Pages is a powerful and versatile word-processor and page-layout application for Mac and iOS; perhaps best of all, it's free for anyone with a reasonably recent model of iPad or iPhone. But while it features an intuitive and user-friendly interface, like most of Apple's in-house software offerings, many users of this popular app have barely scraped the surface of its capabilities.

In this article we gather a selection of the key Pages for iOS features you need to know about. Some are simple but essential; others are less well known but worth the trouble to investigate.

For related advice, take a look at our Pages for Mac tips.

Use (and customise) paragraph style sheets

Use (and customise) paragraph style sheets

Text has two style characteristics; the visual aspect - typeface, font colour and size - and structural. HTML tags, such as h1, h2, p, are examples of structural styles, applying to top-level headings, secondary headings and body-copy paragraphs respectively. The equivalent in Pages is the default paragraph styles, which include Title, Subtitle, Heading and Heading 2.

Paragraph styles can only be applied to whole paragraphs. Select anywhere in the paragraph you wish to apply a style to (or select the text if it's more than a single paragraph), open the formatting palette if it's not open already - tap the paintbrush icon at the top left - and tap one of the entries under Paragraph Style.

If the colour and fonts of the styles don't match your design, you can change the type attributes in the formatting palette, and Pages will automatically create a new Paragraph Style at the bottom of the list for 'Heading Red' or some other similar tag.

It's good practice to get into the habit of applying the appropriate structural style to selected text. But this is particularly important advice if your Pages documents are going to be used by designers or in a web page.

Headers and footers

Headers and footers

Pages documents created from certain templates - Classic Newsletter, for instance - include outlined text boxes at the top and/or bottom. These are headers and footers, and can be used for automatic page numbering, chapter headers and so on.

If you tap one you'll be taken to the Doc Setup screen, where you can change what appears in these boxes, and this will be applied to every page of the document. (You can choose Page Numbers instead of entering a specific number. You'll be asked to choose a style, "1 of 12", Page 1" and so on, but the number will be dynamically updated to be correct even if you insert new pages.)

To add headers and footers to your own documents, you need to get back to that Doc Setup screen we were in a moment ago. Open the More menu (tap the 'three dots' icon at the top right) and select Document Setup.

As the page instructs, tap at the top or the bottom of the page to insert and edit a header or footer. As previously stated, this will be applied to all pages of the document. Tap Done when you're finished.

If you want to delete headers or footers, go back to the Document Setup page (either via the More menu, or by tapping a header or footer) and simply delete the offending text.

Add web links

Add web links

If you want to turn a section of text into a hyperlink, highlight the text, then tap the paragraph symbol (it looks a bit like a capital P facing backwards) at the very top right corner of the keyboard, and tap Link.

The word turns into a hyperlink, but it's a dead link with a default URL (Apple's own website) specified. So tap the link in the document, and then Link Settings; then simply type in (or paste) the URL. You'll need to remember the http:// or www. at the beginning.

Tap elsewhere in the document, and the Link Settings pane will close.

If you ever want to remove (or change) the link, tap it again, select Link Settings and make the desired edits.

How to align text

How to align text

It's easy to align a document - or just the text in a paragraph, page, text box, cell or so on - to the left, right, centred or justified.

Select the section of text you wish to align (if you want to change a paragraph, just tap anywhere in it - the style you choose will automatically be applied to the entire paragraph), or tap the text box or cell, then tap the formatting button in the toolbar: it's the paintbrush icon at the top right, next to the 'insert' plus sign.

The third section of options shows pictures representing the four types of text justification: align left (sometimes known as 'ragged right' in publishing circles), centred (with ragged edges both sides), align right (or ragged left) and justified (which has lined-up edges on both sides, but may sometimes leave you with odd-looking spacing on lines with a small number of long words). Tap whichever alignment style you want.

If you've selected a text box or shape, you can also adjust vertical alignment, the options for which will appear underneath the horizontal alignment settings. There are three options here: align to top of text box; position in the vertical centre of the box; or align to the bottom of the box.

Smart Annotation

Smart Annotation

The 4.0 update adds Apple Pencil support to all three iWork apps for iOS, but we suspect that Pages will benefit the most. You can use the Pencil (or a finger) to draw or write directly on to a Pages document, which is handy for annotations on work documents, notes for collaborators and feedback on homework.

Pages also gets a new feature (initially launching in beta, officially, but available to all) called Smart Annotation. This means that any notes you add will be anchored to a specific section of the text/document and move around with it intelligently when you make edits.

Book creation

Book creation

Another new feature added in Pages 4.0 is book creation.

There are a range of templates to get started, and these can be customised using photos and videos from Photos, and with your own notes and sketches using an Apple Pencil. The collaboration tools we will mention later in this article can be used to make a book with another user.

Completed books are compatible with the iBooks platform.

Keyboard shortcuts

Keyboard shortcuts

Here are a few handy keyboard shortcuts that could save you some time when using Pages on the iPad or iPhone. Clearly these are of interest primarily to those using hardware keyboards or keyboard cases. Bear in mind that Cmd, or Command, is the key many people habitually call the Apple key.

Undo: Cmd-Z (much more convenient than shake to undo. Shift-Cmd-Z to redo.)

Bold: Cmd-B (affects selected text)

Italic: Cmd-I (ditto)

Word count: Shift-Cmd-W (in fact, this toggles between showing and hiding the word count)

Add row to table: Option-down arrow (this inserts the new row below the selected row. Use Option-up arrow to insert it above.)

Add column to table: Option-right arrow (similarly, this adds the column to the right. Use Option-left arrow to do the opposite.)

Go back to Documents: Cmd-O

Add comment: Shift-Cmd-K

Collaborate

Collaborate

Pages makes collaborating with colleagues easy. You can edit a document with others at the same time (whether they're using Pages on Mac, iPad, iPhone or iCloud.com), share your document publicly or with specific people, and see who else is in a document.

To share/collaborate a Pages document with others, tap the 'three dots' icon at the top right to pull out the More menu (unless you've already got the More menu displayed), then tap 'Collaborate With Others' - the top entry. You'll see a warning that Collaboration is still in beta, and Pages will offer to walk you through some of the features. Tap Continue, then choose who to invite and how to invite them.

The bottom option, 'Share Options', allows you to dictate whether your collaborators will be able to make changes, or just view the document. You can also control whether collaborators need to be specifically invited, or if anyone who obtains the link can get involved.

Track changes

Track changes

When collaborating with other users, it can be useful for each member of the team to be able to see at a glance what changes the others have made.

If you'd like to set this up for your document, tap the 'three dots' icon at the top right to bring up the More menu, then tap Change Tracking and tap the slider next to Tracking so it turns green.

If at any point you wish to make changes and not have them tracked, go into the More menu, tap Change Tracking again and this time tap the Pause slider so it turns green. As long as Pause is enabled, you're free to make untracked changes.