Wrangling mS word – Styles & templates

Given but a few weeks to pull a rabbit out of my hat, my assignment was to:

  • Manage Microsoft Word files drafted by several authors on disparate platforms
  • Wordsmith all chapters using a single voice
  • Correct grammatical and punctuation errors
  • Perform layout redesign
  • Format hundreds of tables and ancillary graphics
  • Thoroughly review all chapters for continuity
  • Repair and reformat the table of contents
  • Consolidate the TOC, all chapters, and several appendices into a single ~400-pp. PDF file

My contact at The ChemQuest Group had warned me about file size issues and their instability before I dug into the IPPIC project. I was told that no template had been used to standardize the layout, and that no one had known anything about using Microsoft Word styles.

(I’ve been a Word user since it first appeared on the MS-DOS platform in the late ’80s. At a Microsoft Developers Conference in Seattle I’d heard Word guru Woody Leonhard tell it like it was. Shortly thereafter my byline appeared in The Cobb Group's monthly Inside Microsoft Office subscription newsletter. I created a complete, icon-and-macro-driven publishing system for a software company so its higher education customers could create their own newsletters from furnished content. And I've participated on the Word-PC listserv for years, where experts such as Paul BeverleyJacques Raubenheimer, and Suzy Davis answer the tough questions and offer many a Word macro.)

Others quibble about this, but I've found that when it comes to lengthy, unstable Word files containing such elements as embedded tables and graphics, look no further than the use of Word's Normal style (not to be confused with the NORMAL.DOCX template). 

Submitted early on in the process, chapter 18 was an unwieldibeast. But by then I'd created a set of project-specific, alphabetized styles (Biz_Body, Biz_Graphic, Biz_Subhead, et al.) that soon had it tamed—tabular data putting up an especially good fight. And with no foundational template for this house of cards, to be able to copy my custom style set from one chapter to another was essential so as to retain continuity throughout the report. 

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