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Styles & Headings

This section will explain why we use styles, and show you how to apply them to your document.

Why styles

A style is a set of formatting characteristics applied to content. Always use styles to control formatting, such as font type, size, paragraph spacing, bold, italics, underline, etc. Do not use the Word toolbar (aka 'direct formatting'). In this way, non-visible code gets added to the piece of text that says ‘this is a heading’ (or table, list, image, etc.).

Almost every style you need to use can be found in the NNELS template.

The purpose of the NNELS template is for consistency within the document itself and also across all the documents we create. By having a specific style template, users are also easily able to map our styles to their own template that they might want to use (they may prefer specific font type, spacing, sizing, indentation, etc.). For example, Normal Style has no indentation for this reason. We consulted with DAISY and other similar organizations in creating the template, and all the styles within fit into their recommendations, guidelines, and best practices for accessibility.

Styles also give a hierarchical structure to a document’s content. With styles applied, assistive technology can, at the command of the user, jump to the desired part of the document (heading, table, list, images, links, etc.).

By applying this type of formatting, people who have low vision may be able to access and read documents as quickly and as efficiently as those who have good vision.

The image below illustrates how readers using assistive technologies can navigate a document using styles, moving between navigational points, lists, images, and tables.

Spacing is also important for accessibility. Ensure that you remove:
  • TAB characters used to provide indentation
  • Multiple Paragraph ‘Return’ characters (¶) used to provide spacing between paragraphs
  • Newline breaks (↵)
  • Multiple SPACE characters

If any of this exist in the document, then it is not properly formatted with styles. You will need to remove these spaces. See Find & Replace for more instructions.

Be aware that Word can be glitchy sometimes and even though you applied the style the underlining code will remain. Always ensure you clear formatting before applying styles. If the issue persists, then simply select the problem text, clear formatting again and reapply the style.

Working with Styles

The NNELS Style Template is designed to make your job easier. Before you start applying styles, make sure the NNELS Style Template is uploaded properly, and Microsoft Word is set up for Reformatting eText.

Applying & Changing Styles

Once you have Word set up properly, and you NNELS Template properly installed, you will be able to begin applying styles to the document as per the guidelines in this wiki.

The first step is to clear all formatting in the document:

  • Make sure the Style Pane is open
  • Select all of the text
    • COMMAND+A for Mac
    • CTRL+A for Windows PC
  • Select the clear formatting button located at the top of the Apply a Style box in the Style Pane

Once formatting is clear you need to remove all hyperlinks:

  • Select the whole document
  • Clear hyperlink:
    • FN+COMMAND+SHIFT+F9 for Mac
    • CTRL+SHIFT+F9 for Windows PC

Here is a video tutorial to show you how to do this.

The NNELS Template makes it quick an easy to apply any style.

  • First select the text you want to apply a style to
  • Then select the style in the Style Pane
  • Now that text will be in the selected style
You can select Show style guides to help keep track of the styles applied in the document. This option is at the bottom of the Style Pane. Once selected it will open a colour coded menu at the left side of the document page. Each colour also has a number, each colour and number correspond to the style you have applied to any given section

Here is a quick video tutorial showing you how to apply styles and use the Show style guides

Finding Information about NNELS Template Styles:


When you create a heading in a document, such as a title or a chapter heading, it is not enough to bold the text or increase the font size. A screenreader cannot “see” the bold letters. Always use the Headings Styles from the NNELS template.

General rules

  • As you apply headings to the document, ensure they appear in the navigation pane in the correct order and at the correct level (Heading 2 will be indented relative to Heading 1).
  • Nest headings without skipping. For example, if you have a book with two levels of headings, use Heading 1 and Heading 2, not Heading 1 and Heading 3, no matter how small or insignificant the second level of heading might appear. It’s very important to not skip heading levels as the document will not be processed into a DAISY book.
  • A heading should not have any line break in between. This will result in two headings of the same level without any text in between. This mark-up is invalid. For example, if the document has the following:

Chapter 1
Basics of Programming

If the same heading style is applied to both the lines above, there will be two headings of the same level since the section name is broken up into two paragraphs. Manually bring the heading name in one paragraph and then apply the heading style. The correct format will be as follows:

Chapter 1 Basics of Programming

If a heading doesn't appear in the correct hierarchy in the Navigation Pane, try clearing all formatting from the heading and reapplying the heading style.

Choosing headings

Refer to the table of contents of the book and familiarize yourself with the general layout of the book and the hierarchy of chapters, sections, sub-sections, etc. Determine how you would like to set up the different elements of the book using Heading levels 1-6.

DAISY books support heading levels only up to level 6. Most books will have headings only 3 to 4 levels deep. Many books, especially standard fiction works, will only use Heading 1 and no lower levels. This is typical of books that have chapters without sections or subsections.

  1. Heading 1: Top level sections include sections of front and rear matter, and usually chapters (unless they are arranged in sections or parts).
  2. Heading 2: Next level breakdown. If a book has 3 Parts each with Chapters, each Part receives a Heading 1 and each Chapter receives a Heading 2.
  3. Heading 3: Can be used for subsections.
  4. Heading 4-6: Rarely used.

Q & A

Q: In children's picture books, where there are no section or chapter headings, what heading is the text given?

A: Most often the text would fall under a heading called "Contents" or "Story".

public/nnels/etext/styles_headings.txt · Last modified: 2020/06/16 10:33 by rachel.osolen