In “How to Create and Customize Headings in Microsoft Word,” we covered the basics of using headings in Word, including customizing Word’s nine built-in heading levels. Today, we’re going to create a new custom heading style that will exist separately from the built-in headings. In fact, you can use custom heading styles and the built-in heading styles in the same document.
In addition, we will also look at how to save a custom heading style for future use and how to delete a custom heading style. Plus, the bonus section at the end shows how to delete a custom style that won’t go away (because sometimes they are stubborn).
- How to Create a Custom Heading Style
- How to Save a Custom Heading Style for Future Use
- How to Delete a Custom Heading Style
- Bonus Section: How to Delete a Custom Style that Won’t Delete
This tutorial is also available as a YouTube video showing all the steps in real time.
Watch more than 100 other videos about Microsoft Word and Adobe Acrobat on my YouTube channel.
The images below are from Word for Microsoft 365. These steps also apply to Word 2019, Word 2016, and Word 2013 on a PC.
Are you using a Mac? Please visit “How to Create a Custom Heading Style in Microsoft Word for Mac.”
How to Create a Custom Heading Style
- Select the Home tab in the ribbon.
- Select the heading level you would like to create in the Style gallery.
- This step is important because your new heading won’t be included in your table of contents or outline without an assigned level.
- Remember that you are creating a new heading level style, but you won’t be replacing the existing built-in heading level style.
- Additional heading levels will appear in the gallery after you use lower levels in your document. (For example, heading level 4 will appear after you use level 3.)
- Type a word or phrase. (It can be a real heading or sample text.) The new text will appear with the built-in style of the heading level you chose in step 2.
- Select the text, and then use the options in the Font and Paragraph group to format it with the font, font size, font color, emphasis, and alignment you want to include in your new heading style.
- Right-click the text, and then select Styles from the Mini toolbar.
- Select Create a Style from the Styles menu.
- Type a name in the Create New Style from Formatting dialog box.
- Select the OK button.
Your new heading style should appear in the Style gallery.
You can now apply the new heading style to any text in your document.
How to Save a Custom Heading Style for Future Use
The following steps show how to add your new style to Word’s normal template so it will be available for future use.
- Right-click the style in the Style gallery, and then select Modify from the shortcut menu.
- Select New documents based on this template in the Modify Style dialog box.
- Select the OK button.
Your new heading style should now appear when you open a new document. Note that you may have to open the Style gallery or perform another function in the ribbon before the style appears in the gallery for the first time.
How to Delete a Custom Heading Style
The following step shows how to delete a custom heading style. However, sometimes this process does not work. If your custom heading style won’t delete, please follow the steps in the bonus section below.
- Right-click the heading style in the Style gallery, and then select Remove from Style Gallery in the shortcut menu.
Bonus Section: How to Delete a Custom Style that Won’t Delete
Your custom heading styles are stored in the Normal.dotm template file in Windows. If it won’t delete using the method above, you can delete the existing Normal.dotm file. Word will then create a new Normal.dotm file the next time you open the software.
Warning: Deleting the Normal.dotm file will delete all existing custom themes, changes to your default font, other custom styles, and macros.
Please note that the location of the Normal.dotm file shown below will be correct for most Windows users. However, there is a chance that your file will be located elsewhere.
- Save any open documents and close Word.
- Press the Windows key + E on your keyboard to open the File Explorer. (Alternatively, you can search for “File Explorer” in the search box in the taskbar.)
- Select the Windows (C:) drive in the File Explorer.
- Select the Users folder.
- Select your username folder. (For example, my username is Erin.)
- Select the View tab.
- Select the Hidden Items option if it is not already selected. This will reveal folders that were previously hidden.
- Select the AppData folder.
- Select the Roaming folder.
- Select the Microsoft folder.
- Select the Templates folder.
- Select the Normal.dotm file, and then select the Delete key on your keyboard. Alternatively, you can right-click the file and select Delete from the shortcut menu.
- Select the X to close the File Explorer.
When you reopen Word, your custom heading style should no longer appear in the Style gallery, and all original defaults should be restored.
Updated June 21, 2021