Deploying Standard Styles through an Organization

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated April 25, 2024)
This tip applies to Word 2007 and 2010


Greg has a number of styles that he needs to deploy within his organization. There are a large number of users in the organization, and Greg can't replace their individual copies of the Normal template. Besides, the styles also need to be available through existing custom templates, as well. All of the templates (Normal and custom) are on the individual systems of the users. Greg is looking for suggestions on how he can deploy the styles so that they are accessible to all users and take precedence over styles of the same name that may already exist within the templates on their systems.

Actually, people have been asking the same question as Greg (in one form or another) for years. The reason it has been asked for so long is because there really isn't a good answer—at least not one that can be "imposed" on a local implementation of Word and catch all the "gotchas" that are possible. Just as soon as you think you might have the styles all covered, in some way, somebody's local machine will do something screwy (such as renaming one of your styles automatically for some strange reason) and then the user is stuck trying to figure out how to handle that situation. If they choose wrong, then the document may get propagated through the organization with the incorrect styling applied.

The approach that most companies have used is to come up with a good set of standards and rules (perhaps codified in a corporate style guide) and then train your users how to recognize those standards and use them. It is ironic and a bit sad that companies will spend thousands of dollars on computers and software and then refuse to spend a bit more to train individuals how to use those tools in the best way for the company. Companies assume that everyone is computer literate and then act surprised when chaos occurs, at a document level.

In working with those standards and rules, you'll want to create a series of official templates that both support and implement the standards and rules. This will, undoubtedly, include the creation of an organizational Normal template. This template should be placed on a shared network location and protected so it cannot be updated by the large numbers of users who will be accessing it. If you want to keep a local copy for each person, then the network administrator could download the Normal template to the local machine automatically each time someone logs into the network. In this way any changes done at a corporate level could be "pushed" to the local users.

Once the standards and rules are implemented, then the organization could periodically examine documents produced by users to see if those standards and rules are being followed. Over time, this will allow your users to become more proficient at using an organizational standard that would benefit the entire organization.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (5958) applies to Microsoft Word 2007 and 2010.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...


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What is two less than 2?

2015-05-21 15:02:41

Derrick Truett

If you cannot dictate (No one likes dictation but unfortunately in some cases its required) to those outside the organizations regarding what template to use. It will likely be a clumsy manual process at best.

Dictation Example:
1) Remove all available template except the defined approved template.
2) Link the remaining template in the software to the master template on your shared drive.
3) Lock the master template on the shared drive to view only except for those controlling the master template.
4) Properly set the template options on the developer tab of your template. This is to link the top level template in the users software with the master template on the shared drive.

This functioned almost without issue in a MFG environment with well over 500 Eng working on approximately 2500 documents and also worked without issue in sharing the documentation externally. During that timeframe it also worked for both Lotus and Microsoft.

There are various method to help around the total clumsy nature of it like find and replace as an example mentioned by others.

Your situation is similar to mine in that obtaining exports from 3rd party applications put me in the same boat. Some of these companies are willing to correct their exported template but only so far in regards to how it functions with a word processing application.

Also untrained general users make it more difficult when they do not use tagged styles in their formatting. This is what colleges teach kids to do but it is the less professional method to using the software.

The difference between knowing and just getting by with the software versus understanding and perfecting the use of the software.

Microsoft has always had a way of providing many option to users in the sense to make it easier for them but then it is self defeating on the next pass when it creates a bigger headache later.

For manual processing:

1) Style marks on at all times
Link to you master template via development tab, save, close and reopen.(those styles named the same will auto adjust, the rest will not)
2) You can attempt to do a style replacement if possible.
3) Otherwise use control and highlight all items that should be styled the same.
4) Use style menu to select the appropriate style.
5) Rinse and Repeat.
6) Be sure you have a Table of Content (TOC) turned on for the document. It actually can highlight what is not correctly styled for you and let you link to the area for correction.

Alternative might be to convert to HTML and adjust there.
Use Find and Replace. If you get to involved in the coding though you can actually change the coding in such a way to prevent the word processing application from functioning correctly.

