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.

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 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.

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 direct formatting.

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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