When you use a word processor, do you press the Tab or Space key several times to center paragraphs? Do you press the Enter key twice to ensure there is space between paragraphs? Are you frequently clicking the ribbon buttons B, U, and I? If you do, you’re in danger, so read on.
In one form of parlance, “style” pertains to fashion. What is this year’s style? Who has style? When offered free candy that was stolen from a defenseless three-year-old, you would probably reply, “Thanks, but that’s not my style.” In this context, “style” has the connotation of individuality, distinctness, discernability.
In word processing, “style” means just the opposite: conformance, consistency, harmony to the point of suffocation. Word processors use styles to ensure text looks the same, smells the same, and even tastes the same. When a high schooler pining for acceptance or love takes a fashion magazine to a hair salon, points to the cover-page model, and says, “Make me look like that,” she is using styles with the same connotation as a word processor. Apply that model’s style to me, she is thinking, so that she and I can look the same. (more…)