Style Dialogs in Word 2002

The Styles and Formatting Task Pane in Word 2002 is a useful feature, but, keyboard junkie that I am, I just hate reaching for the mouse every time I need to create or modify a style--and the Task Pane doesn't seem to work with the keyboard. Isn't there a way to get back Word's old Style dialog? Or better yet, how about a way to access Word 2002's fancy new Modify Style dialog (which has the most commonly used options right there) without having to drill down through the Task Pane and a couple of other dialogs?

The beauty of Word is that almost anything is possible, and although I'm unhappy with some of what Microsoft has done to increase the "marketability" of my favorite word processor, I'm glad they've had the good sense to leave in (and even add) some great features, even if they're sometimes buried pretty deep.

If you want to get back the keyboard-controllable Style dialog, do this:

1. Click Tools > Macro > Macros.

2. Click the "Macros In" dropdown list.

3. In the list, click "Word commands."

4. In the "Macro name" list, use the scroll bar to find "FormatStyle."

5. Click "FormatStyle."

6. Click "Run."

Wow! There's the friendly Style dialog, ready to be controlled through keyboard commands (or, if you insist, with your mouse). No Task Pane needed!

Of course, you're not going to want to drill down through Tools > Macro > Macros every time you want to use the dialog, so you might as well put the command on a toolbar button, a menu, or a keyboard shortcut, as described here:

While we're playing around with style commands, there are some others you might want to add to a toolbar, menu, or keyboard shortcut. If you work with styles a lot, you could even create a Styles menu or toolbar devoted entirely to these commands:

* FormatStyleModify (which lets you modify styles)

* FormatStyleNew (which lets you create new styles)

* FormatStyleGallery (which lets you see the styles in your various Word templates)

* FormatStyleVisibility (which lets you hide or display text depending on the style applied; where has *this* been all my life?)

Now are you happier with Word 2002? I know I am.

Note: If you're a Mac user, the procedure should be basically the same in Word 2003.



Wordmeister Steve Hudson sent an interesting response to a question about why Word's features sometimes seem to work differently depending on where they are accessed in Word. (His references to Maggie, Douggie, and Mal will mean more if you subscribe to the WORD PC-LIST; for more information, see today's Resource column.) Steve's answer is complex and has to do with the inner workings of Microsoft Word and VBA programming, so if you want to know more about that, Steve's your man. Here's what he had to say:

Word is like this really complex programme beastie, right? I mean HIDEOUSLY complex. If it were a house we could pack it with all the Word PC List users and play a single game of hide and seek that went for WEEKS! So, we go searching for the Queen, Maggie. We find her sensibly hidden in the backwaters of a partial wing known as Table Properties. She is in a long corridor with many doors off it, one of which is labelled Sort, and you have a squizzy down there and see a corridor branching off into a few other corridors.

You know Father Douggy is into macros, so you think you'll look there for him. You backtrack and begin looking. Your wanderings lead you into the room of Macros, off the main wing of Tools. You find the venerable Cardinal Mal, poking around with some suspicious-looking strings attached to a strange object. He is calling it a Guitar and wants to implement a new RocknRoll method. But you still haven't found Douggy yet, so you ask Mal where he is. "Oh, he was with Maggie." You think, "Uh huh! I know he's near here, and he's near Maggie, so I'll look in the Sort Ascending room!"

You go through the door marked Commands, and it opens out into a long, winding corridor full of doors and stairways. You wander along until you come to the Sort Ascending room, and you walk in on the ground floor. No Douggy. Then you look up and realise Douggy is standing on a balcony with no way up for you. You ask, "How did you get there?" He replies, "I came via a different way than you."

So, there's our analogy; let's get a little more "real world" with the next pass, huh? 🙂 Mind you, this all in generality can be applied to many facets of the facade (Word's user interface); it's not just applicable for SortSuspenders.

Word is a complex beastie full of little snippets of code that do things. These snippets are called on by other snippets until we have a facade full of bugs, err features, undocumented or otherwise. My tools are developed in a similar fashion, so this is quite normal. I have really generic routines hiding behind the walls of methods that then present exact instances of their usage.

Let's take a simple example. I write a piece of code to strip styling from a range; I don't care what the range is, just give me a range. Now that's useless to tie to the GUI (graphical user interface); how does the user specify the range? We are much better off giving access to it using sensible ranges that the user scenario requires: one to strip the selection only, one to strip the whole document, and one to strip every document in the folder. All of these call the same backing routine; thus, in a sense, they are wrappers to the hidden method.

A method is just a Sub or Function in OOL-speak (object-oriented language). A Document is an object. It has a Save method. This means there is a Document class definition somewhere that has a little function sitting in it called Save that has the code to do the saving business. This manifests in our IDE (the VBE--Visual Basic editor) as a Document.Save method! Clever, huh? You can build your own classes to play further with this.

So, I write this dialog for dealing with tables. I whack all sorts of extra smarts into it to give a nice user experience. These smarts then finally end up calling the basic routines to provide the functionality--such as Sort. My first attempt, I don't bother selecting the whole table, and the support phone starts ringing like someone whose spouse is two days late home from the pub. "I keep getting an error when sorting," they all say. Moron users. What do they know? But I have to do something with my time other than keep the coffee machine empty, so I include the smarts to select the whole table if pressing the button through the smarty dialog. I do not alter the base function at all.

I then sit down and have a caffeine-free moment and realise, hang on, what if some GENIUS dudes, like me, come along and want to sort just bits of a document? I know, I'll write a quick wrapper to give them access to the sort function. I have no idea what their data will look like, so I can't provide any trickery; that's all up to them as I have a pizza to order. You have to order pizza early, otherwise it is still warm when you go to eat it.

So now we have two different ways to get at the same underlying functionality. One way has all sorts of extras chucked in. The other doesn't. They are both merely wrappers to get to the routine that actually does the sort work; one is fancier but less flexible than the other.

Thanks to Steve for his comments.



The WORD PC-LIST is, in my opinion, *the* place to go for expert online advice about using Word:

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