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  1. #1
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    Should I use templates or should I use styles for document setup?

    I have just "updated" to Office 2007 because it came with my "new" computer, a HP Z800 that was retired from its previous job. I just do pretty basic documents, but I don't want Callibri, I want to start with certain default tabs, I want single spacing, etc. I would like to be able to select from empty containers, preferably in the display that includes New Blank Document or some equally accessible place, that would be formatted for a letter, a fax, an article with one or two levels of subheading, etc.

    I will use the Word 2003 styles or compatible templates, with the .doc extension, because my laptop has Word 2000. I am using Word 2007 because it came with the computer, and because my husband's computer has Word 2013 and I need to be able to use .docx.

    What are the decision factors that would lead me to make one or more default document formats with templates or with styles? I was all set to go with styles, then I saw they apply to paragraphs or headings or such, but apparently not to the look of a whole document. So I thought I would use templates, but I remember that the few times I used one at work I would have to have thought of everything I might want to do forever. If I ran in to some new need while I was actually writing a memo or a manual or something that would benefit from pre-thought formatting, I would have to stop my train of thought and edit the template, or wreck the whole concept of the structure by patching in something. I also saw a comment on a web site that people who share templated documents cause problems for recipients. He didn't explain just why this was so, but his language suggested that he felt strongly about this.

    I have several books on Word 2007, including the superb one from Que, and they tell me how to use both, but not how to choose.

    I would appreciate your thoughts.

  2. #2
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    Every Word document is both based on a template and uses Styles. They lie at the heart of how Word works. To use Word efficiently, you should take the time to learn how to create/modify both. See:
    http://word.mvps.org/FAQs/Customizat...platePart1.htm
    http://word.mvps.org/FAQs/Customizat...platePart2.htm
    http://wordfaqs.mvps.org/CustomizeNormalTemplate.htm
    http://www.shaunakelly.com/word/concepts/styles.html
    https://support.office.com/en-us/art...7-1eb120dec563


    See also:
    http://word.mvps.org/Tutorials/index.htm
    Cheers,

    Paul Edstein
    [MS MVP - Word]

  3. #3
    5 Star Lounger Lugh's Avatar
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    As macropod said, every document uses both, so it's not a choice. The relationship is that a template contains the styles--plus other useful stuff like the ribbon, macros, toolbars etc.

    Every document you open is based on a template. If you don't choose one, you use the default, called Normal. The Normal template contains a raft of default styles from Microsoft, for headings, main paragraph text, lists etc etc. The 'main' default style--ie the one used if you just start typing in a new blank document--is called Normal style.

    Quote Originally Posted by Judy M View Post
    I was all set to go with styles, then I saw they apply to paragraphs or headings or such, but apparently not to the look of a whole document.
    Styles have a lot to do with the 'look' of a document, eg how the text, lists and line spacing look.

    Quote Originally Posted by Judy M View Post
    templates ... I would have to have thought of everything I might want to do forever. If I ran in to some new need while I was actually writing a memo or a manual or something that would benefit from pre-thought formatting, I would have to stop my train of thought and edit the template, or wreck the whole concept of the structure by patching in something.
    You don't have to have thought of everything in advance, and you don't have to stop your train of thought when you're on a roll.

    Start your document in an appropriate template, and write your content. When you come to something which needs a new style, just keep writing--maybe make a quick side note to yourself. When you're ready, edit the template to add the new style, open a blank doc based on the updated template, and copy your writing into it--the new style is now there for you to apply. Or you can go thru the style organizer method to copy a style from the template into the existing doc.

    people who share templated documents cause problems for recipients
    That probably refers to people with Word 2007 or later sending docx files to people with Word 2003 or earlier. Word 2007 is a significant change from earlier. Your continuing usage of the .doc format should minimize problems.

    That's not the only source of problems though. People using different OS [eg Apple] or word processors [eg Word Perfect or Open Office] are also sources of glitches which are often a waste of time to try and solve. I've been taking in documents from all sorts of sources for over a decade, and my first thing to do before starting work on them is to 'nuke' them--ie convert them into bare text files--and then rebuild in my own template. Nuking is the only way I know I will get an almost guaranteed clean start.

    If you need the look of your documents to be preserved when your recipients view them, then you should save as PDF--iirc Word introduced that in 2007.

    I strongly recommend you read the links macropod posted. Learning templates and styles will repay you many times over if you're a regular writer.

