A stylesheet provides a way to separate presentation (what a document looks like) from content (what it actually says). A common feature in most desktop publishing and word processing programs, stylesheets store and apply formatting to text and paragraphs.
Using one or more stylesheets provides consistency within a document (like a help system) or within an organization, for example. Using styleguides also provides consistency.
Styles commonly apply to both text and paragraph formatting.
- Headings and body text format:
- Typeface and font size
- Underlining, strike-through, bold, color
- Leading and kerning
- Paragraph styles:
- Spacing between paragraphs
- Numbered, bulleted lists and indentations
- Quotations too long to be inline with body text
- Justification: centered, align left/right
- Properties of running headers and footers
- Captions: explanatory text for figures and images
- Warnings and callouts
When stylesheets are used, manual formatting of individual words or paragraphs are minimized. This makes it easier to update the style of an entire document (or set of documents) just by changing the stylesheet(s).