My resume attests to working in many different corporate environments. In virtually all of them I’ve found people working much too hard and inefficiently when using Microsoft Word. And at many of those companies, I have left a legacy of Word templates that save time and improve the quality of Word documents.
Saturday Night Live, although not exactly corporate, relied on one of my templates to write every sketch they aired for over a decade.
It started with Script Werx. I had modified Word so much to make my own work easier that I thought other writers could benefit from the templates I created. So I developed and marketed a number of templates, along the way taking courses in Visual Basic programing (the language on which Microsoft Office is based) and becoming adept in writing Visual Basic computer code.
Script Werx was marketed for over a decade, evolving along with Word. It was bought and used by thousands of writers around the world. Customized versions were developed for Mary Kay corporate and Saturday Night Live.
The features packed into Word, which are all too infrequently used, can be of benefit when creating virtually any type of document:
Reports and White papers—Virtually any type of document requiring a consistent format can be automated with a template. Components and entire sections can be added with a click or key combination. Items entered once can appear everywhere they need to appear.
Scripts and Storyboards—The conventions needed to differentiate among who is speaking, what is heard, what is seen, and stage directions, can be automated to anticipate what is entered next and ensure consistent formatting.
Books and manuals—Entire books can be based on a Word template, including a table of contents, footnotes, chapter headings, captions, index, and all other components typically required for a properly formatted publication.
Templates vs. Examples
A word document that exemplifies a format to be used is not a template. Microsoft Word templates even have a different extension (.dotx vs. .docx). Double-click a template and it doesn’t open. Instead, a new Word document is created that includes all of the content and formatting included in the template.
Anything done in this new Word document has no effect on the template. The template remains intact to ensure consistency among all future documents based on it.
Simply using the most recent version of a document means any variations made in that version get passed along. And as in the telephone game you may have played in school, every new copy of the example is a compilation of all revisions to previous copies, meaning increasing inconsistency; and ultimately, a document that looks virtually nothing like it is supposed to.
To check out some template examples, just click one of the following. Part of a template’s magic is that replacing some of the placeholders in one place enters that same information everywhere else it’s appropriate (examples are printed from a template, rather than the template itself).
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Leader guide for a class or presentation using speaker support
Job aid of step-by-step instructions for use as reference on the job
Leader guide for a class without speaker support
Design document /storyboard for web-based training