Core Library template
Our free Core Library template provides many tools to make life easier for technical writers. As well as an optional set of toolbars designed with Technical Writers in mind the Core Library template includes core tools to quickly:
- Cross reference figures and tables from the caption number
- Insert and position frames
- Move pictures floating in the drawing layer inline with the text
- Paste unformatted text from the clipboard
- Resize images
- Access commonly used styles through keyboard shortcuts and toolbars
This template can be used as a global template to provide these tools to all documents. To make the Core Library template available to all documents, place a shortcut to it in Word's startup folder. See Installing Word templates for more information.
With only one exception, the Core Library template builds on a standard Word install and does not alter Word's core functionality. So, we've created separate toolbars and a separate menu for our template to maintain a clear separation between the standard user interface. The one exception is shortcuts. Some of our shortcut keys replace built-in shortcuts but we've been careful to only change seldom used ones. Microsoft Word template shortcuts contains a complete list of the template shortcuts, and a handy reference for some of Word's more useful built-in shortcuts too.
As well as replacements for Word's built-in toolbars to make creation of technical documents easier, there are 4 new toolbars:
- A new framing toolbar for adding and formatting frames, typically used around figures and tables. Frames let you position figures on the page and have text flow around them for more professional documents.
- A list toolbar to create more robust lists, using document styles, than Word's built-in list buttons.
- Two style toolbars, one for common styles and one for special styles, provide ready access to the styles used in technical documents. A helpful and concise visual reminder to those new to styles.
The Core Library also adds a template menu. We have put all the new menu items here, rather than mixing them with Word's menus, so they are easy to find.
Finally, there are many shortcut keys to save you reaching for the mouse every time you need to change styles or insert a cross reference, for example.
Word's standard toolbar contains many buttons of little use to technical writers. So to save screen space we have created a new toolbar, BLS Standard, as an alternative. If you hide Word's standard toolbar and show the BLS Standard toolbar, you'll still have all the tools you need and more screen space for other tools. We've kept tools you'd often use the mouse for (such as Paste), but dropped the ones where shortcuts are almost always used (Cut - Ctrl + X , Copy - Ctrl + C , for example).
|6||Plain Paste: pastes text without formatting. The text will take on the format of the paragraph style.|
|7||Insert Microsoft Equation object|
|10||Show the style editor dialog|
|11||Show/ hide hidden characters (paragraph marks, tabs, spaces etc). A helpful shortcut is Ctrl +Shift + 8 .|
Word's formatting toolbar contains downright dangerous commands for formatting technical documents. Using the list and bullet buttons, in particular, can quickly lead to mess and stress as deadlines approach.
For the BLS Formatting toolbar, the list buttons have been removed (they get their own toolbar) and buttons for small spacing changes (useful around figures and captions), highlighting (helpful to mark areas that need revisiting) and placing floating pictures inline with text have been added. The toolbars are about the same size, but the BLS Formatting one is more useful for technical writers.
|3||Font size selector|
|5||Sink floating images, placing them inline with the text|
|7||Show/ hide table gridlines|
|8||Table borders (prefer styles)|
|9||Left align paragraph (Useful in tables, prefer styles in body text)|
|10||Center align paragraphs (Useful in tables, prefer styles in body text)|
|11||Right align paragraphs (Useful in tables, prefer styles in body text)|
|12||Adjust space before paragraph (useful around tables)|
|13||Keep with next paragraph (prevents page break following a paragraph if possible)|
|14||Increase space before by 2 points (useful around figures)|
|15||Decrease space before by 2 points (useful around figures)|
|16||Set space before to 6 points (useful around figures)|
|17||Set space after to 6 points (useful around figures)|
|18||Increase space after by 2 points (useful around figures)|
|19||Decrease space after by 2 points (useful around figures)|
Using styles helps avoid problems with lists in your documents (such as miss-numbering). The BLS Lists toolbar makes applying style based lists as easy as using Word's direct format lists. Instead of applying direct formatting, it applies an appropriate list style. Like the button on Word's built-in toolbar, the list buttons are toggles; bulleted lists revert to body text if you use them inside a list. The indent and out-dent buttons successively apply List Bullet, List Bullet 1, List Bullet 2... styles. [Image:BLS_Lists_Ann.png | center | frame | The BLS Lists toolbar simplifies creation of robust lists in technical documents.]
|1||Create a numbered list by apply the List Number style.|
|2||Reset list numbering. If you are working on the second or third numbered list in your document, it will continue numbering from an earlier list. This button marks the current list item as the first. It is a toggle.|
|3||Create a bulleted list by applying the List Bullet style.|
|4||Cycle through continuation, numbering and bulleted list styles. The continuation style formats paragraphs that are part of lists. See an example.|
|5||Apply a style with increased indenting/ create an indented sublist.|
|6||Apply a style with decreased indenting/ return to a higher list level.|
In professionally typeset documents, figures and tables are usually positioned at the top or bottom of the page, not in line with the text. Frames can be used to achieve the same results in Word. All the tools you need are on the BLS Framing toolbar.
|1||Place a frame around the selection.|
|2||Move the frame to the top left corner of the page. Text will flow down the left side.|
|3||Move the frame to the top of the page.|
|4||Move the frame to the top right corner of the page. Text will flow down the right side.|
|5||Move the frame to the bottom left corner of the page. Text will flow down the right side.|
|6||Move the frame to the bottom of the page.|
|7||Move the frame to the bottom right corner of the page. Text will flow down the left side.|
|8||Move the frame left of the paragraph. Text will flow down the right side.|
|9||Move the frame right of the paragraph. Text will flow down the left side.|
Two toolbars are included for ready access to document styles. The first houses the most commonly used styles while the second, more specialised styles. It is typically easier to use the style shortcuts or the style selector on the formatting toolbar to apply styles, but these toolbars can be a useful aide mémoire of the styles available for users new to styles.
|The BLS styles toolbars provide ready access and an aide mémoire to document formatting styles.|
The template menu duplicates many of the commands available on our custom toolbars for those who do not wish to use the toolbars. When the core library is loaded, the template menu will appear to the right of the Help menu.
|Plain Paste||Pastes text from the clipboard without formatting. The text will take on the format of the paragraph style.|
|Update all fields||Word uses field codes for many things including automatic numbering of equations, tables, figures, cross references and the table of contents. They are usually updated just before printing or print preview, but this command forces an immediate update.|
|Remove Double Space||Replaces occurances of two spaces with a single space. In the typewriter era, typists left two spaces after each full stop to improve readibility. Now we have proportional typefaces and computers clever enough to figure out the correct spacing for us, so this is no longer necessary, but it is a hard habit to break. This command quickly solves the problem.|
|Insert||Provides commands, and lists shortcuts, for quickly inserting equations, cross references to figures, tables and equations and captions.|
|Resize to 100%, 75%, 50%||Sets image scaling. A quick way to consistently resize large pictures. Equivalent to Format→Picture/ Size, Height: 50%, Width: 50%|
|Insert Frame||Places a frame around the current paragraph/ selection. This is helpful for positioning figures on the page. Frames should be used instead of text boxes; it is difficult to cross-reference figures that are in text boxes.|
|Align Frame||Quickly position the selected frame on the page (top left, bottom, etc).|