The Styles Customizer

Today we offer you the “Styles Customizer”. Your easy-to-use method for managing styles in Word like a pro. If you haven't downloaded this app yet, it's time to take care of that. It's fast and free. Then read on to see why I call it "lazy perfection".


The first version of the macro I attached to the draft of my article Lazy Perfection and sent into the Great Circle Learning Blog Editor was a relatively simple program that put MY favourite styles on the Styles chunk, and hides all the rest. Like this:


What if you do not like MY selection of styles? Or their arrangement?

Well… Rich Michaels got to work and “improved” it.

Rich is a commercial-quality programmer who has improved the original to an unbelievable degree. I think there are about ten lines of the code I wrote left. It’s more of an “application” than a “macro” now, it even has a dialog. And a button on the Home tab Ribbon:  


This dialog appears when you hit the button:


Yes, for the observant, I AM running PC Word on a Mac. So sue me! And the reason that screen-shot comes from the PC is that the Styles Customizer does not yet “quite” work properly on the Mac. Now, back to the topic at hand...

When the Styles Customizer opens up, it presents two columns of styles.

On the left is every paragraph or character style in the document, in alphabetic order. Each document stores its own unique list of styles. Many of us wish they wouldn’t, but that’s another story.

On the right, is a list of the styles already in the Styles chunk, again, in alphabetic order. To tame your Styles chunk, you simply use the Move and Remove buttons to move the styles you use into the right-hand column, or remove the ones you don’t use to the bottom of the left-hand column. Easy!

How you arrange your styles is very personal to you and to the type of work you are doing on the document you have open.

My suggestion is to place the ones you use most often in the places where they are easiest for you to see and hit. Since I am “writing” this document, I have three levels of heading as the first three, Body Text is the one I use for most of the text, and the two List Styles complete the compliment.  I am on a laptop, so I don’t actually have room for any more…

When I am “Editing” an academic thesis, I will get rid of Heading 3 and add the Caption style and the Graphics style… You get the idea.

Having chosen your styles, use the Move Up and Move Down buttons to arrange the styles in the sequence you prefer.  They will start off alphabetically, but you would normally move them into a sequence you find logical for the job you are doing.

Use the Unselect button to clear a selection you didn’t mean to make.

Now: Decide whether you want to save this arrangement only in the document you are currently working on, or whether to save this to your Normal template.

If you save to the Normal template, each new document you create will have the selection you just set, which will save you some time (get it exactly to your tastes and you won’t have to run the Styles Customizer at all on that document). Click one of the “Apply these updates” buttons to make your choice.

To execute your changes on the document, click Update; or click Close if you decide not to make these changes.

By customising the Styles chunk to your needs of the moment, it, and the whole Ribbon, suddenly begin to seem like a very good idea.

When the Ribbon first appeared, expert Word users howled in anguish, because it was at least ten times slower to use than the toolbars it replaced (and very difficult to teach people to use…) Now that Microsoft has finally accepted that one size very definitely does NOT fit all when using Microsoft Office, customisation has become possible, and you just did some!

One little “consideration”...

The current version re-names the “Heading” series of styles back to their default names. We need to do this so that we can find them in the list. If this is a problem to you, let us know in the feedback. Rich’s code is sufficiently advanced that we may now be able to suppress that if enough of you need it.

Mac users: please be a little more patient. The version of Mac Word I am running (15.39) cannot run the Customizer at all.  Rich got a new version from Microsoft yesterday that will actually run it; very slowly, but it runs. That has not been possible since Word 2011 appeared: but it would appear that we are now weeks away from getting that fixed! (The version Rich has is a very early Alpha copy: not at all safe for public distribution yet; but it will be…)

This blog post has been graciously provided by our new Contributor at Large:
John McGhie. 
Among other fine accomplishments, John is a Microsoft MVP (Word, Mac Word) and a Consultant Technical Writer at McGhie Information Engineering Pty Ltd in Sydney, Australia.