Set a Default Template or Theme – Best Practices

In a corporate environment, you normally need new documents to appear with company branding instead of reusing Microsoft’s designs. Here’s how to set a default template or theme so that each new document, presentation or workbook looks like your company guidelines (or your personal preferences).

Template or Theme – Choosing a Format

Templates contain a theme, but a theme is much simpler than a template. You may need to create both types of files. If your goal is to create a unified look in Office, you’ll want to create a theme, then apply it to templates in Word and Excel.

A Theme file contains a Color Theme, a Font Theme and an Effects Theme. It also contains the slide layouts that were in the PowerPoint file when you saved it as a theme. For this reason, you can use a theme as a mini template for new PowerPoint presentations.

Themes provide minimal formatting information for the templates to which they are applied. A theme will supply a set of 12 colors, 2 fonts and a set of visual effects for inserted shapes. It’s possible to add up to 50 custom colors to a theme. Effects themes format the defaults for inserted shapes, but are not editable in any version of Office. I recommend our Flat effects theme, which is more in tune with current graphic design trends than what Microsoft supplies.

When your goal is a full-featured starting point for new files, you’ll want to create a template instead of a theme. Templates can include sample content, typestyles, VBA macro programming and AutoText, depending on the file format. Here at Brandwares, we almost always supply templates rather than themes.

Create a Better Default Template Experience

In Office on both Windows and Mac, Microsoft has decided that the first thing you need when you open an Office program is to be offered a creative choice in what kind of off-brand document you’re going to create today. In a corporate environment, or really any circumstances where you just need to get work done, this is an unneccessary distraction. You really just need to have a default document open so you can get down to business.

If the Backstage or Gallery displays, when an Office program starts, the program will not automatically create a new file from the default template. You would have to have a file open, then press Ctrl + N (Command + N on a Mac) to create a new file from your template. This limits the usefulness of a default template.

In Office for Windows, you’ll get a better default document experience if all the programs do not show the Backstage on starting. In all three programs, choose File>Options>General and uncheck Show the Start screen when this application starts. Once you do that, opening the program will also open a file created from the default template.

Office for Mac features similar Gallery screens that open by default when the program starts. Turn these off. In PowerPoint, choose PowerPoint>Preferences>General and uncheck Open Presentation Gallery when opening PowerPoint. In Word, choose Word>Preferences>General and uncheck Show document gallery when opening Word. Excel is similar: Excel>Preferences>General and uncheck Show Workbook Gallery when opening Excel.

Set a Default Template or Theme in PowerPoint

I’m starting with PowerPoint because it’s the only Office program that can save a Theme file. In Office for Mac, PowerPoint is also the only program that can create a Color Theme,. (To create a custom Font Theme in Office for Mac, please see this article: OOXML Hacking: Font Themes.) A theme created in PowerPoint can be applied to Word and Excel to give a basic uniform look to documents and workbooks. Theme files cannot contain sample slides, custom table styles, VBA code or preformatted Notes or Handout masters. If you need any of those items, create a template instead of a theme.

Unlike Word, PowerPoint doesn’t have a source file that serves as the starting point for new presentations, analogous to Normal.dotm in Word. But you can give it one! Start by making a copy of your template or theme. Templates will have a file ending of .potx or .potm, while themes will end with .thmx. Change the file name to Default Template, leaving the file ending unchanged.

Here are the steps in PowerPoint for Mac:

  1. While holding down the Option key, click on Go in the macOS menu bar and choose Library. Your hidden user Library folder opens.
  2. Navigate to ~/Library/Group Containers/UBF8T346G9.Office/User Content/Themes
  3. Drag the Default Theme template or theme into the Themes folder.
  4. Open PowerPoint and choose File>New Presentation or press the Command + N key combination to create a new presentation. The new deck is formatted per your template or theme.

Microsoft’s June 2024 update changed the location for Document Themes, which is where you must copy your Default Theme file. Here are the steps for PowerPoint for Windows 2019 and earlier editions:

  1. Open a File Explorer window
  2. Copy and paste this text into the address bar:
    %appdata%\Microsoft\Templates\Document Themes
  3. Drag the Default Theme template or theme into the Document Themes folder.
  4. In PowerPoint, use the Ctrl + N keyboard shortcut to create a new file from your default template or theme. Or choose File>New, then click on the Default Theme icon at the upper left end of the row of recently used templates and themes.
    Default Theme icon in PowerPoint for Windows

For users who are on Microsoft 365 or Office 2021 or later, copy the Default Theme file to the new location. By default, this is C:Users\YourActualUserName\Documents\Custom Office Templates\Document Themes.

