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

Subject: Re: How to clean up the mess: finally creating a template after 4 yrs of writing documents (Word)
From: "Jonathan West" <jwest -at- mvps -dot- org>
To: TECHWR-L <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 14 Apr 2008 17:25:43 +0100

> 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.

50% of common styles is not a bad starting point. I've been in a
position of having to start from a much lower base.

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

That of course is impossible, in the terms that you describe.

> 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.

I would proceed as follows.

1. Starting with your base 50%, create a template using all the
different styles that you expect to need for the document set. Work on
the basis of defining one style for each distinct element, rather than
for each format, so for instance you have separate styles for
4th-level headings and table captions, even if both happen to be 10pt
bold Arial.

2. Once you are happy with the template, work with each document in
turn, doing the following:

a. Attach the template and click the "Automatically update all styles"
button on the Templates and add-ins dialog so that the template styles
overwrite the document styles of the same name.

b. For each style in the document not coming from the template, decide
which of the template styles should be used instead of the document
style, do a global find & replace before deleting the document style

It may be that you can automate these last two items with a suitable
VBA macro. Item (a) can certainly be automated. (b) can possibly be
partly automated. Take a look here for an example of how to use VBA to
process a folder full of files

Find & ReplaceAll on a batch of documents in the same folder

Jonathan West

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

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