A theme is a set of predefined and unified elements that often appear in documents. Here are some of the elements defined within a theme:
Heading and regular paragraph styles
Bulleted and numbered lists
Table borders and colors
Notice that some of the theme elements apply to documents you create for Web pages, graphic presentations, and reports. In a nutshell, a theme is like a personality that your document takes on.
When you use a template or a template-based wizard to create a document, Word adds the template's formatting and styles to the blank document. When you apply a theme to a document, every theme-defined element within your document changes instantlyeven after you've completed the document.
To apply a theme, either before, during, or after you create a document, select Format, Theme. Word displays the Theme dialog box, such as the one in Figure 3.13.
Figure 3.13 A theme changes elements within your document.
Many themes are tied to standard styles that are available within all Word documents, such as Heading 1 (for major headlines), Heading 2 (for titles), and regular text. If you utilize styles, you will learn which styles are most beneficial to your work and you'll begin to apply those styles to your documents to maintain a uniform appearance. For example, you can apply the Heading 1 style to your themed document's major title or headline, and later you could apply a different theme. Word then updates your headline to match the new theme.
Styles, Templates, or Themes?
Word and the other Office products offer so many choices; even Office gurus get confused. A style is a specific set of formats you can apply to text. A template is a predefined set of styles that you request when you first create a document. Until you change one of the specific template styles, that style will apply to any text that uses the style. If you want to change the look of a document that you create with a template (or with a template wizard), you must redo all the styles by hand.
A theme is a predefined set of styles for a document. When you change an existing document's theme (or apply a theme to a document that never had one), Word does all the work for you by reformatting all the theme's predefined styles. You can change a theme over and over until your document looks the way you want.