Mechanical Edit

Information to help technical writers and editors, shared by Jay Martin.

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Define styles for a new Word template: first example

To make a new Word template means defining many styles. The easiest way I’ve found is to write a description of the styles, then run a macro that defines styles like the description.

For example, suppose you want a template that matches the format of an ANSI standard, “Scientific and Technical Reports—Preparation, Presentation, and Preservation.” Measure its margins, compare the font sizes to some samples, and write a description. Use the format shown below, with a style name at the beginning of the line and commas between the specifications.

Other specifications can be included from the list of available specifications. Check back later for more sample style descriptions for other types of documents.

Sample style descriptions

General settings . . . . . . . . . . . .
Margins, 1" left, 1.25" right, 1" top, 1" bottom, 0.5" header, 0.5" footer, mirror margins.
Style defaults, body font, auto color, not italic, not bold, 10 pt size, 1.04 line spacing, 0 pt before, 12 pt after, 0" left indent, 0" right indent, left aligned, based on no style, followed by Body Text, normal character spacing, no kerning.
Normal style, 0 pt after.
Body Text style, 0.5" left indent.

Headings . . . . . . . . . . . .
Heading 1 style, "%1" number, 14 pt size, 24 pt before, 18 pt after, 2.25 pt bottom border.
Heading 2 style, "%1.%2" number, 12 pt size, 24 pt before, 12 pt after, 0.5 top border.
Heading 3 style, "%1.%2.%3" number, 11 pt size, 18 pt before, 6 pt after.
Heading 4 style, "%1.%2.%3.%4" number, 10 pt size, 18 pt before, 6 pt after.
ListHeadings list, Heading 1, Heading 2, Heading 3, Heading 4.
ListHeadings list defaults, headings font, bold, 0" number indent, 0.5" text indent, tab after number, keep with next.

Lists . . . . . . . . . . . .
List Bullet style, • bullet, 0.5" bullet indent, 0.75" text indent, 6 pt after, followed by List Bullet.
ListBullets list, List Bullet.
ListBullets list defaults, tab after bullet, space between.

Other styles . . . . . . . . . . . .
Header style, headings font, bold, 11 pt size, no tabs.
Footer style, headings font, 9 pt size, 0.13" right indent, clear tabs, right tab.
Caption style, headings font, bold, 6 pt after, centered.
Table Text style, 8.5 pt size, single line spacing.

Apply the style descriptions

To apply style descriptions, open a new Word document, set the style defaults, paste the style descriptions, paste and run the style macro, and save the Word document.

Open a Word document without styles

  1. Type winword /a /w in the Windows taskbar and press Enter.
    🛈 The /a switch opens Word without opening your Normal template, which might have custom styles. The /w switch opens a new blank document. For more info see Command-line switches for Microsoft Office products.

Set the style defaults

  1. In Word, click the Design menu and click Fonts.
  2. Select the theme fonts. For these sample styles, click Arial.
  3. In the search box in the menu bar, type styles and press Enter.
  4. Click Manage Styles, the third button in the Styles pane.
  5. Click the Set Defaults tab in the Manage Styles window.
    1. Select a font size. For these sample styles, select 10.
    2. For the paragraph spacing after, select 0 pt.
    3. Select the line spacing. For these sample styles, leave Multiple and type 1.04.
    4. Click OK.
  6. Close the Styles pane.

(The next task would be to define a default table, but we’ll skip that task in this short demo.)

Add the style descriptions and macro

  1. Copy the style descriptions (see above).
  2. Right-click the Word document and select the paste option Keep Text Only.
  3. Copy the text of the macros.
  4. In the search box in the menu bar, type visual basic editor and press Enter.
    1. In the Microsoft Visual Basic for Applications window, click the Insert menu and click Module.
    2. Click the Edit menu and click Paste.
    3. Click the File menu and click Close and Return to Microsoft Word.
      (The macros can be saved in Normal or another template, but we’ll skip that task in this short demo.)
  5. In Word, click the View menu and click Macros.
  6. Select the macro sctApplyTheStyleDescriptions and click Run.
  7. Click Yes or No to the message “Insert sample text?”

Save the file

  1. Click File and Save As.
  2. Click Browse.
  3. Select a folder.
  4. Type a file name. For the sample styles, type Sample standard styles.
  5. Select a file type.
    • To start a document, leave Word Document (*.docx) as the file type.
    • To start a template, leave Word Template (*.dotx).
    • To make further style changes with the macro, select Word Macro-Enabled Document (*.docm).
  6. Click Save.
    Click Yes in response to “…Continue saving as a macro-free document?”

Copyright (C) 2021 Jay Martin.

Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.3 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts, and no Back-Cover Texts. A copy of the license is included in the section entitled “GNU Free Documentation License.”

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