Introduction to Styles

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This is Chapter 6 of the 2.x Writer Guide (Third edition), produced by the OOoAuthors group. A PDF of this chapter is available from the OOoAuthors Guides page at

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 (say, 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 say “I have a laptop". styles are a way to do the same thing for your document. Using styles means that you stop saying “font size 14pt, Times New Roman, bold, centered", and you start saying “title". In other words, styles means that you shift the emphasis from what the text looks like, to what the text is.

Why use styles? (OOo) brings a powerful notion of styles. Styles help improve consistency in a document. They also make major formatting changes easy. For example, you may 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 A.M. and Jane is finishing the 30-page paper for school that is due at 10:00 A.M. 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 and styles. She makes all the changes in two minutes and hands in the paper on time.

Types of styles Writer has five types of styles:

  • Paragraph styles affect an entire paragraph.
  • 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 numbered lists and bulleted lists.

The first three styles are the most used. Those are the styles covered in this chapter. Frame styles and list styles are discussed in Chapter 7 (Working with Styles).

These styles are available through a floating window called Styles and Formatting. (Press F11 to see it.) The Styles and Formatting window is discussed in the next section.

Styles and Formatting window
Styles and Formatting window and types of styles.

Note: Styles and Formatting is a floating window. You can drag it around the screen using the mouse, or you can dock it to the left or right side of the screen.

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