Set a Default Template or Theme in Word

Setting a template default in Word can be a bit tricky, because Word already has one: the Normal.dotm file. The wrinkle is that Normal.dotm is also the default storage location for user-created content like macros, custom typestyles and AutoText. A minimalist approach is to apply a new theme to an existing Normal.dotm, sidestepping those issues.

Set a Default Theme in Word

A Word-created Normal.dotm always has the Office theme applied to it. You can set a different theme for new documents by editing Normal.dotm and applying a theme file you’ve created in PowerPoint. This is safe for user-created content, as no content is deleted. Custom styles that were based on the Office theme will change appearance, but otherwise keep their characteristics.

Themes are limited in scope, but if your branding goals are limited, that may be enough. Here are the steps for macOS:

  1. With Word open, press Option + F11. The VBA editor opens.
  2. Press Command + Ctrl + G. The Immediate window opens in the VBA editor.
  3. Copy and paste this text into the Immediate window, then press return:
    The Normal template opens in Word. Close the VBA editor.
  4. Choose Design>Themes>Browse for Themes, find and select the Theme file you saved from PowerPoint, then click on Open.
  5. Save Normal.dotm, then close it.

Here are the steps for Word for Windows:

  1. With Word open, press Alt + F11. The VBA editor opens.
  2. Press Ctrl + G. The Immediate window opens in the VBA editor.
  3. Copy and paste this text into the Immediate window, then press Enter:
    The Normal template opens in Word. Close the VBA editor.
  4. Choose Design>Themes>Browse for Themes, find and select the Theme file you saved from PowerPoint, then click on Open.
  5. Save Normal.dotm, then close it.

Replace Normal.dotm in Word

If your users may have saved macros, styles or AutoText content, make a copy of Normal.dotm before replacing it, then to use Word’s Organizer feature to copy custom content back to the new template. Here is the procedure to replace Normal.dotm in Word for macOS:

  1. Close Word
  2. While holding down the Option key, click on Go in the macOS menu bar and choose Library. Your hidden user Library folder opens.
  3. Navigate to ~/Library/Group Containers/UBF8T346G9.Office/User Content/Templates
  4. Drag in the new Normal.dotm file and confirm that you want to replace it.
  5. Restart Word to test that a default document matches the new formatting.

The steps for Word for Windows are complicated by Microsoft’s June 2024 change to the default location of Normal.dotm. These instructions cover Word 2019 and older editions:

  1. Close Word
  2. Open a File Explorer window
  3. Copy and paste this text into the address bar:
  4. Drag the new Normal.dotm file into the Templates folder and confirm that you are replacing the file.
  5. Restart Word to test that a new document matches the new formatting.

As of June 2024, for Microsoft 365 and Word 2021, Normal.dotm has been moved to the Custom Office Templates folder in the user’s Documents folder. The default path is C:Users\YourActualUserName\Documents\Custom Office Templates

Set a Default Template in Outlook

Outlook uses the template called NormalEmail.dotm to set email formatting. It’s stored in the same folder as Normal.dotm. Follow the same steps as for Normal.dotm: close Outlook, edit NormalEmail.dotm in Word (not Outlook), then replace the template. It’s unlikely that NormalEmail.dotm will contain macros, custom styles or AutoText, so you don’t need the precaution of backing up the file before replacing it.

Set a Default Template in Excel

After formatting a workbook with a custom theme, typestyles and any other necessary formatting, save the file in template (.xltx) format with the name Book.xltx.

PowerPoint for Mac Excel steps:

  1. Close Excel.
  2. While holding down the Option key, click on Go in the macOS menu bar and choose Library. Your hidden user Library folder opens.
  3. Navigate to ~/Library/Group Containers/UBF8T346G9.Office/User Content/Startup/Excel
  4. Drag the Book.xltx file into the Excel folder.
  5. Open Excel. In Excel for Mac, opening the program creates a new workbook from your template. You can also choose File>New Presentation or press the Command + N key combination to create a new workbook. The new deck is formatted per your template.

