Style Word documents with Designer and the web app

If you use the Word web app, Microsoft Word running in a browser, the Designer feature adds style to your documents for business or for fun. Improve your documents with just one click.

For some people, only Microsoft Word installed on their computer has all the features they need, but if you are not a heavy user of advanced features, the Word web app is excellent. Go to or and you can create great documents in a the web browser. It looks and works like a ‘lite’ version of Word and it is all you need to create simple documents. There is no software to install and it is free.

For those that have not discovered it yet, the Designer feature in Word enables a document to be completely restyled with a single mouse click. Change it from dull to exciting, from business to fun, all in a mouse click. It is a brilliant feature that saves so much time and effort you will probably use it all the time once you have seen it.

Let’s take a look at creating and styling a document using the Word web app in a browser. It works on a Windows PC, Apple Mac or Linux computer and anyone with a free Microsoft account can do it. You do not need to be an Office 365 subscriber, but it is possible that subscribers will get more features.

1 Create a Word document

Create a new document with the Word web app in a browser
Create a new document

Open a web browser and go to or – I will use OneDrive. Select My Files on the left and go to the folder you want to create the document in, such as the Documents folder. Click the New button and then select Word document on the menu. A new tab opens with a new blank document.

2 Type in the text

Editing a document in the Word web app in a browser

An empty document appears on a new tab and the familiar Word ribbon toolbar is at the top of the browser window. It does not have everything in the Word application for PC or Mac, but it has enough features to be useful for creating many types of documents. For the moment, just ignore all those toolbar functions and just enter the text into the document.

3 Style text in Word

Apply styles to text in the Word web app in a browser

The text can be styled as bold, italic, headings and so on, as you go or it can be done afterwards when you have finished. I find it easier to do it afterwards or at least after entering a section of a long document, but it is up to you.

The most important thing is to select text and apply styles from the style panel in the ribbon toolbar. Click the down arrow on the right to see all the styles. For example, set the title of the document to the Title style, set headings and subheadings to Heading 1, Heading 2, Heading 3 styles, set the body text to Normal and so on.

Do not be tempted to style the text yourself using the font selector and size features in the toolbar. Ignore them.

4 The finished document

A styled Word document in the Word web app

The finished document should look at bit like this. It is very business-like and it looks OK, but you may think that it is a bit dull for your audience. However, the look is easily changed.

Instead of individually styling each heading, title, subheading, paragraph by selecting the font, size, bold or italic and so on, we have applied styles from the style panel in the ribbon toolbar. Change a style and all text using that style throughout the document is changed instantly. Imagine the work involved if you had to manually change each subheading in a document. Let’s change the styles.

5 Browse styles with Word Designer

The Designer feature in the Word web app in a browser

Make sure the Home tab is selected and click the Designer button at the right hand side. A panel opens to the right and it shows thumbnail images of documents that use different styles. They use different fonts, text alignment, text sizes, colors, and so on.

6 Style Word documents with Designer

Designer styles in the Microsoft Word web app in a browser

To completely change a Word document’s style and the way it looks, just click a thumbnail. Here is a fun style that is definitely not for business. The style you choose depends on the document and the intended audience of course. You may want it to look business-like or be fun, it is up to you. Here is a completely different one, applied with one mouse click.

Designer styles in the Microsoft Word web app in a browser

Applying a completely different style is simply a matter of clicking a different thumbnail in the Designer panel. There are quite a few different ones and a button at the bottom of the panel to show even more. Just click them until you find one you like. Styles are applied almost instantaneously and switching from one to another takes almost no time at all. Have fun browsing them. Just save your document in the new style when you are done.

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