On 10/7/2021 9:44 PM, Alan Tyree wrote:
Why is it so hard to get people to use styles? I worked recently with
a friend to convert his Word document into an ePub. My advice is don't
ever, ever do this! Even though I had advocated the use of styles, he
had spent hours using direct formatting.
I used to teach a course in Law Office Technology for paralegal
students. One of the sections required that I teach them how to use
Word. I was determined to at least expose them to the benefit of styles.
So, one day, I gave them an assignment. I had emailed them a Word
document consisting of plain unformatted text. I then gave them a
printed copy of the same text that I had previously formatted to look
like a court document. I then told them that their assignment was to
make their unformatted text look like the formatted result.
And it is not just amateurs. I write for a service that insists on
using Word documents (who knows why?) and the stuff they send me is
all direct formatting.
I know that this is preaching to the choir here, but I wondered if
anyone had a strategy that convinced others to work with styles.
I usually would let them struggle for about a half an hour, laboriously
applying all sorts of direct formatting to their document. I would then
intervene and demonstrate before their eyes how I could format the
document in literally under a minute using the styles that were already
available on all of their computers.
That got their attention. I later graded all of their assignments not
only on substance but on whether or not they had used styles instead of
The obvious problem with styles is that it is time consuming to create
and edit them. It is counter-intuitive to spend so much time on our
tools when all we want is to get the work done. One drawback to programs
like Word or LibreOffice is that they make direct formatting even
possible whereas LyX and LaTeX all but force a person to use styles (or
"environments"). I remember years ago another FOSS word processor --
AbiWord -- had a feature called "lock styles" that would prevent direct
formatting. I thought it was a great idea.
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