Normal Style and Document Formatting: MS Word

Dennis Faas's picture

In a well designed style-based document, few, if any, paragraphs are actually left in the Normal style. Since most paragraphs have a specific role to play in a document, they should be formatted with the appropriate style. Normal style is typically reserved for paragraphs with unique or ad hoc formatting.

Normal style's main role is to hold the document's basic formatting, particularly the document's base font. That way, if you need to change the base font, you need only to change the Normal style. Once Normal is changed, other styles based on Normal will change as well.

Changing the Document Font

To change the base font of the current document:

  1. Click Format | Style. The Style dialog box appears.
  2. Click Normal from the style list if it isn't already selected.
  3. Click Modify.
  4. Click Format.
  5. Click Font. The Font dialog box displays.
  6. Select the desired font.
  7. Click OK to close the Font dialog box.
  8. Click Close to close the Style dialog box.

The above actions modify the Normal style to reflect the new font. All text in Normal style will change, as will text in styles based on Normal.

You could very quickly change your document's font with a direct approach, by selecting the entire document and choosing a new font from the Font dialog box, but that isn't necessarily the best way to go.

While it's speedy, changing the font in this manner can create conflict within the document. Let's say your document started with Times New Roman, but you wanted to change it to Tahoma. By selecting the entire document and changing the font to Tahoma, you leave the Normal style with an underlying style structure at odds with the formatting applied on top. Times New Roman will likely reappear in the document as you work with headers, footers, footnotes and other styles based on Normal.

Changing the Default Font

To change the base font for all future documents:

  1. Click Format | Font. The Font dialog box appears.
  2. Select the desired font.
  3. Click the Default button.
  4. You will be asked to verify that you want to change the font on a default basis. Click Yes.

This action has redefined your Normal style to reflect the new font. The new font will be the base font in all new documents based on

Note that this will only affect new documents.

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