Tips for Power Authors: Expedite Your Styling

Styling documents is a necessary part of the automation process. Unfortunately for those of us who have to do it on multiple documents across an entire organization, it can be both time consuming and tedious. Here are some tips to help you to not only style documents more quickly, but also keep your style sheet organized and tidy.

1. Create a new normal

Word comes with a ‘normal’ style that is the default applied to all content put into a document. Instead of modifying that style, create a new one. This will then become the foundation for all the styles you use in the rest of the document.

2. Give your styles consistent and meaningful names

One of the best ways to keep all of your template specific styles together in your style list is to give them all the same prefix. Typically, company name followed by the style name is most efficient, e.g. “YourCompanyName Normal”.

3. Use cascading styles

Base every style on another style, like basing “YourCompanyName Header 3″ on “YourCompanyName Normal” from the example above. By doing this, you decrease maintenance substantially because if your legal team decides that Garamond is more attractive than Times New Roman, for example, one simple change to “YourCompanyName Normal” he styles based on it.

4. Create a style template

This trick is especially effective when you have to style multiple documents. Instead of styling one document first to create all of the necessary styles, create a style sheet using filler text, e.g. lorum ipsum, which you can then save as a dotx file or Word Template. This allows you to open the dotx file and paste the unstyled content into the dotx file. When you save your document, Word will force you to rename the document. This is much safer than using an actual document as a template because it avoids the risk of overwriting a document that you spent time styling.

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