[rant] Word styles and templates

Subject: [rant] Word styles and templates
From: "Elizabeth O'Shea" <elizabeth -dot- oshea -at- virtualaccess -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 29 Apr 2005 12:05:51 +0100

So a developer comes looking for a new user guide. And I get him to fill
out my brand-new 'specifications for new documentation' template. And it
works brilliantly. And I say, 'Give me a minute to finish the new
template. It's 80% complete. I'll come over to you after I mail it to
you.' And then Microsoft obstructs my work.

What was left to do with the template? I had to apply auto numbering to
the lists and headings. Which I dread. So far I haven't used
autonumbering: I do it myself. But I'm setting up a documentation
process, developers will be writing content in a template, and they
would prefer autonumbering.

First, I replace the formatting I applied with the numbered list button
with a proper style. And the margins shift everywhere, and Word inserts
a spare tab mark that I never asked for (I'm well accustomed to this,
but it still annoys me). So I fix that, and then I create the sublist
numbered list style. And the margins shift everywhere, and Word inserts
a spare tab mark that I never asked for. Then I use the clever
right-click menu Restart numbering feature to renumber the lists. But
Word restarts the numbering on only half of them. This is a beta
template, so I decide to leave it to fix later. What should have been a
10-minute job, including the mailing and explanation, is up to 25

So I save and close the template, and I mail it to myself so I can get
the directions of how to install it into my Word templates folder, so it
is available when I select File - New. I find the folders I need, I
document the steps, I install the file, I open Word, I open the
template. And none of the headings are numbered. They were when I saved
the <mild expletive> thing!

So I reopen my original doc (I had the foresight to save it in a
different location). And I use the modify styles dialog box to reapply
autonumbering to the style. And Word shifts all the margins and adds a
tab that I never asked for. So I fix that. And then I notice that it
shifted the margins and hanging indent on my numbered_list style. Since
this is a beta version template, I decide to fix it after we finish this
user guide.

So I mail the more-correct template to the developer. And I chide him
for saving it to his desktop instead of following the instructions in
the mail. So he follows the instructions in the mail. Except I have
Windows 2000 (but Office 2002, whatever that is), and none of his file
locations are the same as mine. Because this is a beta template, instead
of searching for the Application Data folder etc., I let him save it to
his desktop.

Expected time for job, including sending links to source material and
updating and mailing templates: 15 minutes
Actual time elapsed while I try to deal with all the things Word likes
to change for the craic: 90 minutes

elizabeth -dot- oshea -at- virtualaccess -dot- com


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