Introduction to Styles

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This is Chapter 6 of the 3 Writer Guide, produced by the OOoAuthors group. A PDF of this chapter is available from this wiki page. The PDFs are up to date for the second edition of the book, and the wiki pages for this chapter have been updated.

What are styles?

Most people are used to writing documents according to physical attributes. For example, you might specify the font family, font size, and weight (for example: Helvetica 12pt, bold).

Styles are logical attributes. We use styles every day. For example, there are two styles of computers: desktop and laptop. Each has its own distinctive set of properties. You never say “my computer is a low-weight, one-piece unit with an LCD screen attached to a rectangular casing containing the computing components and the keyboard". Instead, you would say that you have a laptop. (OOo) styles are a way to do the same thing for your document. Using styles means that you could stop saying “font size 14pt, Times New Roman, bold, centered" and start saying “title" for describing that particular font usage. In other words, styles mean that you shift the emphasis from what the text looks like, to what the text is.

Why use styles?

Styles help improve consistency in a document. They also make major formatting changes easy. For example, you might decide to change the indentation of all paragraphs or change the font of all titles. For a long document, this simple task can be prohibitive. Styles make the task easy.

Example: The time is 9:50 AM and Jane is finishing the 30-page paper for school that is due at 10:00 AM She looks over the assignment one more time, and suddenly she realizes that:

  • The text must use Arial font instead of Times New Roman.
  • The headings must be dark blue and indented.
  • The title must appear at the top-right of every page except the first.
  • Even-numbered pages must have a wider right margin, and odd-numbered pages must have a wider left margin.

Thankfully, Jane used OOo Writer and styles. She makes all the changes in two minutes and hands in the paper on time.

Style categories

OOo Writer has five style categories:

  • Paragraph styles affect entire paragraphs represented with those styles.
  • Character styles affect a block of text inside a paragraph.
  • Page styles affect page formatting (page size, margin, and the like).
  • Frame styles affect frames and graphics.
  • List styles affect outlines, numbered lists, and bulleted lists.

In the same way that characters are the building blocks for creating words, paragraphs are the building blocks of every document. Headings (subheads) are paragraphs; headers, footers, and numbered lists are also paragraphs. Paragraph styles are, therefore, the most frequently used styles and are the ones treated in more detail in this and the next chapter.

Content on this page is licensed under the Creative Common Attribution 3.0 license (CC-BY).
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