Word supports the definition of styles to allow a group of formatting properties to be easily and consistently applied to a paragraph, run, table, or numbering scheme, all at once. The mechanism is similar to how Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) works with HTML.

Styles are defined in the styles.xml package part and are keyed to a paragraph, run, or table using the styleId string.

Style visual behavior

  • Sort order. Built-in styles appear in order of the effective value of their uiPriority attribute. By default, a custom style will not receive a uiPriority attribute, causing its effective value to default to 0. This will generlly place custom styles at the top of the sort order. A set of styles having the same uiPriority value will be sub-sorted in alphabetical order.

    If a uiPriority attribute is defined for a custom style, that style is interleaved with the built-in styles, according to their uiPriority value. The uiPriority attribute takes a signed integer, and accepts negative numbers. Note that Word does not allow the use of negative integers via its UI; rather it allows the uiPriority number of built-in types to be increased to produce the desired sorting behavior.

  • Identification. A style is identified by its name, not its styleId attribute. The styleId is used only for internal linking of an object like a paragraph to a style. The styleId may be changed by the application, and in fact is routinely changed by Word on each save to be a transformation of the name.

    Hypothesis. Word calculates the styleId by removing all spaces from the style name.

  • List membership. There are four style list options in the styles panel:

    • Recommended. The recommended list contains all latent and defined styles that have semiHidden == False.
    • Styles in Use. The styles-in-use list contains all styles that have been applied to content in the document (implying they are defined) that also have semiHidden == False.
    • In Current Document. The in-current-document list contains all defined styles in the document having semiHidden == False.
    • All Styles. The all-styles list contains all latent and defined styles in the document.
  • Definition of built-in style. When a built-in style is added to a document (upon first use), the value of each of the locked, uiPriority and qFormat attributes from its latent style definition (the latentStyles attributes overridden by those of any lsdException element) is used to override the corresponding value in the inserted style definition from their built-in defaults.

  • Each built-in style has default attributes that can be revealed by setting the latentStyles/@count attribute to 0 and inspecting the style in the style manager. This may include default behavioral properties.

  • Anomaly. Style “No Spacing” does not appear in the recommended list even though its behavioral attributes indicate it should. (Google indicates it may be a legacy style from Word 2003).

  • Word has 267 built-in styles, listed here:

    Note that at least one other sources has the number at 276 rather than 267.

  • Appearance in the Style Gallery. A style appears in the style gallery when: semiHidden == False and qFormat == True


built-in style
One of a set of standard styles known to Word, such as “Heading 1”. Built-in styles are presented in Word’s style panel whether or not they are actually defined in the styles part.
latent style
A built-in style having no definition in a particular document is known as a latent style in that document.
style definition
A <w:style> element in the styles part that explicitly defines the attributes of a style.
recommended style list
A list of styles that appears in the styles toolbox or panel when “Recommended” is selected from the “List:” dropdown box.

Word behavior

If no style having an assigned style id is defined in the styles part, the style application has no effect.

Word does not add a formatting definition (<w:style> element) for a built-in style until it is used.

Once present in the styles part, Word does not remove a built-in style definition if it is no longer applied to any content. The definition of each of the styles ever used in a document are accumulated in its styles.xml.


  • WdBuiltinStyle

Example XML

<?xml version='1.0' encoding='UTF-8' standalone='yes'?>
        <w:rFonts w:asciiTheme="minorHAnsi" w:eastAsiaTheme="minorEastAsia"
                  w:hAnsiTheme="minorHAnsi" w:cstheme="minorBidi"/>
        <w:sz w:val="24"/>
        <w:szCs w:val="24"/>
        <w:lang w:val="en-US" w:eastAsia="en-US" w:bidi="ar-SA"/>
  <w:latentStyles w:defLockedState="0" w:defUIPriority="99" w:defSemiHidden="1"
                  w:defUnhideWhenUsed="1" w:defQFormat="0" w:count="276">
    <w:lsdException w:name="Normal" w:semiHidden="0" w:uiPriority="0"
                    w:unhideWhenUsed="0" w:qFormat="1"/>
    <w:lsdException w:name="heading 1" w:semiHidden="0" w:uiPriority="9"
                    w:unhideWhenUsed="0" w:qFormat="1"/>
    <w:lsdException w:name="heading 2" w:uiPriority="9" w:qFormat="1"/>
    <w:lsdException w:name="Default Paragraph Font" w:uiPriority="1"/>
  <w:style w:type="paragraph" w:default="1" w:styleId="Normal">
    <w:name w:val="Normal"/>
  <w:style w:type="character" w:default="1" w:styleId="DefaultParagraphFont">
    <w:name w:val="Default Paragraph Font"/>
    <w:uiPriority w:val="1"/>
  <w:style w:type="table" w:default="1" w:styleId="TableNormal">
    <w:name w:val="Normal Table"/>
    <w:uiPriority w:val="99"/>
      <w:tblInd w:w="0" w:type="dxa"/>
        <w:top w:w="0" w:type="dxa"/>
        <w:left w:w="108" w:type="dxa"/>
        <w:bottom w:w="0" w:type="dxa"/>
        <w:right w:w="108" w:type="dxa"/>
  <w:style w:type="numbering" w:default="1" w:styleId="NoList">
    <w:name w:val="No List"/>
    <w:uiPriority w:val="99"/>
  <w:style w:type="paragraph" w:customStyle="1" w:styleId="Foobar">
    <w:name w:val="Foobar"/>
    <w:rsid w:val="004B54E0"/>