    Tip
    If you have Windows 7 or later, here's a quick way to start a new document based on your template of choice:
    Pin Word to your taskbar;
    Open each template [apart from Normal] you will want to use;
    Right-click on the Word taskbar icon, hover over the template file name, and click the little pin icon;
    Thereafter, right click the Word taskbar icon and click on one of the pinned template file names--this will open a new doc based on that template.
    Lugh.
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  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Judy M View Post
    I also saw a comment on a web site that people who share templated documents cause problems for recipients.
    Perhaps I should have commented on that in my previous post, too. What the claim boils down to, given that every Word document is based on a template, is:
    people who share documents cause problems for recipients
    which is a ridiculous claim for anyone to make.

    Where one might run into problems when sharing documents is when they're based on the Normal template AND have been configured with the 'automatically update document styles' setting AND either user has modified one or more of the used Styles in their own Normal template. That's not a common scenario, though, since few users even know of the 'automatically update document styles' setting and few who do use it.
    Last edited by macropod; 2016-10-01 at 06:35.
    Cheers,

    Paul Edstein
    [MS MVP - Word]

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    WS Lounge VIP mrjimphelps's Avatar
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    I have set Word 2007 to start off a document the way I like it every time. Here's what I now get when I open a new document:
    -- Justify the margins.
    -- My choice of font style and size
    -- "No Space" style choice (I HATE the "Normal" style choice)

    The following post will tell you how to do it:
    http://windowssecrets.com/forums/sho...ormal+template

    For me, this is the simplest way to get Word to open a new document with the settings you want it to have.

    My method will set one style (not give you a choice among many), and it only applies when you are creating a new document. But if you have some settings you want most if not all of the time, then this will work for you.
    Last edited by mrjimphelps; 2016-10-01 at 08:15.

  7. #6
    Silver Lounger Charles Kenyon's Avatar
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    This is not an either-or question. Every document is based on a template, the normal template by default. Every document has styles, whether you use them well or not. You can customize the Styles in the normal template to meet many of your needs.
    For documents that have settings different from the normal template, create a new template. It is not difficult, although putting together a really useful template can be a work that keeps developing. Then start those different documents from that template (those templates).

    Templates in Microsoft Word
    Understanding Styles

    You should also look at Themes as well as Style Sets which when used with built-in styles can let you quickly change the look of a document.

    You should also look at FileNew Variations in Word to see how to best access your custom templates.
    Last edited by Charles Kenyon; 2016-10-01 at 19:58.
    Charles Kyle Kenyon
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    Jim

    Your campaign against the use of the 'Normal' style is not an uncommon thing but it is completely unjustified.

    The cascading nature of styles (ie Style C is based on the attributes of Style B which is based on the attributes of Style A) is one of Word's great style strengths. Every document created by Word contains over 90 built-in paragraph styles and the majority of those styles is either based on Normal or has a next style setting of Normal. It is possible to change the attributes of every one of these styles to avoid the relationship to Normal but does anyone ever do this? To avoid seeing Normal in your documents, you are going to need to ensure ALL of your styles don't rely on Normal in any way. You are also going to need to ensure that those same rules are enforced on every document you ever paste content from.

    If you are going to tell people that they shouldn't be using Normal for their content then you should also tell them how to ensure that EVERY paragraph style has settings to avoid Normal playing a role in their documents. And you will also need to tell them how to to restyle content every time they paste content from other documents which most likely used Normal.

    In my opinion, it is FAR EASIER to actually understand how styles cascade and embrace Normal as your main style. Working WITH the default style is easier than creating workarounds for every problem created by a decision to avoid Normal.
    Andrew Lockton, Chrysalis Design, Melbourne Australia

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  10. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Andrew Lockton View Post
    Your campaign against the use of the 'Normal' style is not an uncommon thing but it is completely unjustified.
    +1
    Cheers,

    Paul Edstein
    [MS MVP - Word]

  11. #9
    WS Lounge VIP mrjimphelps's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Andrew Lockton View Post
    Jim

    Your campaign against the use of the 'Normal' style is not an uncommon thing but it is completely unjustified.

    The cascading nature of styles (ie Style C is based on the attributes of Style B which is based on the attributes of Style A) is one of Word's great style strengths. Every document created by Word contains over 90 built-in paragraph styles and the majority of those styles is either based on Normal or has a next style setting of Normal. It is possible to change the attributes of every one of these styles to avoid the relationship to Normal but does anyone ever do this? To avoid seeing Normal in your documents, you are going to need to ensure ALL of your styles don't rely on Normal in any way. You are also going to need to ensure that those same rules are enforced on every document you ever paste content from.

    If you are going to tell people that they shouldn't be using Normal for their content then you should also tell them how to ensure that EVERY paragraph style has settings to avoid Normal playing a role in their documents. And you will also need to tell them how to to restyle content every time they paste content from other documents which most likely used Normal.

