Okay, so you have done the right thing, setting up styles in your Word template and creating documents based on it. Why is it then, that these documents occasionally seem to take on a mind of their own; style properties are no longer what was set up in the template, they have mutated!
This can happen with documents as they are being populated, usually as a result of cutting and pasting something into your document that still has formatting or style data embedded within it (See my post – “Cut and Paste – The easiest way to corrupt your Word document”). Indentation and paragraph spacing seem to be particularly susceptible to corruption.
So, how do you get your styles back to how they were setup in the initial template without updating them all manually, or creating a new ‘clean’ document, pulling all the content into it and reformatting the whole thing?
Here is a piece of macro code that will do it for you:
Running this code will copy all the styles from the attached template, back into your document and should fix any anomalies.
If you don’t want to get involved with such witchcraft, but would like to see how a bit of magic could transform the way you and your team produce documentation (without even knowing that it’s actually macro functionality doing the work behind the scenes), feel free to get in touch. You’ll be surprised by what is possible.Read More
Tables in Word often cause users problems, taking up valuable time and causing frustration. This is not helped by the fact that sometimes tables exhibit truly bizarre behaviour.
There are many gotchas lurking for the unwary. I will at some point compile a list of common problems that people have when working with tables, but in the meantime here is my current ‘favourite’!
When creating a table style, be careful about specifying fonts with formatting such as Bold or Italic turned on, particularly if you have paragraph styles set up to format table contents.
When we create a template, we usually set up styles for Table heading, Table text, Table bullets etc., in order to make the formatting table contents easier. But, if you create a table style and, for example, you set the header row to be a particular font and select Bold, you could end up with some rather unexpected results! If your Table Heading paragraph style is also set to be Bold, guess what happens when you apply that style to cells in the header row. That’s right – the resulting text style is not bold.
Don’t ask me why this is the case. My best guess is that because Bold is a toggle control, the table style sets the header row to be bold, and applying the paragraph style triggers bold again, effectively toggling it off. I have to assume that this is unintentional behaviour, as I cannot think why this outcome would be beneficial to, or expected by anybody.
It certainly caused some angst around here for a few hours!Read More
The Bid, the Formatter and the Troublesome Word user
Perhaps “troublesome” is unkind – some are, but most are just inexperienced. Not everybody wants to be a Word expert, and why should they have to be?
On many bids there will be at least one, sometimes many, occasional or reluctant Word users. Or even worse, a competent Word user that always wants to do their own thing, because they know best.
The problem is that this increases the burden on the formatting team, as the documents are in such poor shape when they receive them. Being essentially the last link in the production chain, the time available to formatters is always squeezed by eleventh hour changes anyway. So the last thing that a bid needs is more work to do at this critical stage.
For many clients, we now provide enhanced Word templates with a customised ribbon. The effect of this is two fold:
- firstly, it stops authors and contributors from doing their own thing by locking down access to the styles (and any other functionality we don’t want them to use).
- secondly, it makes it really easy for occasional or reluctant users to use the template properly and effectively.
Every approved style that should be used in the document has it’s own button available on the ribbon. Users cannot create their own styles, or modify existing ones. We can even disable some, or all, of the direct formatting controls if we need to. This makes it easier for the users to do the right thing, than the wrong thing.
We have also incorporated time saving functionality, such as re-formatting tables, inserting case studies or staff profiles, even inserting landscape or A3 pages at the click of a button. This allows the authors to spend more time focusing on what they should be – the content – rather than trying to get Word to do what they want it to.
While all this does not eliminate the need for the formatting process, it does mean that when the formatters receive the documents, they are in much better shape, making the final format less stressful.
If you’d like to see an enhanced Word template in action, you can download a demonstration template from our website.
Of course, the other way to significantly reduce the pressure during the final delivery phase, is to tell all the writers that the delivery date is a week before the actual date!Read More