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Microsoft Word for Dissertations

Describes many of the special features of Microsoft Word you can use to make formatting your dissertation easier. While it's focused on dissertations, this information is useful for any long document.

Applying and Choosing Styles

Applying a Style

  1. Select the text to which you want to apply a style.
  2. In the Home tab, in the Style Gallery, click on the style you want to apply.  If you don’t see the style you want to use, click on the Expand icon in the lower right corner of the Style Gallery to see a more complete list. On a Mac, you can click the Styles Pane button, found to the right of the Style gallery.


Choosing Which Styles to Use

  • We strongly recommend using the built-in styles that come with Word.  They may not look the way you'd like them to at first, but it's easier and far better to modify the existing styles than to create a style from scratch.
  • For chapter titles and headings like “Dedication” and “Acknowledgements,” use Heading 1.
  • For section headings within your chapters, use Heading 2.  For subheadings, use Heading 3, and so on.  (Note: Headings 3 and 4 may not appear in your list of styles until you’ve used Heading 1 and Heading 2.)  Please note that in our template, we've set up Headings 1 through 4 with the most commonly-seen font and numbering choices -- but please modify those elements as needed.
  • For quotes, use Quote.
  • For body text, use Normal.  This is the default for Word; if you start typing without specifying a style, it will be in the Normal style.
  • When you insert captions (using the "Insert Caption..." tool), those captions will guessed it...the Caption style. By default, it's 10 point and Italics, so modify the Style if you want something else.  Again, modifying the style will save you a huge amount of time over selecting each of the captions one at a time and reformatting them.
    • That said, there is a case where you might have to format part of each caption individually. That's if you'd like to have mixed style settings within the caption, like this:       

Figure 2.6: My amazing caption

  • This caption has the figure number in Bold, but the rest of the caption is not Bold. Unfortunately, the Caption style can't be both Bold and not-Bold at the same time, so you should leave the style set to its default of "Regular", and then manually select and format "Figure 2.6" to be Bold.