Word: 'body' versus 'normal' style for body paragraphs?

Subject: Word: 'body' versus 'normal' style for body paragraphs?
From: Geoff Hart <ghart -at- videotron -dot- ca>
To: TECHWR-L <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>, Susan Hogarth <hogarth -at- gmail -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 27 Nov 2006 13:00:48 -0500

Susan Hogarth wonders: <<Is there a reason I would want to use the 'body' style instead of 'normal' for body paragraphs?>>

The best reason stems from a poor design choice on the part of Word's programmers. "Normal" paragraph style is illogically defined as the style that many other styles are "based on" in their style definition; for example, if you edit the Normal style to change the font, all your heading styles change too. In what universe does that make sense? A lesser but still significant reason is that if you update your Normal.dot template, the changes can affect any of Word's built-in styles that are defined in that template. (See the section of the online help that describes how automatic style updates work.)

It's easy enough to avoid these problems (most obviously by editing the definitions for the heading styles so that they no longer are "based on Normal"), but most people forget to do this. Using "Body text" avoids the problem. Similarly, creating and using your own document template and ensuring that the style definitions are logically and internally consistent can solve the problem. That's arguably a good thing given how fragile Normal.dot is (it's unacceptably vulnerable to corruption) and the fact that it's a major target for writers of macro viruses--and Word's built-in protection against these viruses is feeble at best. However, I always include Normal.dot in my backups, so whenever it gets corrupted, it takes 3 seconds to recover a working copy from my backups.

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Geoff Hart ghart -at- videotron -dot- ca

(try geoffhart -at- mac -dot- com if you don't get a reply)


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Word: 'body' versus 'normal' style for body paragraphs: From: Susan Hogarth

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