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How to use content themes and styles in Microsoft Word

Microsoft Word themes and styles
Microsoft Word themes and styles (Image credit: Windows Central )

Although you can style every part of a Microsoft Word document individually with unique fonts and colors, it is not a convenient approach since you have to repeat the steps many times, consuming more time and increasing the chances of mistakes, and this is when styles and themes can come in handy.

In the Office apps, styles are collections of fonts, text sizes, and colors that you can apply to different parts of the document (titles, subheadings, quotation, etc.). On the other hand, themes are collections of styles that you can use to format the entire document quickly.

When you use styles and themes, you will still be using a few steps, but it is a more organized way to format a document on Windows 10, and you will really see the benefit when you need to make changes since updating the format can be as easy as selecting a new theme or style.

In this Windows 10 guide, we will walk you through the steps to change the look and feel of Word documents using the style and themes settings whether you use Office from Microsoft 365 or Office 2019.

How to use styles in Word

To change the overall look of a Word document, use these steps:

  1. Open the Word app.
  2. Under the "New" section, click the Blank document option (or open an existing document).
  3. Create the document's content.
  4. Select with the mouse the text you want to apply a different format – for example, the title.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  1. In the "Home" tab, under the "Styles" section, select the content type to style.Quick note: When selecting a style, make sure to apply it to the correct formating. For example, if you choose the title, then the style should be "Title." For the subtitle, select the "Subtitle" style and the rest of the headings using "Heading" 1 through 9 accordingly. And don't worry about the colors. You will customize these when applying a theme. Also, to view all the available elements, click the More button in Styles's bottom-right corner.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  1. Continue applying the styling for subtitles, headings, quotes, and anything else you want to format.Quick tip: You can always click and hold the Ctrl key and use the mouse pointer to select the same parts of the document, including the same stying, for instance, all the subtitles (headings).

Once you complete the steps, the document will be formatted with the styling you selected, and when you make changes to the style, the formatting will change automatically for all the same parts of the document.

In addition to selecting from the predefined settings, you can also create new or modify existing elements to style documents with custom settings.

Create new style element

To create a custom style element in Microsoft Word, use these steps:

  1. Open the Word app.
  2. Click the Open option.
  3. In the "Home" tab, under the "Styles" section, click the More (down-arrow button) menu.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  1. Click the Create a style option.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  1. Specify a name for the style.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  1. Click OK button.

After you complete the steps, the new element will appear in the Styles menu.

Modify style elements

To modify a new or existing style element, use these steps:

  1. Open the Word app.
  2. Click the Open option.
  3. In the "Home" tab, under the "Styles" section, right-click the style and select the Modify Option.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  1. Customize the style name and formatting settings (for example, font, size, color, aligment, etc.) as necessary.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  1. Click the OK button.

Once you complete the steps, the new styling changes will apply to the element.

How to use themes in Word

After applying the style, you can use themes to give the document a different look and feel with colors and a combination of fonts.

To apply a theme to a Microsoft Word document, use these steps:

  1. Open the Word app.
  2. Click the Open option.
  3. Select the document you already styled to open it.
  4. Click the Design tab.
  5. Click the Themes button.
  6. Roll the mouse pointer over the themes to see a live preview of each available theme.
  7. Click the theme you want for the document.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  1. (Optional) Use the "Document Formatting" section to select another version of the theme with different combinations of fonts and colors.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  1. (Optional) Click the "Colors" menu to select a different color scheme.
  2. (Optional) Click the "Fonts" menu to select a different combination of fonts.Quick note: As you open the menu, the top font is one for the title, the one in the middle is for the subheadings, and the one at the bottom is for the content.

After you complete the steps, the content will incorporate the new colors and fonts available through the theme you selected.

Set theme as the default

To set a theme as the default for Word, use these steps:

  1. Open the Word app.
  2. Click the Open option.
  3. Select the document you already styled to open it.
  4. Click the Design tab.
  5. Customize the formatting of the document with colors, fonts, spacing, and effects.
  6. Click the Set as Default button.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  1. Click the OK button.

Once you complete the steps, the theme will be available as the default for every new document. However, it won't apply to the document automatically. Instead, it will be the default theme in the "Style" section, in the "Home" tab.

Create a new theme template

To create a new theme for Microsoft Word documents, use these steps:

  1. Open the Word app.
  2. Click the Open option.
  3. Select the document you already styled to open it.
  4. Click the Design tab.
  5. Use the "Document Formatting" section to select a format.
  6. Click the "Colors" menu to select a color scheme.
  7. Click the "Fonts" menu to select a combination of fonts.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  1. Click the "Paragraph Spacing" menu and select one of the predefined options.Quick tip: You can also click the Custom Paragraph Spacing option to create a new style.
  2. (Optional) Click the "Effects" menu and select the effect you want to use when inserting objects.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  1. Click the "Themes" menu and choose the Save Current Theme option.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  1. Confirm a name for the theme.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  1. Click the Save button.

After you complete the steps, the new theme will be available from the "Themes" menu in the "Custom" section.

More Windows 10 resources

For more helpful articles, coverage, and answers to common questions about Windows 10, visit the following resources:

Mauro Huculak is technical writer for WindowsCentral.com. His primary focus is to write comprehensive how-tos to help users get the most out of Windows 10 and its many related technologies. He has an IT background with professional certifications from Microsoft, Cisco, and CompTIA, and he's a recognized member of the Microsoft MVP community.

1 Comment
  • Was anyone else as impressed as I was with the Infobox in Lotus SmartSuite, and how it could be up on the screen and change properties and see the changes at once, not having to reopen a dialog box over and over again to make a change, like we still must do in Microsoft 365.
    That was over 20 years ago and still Microsoft haven't learned!!