Best Tip: Get a cup of Coffee, your going to be awhile. 8) Do this stuff enough everyone will be asking you for tips.

Others advice is also good I believe. Its really going to be up to you to find what works best in your situation via repetition, trial and error. Also what your getting might alter how best to handle the situation.

2015-05-20 07:56:15


For Peter's issue, if the styles in the received documents have the same style names as your template, you should be able to use the organizer (Developer tab> Document Template> Organizer) to import/overwrite the source styles with the desired template styles. If they are not named the same, you can import the template styles using the organizer, then use Find & Replace to replace styles the source doc styles with their equivalent from the template.

2014-11-06 11:36:33

Derrick Truett

If I understand this discussion, my previous company created a master template and placed on a shared drive within the organization. The organization outside of Document Control all had view only access to the Master Template. This is important to prevent the template from being modified by other users and honestly the other issue was Document Control had issues often in updating because it was typically in use. IT often would have to just replace the file for us to update it. This Master Template was linked to a document with content of a template nature. Thus we use the terms Master Template and Template. This template of content was linked to the master template to always update based on the master template. Also if a user could not access that drive the documents maintain a copy of that master template within them even if it was outdated version. The important thing here though is the standardized style names allowing update later when access to the master template is obtained again. If it was an outside person doing the documentation they would simply need to use the template. When that is then opened with access to the master template via a shared drive. It would update the styles automatically basically. My new job the issue here is HTML/Word export from 3rd party applications are coded to not work well with MS Word really or this methodology. When linking them to a template only some changes occur and other formats are hard coded. Anyways hopefully this will help.

2012-10-21 07:55:57

Thomas Roes

Hallo Peter,

This is a broad problem. I suppose "outside" does mean several sources. I suppose it's inpossible to get any controle over it.

-1) be sure to keep an unmodified copy
-2) Keep a "printed" copy close at hand (a PDF version on a second screen is a paper saver)
-3) examin the document. choose show paragraph marks (also show's spaces, tabs).
-4) Get a general idea of the word-capabilities of the author. (If you have source's that submit time and again, remember your findings)
-5) Choose a strategy for each document. This can range from editing a few styles to "save-to-plain-text, reopen in Word and make it a true Word document"

2012-10-20 12:23:27

Richard Gillingham

We encounter this type of question frequently in our ‘Mastering Long Documents’ class that we conduct for organizations … to the extent that we have established a standard set of recommendations. Here are two of those recommendations you might find useful

First, we recommend that you create a replacement style that replaces the Normal style. Name it something like Normal2. In that replacement style, be sure to set the ‘Style Based on’ specification to ‘None’ – that way you don’t get any accidental changes from another style. Apply this style as your style to use for the first paragraph in any document (or change the default setting to that style in the Normal template). One big advantage is that if you receive a document from someone else, and they have modified their ‘Normal’ style, there is no chance that their modification(s) can bleed into your document through ‘Normal’; in effect, you’ve isolated your primary style.

Second, specific to your case, if you follow the first recommendation (i.e., Normal2 style), you can then quickly perform a search and replace of the Normal style that came in with the document with your own Normal2 style:

1. Open the Replace Dialog Box.
2. Click in the Find What Box.
3. Click the More Button to expose more options.
4. Click the Format Button.
5. Click the Styles choice.
6. Navigate to and select the Normal style.
7. Click the OK Button.
8. Confirm that the Find What Box shows Normal just below that box.
9. Click in the Replace With Box.
10. Repeat the above steps, but select Normal2 as the replacement style.
11. You now have Find What = Normal, and Replace With = Normal2.
12. Click the Replace All Button.
13. At least for the Normal style, you’ve ‘fixed’ the entire document.

NOTE: If you know how to record a macro, then you can be even more efficient by recording the process, so that you can ‘play back’ the process without having to manually perform all the steps again.

If your situation is a bit different, re-post with new details.

2012-10-20 11:26:25

Peter Matthews

My problem is a little different. I receive documents from outside our organisation - and have to reformat them to our standard. This seems to be a clumsy process at best. Any tips?

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