    In my opinion, it is FAR EASIER to actually understand how styles cascade and embrace Normal as your main style. Working WITH the default style is easier than creating workarounds for every problem created by a decision to avoid Normal.
    Andrew:

    I didn't tell her that she shouldn't be using Normal, I told her that I personally hated Normal.

    There are several reasons why I don't like Normal, and they can be summed up by saying that I don't have control over how certain things work when Normal style is in effect. For example, I can't do bullets the way I want to; Word always chooses for me a bullet behavior that I don't like, and which I can't change to my liking. Also, if I try to change the style of one paragraph by highlighting it and then making a change, the change often affects paragraphs before and after the one I chose. Also, line spacing is not the way I want it when Normal style is in effect.

    I prefer that the products I use do things the way I want them to, rather than them forcing me to do things their way. That's how Microsoft has designed Word (to force me to do things their way), and so I'm glad that they at least allow me to make changes to the default and then same them in the normal template, so that they will be in effect when I first open Word.

    I was sad to see Word Perfect's demise, because Word Perfect let me do exactly what I wanted to do, and made it really easy to do so.

    Just curious, what problems are created by my decision to avoid Normal? I see only benefits, not problems.

    I appreciate your thoughts on the matter.

  12. #10
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    Lugh, your tip is gold. I don't know what I am doing wrong, but the template I created is filed in the same folder as my documents. My documents are filed on my data drive, and I did make this change in Word's file locations. However, File Locations says templates are in the default location. I saved the template file as .dot, expecting it to then be located as "My Template." The computer did put a shortcut to my template in both C:\users\judy\appdata\roaming\microsoft\Office\Rec ent and in ...\Microsoft\Windows\RecentItems\, but when in Word I click on New\MyTemplates I do not get my template. So, I have followed your tip to make the template a right-click on the taskbar icon.

    Going back to your thoughts on not interrupting a train of thought, I'm sorry, but in my experience that meta-level interruption of my train of thought for a formatting problem interfered with my train of thought about managing the content of documents that had lots going on in them. Now that I am retired I may not tackle such complex thoughts under time pressure and the pressure of outside revisions, but while I was living that life I had done a pretty good job of separating coding from data, and I found that the ability to work on each in its own mind space was very helpful to me. Maybe my mind is just more compartmentalized than some.

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    mrjimphelps, thank you so much for pointing me to this tip. However, it is the need to invent Rube Goldberg devices to do simple things that makes me wonder why we put up with what software asks of us.
    Last edited by Judy M; 2016-10-02 at 12:49.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mrjimphelps View Post
    There are several reasons why I don't like Normal, and they can be summed up by saying that I don't have control over how certain things work when Normal style is in effect. For example, I can't do bullets the way I want to; Word always chooses for me a bullet behavior that I don't like, and which I can't change to my liking. Also, if I try to change the style of one paragraph by highlighting it and then making a change, the change often affects paragraphs before and after the one I chose.
    All of which says you're using the Normal Style incorrectly. Sure, Word will do its best to accommodate you when you tell it to apply bullets or numbers to the Normal Style (or any other Style for that matter), but you really should be using separate Styles for those things. In that respect, I regard Word's bullet & numbering buttons useless as they don't allow me to assign the Styles I want to use to a given bullet or number format - something one can do with the Multilevel list button - and the increase/decrease indent buttons likewise don't allow me to tell Word to do something as basic as: if I'm using a Style with a Multilevel list level applied, go to the Style using the next level up/down, as appropriate.

    As for:
    Quote Originally Posted by mrjimphelps View Post
    Also, line spacing is not the way I want it when Normal style is in effect.
    c'mon, surely you know how to modify a Style to get the line spacing you want ???
    Cheers,

    Paul Edstein
    [MS MVP - Word]

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    I didn't find it mentioned but for your Word 2000 you can download a Compatibility Pack and install that lets Office 2000 through 2003 read/work with the .docx files.
    FileFormatConverters.exe
    https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/down...ails.aspx?id=3

    I have installed Office 2000 on a Win10 computer, the basics work fine but I'd use the Custom Install and leave out Outlook and Access [if the edition at hand comes with it].

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    Quote Originally Posted by mrjimphelps View Post
    There are several reasons why I don't like Normal, and they can be summed up by saying that I don't have control over how certain things work when Normal style is in effect. For example, I can't do bullets the way I want to; Word always chooses for me a bullet behavior that I don't like, and which I can't change to my liking. Also, if I try to change the style of one paragraph by highlighting it and then making a change, the change often affects paragraphs before and after the one I chose. Also, line spacing is not the way I want it when Normal style is in effect.

    ...

    Just curious, what problems are created by my decision to avoid Normal? I see only benefits, not problems.

