An easy way to manage Word's list of styles

By default, Word's list of styles is much larger than you need. You can easily reduce it to display just the styles you're using.

Users hesitate to use styles because Word documents have so many that the bunch is a bit unruly. Indeed, the whole corralling process is more complex than maybe it should be. If the sheer number of styles intimidates you, there's an easy trick that will help your reduce styles to a manageable list. The trick is easy to implement; it's a simple setting. However, it isn't a setting you'd know about without a bit of exploring.

First, let's look at what you might face when working with styles. Click the dialog launcher (the diagonal arrow at the bottom right) of the Styles group. Doing so will launch the Styles pane. Using the scroll bar, you probably see dozens and dozens of styles. Most are styles you never use, and as such, they're just in your way. Now, imagine looking for a specific style in that list. It's not just the volume, but the styles aren't even in alphabetical order!

The easiest way to reduce that list into something you can actually use is to limit it to only those styles used in the current document, as follows:

  1. Click the Styles group's dialog launcher to open the Styles pane.
  2. Click the Options link at the bottom of the pane.
  3. From the Select Styles To Show dropdown, choose In Use.
  4. Click OK. The resulting list is much shorter and easier to use.

The list still isn't sorted in alphabetical order, but with such a short list, it's not that important. However, if you want an alphabetical sort, return to the Style Pane Options dialog and choose Alphabetical from the Select How List Is Sorted dropdown. In addition, if you want all new documents to display a shorter list, select the New Documents Based On This Template option at the bottom of the dialog.

Changing this setting is a simple task, but the resulting list is much easier to use. Knowing that the setting exists and how to adjust it to fit your needs is the trick!

About Susan Harkins

Susan Sales Harkins is an IT consultant, specializing in desktop solutions. Previously, she was editor in chief for The Cobb Group, the world's largest publisher of technical journals.

Editor's Picks