Pages: Using Paragraph Styles

A lot of people don't know that Pages has the ability to use styles, just like professional page-layout programs do. A style is just a defined set of instructions to make formatting easier, such as what font, size, color, and spacing you'd like text to have. The beauty of styles is that they make changing formatting a snap. Decide you don't like a particular font? Select that style and change it, and it'll get changed everywhere it appears in your document rather than you having to go and select every instance of it to format manually. This is really, REALLY useful if you've got a huge document with lots of headings, subheads, and so on, because you can switch things up fast if you decide you need a smaller footer font, for example.

Did I already say styles are really, really useful? Really? Then let me add on another "really" for clarity.

So to get started, first open Pages' Styles Drawer by pressing the shortcut Shift-Command-T or by clicking on the blue circle with the paragraph symbol on your toolbar.

For the purposes of this tip, we're going to be talking about using Paragraph Styles to divide a document up into headings and so on, but within that same drawer, you can add and apply Character and List Styles, too.

Here's how Paragraph Styles work. To apply an existing style, you'll select some text (or just put your cursor within a paragraph) and then click a style to apply it. That's it! Here I put my cursor inside a paragraph that I'd like to format as a heading:

Then I clicked on my configured heading style in the Styles Drawer, and it formatted the text for me:

The styles you begin with will be defined by whatever template you picked when you started your document. For example, when I opened Pages' catering brochure template, I got these styles as choices:

But here's where this feature becomes very powerful. If I don't like the predefined styles, I can change them. So I can tell Pages that I want everything I define as a heading to be right-justified, blue 24-point bold Avenir font, and I can even go into the Text Inspector and change some more obscure settings like character spacing or baseline shift.

When you've got your heading looking the way you want it to, just make sure your cursor is still within the text you've formatted, and then go over to your Styles Drawer. Hover over the Paragraph Style you'd like to change, and click the arrow that'll appear next to it.

Then pick Redefine Style from Selection.

Afterward, every time you select some text and click that edited Paragraph Style, it'll format it for you, without you having to reconfigure the color or the font or anything else. Yay!

Additionally, you can create a brand new Paragraph Style instead of changing an existing one. To do that, just format some text to define your new style, and then click the plus button at the bottom of the Styles Drawer. You'll get to name your new style, and away you go.

Here's one more nifty styles tip—you can assign Hot Keys so that it's easy to apply your formatting. Head back to your Paragraph Styles, and hover over one as above to see its drop-down arrow. Then select Hot Key, and pick a function key to assign to it.

Afterward, simply place your cursor within a paragraph and press that function key to automatically format it! Isn't that cool? Note, though, that depending on your keyboard setup, you may need to add the actual Function (fn) key along with your chosen shortcut to get it to work (so use Fn-F4 if F4 by itself isn't working, say).

So have I convinced you to start using styles in your Pages documents? If not, I haven't done my job. Unfortunately, this article is long enough as it is, so those of you who still need some convincing may have to just listen to the voices in your head. You can borrow mine if you'd like!