Have you ever noticed how different stars in today’s culture give you different perceptions when you think about them…like think of Michael Phelps…think about Katy Perry….now think about Lil’ Wayne…now think about Barak Obama. We may have different opinions when thinking about these people. But we can all agree, there is a certain style about each of them. Some are neat in appearance, some are muscular, some are crazy, and some maybe not as pleasant to look at. Just like these people give off vibes from their appearances or attitudes, our documents can send a good, pleasing and structured message or a sloppy, kind of crazy message…and I’m not even talking about the contents…just the appearance of the document.
Microsoft Word gives us a feature called Styles that allows us to give our documents a certain look and feel. By definition a Style is simply a saved set of formatting. In fact this paragraph is using a Style called “Body Single Space Justified .5”. Hopefully, that gives you a visual of what the paragraph looks like. What about Quote, does that give you a visual? What if you could harness your work of single spacing, left and right indent 1 inch, 12 points spacing after, and italicize font, a minimum of 7 keystrokes to accomplish this every time, into one click. That “facility” or “container” is called a style. Do you realize how many keystrokes over your life time you could save?
The facts are that every paragraph in Word has a style associated with it. If you don’t tell Word differently, a style called “Normal” is used on your paragraphs. Every paragraph in Word has a style associated with it. Have you ever felt that Word was just thinking for you and making formatting changes that you didn’t request? It was probably a style just doing its job. For example, when you add a footnote to your document, the font automatically changes to 10 point without any input from you, the user. There is a style in Word called “Footnote Text” that is defined by default to be 10 point.
There are many benefits to using styles, listed below are some of my favorites:
- Edit ability
Consistency: If you use styles throughout your Word documents, they all have the same look and feel. No more lone paragraph within the document that is left justified when the rest of the document is fully justified. Or one paragraph with a first line indention of 1 inch and all the rest .5 inches. With companies truly wanting to “brand” themselves as standing out and above other companies, the “branding” that can be done with styles is an amazing opportunity. Every employee of the same organization should be using the same set of styles.
Efficiency: If I can save 6 or more clicks every time I quote text, think how many keystrokes per document you can save by using styles throughout. I did a test recently on a simple 5 page agreement with minimal formatting which took me 144 clicks to directly format; however when I used styles it took me 7 clicks to get the exact same results. That is 80% less clicks. Just think how many more documents you could produce in a day…a week…a month…a year!
Edit ability: This is the amazing part. Every style has a definition or set of formatting commands that make it up, for example, in the Quote example defined above, if in a particular document you didn’t want your Quotes to be italicized. You only have to modify the style Quote one time and anywhere in the document the style is used if will be modified. This also adds to the efficiency benefit.
Expandability: Because Word was built on the premise of using styles throughout your documents, there are added benefits of using styles. The table of contents feature can be as little as 3 clicks if you use Words built-in styles.
As you can see Word Styles make sense, what impression are you leaving with your documents?
Want to learn more about styles, our guest contributor, Donna Brown offers training and webinars. Find out more at www.beyondsquareone.com.
President & Founder Beyond Square One
Member 35-45 Consulting – Global
Donna Brown has been working in and around the legal industry since 1988. In her positions as legal secretary, systems administrator, in-house trainer and developer she gained the real-world experience she needed to start her own consulting firm in 1997. With an emphasis on software development, customization, automation, training and technical writing, Donna obtained several legal and project specific software certifications. Among these certifications are Time Matters and Billing Matters, PCLaw, Hot Docs, Microsoft Word and WordPerfect. Donna graduated with a BS in Business Education from the University of Central Oklahoma.
Donna can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org