Templates and Styles

It’s midnight at the publishing house. All the cubicles are dark–except one in the back corner, where a frazzled production editor struggles to finish formatting a 700-page book that’s due at press in eight short hours. Can’t we do something to help?

As we’ve seen in our newsletters the past few weeks, Microsoft Word documents get their overall formatting from the templates attached to them. By changing a document’s template, you automatically change the document’s formatting. *Every* document is based on a template. If you don’t attach one, Word uses the Normal template. The relationship looks like this:

Template —> Document

Styles and paragraphs have the same kind of relationship as templates and documents. Paragraphs get their overall formatting from the styles applied to them. By changing a paragraph’s style, you automatically change the paragraph’s formatting. *Every* paragraph is based on a style. If you don’t apply one, Word uses the Normal style. The relationship looks like this:

Style —> Paragraph

Why does Word work like this? To give you greater and faster *control* over a document’s formatting. Using templates and styles, you can instantly change the look of an entire document–or certain parts of a document, such as block quotations or headings.

Many people never even think about this. They’ll go through an entire manuscript, manually formatting every single heading as Arial, 14-point, bold, small caps, 1-point condensed, center justified, exact line spacing, keep with next. It makes me absolutely crazy!

To get fast, consistent formatting throughout a manuscript, you’ll need to do two things:

1. Attach a template that includes the styles you need with the formatting you want them to have. To learn more about this, see Editorium Update for the past two weeks:



2. Consistently apply styles as needed. For example, you might use the Heading 1 style for part titles, Heading 2 for chapter titles, Heading 3 for subheads, and so on. You can read more about style levels in the documentation for our WordSetter program, here:


If parts of the manuscript still don’t look right, they may have directly applied font and paragraph formatting (such as Arial, 14-point, bold, small caps, 1-point condensed, center justified, exact line spacing, keep with next). Directly applied paragraph formatting is easy to remove: just select the whole document (CTRL + a) and then press CTRL + q. Unfortunately, directly applied font formatting isn’t so easy to get rid of. Yes, you can select the whole document and press CTRL + SPACEBAR, but that will also remove all character formatting, such as italic, presenting a serious problem. The only solution I know of is our FileCleaner program’s Standardize Font Formatting feature, which you can learn more about here:


Using templates and styles is the key to formatting that looks good and doesn’t take all night to finish.

Now, go home and get some sleep.

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