Quick Tip:
Look Professional by Using "Styles"

If you want your copy to look professional, it should be formatted consistently throughout. All your paragraphs should be indented the same. Your subheads should look the same. And the space between paragraphs should be consistent.

You can do this easily by using "Paragraph Styles" … a feature of most word processors.

For example, you might want all your subheads to be centered, in 14-point Arial, no first line indent, and single-spaced. So start by manually setting up your first subhead in that format.

You then define this style with a name that means something to you – like "Vitamin Promo Subhead." (In MS Word, you define a style in the "Format" menu.)

Once you’ve defined a particular style, you simply position your cursor anyplace in a paragraph where you want to use that format and then click on the name you’ve given it. (In Word, you find the style names in a small window on the Formatting Toolbar – to the left of the bold B, slanted I, and underlined U.)

The paragraph automatically changes to that style. And whenever you modify a style, all of the paragraphs that you’ve named the same way automatically change to the new style.

Let’s say after writing a sales letter you decide to use Times in the subheads instead of Arial. Instead of going through the entire document and changing every single one, all you do is go to Format … Style … make the change … and click "Modify." Every one of the paragraphs you’ve written in that style automatically changes to the new format.

Use your word processor’s Help file to learn more about how to define and use "Styles." At first, it can be confusing, but stick with it. Once you’ve mastered this tool, you’ll wonder how you ever did without it.

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The Professional Writers’ Alliance

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Published: June 13, 2005

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