For at least the past 20 years, word processing software has offered styles. These styles appear to be primarily helpful because they “bundle” desired looks. So, for example, I can create a style that I dub ‘Emphasis’. The Emphasis style can include red font color, a slightly larger font size, small caps and italics. I can apply that style easily to whatever requires emphasis with fewer keystrokes than it would take to apply each of those changes individually.
More importantly, if I need to change one of the aspects of Emphasis, I do not need to move through my document to find each time it was applied. I simply edit the definition of that style, and the changes appear every place that it was used in the document.
However, for editing and formatting purposes, the most important feature of styles is invisible. This hidden function is a code that marks content for inclusion in tables of contents or lists of figures. Thus, when such styles are applied throughout a document, a table of content with appropriate page numbers, can be created with one click.
Each of these paragraphs highlights a benefit for business – ease of formatting, ease of editing and ease of organization. How this relates to accessibility will be covered in the next blog.