The Stylist feature in OpenOffice writer is, in my view, what sets it apart from Word. It allows documents to stay consistent as they grow in size. This is a good thing. Once you get used to it, it’s very easy to format documents consistently as they grow in size.
There are two articles by Bruce Byfield, Part One and Part Two that explain the use of the Stylist quite well. If you are at all considering moving away from the bloatedness and inconsistency of MS Word, go read these articles, download OpenOffice, and get cracking.