Designing Headings for an Academic Manuscript in Microsoft Word

Designing Headings for an Academic Manuscript in Microsoft Word
Microsoft Word is often used by academics and scientists when writing up their research, yet many of its tools are little understood by those who would benefit from them. Heading Styles is among these tools and when used properly can help authors format and differentiate several heading levels in an article, book or thesis with consistency. The following paragraphs outline a simple process for laying out headings using Word’s Styles.
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Let us say that you need three levels of heading, which for convenience I will here call chapter headings, section headings and subsection headings, each of which should use a slightly different format: chapter headings in a 14-point bold font, for example, section headings in a 12-point bold font and subsection headings in a 12-point italic font. Begin by typing in the heading for the first chapter in whatever style and size of font you are using in the main body of the document (e.g., ‘Chapter 1: Introduction’), then select the heading and left click on the Heading 1 box. Your heading will take on whatever formats are currently set for Heading 1 in your Word document, so unless you want to keep that format, right click on the Heading 1 box with your chapter heading still selected, then left click on ‘Modify.’ A box will come up in which you can set the specific formats (font size, style, colour etc.) you want to use for your chapter headings, in this case a 14-point bold font. Once you are done, simply click ‘OK’ at the bottom to apply those formats to your first chapter heading. You can then make all other chapter headings match the first one simply by selecting them after they are typed in and left clicking on the Heading 1 box in each case.
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For section headings, select each heading after it is typed in and left click on the Heading 2 box. Again, your heading will take on the formats currently set for Heading 2, so you will probably want to right click on the Heading 2 box with the section heading still selected, then left click on ‘Modify’ and set the formats (to a 12-point bold font here); click ‘OK’ when you are done. Follow the same procedure when formatting the subsection headings by using the Heading 3 box and choosing a 12-point italic font. Word will continue to produce a new Heading box (Heading 4, Heading 5 etc.) each time you assign a new heading style, so you can format many heading levels using this technique. Modifying your headings once they are all typed in and formatted is easy as well: simply select any heading of the level you wish to alter, right click on the appropriate heading box, left click on ‘Modify’ and make the required changes, which will then show up in all headings of that level.

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