I tend to think of styles in terms of entire documents, or even sections or paragraphs. Applying formats to individual words or phrases is often easier accomplished manually, usually as an afterthought, but only if you’re applying the formats just once.

Repeating the manual process is inefficient. Fortunately, there’s a shortcut — the Ctrl + Y keystroke combination. This shortcut remembers the last set of formats applied. By set, I mean multiple formats applied to a selection. There are two limitations with this shortcut:

  • The shortcut remembers only the last set of formats applied. That means you’ll want to apply the set to every occurrence in the document, before starting a new formatting task.
  • You must apply the first set of formats using the Format dialog box. If you use icons on the Formatting toolbar, Word remembers only the last icon clicked. It can’t remember a set of formats applied via the toolbar icons.

To use the Ctrl + Y shortcut to quickly apply multiple formats, do the following:

  1. Select the first word or phrase.
  2. Choose Font from the Format menu.
  3. In the Font dialog box, select the appropriate formats.
  4. Click OK to close the dialog box and return to the document, where Word will have applied the specific formats to the previously selected text (step 1).
  5. Highlight the next word or phrase that you want to format and press  Ctrl + Y to apply the same formats chosen previously (step 3).
  6. Repeat step 5 until you’re done applying that particular set of formats.

This shortcut is most useful when you’re in a position to apply multiple formats to an entire document — usually after you’ve created the document and you’re reviewing it.