Style and QuickStyle basics (WordPerfect X3 and later)

April 18, 2010 at 7:31 pm

This post, based in large part on one of my training handouts, is intended as an introduction to a feature that is somewhat under-used in WordPerfect: styles.

Styles are simply collections of formatting codes applied all at once to bits of text. For example, you can create a heading style that inserts an automatic number code followed by a tab and then applies boldface and underlining to existing text. Styles can save you time because they let you format text with just a couple of mouse clicks; they’re also a way of ensuring consistent formatting throughout your document.

There are a couple of important things to understand before creating or modifying styles:

First, when you create a new style, that style is saved only with the document in which you create it unless you take specific steps to save or copy it to the default template (or to a file that can be retrieved later). (MS Word works the same way.)

Secondly, styles can be copied between documents. If you have saved a style to a template, it can be copied to another template, as well.

A general caution: Be careful to give styles unique, descriptive names. Take care not to accidentally overwrite an existing style by inserting a style into a document that already contains a differently formatted style that uses the same name as yours.

Using “QuickStyles” to Create a Style Based on Existing Formatting

An easy way to create a new style is to use the “QuickStyle” feature. That feature, found by clicking Format, Styles, QuickStyle or by clicking the Styles drop-down on the formatting toolbar and then clicking QuickStyle, can turn existing formatting within your document into a style. (Note, however, that unless you copy the QuickStyle to the default template, it will be saved only with the current document.)

As an example, type a couple of lines of text and format the second line as Arial, 14 points, bolded, and underlined. Select that line, then click either Format, Styles, QuickStyle or the Styles drop-down, QuickStyle. When the QuickStyle dialog appears, type a short descriptive name for the style (such as Arial 14 BU) and, if you like, a description.

WordPerfect will format the style as a “Paragraph” style with automatic update (to be applied to an entire paragraph, rather than just one or more selected characters) unless you select “Character” style. That can be an important distinction, especially if your firm ever puts paragraph headings and paragraph text on the same line. (If that is the case, make sure to click the radio button next to “Character with automatic update” in the QuickStyle box; when you want to apply the style, you’ll need to select the text first.)

Once you have filled in the information, click “OK.” Then select the previous line of text, click the Styles drop-town, and click the style name you just chose (e.g., Arial 14 BU) to apply the style to the text. If for some reason the text doesn’t format appropriately, it probably means you didn’t include the “Turn on Bold” and/or the “Turn on Underlining” code when you selected the text that was the basis for your QuickStyle. If necessary, you can edit the QuickStyle by turning on Reveal Codes and double-clicking the Style code. (Note that if you do edit a QuickStyle, the changes will automatically be reflected everywhere you have applied that style throughout your document. That is what the “automatic update” aspect means.)

If you like your new style enough to want to make it available in all future documents, you must copy it to your default template. To do so, make sure the document containing the style is on the screen, and click Format, Styles. Highlight the style name in the list, then click the Options button at the lower right side of the dialog box, and click “Copy.” Click the radio button next to “Default template” and click “OK.” Now the style should be available in all new documents you create that are based on the default template.

It’s possible to save all of the styles that exist in a specific document as an ordinary file and then retrieve that file later on (so that the styles are available for use in other documents). Just click Format, Styles, then click the “Options” button and click “Save As.” Type a descriptive name for your file (such as “My styles April 2010″), then click “OK.” Note that by default, WP will save built-in (system) styles as well as custom styles in this file, although you can choose to save only one or the other by clicking the appropriate radio button.

WordPerfect stores styles files in your “Custom WP Templates” folder. In theory, you can store them in a different folder, although that didn’t work very well in my tests. However, there’s no particular reason to put a styles file somewhere else, since that’s where the program looks when you attempt to retrieve a styles file.

To retrieve a styles file (in order to make the styles it contains available in the current document), simply click Format, Styles, then click the “Options” button and click “Retrieve.” Click the Browse icon, which should take you into the “Custom WP Templates” folder, where you should be able to locate your styles file(s). Click to select the file you want, then click “OK.”

CAUTION: When you click “OK,” a message box will appear, asking: “Overwrite current styles?” This warning is intended to prevent you from accidentally overwriting any styles in your document that use the same name as styles in your saved styles file but that are formatted differently. (For example, you might have created a customized “Heading 1″ style in the current document that has different formatting attributes from the “Heading 1″ style you saved in your file.) If you don’t want to overwrite the styles in your document, or if you’re unsure, click “No.”

Creating Styles From Scratch

It is also fairly simple to create new styles from scratch. To do so, click Format, Styles. If you want your new style to be available in all future documents, don’t click the “Create” button just yet; instead, click the “Options” button, then click “Settings.” The Style Settings dialog box appears. Note that it is configured to “Save new styles to…Current document.” Click the radio button next to “Default template” to ensure that any styles you create from now on will be saved in the default template (and thus available in all new documents). OK out of the dialog box.

Now that you have changed this setting, click the “Create” button toward the left side of the Styles dialog box. The Styles editor will open. Type a name for your style, and – optionally – a description. Take note of the “Enter key inserts style” box. By default, WP will insert the same style when you press the Enter key, but that might not suit your purposes, particularly if you are creating a heading style. Should you want WP to insert a different style, or no style at all when you press the Enter key after applying your style, click the drop-down and change the setting by selecting a different style in the list or “[None].”

Also make sure that the correct style type is showing in the Type drop-down. (We have already discussed Paragraph and Character styles; there are also Document styles, but you probably won’t use those often, since they apply to an entire document. I can think of a few possible situations where you might want to use a Document style – such as if you are creating a pleading, which uses different margins from most documents – but in at least some of those situations, you might want to use a template rather than a Document style.) Next, before actually inserting any format codes, think about whether you want the style automatically updated everywhere in the document if you edit one instance of the style in one place in the document.

Finally, you might want to click to mark the “Show ‘off codes'” box at the bottom center of the Styles Editor. Doing so will make it somewhat easier to see the effects your formatting codes will have when you apply the style – and where those codes get turned off.

At this point, you can use the menus, drop-downs, and toolbars to insert formatting codes that you want to use in the style. Typically, you will use font attributes, line spacing, justification, and similar features.

When you have inserted the formatting codes you want, click “OK” to save the style, then click “Close.”

To apply a paragraph style, simply click somewhere within the paragraph, and then either:

1. Click the Format menu, Styles, locate the style in the list, click to select it, then click “Insert”; or

2. Click the Styles drop-down on the formatting toolbar, locate the style in the list, and click to select it.

After applying the style, if you turn on Reveal Codes by pressing Alt F3 or clicking the View menu, Reveal codes, you should see codes for your style surrounding the text. Should you wish to remove the style, you can do so by deleting either of the two style codes (the first one turns the style on and the second one turns it off). Or, with your cursor somewhere within the paragraph, simply repeat either step 1 or step 2 above, but choose “[None]” from the list of styles.

For more about styles, visit WordPerfect Universe. There’s also lots of information on the topic on Barry MacDonnell’s WP Toolbox site; you can search both sites using simple search terms.

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