In the last post on Microsoft Word’s Styles feature, we learned how to apply Styles to the text in your documents and how using Styles can enhance legal document readability and enforce consistent document standards.

Using the skills developed in the last Styles post, you can tweak an existing Style set to your liking. But how do you save it for future use? And can others in your workgroup use it, too?

Unless otherwise noted below, all instructions and screenshots are for Microsoft Office 2010 for Windows.

Before we discuss sharing your new Styles (using Word 2010 to demonstrate), though, we’ll need to talk about how and where they’re saved on your computer.

The relationship between Styles and Templates

Microsoft Word Styles live, so to speak, in Microsoft Word Templates, which are files containing document specifications such as margins, page size, default font, paragraph justification, etc. The default in Word is the Normal template—unless you specify otherwise, that’s what every new document you create is based on.

Normal’s not the only choice you have, though. Word has a number of templates built in (everything from fax cover sheets to a letter to Santa) and other templates are available online.

Even so, individual users can create (and even share) their own templates. That enables you to develop a customized layout (including your own Styles), save it, and make it available for colleagues and employees to use for faster, more consistent document creation.

Creating new Quick Style Sets

The easiest way to create a new Quick Style Set for future use is to pick an existing one, tweak it to your liking, then save it under a new name.

First, pick a Quick Style set that’s pretty close to what you want. In this example, we’ll use the Word 2003 set as a foundation, since it has the traditional single spacing and other features seen in many legal documents:

Microsoft Word Templates also have color and font sets. You may wish to switch to one that’s closer to the end result you’re looking for. To start, pick Grayscale as the color set (so headings won’t be blue or some other color) and switch the font to the Office Classic set:

Now, go through the various Styles, right-clicking each one and making adjustments to the font, spacing, justification, and other settings:

Finally, to eliminate the clutter in the Quick Styles Gallery, right-click on any Styles you won’t be using and choose Remove from Quick Style Gallery:

Saving your new Quick Styles Set

Now save these settings as a new Quick Styles Set:

Once it’s saved, it’s available to you via the Change Styles drop-down:

Sharing your Quick Styles Sets

Depending on the version of Windows you’re using, the template files for Quick Styles are stored in a particular folder on your hard drive. As a rule, though, they’re stored here:

Windows XP: Documents and Settings[username]Application DataMicrosoftQuickStyles

Windows Vista and Windows 7: Users[username]AppDataRoamingMicrosoftQuickStyles

If your setup is different, though, you can go to File | Options | Advanced | File Locations to see where Word is storing your templates:

(The Quick Styles Sets are actually stored in the QuickStyles folder under the Microsoft Folder, whereas the other user templates are stored in the Templates folder under Microsoft as shown above. Clicking Modify in this dialog box as shown above will give you the complete file path so you can find your QuickStyles folder.)

This information gives you a clue about how you can share your Templates and Quick Styles Sets. You can copy the template file (in this example, Pleading.dotx) from your QuickStyles folder onto some portable media (flash drive, CD, etc.) and distribute it to other users’ QuickStyles folder to give them instant access to your new Quick Styles Set via the Gallery.

You’ll notice above, however, that there is a space allocated for Workgroup templates. You can copy the .dotx file into a folder on a network drive, then set everyone’s Workgroup Templates setting to that folder. To use your Quick Styles settings, other users will need to use that template to create a new document rather than the Normal template.

Your font and other Styles settings won’t be visible as a separate Quick Style named in the Gallery; rather, they will be the default settings for that template.

And, yes, it is possible to create templates that restrict users to a limited number of Styles, and these skills can be used to create sophisticated templates for your own use (and perhaps your workgroup’s, too). Start using these techniques in your documents and see how much time you can save by having your own customized Microsoft Word Quick Styles ready to use with just a click or two.