Hey Microsoft! Word Up With CSS

Graphic representing a Microsoft Word post. A big aqua color letter W.


I sure wish Microsoft would take a page from the CSS how to book on web page styling. Here I am reviewing a gargantuan pile of Word documents with multiple authors who for some reason felt the need to improve the styling. All of these documents are to be presented to a customer, but they are not cohesive at all. Turn this over to the customer and they will think LAME-O.

That is right, LAME-O. My term for, “Are you seriously handing this off as a piece of professional work when it looks like $#&!.?”

Word Fail

Ah, but Word styles will be able to handle this. Merely update the template on each and wah-la.  Perhaps you have tried this route? It is all over the web. Just change the template and check automatically update document styles. Why it looks so easy, you would think this was written in a Microsoft training guide, like back when Microsoft created useful documentation on their products. Yet, this does not work! The new styles are not applied. Can you believe it? This too is all over the web. What is one to do?

The Solution

For this I reached back far in the depths of my Word knowledgebase, stored deep within my brain. What if I just modify the Normal template? Messing with Normal ran all sorts of update risks in the past, this might just work. Well it does work!!! Attaching a Normal.dotm template will Automatically update document styles. Where is this on the web? Only here in this blog post.

Part A. Modify Normal.dotm with the Styles as you want them:

  1. Make a copy of your Normal.dotm file in the same directory where it currently exists, naming it something such as Normal – Copy.dotm. Normal.dotm is located at C:\Users\Yourname\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Templates
  2. Launch Word
  3. Open the Normal.dotm file using the File, Open feature of Word
  4. Modify the Styles as you want them
  5. Save

Part B. Open the file where you want the styles and apply the updated Normal.dotm:

  1. Open the file where you want the styles applied.
  2. Click File, Options
  3. Click Add-Ins
  4. Change the Manage selection to Templates and click Go…
  5. Click Attach (This defaults to the Normal.dotm directory) and select the Normal.dotm file, then click Open
  6. Check the Automatically update document styles
  7. Click OK

The styles as you modified them in Part A are applied.

 Word Up With CSS

I sure wish Microsoft would make updating Word styles as easy as it is for a web page, just change the cascading style sheet (CSS) and all is updated. Now if only those techies had applied Styles in the first place! Then there is the use of spacebar, spacebar, spacebar to line up text. Oh it is a tedious adventure to get it all corrected, but at least this stuff will not be LAME-O.

If you want an easy way to get Styles into the Normal template, such as copy all the styles in this one document into the Normal template, see my other blog post Word 2013 Copy Styles to the Normal Template




Where was the document Nazi?

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