How to clean up the mess: finally creating a template after 4 yrs of writing documents (Word)

Subject: How to clean up the mess: finally creating a template after 4 yrs of writing documents (Word)
From: SB <sylvia -dot- braunstein -at- gmail -dot- com>
To: TECHWR-L <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 14 Apr 2008 17:03:14 +0300

My colleague suggested that I present a more detailed view of the problem.

Hi all,

RE: How to clean up the mess: finally creating a template after 4 yrs of
writing documents (Word)

I have a customer who has been writing Word documents for the last four
years, and I guess there are now about a 100 documents, but they never yet
got around to making a template. The documents themselves are nevertheless
quite nicely formatted using local styling (i.e., not local formatting but
local styling: styles have been created/used in the document), however there
is a significant amount of inconsistency in the naming of the styles. I make
a wild guess that about 50% of the total set of styles defined in all the
documents is a 'core', common set of styles, used by all documents, and
about 25% of the styles are used in some documents but not in others (where
the same styling is implemented but with different style names), and the
remaining 25% are just custom 'garbage' styles that are not used even in the
document in which they are defined.

The customer has now decided to make a template, and of course would like it
to be backward compatible with all the previous documents(!)

I informed them right from the start that it would be very difficult to go
back through all the documents and identify and collect together all the
styles that were used. Further, if we then put *all* the styles in the
template then this would be sort of defeating one of the goals of a
template, namely to have a clean styling system, which, IMO, includes not
having multiple styles all doing the same thing; but if on the other hand we
leave a lot of styles out then the template will not be backward compatible
with all the documents.

The only solution would seem to be that we laboriously go over all the
documents and we identify all "duplicate" styles and select one of the style
names as being the "real name" and renaming all the other styles in their
respective document to that single, real name. However this would take a
very long time.

I would be interested to hear if others have had experience of such a
request and/or suggestions as to how to handle this.

Thanks in advance,

Avraham
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