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Further perusing of the forums (concerning style effects of pasting in text, about which I started a new thread) brought me enlightenment on this question,

A long thread from 2006 on handling styles in OO is at

I have not read all of the 4 pages of this thread yet but I have found at least one good tip,
from bashosfrog,

I pretty much ignore Styles view for mass changes and just use the Utilities panel. ie. Select "All Level 2 Rows" in the lower window (OO clicks into Styles View), then make changes in Inspector = all Level 2 rows changed as expected.

I don't really "get" Styles View either. Not for everyday use. But I haven't needed to use it in order to set up OO documents of stunning style :-)
I think this answers my question. I post it here for others in the future who may be confused as I was.

Last edited by Brian; 2009-01-21 at 05:16 PM.. Reason: made link clickable.