6

Are there some magic lines to be placed in the preamble that would, like in CSS, specify how each generic section or subsection in the whole document should be formatted?

9

You can use the titlesec package for this.

A short example would be \titleformat*{\section}{\itshape} to change the style of \section to \itshape. See the package manual for more details.

See also:

What's the right way to change display of chapter headings?

How to format the chapter heading?

Formatting a \paragraph to look like a \section

or questions tagged with .

3

there are a lot of packages which support customizing titles and headers:

http://mirror.ctan.org/help/Catalogue/bytopic.html#title

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