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A proposal for project-level style in Writing Outliner Word addin

Posted in: Book writing software by Edwin on April 29, 2010

Style in Word is a good tool for formatting large documents, however, the UI design of Microsoft Word seems does not encourage the use of style.

Obviously, as a Word addin which claims its main purpose is to deal with  book-length documents in Word, Writing Outliner should take advantage of the underlying styling features of Word.  There are also several posts related to styles in the Writing Outliner Word addin beta test forum.

So this will be my next major work  for the upcoming beta version 4. And here is my proposal, and I appreciate all kinds of input.

Note: if you haven’t tried Writing Outliner Word Addin nor you have looked at the screenshots of it, you’ll find the following description a little difficult to understand, because it’s based on the UI of this Word addin.

  1. In the left project outline, there is a top-level folder called “Template Repository”.
  2. Under that “Template Repository” you can insert new Word documents, each of which defines a set of style sheets you can use in any Word documents  all across the project.
  3. In each “style template document”, you define styles in a visual “what you see is what you get way”,  look at the screenshot below, each text line in the “style template document” defines two things:
    1. The text line itself is the style name.
    2. How a line looks like is exactly how that style that’s named after that line looks like.
  4. Once a “style template document” is defined, you can select a specific “style template” for each drafts in the writing project;  If you don’t specify one, the default one will be used.
  5. You can only define styles in the “style template documents”, because the styles are global in the project. Does this make sense?

That’s all for now as a starting point. Honestly, I don’t have too much experiences of using styles in Word, so I will really appreciate your input!

defining global Word styles in Writing Outliner Word addin


  1. Edwin,

    This would be a great way to implement styles while giving each user the ability to customize to their hearts content. I’m looking forward to seeing and working in Beta 4.

    Comment by Alan Ehrlich on April 29, 2010 at 10:52 pm

  2. MuppetGate

    Keeps getting better and better … 😀

    The outline plan sounds great. Can’t really say much more. I think this will be the killer feature when it arrives.

    Word is finally usable for long documents.

    Comment by MuppetGate on April 30, 2010 at 1:30 am

  3. MuppetGate

    Hi Edwin.

    Is it best to post suggestions here, or on the forum?

    New website is a great improvement by the way.

    Comment by MuppetGate on May 2, 2010 at 3:16 pm

  4. Hi MuppetGate,

    Both places will be OK. I have seen your reply in the beta 3 announcement topic in the forum?

    Comment by Edwin Yip on May 2, 2010 at 5:20 pm

  5. Andrej

    I’m not too enthusiastic about having to select a style template for each draft individually (if by “each draft” you mean “each document”. Or am I not getting this correctly? After all, each document represents a scene in a single final long (compiled) text. Who would want shorter documents with different style templates that are in the end compiled into a single long document?

    You only need different style templates for different KINDS of documents, and these would be organized into different folders (or at least nodes). So it is only logical to apply templates to whole segments (folders or node documents), with all subdocuments under their level having the selected template applied automatically. One template for the novel itself, one for the Research notes…

    Comment by Andrej on May 3, 2010 at 4:09 am

  6. Hi Andrej,

    Don’t worry, default template will be used if you don’t select a style template for one. and once you select one for a branch, all the child documents will inherit the template from their parent document.

    Comment by Edwin Yip on May 3, 2010 at 11:19 am

  7. Andrej

    I see! Well, it’s a fair substitute for assigning templates to actual folders themselves – to create a single Level 1 document with a specific template and then place all other documents as children documents. OK.

    Comment by Andrej on May 3, 2010 at 3:08 pm