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The Normal Style in Word

Or 'getting Word to come up with the same font each time' or 'stopping Word from switching fonts during writing'

The Problem

This tutorial deals with two common problems that pop up time and time again. The first is that your pupil needs their document to use a certain font, such as Comic Sans, at a certain size. Every time Word is opened the pupil or a support person has to go through the process of changing the font and the size. Adjusting the Normal Style solves this problem.

The other common issue is with the seemingly random changing from one font to another during writing. This again can be solved by adjusting the Normal Style.

What's a Style?

To create good consistency across your documents in Microsoft Word you can define styles. The Normal style is exactly what it says it is - the style of normal text in your document. Mine is set to Arial 12pt. There are also Header styles for titles and these are available on several levels, depending on how important your header is. Changes made to styles can be permanent so a change to the normal style could reflect in all new documents.

Lots of people start Word and change the font using the toolbars. The default appears to be Times New Roman size 10pt, but most people prefer something like Comic Sans or Sassoon at 12pt or larger. The reason that Word tends to flip back to Times New Roman during typing is because this is set as the default Normal style.

Using styles properly is quick, easy and makes Word much more robust when it comes to selecting fonts.

Modifying the Normal Style

Launch Microsoft Word, type in some text and look at the font. There's a good chance that it's set to Times New Roman at size 10pt. Since this is not really suitable for most pupils I'm going to explain how you can permanently change this to Sassoon at size 12pt. This tutorial is aimed at Word XP (version 2002). Previous versions behaved slightly differently so if you would like a tutorial aimed at earlier versions then please contact me and I'll see if I can help out.

Format Menu

Ready? Start off by opening up the format menu and selecting 'Styles and Formatting'.

If you like the large green pointer shown in this screenshot then you can download it from this website.

Choosing a Style

You should notice the Styles and Formatting task pane appear alongside your document. If something else happens then you're likely to have an older version of Microsoft Word. You can find out what version you are using by going to the Help menu and selecting About.

In the Task Pane you can see the Heading and Normal styles. Normal is in the Times New Roman font and it's pretty small, too. Hover your mouse over 'Normal' and an arrow should appear. Click on the arrow and a dropdown box will appear. Click on Modify.

Modify Style Dialog

Up pops this dialog - hopefully! This window lets you change all sorts of aspects of the font and paragraph styles and then applies them to Normal. To change the font or size simply select what you want from the two drop down boxes under 'Formatting'. There are also buttons for line spacing, and paragraph spacing. Handy!

To make the change permanent simply click the Add to Template checkbox before clicking OK. This will adjust the style on whichever template you're using. This would usually be on the Normal Template (not to be confused with the Normal Style) but if you're writing a fax, say, then it might be a fax template that you're changing.

A regular blank document uses the 'normal' template so adjusting the 'normal' style will affect all future blank documents.

If you want to get in a bit deeper there are loads more options under the 'Format' button.

Font Dialog

For example if you want to change the spacing between the letters in a word simply click on Format and choose Font from the menu that appears. Click on the Character Spacing tab and here you can 'expand' the spaces between letters.

And that's that! Any questions?