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  1. #1
    5 Star Lounger st3333ve's Avatar
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    Base style weirdness (2002 SP3)

    For easy-illustration purposes, I've created a document with 4 styles named Grandpa, Grandma, Father and Child. Here are the descriptions from the Styles dialog:

    Grandpa: Body Text + Font color: Blue
    Father: Grandpa + Indent: Left: 0.5"
    Child: Father + Indent: Left: 1"
    Grandma: Body Text + Font color: Red, Line spacing: Double

    The Indent: Left property for both Grandpa and Grandma is 0 (inherited from Body Text).

    Now for Weirdness Part 1: I modify the Father style by changing its "Style based on" property from Grandpa to Grandma. RESULTS: (1) Father is now red, like Grandma (EXPECTED); (2) Father is now double-spaced, like Grandma (ALSO EXPECTED); (3) Child remains blue, like Grandpa (UNEXPECTED); and (4) Child remains single-spaced, like Grandpa (ALSO UNEXPECTED).

    The description of Child in the Styles dialog now reads: Father + Font color: Blue, Indent: Left: 1", Line spacing: single.

    Before I modified the Father style's "base style," Child's color and line-spacing were simply pass-throughs from Father. So I would have expected Child to become red and double-spaced along with Father when I switched Father from Grandpa to Grandma. But OK, you think, perhaps this is "by design," like any number of other counterintuitive (to me, and maybe to you) aspects of Word's behavior. Well, read on ...

    We now come to Weirdness Part 2 (which, fortunately, offers a kind of cure -- if desired -- for Weirdness Part 1). Now I modify the Grandma style by changing its font color from red to green. RESULTS: (1) Father is now green, like Grandma (EXPECTED); (2) Child is now green, like Grandma (EXPECTED); and (3) Child is now single-spaced, like Father and unlike Grandma (HONESTLY, AND UNEXPECTED).

    The description of Child in the Styles dialog has now returned to its initial simplicity: Father + Indent: Left: 1". This notwithstanding the fact that, before Grandma turned green, Child's color and line-spacing appeared to have become independent properties of the Child style (rather than pass-throughs from its "based on" style).

    Explanations, anyone? Better yet, is there a setting I could tweak that would prevent Weirdness Part 1? Bonus question: Does this behavior continue in later versions of Word?

    Don't miss the fact that, as noted above, Weirdness Part 2 offers a possible cure for Weirdness Part 1. If a "style based on" change at the "parent" level causes undesired results in one or more "grandchild" styles, simply go to the new "grandparent" style, change the font color to fix the undesired results, and then change the font color back.

  2. #2
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    Re: Base style weirdness (2002 SP3)

    You have done a great job explaining this weirdness and I have tested the same in Word 2007 and can confirm that you get the same results there - so no point in upgrading to solve it.

    Yes, it doesn't work as expected but I don't see this ever being high on the list of things that MS need to fix though as I can't see the point of changing parentage of styles. This would only ever impact a template developer who should be creating the styles top-down anyway.
    Andrew Lockton, Chrysalis Design, Melbourne Australia

  3. #3
    5 Star Lounger st3333ve's Avatar
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    Re: Base style weirdness (2002 SP3)

    Thanks for the Word 2007 news. I can't exactly claim to be surprised.

    I think you're too easy on MSFT. Word's document model revolves around styles (assuming you use Word the way MSFT intends), and has for many years -- or so I understand (I've mostly been a WordPerfect guy).

    I realize there are a lot of Word users that don't make much use of styles, but given Word's worldwide market share, I assume the minority who do use styles must number in the fairly high gazillions. Surely many of those who have been, or someday will be, impacted by this bug are users who wouldn't describe themselves as "template developers." And I'd also assume that the "template developer" community includes a not insubstantial number of mortals who sometimes change their minds or are otherwise led to need to tweak existing templates.

    I suspect that if it was possible to ascertain how many hours this bug has cost Word users over the years and compare that to the number of hours it would take two or three programmers to fix it, the grand jury would be inclined to add this offense to the list.

  4. #4
    Super Moderator jscher2000's Avatar
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    Re: Base style weirdness (2002 SP3)

    I recall this from when I moved to Word 2002 and found that MS no longer included the Century Schoolbook font with Office. When I changed the Normal style from "Century Schoolbook" to "Book Antiqua", other styles that depended on Normal were altered to retain the use of "Century Schoolbook" rather than following along with the change. I'm not sure why that should be, but it is a hassle.

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