Tag: formatting

Formatting and submitting dissertation, thesis, or report help sessions for Fall 2017

Are you working on formatting corrections for your dissertation, thesis, or report? Do you need help? Are you unsure where to submit your dissertation, thesis, or report?

Join the Graduate School (gradschool@mtu.edu) for group work hours. These workshops are provided at no charge to students working on a dissertation, thesis, or report. Staff will able to help with the changes required by the Graduate School for these documents in MS Office. Assistance will also be available for converting documents to PDF from Word and how to make simple corrections and check your document in Adobe Acrobat. The workshops will be in rooms with PCs with University software, or you may bring your own laptop. Distance students may contact gradschool@mtu.edu about remote assistance during these times via web conferencing.  If you need additional help outside of these times, please contact the Graduate School.  On a limited basis, one-on-one assistance may be available. Please contact the Graduate School for more information.

All workshops will be held from on the following dates at the mentioned time:

  • Wednesday, November 15, 2017 | 11am – 1pm | Dillman 101
  • Friday, December 1, 2017 | 11am – 1pm | EERC 723
  • Monday, December 4, 2017 | 11am – 1pm | EERC 723– Deadline for Fall 2017 is 4pm on December 4
  • Thursday, December 14, 2017 | 10am – 12pm | EERC 723
  • Wednesday, December 20, 2017 | 11am – 1pm | EERC 723

How to create a new style

When the built in styles don’t meet your needs for formatting paragraphs in Word, you will need to create your own styles.  In this example, I will create a style for my paragraphs that contain equations.

To begin, format the paragraph to your specifications.  In this case, I have added tabs (boxed in the figure below) at 3.25″ so my equation will be centered on the line, and at 6.5″ so my equation numbers will line up on the right side of the page.  See our previous post to learn more about tabs.  Click on the circled icon to display the Styles window.

Format text to your specifications.

Click on the “New Style” button in the Styles window. This button is circled in the figure below.

Click on the "New Style" button (circled) in the Styles window to create a new style.

Give a name to the style.  I sometimes create names with my initials in them, so I can see which styles were created by me and sort them easily.  Change any of the options you wish in this menu, and click OK when you are done.  The other options here are:

  • Style type: by default, you will create a paragraph style, but there are other choices, including character styles.
  • Style based on: any changes to this style will affect the style you create.  If you change, for example, the font of “Normal” to Arial, the font of this style will also change to Arial.
  • Style for following paragraph: by default, this will be the name of the style you create.  If you want a different style to follow this paragraph, for example, Normal, you can define this here.
  • Format: Use the format button or any of the tools in this window to change any other formatting.

The Create New Style window. Name the style you just created.

I named this style “ddc-equation” so I recognize this is a style I created for my equations.  It now appears in the Styles window, and I can select it for any of my paragraphs that contain equations.

The new style is now available from the ribbon or Styles window.
The new style is now available from the ribbon or Styles window.

How to edit a style

Styles apply a common set of formatting to a paragraph within Word.  In a previous post, we showed how to apply a style to a paragraph.  This tutorial will show two ways to edit an existing style.

First, edit the text as you desire.  In the example below, I have edited the text “Introduction” to be a different font (Adobe Garamond Pro Bold) and size (24 point) than the original Heading 1 style.  We can tell Heading 1 is applied to this text because it is outlined in orange in the Style section of the ribbon.

Edit the text to meet your specifications.

Right click on “Heading 1” to display a contextual menu, and select “Update Heading 1 to match selection.”

Right click on "Heading 1" to display the contextual menu.

After the style is updated, the preview text for Heading 1 will now match the text you edited.

The Heading 1 text is now updated to match the edited text.

The style can also be updated from within the Styles window.

  • Click the circled icon to display the Styles window.
  • Right click on Heading 1, or click on the arrow to the right of Heading 1.  The arrow will appear when you roll over the right side.
  • Select “Update Heading 1 to match selection” to update the style.

Styles can also be updated from the Styles window.

How to apply a style to a paragraph

Styles in Word are used to format text consistently throughout your document. Each paragraph may have a single style applied to it.  For each paragraph, styles define the:

  • Appearance of the text (bold, bulleted, size, font, etc.)
  • Behavior of the paragraph (does it stay with the next paragraph?  Have a page break before it?)
  • Structure of the document (is this a heading meant for the table of contents?)

Styles are found on the Home tab of Word, in the Styles section (boxed in the figure below).

The Styles section on the Home tab contains all of the built in styles available for use.
If you click on the “Change Styles” button in the Styles section, there are a few defaults you can change without creating or modifying any of the styles individually:

  • Style set changes the default set of attributes for the built in styles.  You can choose a “Distinctive” set, or the standard “Word 2007” set.
  • Colors changes the default color scheme for your fonts.
  • Fonts allows you to select a set of fonts to apply to the styles. For example, the “Normal” font in Word 2007 is Calibri, but in Word 2003, it was Times New Roman.  If you prefer the default fonts from a previous version of Word, or want to define your own, select this option.
  • Set as default makes any of the above choices the default for new documents created in Word. Note that these changes may not remain fixed in a network environment.
The "Change Styles" menu.
The "Change Styles" menu.

To apply a font, place your cursor within the paragraph.  In the picture below, the cursor is between the “o” and “d” in introduction.  Then, click on the desired style.  In this case, I have selected “Heading 1.”  Note that as you roll over each style, the text will change to match the preview text for the style.

Applying "Heading 1" to the paragraph "Introduction."
Applying "Heading 1" to the paragraph "Introduction."

Sometimes, it is difficult to scroll through the large preview icons in the Home tab, and a simple list of styles is easier to work with.  In this case, click on the circled icon in the figure below to display the boxed Styles window.  This window has other helpful tools that will be explored in future blog posts.

Display the Styles window for additional functionality with styles.
Display the Styles window for additional functionality with styles.

How to use tabs to align text

Tabs can be used to align text in a document.  This is very useful for lining up the numbers in the table of contents, equations in the body of the document, or lining up lists of items.  Spaces should never be used to line up items, since each character in a font is a different width.  Precise alignment of items is only possible with a tab.

To access the tabs menu, you can double click on a tab in the ruler.  This can be tricky, so there is another method.

From the Home tab, click on the icon in the lower right of the paragraph grouping.


On the paragraph dialog box, click on the “Tabs…” button.

Paragraph dialog box

In the Tabs dialog box, select the options for your tabs.


  • Tab stop position: places a tab at the location you desire.  The window below this box shows you tabs already in your document.
  • Alignment: select the alignment you like.
    • Left aligns tabs on the left side.
    • Center will center text around the tab.  This is useful for equations.
    • Right will line up the right edge of the text.  This is useful for a table of contents.
  • Leader: will insert text before the tab.  This is useful to create a line of periods before the numbers in a table of contents (using option 2), or to create a signature line (option 4)

After you have selected the options for your tab, click the “Set” button to create the tab.

From this dialog box, you can also change the default tab stops from 0.5″ to any increment you would like.

How to view hidden formatting characters

When formatting your document, you might want to see hidden characters such as:

  • A space
  • Paragraph marker
  • Tab marker
  • Section break
  • Page break

To toggle which items are displayed, go to the paragraph section on the home tab:


and click on the paragraph marker:


You can also control which items will appear by default in  your document.  Click on the Office button:


and select Word Options (lower right button in pop up menu).  On the left hand menu, select “Display” and under “Always show these formating marks on the screen,” select the marks you would like to always appear.