Paragraph styles include many functions that care more commonly accomplished by direct formatting which means directly clicking on the formatting functions shown in your formatting toolbar.
It is a fact that most people use direct formatting to control the appearance of their paragraph text. Direct formatting, which is also called Manual Formatting, is easy but repetitive. It requires taking the same actions over and over again. Just select the text you want bold, then click on the Bold button in the formatting toolbar. If you want a line of space between your paragraphs, just hit Enter on your key board at the end of every paragraph. These direct formatting methods work with simple documents. However, they do not work well for long complex documents like business reports, print books, Ebooks or for website pages. In all of these cases, direct formatting leads to inconsistent and unpredictable appearance of your documents.
Also, if you decide you want to change your formatting after writing two hundred pages, direct formatting requires you to go back through each and every page to make each and every change manually.
Using Paragraph styles instead of direct formatting not only leads to a more consistent looking document – but equally important, you can quickly and easily change the formatting of the text in your book simply by changing the settings for your Paragraph Styles. For example, in your Color Print Book and PDF Book, you may want the chapter headings to be blue or green. But in the Black and White version of your print book, you will need to change these chapter headings to black.
Instead of changing the font colors of each chapter title manually, if the chapter titles are set to a Paragraph Style, such as Heading 2, then you simply need to change the font color of Heading 2 and all of the Chapter titles will magically change from Blue to Black.
There are several additional benefits of using Paragraph Styles. If your Chapter and Section Titles use Heading 2 and Heading 3 Paragraph Styles, you can quickly create a Table of Contents for these styles. These Heading styles will also help define the sections of your PDF book and help divide both your Ebook and website book – as they convert to CSS classes.
CSS classes in turn are the web version of Paragraph Styles. Unfortunately, Paragraph Styles and/or CSS Classes do not mix well with direct formatting. On a website, direct formatting leads to bloated and ugly code that is difficult to fix.
In your Writer document, manual formatting will over-ride any Paragraph Styles, leading to unpredictable results. Using Manual Formatting and Paragraph Styles in the same document is like trying to mix oil and water.