    I appreciate your thoughts on the matter.
    Jim
    Your reasons don't make sense. If you are doing bullets without using styles then you have bigger problems than the Normal style. If you apply a paragraph style to a selection which includes more than one paragraph then all the selected paragraphs get that style - this behaviour is no different for Normal or No Spacing styles. If you don't like the line spacing attributes of Normal then you should simply change Normal's style definition.

    Choosing to NOT USE Word's Normal style doesn't (in itself) introduce problems initially. However, you will then be continuously working to eradicate errant Normal paragraphs which get introduced by a range of innocent reasons such as:
    • Copying and pasting from documents created by other people (since 95% of them will be using Normal).
    • Content that was selected and choosing 'Clear All' in the styles list. This gets rid of all local formatting and changes the style to Normal which you will then need to restyle
    • Copying and pasting content from other programs eg Excel, Powerpoint, Chrome. All the content will be using Normal and you will have to restyle it
    • Pressing return at the end of most heading paragraphs gives you a Normal paragraph unless you have modified your default style settings to give your preferred style
    • Inserting text boxes or other shapes gives you Normal paragraphs


    And some benefits of using Normal are:
    • As listed above - there is a lot less restyling of text required
    • There is a keyboard shortcut already built-in for it (Ctrl-Shift-N)
    • Lots of styles are based on it so changing the typeface and size for Normal ripples through the list styles without needing to also change all those styles


    In short, avoiding Normal creates needless work for you. You can't delete it, you can't stop it reappearing in your documents. Your life will be so much easier to simply embrace it and modify its attributes so it looks like you want your body text to look.
    Andrew Lockton, Chrysalis Design, Melbourne Australia

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    WS Lounge VIP mrjimphelps's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Andrew Lockton View Post
    Jim
    Your reasons don't make sense. If you are doing bullets without using styles then you have bigger problems than the Normal style. If you apply a paragraph style to a selection which includes more than one paragraph then all the selected paragraphs get that style - this behaviour is no different for Normal or No Spacing styles. If you don't like the line spacing attributes of Normal then you should simply change Normal's style definition.

    Choosing to NOT USE Word's Normal style doesn't (in itself) introduce problems initially. However, you will then be continuously working to eradicate errant Normal paragraphs which get introduced by a range of innocent reasons such as:
    • Copying and pasting from documents created by other people (since 95% of them will be using Normal).
    • Content that was selected and choosing 'Clear All' in the styles list. This gets rid of all local formatting and changes the style to Normal which you will then need to restyle
    • Copying and pasting content from other programs eg Excel, Powerpoint, Chrome. All the content will be using Normal and you will have to restyle it
    • Pressing return at the end of most heading paragraphs gives you a Normal paragraph unless you have modified your default style settings to give your preferred style
    • Inserting text boxes or other shapes gives you Normal paragraphs


    And some benefits of using Normal are:
    • As listed above - there is a lot less restyling of text required
    • There is a keyboard shortcut already built-in for it (Ctrl-Shift-N)
    • Lots of styles are based on it so changing the typeface and size for Normal ripples through the list styles without needing to also change all those styles


    In short, avoiding Normal creates needless work for you. You can't delete it, you can't stop it reappearing in your documents. Your life will be so much easier to simply embrace it and modify its attributes so it looks like you want your body text to look.
    In the case of bullets and paragraph numbering: I like to be in complete control of how that is all laid out. For example, I might have five main points, and then a mixture of sub points. I will want, say, dots on the main points, and open circles on the sub points, with an occasional sub sub point with, say, a diamond or square. I want single spacing for the entire thing, with a blank line between each point, and maybe (or maybe not) blank lines between the points and sub points. If I let Word automatically lay everything out for me, I will never achieve the above; and if I try to modify what Word HAS laid out in order to achieve what I want, it is next to impossible. I find it far easier to do the additional work of manually formatting it myself, rather than trying to "fix" what Word has laid out.

    Perhaps there is a way to set Word up to do things the way I like. You strike me as an expert in Word, so you probably could do it. But I haven't yet figured that out, and it really rubs me the wrong way that it is so unintuitive how to do this.

    Microsoft, over the years, has designed their products in such a way as to "hold the hand" of the user and do things for them. But this doesn't always result it doing things the way the user wants them done.

    You're right; I sometimes have to use document templates produced by others, and they ALWAYS use the Normal style and therefore never behave the way I want them to. My workaround is to type my document as a new document, and then copy and paste it into the template, retaining the parts of the template which are required by my employer, and then deleting out whatever is not needed.

    I have noticed that Normal often rears its ugly head, in spite of the fact that I have told it that I don't want that style. By not allowing you to fully turn off Normal, Microsoft has designed a product which isn't for everyone. It would be so simple for them to allow that, but they have chosen not to.

    Jim

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