Re: MS Word 2003 - Working without a template

Subject: Re: MS Word 2003 - Working without a template
From: "Jonathan West" <jwest -at- mvps -dot- org>
To: TECHWR-L <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Sun, 13 Jan 2008 16:47:11 +0000

Hi Sylvia

1. Yes, you absolutely do need a template, it will make achieving
consistent formatting of your documents much easier, and probably
improve your productivity by 30% or more. It would pay for itself in a
single structured document of 200 pages or more.

2. Creating the template needn't be overly complex or time-consuming.
Take a look here for some tips.

Creating a Template – The Basics (Part I)

Creating a Template (Part II)

Creating Custom Toolbars for Templates

Of course, as you use the template, you will find some "wouldn't it be
nice" features you will want to add later. These may involve some
automation using VBA code. If you don't feel confident doing that
yourself, find an outside firm able to help, or let your colleague do

3. If you can't find the time to do it right, you'll end up having to
find the time to do it again. The fact that you are desperately
overloaded may well be a sign that your productivity and consistency
is far less than it ought to be.

4. You need to have a chat with your colleague. In that chat, focus on
what productivity benefits he expects to get from having a template.
He has been elsewhere and done things with a template, so he knows
what the benefits are. You haven't and don't, so keep an open mind on
the subject. The benefits will be multiplied the more people use the
template and the more projects you do that use the template.

5. Being a small company requires you to do things right (in terms of
the end product) even more than a large company. A small software
company would never sell anything if it had as many bugs in its
products as Microsoft and Adobe get away with.

6. Using a wiki will not obviate the need for a template. The two can
work together.

7. If you were unaware that your colleague was working on the template
while he was doing so and only discovered this after the event, then
the fact is that he was almost certainly matching your overall
productivity even while taking time out to work on the template. This
means he was probably using an incomplete template to outmatch your
productivity on the hours he was actually spending on documents. There
is an obvious conclusion to draw there.

Jonathan West

Create HTML or Microsoft Word content and convert to Help file formats or
printed documentation. Features include support for Windows Vista & 2007
Microsoft Office, team authoring, plus more.

True single source, conditional content, PDF export, modular help.
Help & Manual is the most powerful authoring tool for technical
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