Word’s ribbon configuration takes a stab at accessing styles quickly, but it’s so different from the menu version that it can seem convoluted. The truth is, if you set it up correctly, it provides quick access to the styles you use. To do so, you must move the styles that you use regularly to the head of the list. That’s what most users don’t know how to do; in fact, many don’t even realize that they can.

First, let’s define a few terms to eliminate any confusion:

  • The Quick Style gallery (or Styles gallery) is the long rectangle in the Styles group that displays thumbnail views of the styles.
  • A Quick Style is any style displayed in the Quick Style gallery.
  • The Styles pane is your route to more style settings. You launch it by clicking the Styles dialog launcher.

To apply a style using the Quick Style gallery, you just click the thumbnail in the gallery. If that style is one of the first on the list, great – it just takes a single click. If it isn’t visible, click the gallery’s dropdown to see the entire gallery. (The styles in your gallery might not match mine – that’s fine.)

If your favorite styles aren’t in the gallery, you can add them as follows:

  1. Click the Styles group’s dialog launcher to display the Styles pane.
  2. Scan the list for your style.
  3. Right-click the style, and choose Add To Quick Style gallery.

Many of the styles aren’t in the gallery. If the one you want to add to the gallery isn’t, do the following:

  1. Launch the Styles pane.
  2. Click Options (circled in the figure above).
  3. From the Select Styles To Show dropdown, choose All Styles.
  4. Click OK.
  5. Now, find your style in the Styles pane list and add it to the gallery. Word adds it to the end of the gallery.

Removing a style is even easier. Right-click it in the gallery and choose Remove From Quick Style gallery.

Once the new style is in the gallery, you can leave it at the end of the list or move it to the head of the list, as follows:

  1. Display the Styles pane by clicking the Styles group’s dialog launcher.
  2. Click the Manage Styles icon (third button to the right at the bottom).
  3. In the resulting dialog, click the Recommend tab.
  4. Select the style you want to move. You can use the Sort Order option to display the list alphabetically.
  5. Click the Assign Value option and enter a number that represents the position in the gallery list. For instance, if you enter 3, Word will display it as the third thumbnail in the gallery list.
  6. Click Show.
  7. From the Sort Order dropdown, choose As Recommended.
  8. Click OK and Word will move the style into the first row of the gallery.

Changes to the gallery are implemented at the document level. To change the gallery for all subsequent documents, update your custom templates and/or Normal.dotx.