Schema excerpt

<xsd:complexType name="CT_Styles">
    <xsd:element name="docDefaults"  type="CT_DocDefaults"  minOccurs="0"/>
    <xsd:element name="latentStyles" type="CT_LatentStyles" minOccurs="0"/>
    <xsd:element name="style"        type="CT_Style"        minOccurs="0" maxOccurs="unbounded"/>

<xsd:complexType name="CT_DocDefaults">
    <xsd:element name="rPrDefault" type="CT_RPrDefault" minOccurs="0"/>
    <xsd:element name="pPrDefault" type="CT_PPrDefault" minOccurs="0"/>

<xsd:complexType name="CT_LatentStyles">
    <xsd:element name="lsdException" type="CT_LsdException" minOccurs="0" maxOccurs="unbounded"/>
  <xsd:attribute name="defLockedState"    type="s:ST_OnOff"/>
  <xsd:attribute name="defUIPriority"     type="ST_DecimalNumber"/>
  <xsd:attribute name="defSemiHidden"     type="s:ST_OnOff"/>
  <xsd:attribute name="defUnhideWhenUsed" type="s:ST_OnOff"/>
  <xsd:attribute name="defQFormat"        type="s:ST_OnOff"/>
  <xsd:attribute name="count"             type="ST_DecimalNumber"/>

<xsd:complexType name="CT_Style">
    <xsd:element name="name"            type="CT_String"        minOccurs="0"/>
    <xsd:element name="aliases"         type="CT_String"        minOccurs="0"/>
    <xsd:element name="basedOn"         type="CT_String"        minOccurs="0"/>
    <xsd:element name="next"            type="CT_String"        minOccurs="0"/>
    <xsd:element name="link"            type="CT_String"        minOccurs="0"/>
    <xsd:element name="autoRedefine"    type="CT_OnOff"         minOccurs="0"/>
    <xsd:element name="hidden"          type="CT_OnOff"         minOccurs="0"/>
    <xsd:element name="uiPriority"      type="CT_DecimalNumber" minOccurs="0"/>
    <xsd:element name="semiHidden"      type="CT_OnOff"         minOccurs="0"/>
    <xsd:element name="unhideWhenUsed"  type="CT_OnOff"         minOccurs="0"/>
    <xsd:element name="qFormat"         type="CT_OnOff"         minOccurs="0"/>
    <xsd:element name="locked"          type="CT_OnOff"         minOccurs="0"/>
    <xsd:element name="personal"        type="CT_OnOff"         minOccurs="0"/>
    <xsd:element name="personalCompose" type="CT_OnOff"         minOccurs="0"/>
    <xsd:element name="personalReply"   type="CT_OnOff"         minOccurs="0"/>
    <xsd:element name="rsid"            type="CT_LongHexNumber" minOccurs="0"/>
    <xsd:element name="pPr"             type="CT_PPrGeneral"    minOccurs="0"/>
    <xsd:element name="rPr"             type="CT_RPr"           minOccurs="0"/>
    <xsd:element name="tblPr"           type="CT_TblPrBase"     minOccurs="0"/>
    <xsd:element name="trPr"            type="CT_TrPr"          minOccurs="0"/>
    <xsd:element name="tcPr"            type="CT_TcPr"          minOccurs="0"/>
    <xsd:element name="tblStylePr"      type="CT_TblStylePr"    minOccurs="0" maxOccurs="unbounded"/>
  <xsd:attribute name="type"        type="ST_StyleType"/>
  <xsd:attribute name="styleId"     type="s:ST_String"/>
  <xsd:attribute name="default"     type="s:ST_OnOff"/>
  <xsd:attribute name="customStyle" type="s:ST_OnOff"/>

<xsd:complexType name="CT_LsdException">
  <xsd:attribute name="name"           type="s:ST_String"   use="required"/>
  <xsd:attribute name="locked"         type="s:ST_OnOff"/>
  <xsd:attribute name="uiPriority"     type="ST_DecimalNumber"/>
  <xsd:attribute name="semiHidden"     type="s:ST_OnOff"/>
  <xsd:attribute name="unhideWhenUsed" type="s:ST_OnOff"/>
  <xsd:attribute name="qFormat"        type="s:ST_OnOff"/>

<xsd:complexType name="CT_OnOff">
  <xsd:attribute name="val" type="s:ST_OnOff"/>

<xsd:complexType name="CT_String">
  <xsd:attribute name="val" type="s:ST_String" use="required"/>

<xsd:simpleType name="ST_OnOff">
  <xsd:union memberTypes="xsd:boolean ST_OnOff1"/>

<xsd:simpleType name="ST_OnOff1">
  <xsd:restriction base="xsd:string">
    <xsd:enumeration value="on"/>
    <xsd:enumeration value="off"/>

<xsd:simpleType name="ST_StyleType">
  <xsd:restriction base="xsd:string">
    <xsd:enumeration value="paragraph"/>
    <xsd:enumeration value="character"/>
    <xsd:enumeration value="table"/>
    <xsd:enumeration value="numbering"/>