Word 2013/2016: Styles and Themes

Updated 2014.01.20


Styles are used to identify the structure of your document. Styles are on the Home tab and are used for two things: (1) to apply consistent formatting to your text, and (2) to identify the structure of your document.


Some common styles are explained below.

Normal Style

Used to identify and format ordinary text. Most of your document will use the Normal style.

Title Style

This would probably be used only once in your document, at the top. The top line of this document uses the Title style.

Heading 1, Heading 2, etc. Styles

Used to identify and format sections of your document. The Heading 1 style could be used for chapters, and Heading 2 could be used for sections within those chapters. And Heading 3 could be used for sub-sections, etc. But the Heading styles allow you to structure your document. All of your Heading 1 elements will look the same, all of your Heading 2 elements will look the same, etc. Note that these are paragraph formatting commands.

Other Styles

Many of the other styles are used to emphasize text in a particular way. There are Subtle Emphasis, Emphasis, Intense Emphasis, and Strong styles. There are options for quotations and other document elements as well.

Styles are useful if you are creating a long document (e.g. a book, dissertation, college catalog, etc.). If you use styles to identify the structure of your document when you create the document, you can completely change the appearance of your entire document with a single command.


A theme is a "big switch" that changes all three of the following at once:

        Colors: A set of colors is chosen to format the text foreground and background, any graphics or design elements in the theme, plus hyperlinks.

        Fonts: Two fonts are chosen as part of the theme one for the heading styles and a second for the body text.

        Graphical effects: These effects are applied to any graphics or design elements in your document. The effects can include 3-D, shading, gradation, drop shadows, and other design subtleties.

Applying a Theme

Themes can be applied by using the Themes button on the left side of the Design ribbon.

Changing Theme fonts

Each theme has a pair of fonts associated with it: one for the headings and one for the body. You can change a Theme's fonts by going to the Design tab and clicking on the Fonts button.


Changing Theme Colors

The color options are available by clicking on the Design tab and then clicking on the Colors button (see below).

Each theme has a palette of 12 colors associated with it, but only eight are shown on the menu. Six of the colors are labelled Accents. Two are for hyperlinks (followed and unfollowed). And there are four for combinations of normal text and background. The Accent colors and the hyperlink colors are displayed on the drop-down list.


Modifying Styles

In addition to using Themes to modify the appearance of Styles, you can directly modify a Style.

1.      On the Home tab, right-click on the Style that you want to modify.

2.      Click on Modify. The Modify Style dialog box will appear.

3.      Make any desired changes and click on OK.

Saving as the Default

If you like your settings and want to use them every time, use the Save as Default option:


The next time you create a new document, the Theme, Colors, Fonts, and Styles will all be what they were set to when you clicked on the Set as Default button.