Many authors fail to take advantage of the power built into their word processing and desktop publishing programs. They waste time opening menus and searching for dialog boxes for text formatting commands when styles with keyboard shortcuts could save time and project a more consistent image.Roger C. Parker

Likewise, many users “reinvent the wheel” by laying out new projects from scratch, rather than using templates as the basis for future projects. Templates save time by replacing “design” tasks with a foundation for highlighting new text and graphics against a consistent and easily recognized structure.

Best of all, styles and templates are free: they’re already on your computer, built into the software you’ve purchased or are renting on a subscription basis.

How styles save you time

Let’s assume you’re adding a subhead to introduce a new in the lead story in your newsletter. If you’re not using styles, here are the steps you need to take each time you want to insert a subhead and return to regular text formatting.

  1. Start by highlighting the text you want to format.
  2. Search for commands for reformatting text. This often involves exploring dialog boxes where you can choose a different typeface, type size, color, case (i.e., bold or italics), and letter spacing.
  3. Next, you need to open the Paragraph dialog box to change the spacing of the subhead between the last line of previous text. You’ll also probably want to adjust the spacing between the subhead and the text that follows.
  4. Finally, if desired, you may want to select a bullet and adjust it’s spacing (more searching for the right commands)!

Text styles, however, reduce the process to just two steps. First, highlight the text you want to reformat. Second, select the desired previously created Style from the Quick Action Toolbar at the top of the Microsoft Word text bar. In addition, many programs permit you to label the shortcut, i.e. “News Shortcut”).

Templates offer you a head start

Whereas styles help you save time formatting text, templates help you save time beginning a new project that will reinforce the image you have already established. Templates help you place repeating text and graphic elements as well as newly added text.

  • Templates can position text and graphic elements that are repeated from issue to issue. These include your firm’s logo, the publication’s title, and your firm’s logo, address, phone, and URL.
  • Templates also guide the location of new, issue-specific text like articles, editorials, new products and services, upcoming events, and staff profiles.

The need for styles and templates becomes more imperative when you prepare the files needed to self-publish a book.

Authors, especially those creating their own publication files for Amazon Kindle ebooks, will appreciate the time saved converting a typed manuscript into a formatted file ready for uploading to Amazon.

As you become more familiar with styles and templates, you’ll discover new ways to take advantage of their advanced features, like the ability to share styles between documents or format special chapters of their book.

Authors who previously devoted weeks to page layout tasks will be pleased to note that “the new way” requires just days for the same tasks…a tribute to the power of styles and templates.

Author Bio:

Let Roger C. Parker help you create a content-driven nonfiction book that will set you and your ideas apart. Roger’s first book, Looking Good in Print, played an important role in the popularity of desktop publishing and the creation of new careers for individuals throughout the world. His later books, include Desktop Publishing and Design for Dummies and the original Microsoft Office 97 for Windows 7 for Dummies. Call 603-866-6046 or email for an experienced, fresh perspective. I’ll also send you a PDF of sample left-hand and right-hand pages.

Did you know we host a year-round Nonfiction Book Awards program? Check it out!