Developing your own document style
This paper discusses some of aspects that users wishing to develop their own styles in Word processing packages may need to consider. Whilst the aspects affect most packages a large part of the author's experience is in Microsoft Word.
Producing documents has probably never been easier than it is today, with the wealth of software designed to ease the task. Word processing software is most commonly used, however Desktop Publishing Software ( DTP ) is also used by more specialist personnel .
Irrespective of the choice made the user is still left with the issue of how to make a document "look good" or to conform to someone else's idea of how the document should appear. Some approaches are prescriptive and state in considerable detail ( eg. MLA Style Manual -
u Font names and sizes to be used
u Line spacing
u How to cite authors and sources
u Headers, Footers
Whilst these may be interesting to users who are preparing documents that match the assumptions of those who developed the style guides they do not necessarily help users wishing to develop their own style.
What will the style be used for ?
Before one starts trying to create a style there are some questions that one should ask about the intended use of the style :
u Is it intended to support pocket sized or other special sizes of document ? The use of white space may be at a premium in smaller documents and the legibility of fonts will also vary. Many of the considerations here will be highly specific and this document doesn't consider in detail the formatting needs of special sizes or presentation that would naturally fit onto standard document sizes like A4 or Letter.
u Is it going to appear on the internet ? Browsers choose from relatively limited numbers of typefaces and this can constrain the choices made by the user.
u Does it need to conform to accessibility guidelines ( http://www.w3.org/TR/WAI-
u How are documents going to be bound ( book fold, single sided or double sided pages etc. ) ? This affects the balance of margins as amounts disappear into the binding and the user wants the reader to still see a "balanced result"
Some of the answers to these questions will impose constraints on the document style. The use of customised fonts, for example, is not particularly successful when these will be mapped onto a standard alternative font when the document is viewed by someone who doesn't have the custom font ( this affects web pages, and word processed documents ).
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