Tip: use Styles whenever you write in Word

Some things never change.

I've just found this cartoon, which is about a million years old. Well, to be more precise, it is pretty old. I used to show it in workshops for writers at least 15 years ago. Here's how antique it is: I drew the original cartoon on a "transparency".

What in the name of all things pointy is a "transparency"? you young things are wondering.

Well, my chickens, long ago in the olden days, the 459th caveman had not yet invented PowerPoint. So we trainers and teachers wrote and drew our words of wisdom on pieces of transparent plastic. We placed these pieces of plastic on a glass surface, plugged in a cord, turned on the electricity and behold, the words were displayed on a screen. Or a wall. Usually crooked. But sometimes legible.

Ah, those were the days. Not.

Way back then in the dark ages, Word had already invented Styles. And writers were consistently, perversely, ignorantly ignoring Styles. To be fair, nobody ever told them about Styles. Maybe nobody has told you. If not, let me do the honours.

Styles is not about tinkering with the appearance of every word, making it up as you go alone. Styles is about consistent formatting.

Styles enables you to tag any piece of text by its function, e.g.

  • title
  • chapter heading
  • headline 1
  • author
  • quote
  • page number
  • table of contents
  • address

If the text is correctly tagged, you can ensure that every chapter heading (to take one example) is formatted the same and therefore looks exactly the same.

Styles was like a primitive, prophetic glimpse of XHTML. It's still hugely powerful, especially for long documents. Easy as pie for a writer to use. Saves days of work later on.

Of course most other word processors now have a Styles tool also: it's not just MS Word.

Writer, please write. Let the designers design.

And save the sanity of several people in the production line (including yourself) by using Styles as you go.

If you didn't know this before, you will thank me later.


Jan 04, 2010 • Posted by uberVU - social comments

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