Technical Editing & Production



Styles and formatting

Don't confuse the word "style" as used by an editor with the word "style" as used by Word. The first usage means (to me) either the writer's voice or the predefined way something must appear on a page. The second usage is a group of interrelated formatting commands that changes how text appears on a page. It's the second form which we are learning this week.

In the assignments you have coming up, you'll be expected to use styles within the document. Part of the book design assignment is to define the styles you used. This week we'll only be dealing with Word styles. Essentially every major layout package supports styles and they must be part of your professional took kit.


Styles reading



Style homework       answer video

Table of contents     answer video

Section and running header homework      answer video

Create the following in Word using tabs (not tables). You'll have to set center, right and decimal tabs as well as set the tab stops and the leader dots. No place in this table has two consecutive tabs. And yes, multiple tabs costs you points.

Discussion questions


You are in charge of developing a document that has 8 people writing different sections; each person has written about 40 pages for a total document length of 300 pages.  You expect to do substantial revisions every 6 months. One of those authors has just sent you his section where all the paragraphs (including headings and figure captions, etc) are all in Word style Normal, rather than the proper style (Heading 1, Heading 2, figure caption, bullet list, etc).  (Probably the way you would have done it before this course.)  The author says he formatted them so they look just like the other sections that use the styles, so it doesn't’t matter, thus he see no reason to use styles.  Looking at the printed pages, you can’t tell he didn't’t use the styles like everyone else did.  What is your response to the writer?

And if that writer is a non-technical writer (i.e., engineer, programmer, marketing person, manager) they may also just tell that it doesn't matter. That's your job as a tech writer to fix it.

Formatted with styles

Formatted without styles



Some of this formatting stuff gets rather confusing. If you have any questions, please post them to the discussion list so everyone can find out the answer.

Thoughts to ponder


Long ago, I read a forum post where a person said the engineer in the cube next to him was diligently working on a document when he arrived at work. All day the engineer worked and he was working the next morning. In a brief conversation, it turned out he was creating the table of contents on a LONG (1000 page) document. Scroll down to next heading, note page number, copy heading, jump to top, paste heading, add page number....repeat.

When told that with Word styles it could be done almost instantly, he replied "I don't have time to learn that stuff. I need to get this table contents created NOW. This is due in three hours."





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