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Tips for Long Word Documents: Style and Formatting

written by: •edited by: Michele McDonough•updated: 6/19/2010

Microsoft Word offers several features that will help you give even the lengthiest of documents a professional appearance. These tools and options make it easy to manage long Word docs.

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    Formatting Paragraphs

    Formatting paragraphs can be done with just a few clicks of the mouse. You can easily format a single paragraph or all of the paragraphs in a long Word document. To format a single paragraph, place the cursor anywhere in that paragraph. To format all of the paragraphs in the document, click the Select drop down arrow in the Editing group on the Home tab of the ribbon in Word 2007. In Word 2003 or earlier, go to the Edit menu and click Select All. You can also use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl+A.

    In Word 2007, go to the Paragraph group on the Home tab of the ribbon. Click the Paragraph Dialog launcher in the bottom right.

    Article Image 

    In Word 2003 or earlier, go to the Format menu and click on Paragraph. The Paragraph dialog box will open. In the Paragraph dialog, you can format the alignment, add indentations or change line spacing. For example, if you have created a long Word document and realize that you want to indent the first line of every paragraph, simply select the entire document and launch the Paragraph dialog. In the Indentation section, click the Special drop down arrow and select First Line.

    Article Image In a long document, keeping paragraphs together improves readability and makes the document easier to manage. Click the Line and Page Breaks tab of the dialog to use formatting features such as Widow/Orphan control, which prevents the first line of a paragraph from being alone at the bottom of a page, or a last line from ending up by itself on a new page.

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    Format Painter

    Another feature that makes it easy to format a long Word document is Word's Format Painter. You can use the Format Painter to copy the style of a line or paragraph in a Word document and apply it to other sections of the document. To use the Format Painter, click the line in the Word document that contains the formatting you wish to apply elsewhere. Click the Format Painter button, which is in the Clipboard section of the Home tab of the ribbon in Word 2007, or on the Standard toolbar in Word 2003 or earlier.

    Article Image The cursor will turn into a paintbrush. Select the text to which you want to apply the formatting. When you release the mouse, the style will be applied.

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    To apply a style to a specific paragraph, place your cursor anywhere in the paragraph. Go to the Styles group on the Home tab of the ribbon in Word 2007. Click the Styles dialog launcher to open the Styles dialog box. In Word 2003, go to the Format menu and click on Styles and Formatting.

    Article Image Select an option from the Available Styles presented, or click the Show drop down arrow and select All Styles to choose a style from all the available formatting options.

    Article Image To apply a style to an entire document, no matter how long, you can either select the style prior to creating the document, or select the entire document and then select a style. There are dozens of styles from which to choose. Learn about Word's Outline document style by reading How to Create an Outline in Word. If you cannot find a style that suits your document, read Creating and Saving Your Own Quick Style and make a custom style.

    For more tips and tricks, be sure to check out the other items in Bright Hub's collection of Microsoft Word tutorials.