper in our printer, it will really mess up our printed document.

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