Retagging paragraphs in Word (was: MS Word screws up yet ANOTHER project)

Subject: Retagging paragraphs in Word (was: MS Word screws up yet ANOTHER project)
From: Geoff Hart <ghart -at- videotron -dot- ca>
To: techwr-l List <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>, "McLauchlan, Kevin" <Kevin -dot- McLauchlan -at- safenet-inc -dot- com>
Date: Sat, 08 Dec 2007 08:05:55 -0500

Kevin McLauchlan wondered: <<Is there a way, if you've already got
docs with everything based on Normal, to swap for some other home-
baked style?>>

Piece of cake -- though not all the cake is fully baked. Word's
search and replace dialog lets you specify the style name to search
for and the style name to replace it with. You'll have to expand the
dialog box, though. Depending on your version, there may be a button
labeled "More..." or an easy-to-miss triangle control thingey towards
the bottom of the basic dialog that indicates the rest of the dialog
is hidden and can be expanded. Bad design choice, since many folks
never seem to discover that you can expand the dialog box. But the
search and replace works great (at least, if you're not on a Mac);
you can even automate it by recording a macro.

A great primer (more than you need to know) on Word's search and
Plus, check out MegaReplacer (free trial) if you need to do heavy-
duty replacing:

There are two gotchas. First and easiest to resolve, you have to
design your own heading hierarchy first. Make sure to define groups
of nested styles; for example, all headings might be based on
KevinHeading1 and all body text might be based on KevinBodyText.
Strictly speaking, you only need to do this for groups in which you
might want to change a property for one style and have all related
styles update to reflect that change.

Second and a bit harder, you need to understand how Word handles
formatting. Word's designers made a good design choice: they figured
that if you manually applied formatting such as boldface, you really
wanted to do this. So when you replace (say) the Normal paragraph
style with KevinBodyText, Word sensibly applies the style, but
doesn't override your manual formatting (here, boldface). So far, so
good. Unfortunately, it's not always smart enough to know how to
apply all of the new style while still preserving the boldface, so
sometimes it doesn't even try. As a result, you get occasional
paragraphs tagged as KevinBodyText, but are displayed as if they were
formatted using Normal. You have to manually remove the old
formatting by telling Word to reapply the underlying paragraph style
(KevinBodyText): select the paragraph and press Control+Spacebar or
Control+Q in Windows versions; Command-Shift-Z on the Mac.

But then you lose the manual formatting. So unless you were smart
enough to apply formatting overrides using character styles such as
KevinBold, you have to do one thing first: globally search for
boldfaced text (in the "find what" field) and apply KevinBold to that
text (in the "replace with" field). That way, you preserve your
manual formatting work. Repeat as necessary for any other manual
style overrides such as italics, margin changes, etc. You can do this
more easily by round-tripping from .doc to .htm and back to .doc, but
there's usually a lot of cleanup required.

If you're writing structured text, the better way to do this is to
remap some of Word's keystrokes to apply styles. For example, you can
remap Control+B (the shortcut for boldface) so that it now applies
KevinBold instead. You get the same display result, but the boldfaced
text is now correctly tagged with a character style.

<<I've been avoiding it because there's really never a good time to
run a 300-page document through a plain text editor and then bring it
into Word for from-scratch application of all formatting.>>

It never fails to amaze me how hard people work to avoid using the
power that Word provides. <grin> Word is no grep (nothing is,
really), but I live in Word for most of my work day, and can't
imagine working without it. There's rarely any need to leave Word to
accomplish fairly major things.

<<The rest [of my docs are] done in Word. (Well, I tell them that
it's Word, though I do some of them in OpenOffice...>>

Be careful with that approach. Even Microsoft has trouble
understanding its own .doc file format (witness various version
incompatibilities over the years in revision tracking, for instance,
and the as-yet-unsolved document corruption problem). In my
experience and that of several colleagues, exchanging files
repeatedly between different programs often leads to file corruption.
OO is hot stuff, but it's not Word, and sometimes you can avoid a
great many headaches by simply gritting your teeth and using the same
software everyone else is using.

-- Geoff Hart
ghart -at- videotron -dot- ca / geoffhart -at- mac -dot- com
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Re: MS Word screws up yet ANOTHER project?: From: Claire Conant
RE: MS Word screws up yet ANOTHER project?: From: McLauchlan, Kevin

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