What is worse than not using Styles in Microsoft Word? Style Wars! Style Wars is when some people in the firm use styles and so do not. This makes both sides unhappy.
So what do you do?
1. Make it easy. There are two approaches to this: using Word’s native functionality or buying a third-party add-in. Either way you end up with is a set of templates that make formatting easy and consistent. For instance, every time you want to create a Body Text paragraph, you press ALT+B and every time you want to draft a letter you use the same template. So what are the pros and cons of each?
- Word’s native functionality. The best thing about this approach is that you don’t have the overhead of another add-in. Also, I believe this is the most elegant solution. However, it is going to require either that you have someone develop the templates in-house or you hire someone like me to do them for you.
- Buying a third-party add-in. The best thing about this approach is that you can get up to speed quickly. On the other hand, you have the overhead and cost of an add-in. Also, some of these products add code to Word. My favorite add-in (which does not add code) is by The Payne Group.
2. Train, train, and train some more. Once you have the tools in place you’ve got to really train and evangelize. It is likely to take three months to a year to see widespread adoption.
3. Deal with the hold outs. For this to make a big impact, you must have 100% participation. Inevitably, you are going to have some hold outs. The best approach I have heard of is to audit your DMS using one of the tools available (Microsystems has one). This will show who is not using styles. Then have someone (maybe the HR Director) talk to them and find out why. In the end, you may have to simply make it mandatory.
It will be worth it! Ending Style Wars will have a huge impact. Stress will go down and productivity will go up.