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Putting the Theory into Practice

Let's say that you're ready to write that modernized Finno-Ugric epic set in Trenton, New Jersey, or maybe you're poised to whip up an exposé on sweet potato culture. You want your presentation to be professional, but you don't want to format the whole time you're typing this work of genius. So the best plan is to put together a template for submission to a publisher.

While requirements vary, most magazine and e-zine editors expect certain things from a template: It should be double-spaced, in an easily readable font face and size, and have reasonable margins. Each page should contain your name, the name of your book or article, and a page number. You might also choose to put other information for yourself in hidden text, but this is certainly not required.

On the first page, header information is a bit different. Conventions dictate that you provide all the contact information you can reasonably offer at the top of the page. A word count belongs in this top margin as well.

Within those confines, presentation differs. So keep in mind that what I'm offering here is not the template for an article, but merely the one that I use. In general, for presentation to publishers you want something simple and solid. You don't want your design and formatting expertise to overwhelm your text (unless you're presenting a paper on design issues). The following procedure shows the styles and settings I like to use; of course, you can change the template as you (or your publisher) prefer.


To create this simple template, you'll need to know how to apply styles and fields. To learn more about working with styles and fields, check out some of my other InformIT articles, such as "Document Design with Style in Word 2003" or "Fields in Word 2003: A Toe-in-the-Water Introduction."

  1. Begin with a clean, blank document and choose Format, Styles and Formatting to display styles in the task pane.

  2. Click New Style in the task pane, type Byline as the title for the new style, and assign your new style the following specifications:

    • Style based on: Body Text

    • Style for following paragraph: Body Text

    • Font: Verdana, 11 pts

    • Paragraph: Double space, 12 pts before, 12 pts after

  3. Now modify several of the standard styles according to the following specifications. To modify a style, right-click the style in the task pane and choose Modify.

    • Heading 1:

      • Style based on: (no style)

      • Style for following paragraph: Byline

      • Font: Ariel, 14 pts, Bold

      • Paragraph: (Click the Format button and select Paragraph to change Paragraph specifications) Centered, Single space, 18 pts before, 12 pts after

    • Heading 2:

      • Style based on: Heading 1

      • Style for following paragraph: Body Text

      • Font: Ariel, 12 pts, Bold

      • Paragraph: Single space

    • Header:

      • Style based on: (no style)

      • Font: Ariel, 9 pts

    • Body Text:

      • Style based on: Heading 1

      • Style for following paragraph: Body Text

      • Font: Verdana, 11 pts

      • Paragraph: Double space

This will take care of all of the styles I'm going to suggest for this simple template. If you want any more, you can compose them yourself. So let's start building the foundation for those fields by setting up the Properties dialog box.

  1. Choose File, Properties, and then click the Summary tab.

  2. Leave the Title field blank.

  3. Type your name in the Author field.

  4. In the Comments field, type your address, telephone number, and email address. This will allow you drop the whole block into place when it's needed.

  5. Click OK to close the Properties box.

Now it's time to drop some fields into your template, starting with the header on the first page.

  1. Make the first page header different from the others by choosing File, Page Setup and clicking the Layout tab. Select the Different First Page check box and click OK.

  2. Choose View, Header and Footer to open the header.

  3. To drop in the Author field, choose Insert, Field, click Author in the Field Names list, and click OK. Then press Tab twice.

  4. Type Words: (followed by a blank space) and choose Insert, Field. Click NumWords in the Field Names list and then click OK. Press Enter.

  5. Choose Insert, Field, click Comments in the Field Names list, and click OK. Then press Enter.

  6. Type Submission date: (followed by a blank space) and then choose Insert, Date and Time.

  7. Select the date format that you want from the drop-down menu and click OK.

Now you need to return to the main page, so click the Close button on the Header and Footer toolbar to return to the main text.

Click Ctrl+Enter to insert a page break and go to the second page.

To set up all other page headers:

  1. Choose View, Header and Footer.

  2. Choose Insert, Field, click Author in the Field Names list, and click OK. Then press Tab twice.

  3. Choose Insert, Field, click Title in the Field Names list, and click OK.

  4. Type this literal string: ", page " and then, on the Header and Footer toolbar, click the Insert Page Number button.

When you're finished putting in the fields, select all the text in the header by clicking Ctrl+A, and apply the Header style. Then return to the first page: Choose View, Header and Footer to return to the main page area, and press Backspace to delete the page break and return to the first page. (We don't want that page break to remain in the template.)

Now you're ready to do the last bit, adding title information:

  1. Click the Heading 1 style in the Styles and Formatting task pane.

  2. Choose Insert, Field, click Title in the Field Names list, and click OK. Type the word Title as a placeholder. (When you fill in the Properties dialog box for an individual document, you'll update this field to make the title appear here.)

  3. Press Enter.

  4. Type by and press Enter.

  5. Click the Byline style in the Styles and Formatting task pane.

  6. Choose Insert, Field, click Author in the Field Names list, and click OK.

  7. Save your document as a template, using an easy-to-recall name such as "article."

Your article template will now be available to you whenever you fancy being published.

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