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Is there any way to style a column in OmniOutliner, rather than applying a style to every row I enter?
Yes, columns can have styles, however row styles have higher priority so it will be overridden if you have row styles set up as well. To apply a style to a column, either select the column by clicking on the column title or from the style palette in the Utility Drawer, and then set the style attributes you want.
So, it seems that if I style anything other than a column, that will superseded a column style, so that practically, I can't style a column unless I accept the default for everything else.

Am I missing something?

Unfortunately yes, that's pretty much true. You can modify the default styles and column styles will override those but that's about it.

wouldn't it be easy to change that? I am also bothered by columns forced to have fat header style e.g. Is there any reason to give row style a higher priority than column style?

I could think of two solutions: either the most recet formatting action overrides what you have formatted before, or, better, you can either set column style to "Standard", that is to row style, or you define a column style which (of course) has the highest priority.

I too would like to -- sometimes -- have column styles override row styles. In fact, I would like it to work like style hierarchies in word processors: if all I change is the color and typeface, the style should be whatever the row style would have been for a particular cell with that column's color and typeface instead of the row's default. Furthermore, I think each document should have a toggle as to whether column styles override row styles or vice versa. There's no right answer to that one -- it depends on what you are doing. For example, I have one document with an outline of topics and a column of code examples which I would like in a monospaced font without having the rest of the document in that font.

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