Excel for Windows doesn’t work as well as it used to Book.xltx, so there are more steps:

  1. Close Excel
  2. Open a File Explorer window
  3. Copy and paste this text into the address bar:
  4. Drag the Book.xltx into the XLSTART folder.
  5. Open Excel to test.

I also recommend that Windows users add a second copy of Book.xltx to the Custom Office Templates folder at C:Users\YourActualUserName\Documents\Custom Office Templates. Call this one something like Default Workbook. The first time you use it, you’ll need to choose File>New>Custom Office Templates to choose it. After that first use, it will display in the row of Excel templates:

Default Workbook

Here is Microsoft’s page about setting a default Excel template.

Default Template Limitations

In PowerPoint for Windows, you can’t get rid of the Blank Presentation thumbnail. Clicking on that will only get you a Microsoft default presentation. Likewise, in Excel for Windows, you can’t remove Blank Workbook, which also delivers a Microsoft default.

Custom Table of Contents – Best Practices

Most of the time, the Microsoft-supplied Table of Contents samples will work for Word documents. But sometimes a client needs a custom Table of Contents added to their template. This article shows you how to save a custom Table of Contents and ensure that is displayed prominently, so users pick the right one.

The most obvious use case for customization is to create a non-standard TOC that uses the client’s branding. In addition, sometimes a TOC needs to work differently as well as having a distinct appearance.

An example of this might be if a template uses both heading styles (which need to appear in the TOC) and outline numbering styles (which should not be included in the TOC). A default Microsoft TOC will display both sets of styles, so a custom TOC is required.

How Does a Table of Contents Work?

A standard TOC is a collection of hyperlink fields inside a TOC field. If you insert one of the Microsoft-supplied TOC samples, those fields are embedded in a Content Control. This content control is not particularly useful. It gives you a way to change to a different style of Microsoft TOC (not helpful in branded documents) and a slightly more convenient way to update the TOC. You can create a TOC without a content control if you use the Custom Table of Contents command (highlighted in blue) to create it:

Use the Custom Table of Contents command

Tables of Contents usually get their text from text that is formatted with heading styles. The Microsoft TOCs grab all headings that are levels 1, 2 or 3, which is why they are a problem with outline numbering. When you create a custom Table of Contents, it can refer to specific heading styles, like Heading 1. Then, no other styles will be included in the TOC.

Most often, a template that has a custom TOC will have it added to the document already. Since there’s a sample in the file, users don’t need to add one. The sample has the required formatting, the user only needs to add text to the document before updating the TOC.

Create a New Custom Table of Contents

Here at Brandwares, we never use the Microsoft-supplied TOC styles. Instead, we create each TOC from scratch using References>Table of Contents>Custom Table of Contents. Then we click on the Options button and uncheck Outline levels. That prevents other styles that use outline numbering from displaying in the TOC. Finally, we select the specific styles that are supposed to appear.

TOC Options - Outline levels unchecked

If the TOC is to have a heading above with the text “Table of Contents”, you’ll want it to look like one of the document headings styles. But you don’t want it to actually apply that style to the heading: then the first entry to appear in the TOC would be a repeat of the heading directly above it! Fortunately, Word has a built-in styles called TOC Heading that solves this problem. It repeats the appearance of Heading 1, but it’s outline level is set to Body Text, so it will not repeat in the TOC.

Customize Existing TOC Appearance

The look of a table of contents is determined by the styles that are used in it. There are 9 built-in styles called TOC 1, TOC 2, etc. up to TOC 9. Since there are 9 styles, you can create up to 9 levels in a Table of Contents. Or a document can have setup like a Table of Contents, a Table of Figures and a Table of Tables, each of which use three different TOC styles. Each of these styles can have different amounts of indentation, different types of dot leaders between the text and the page number, different line spacing, etc. All the visual formatting will be set in these TOC styles.

Customize how a Table of Contents Works

Besides the visual appearance, you can control how the Table of Contents operates. To do this, you change the field code that tells Word how to display the TOC. To revise the TOC field code, you need to be able to see it:

In Word for Windows, choose File>Options>Advanced. Scroll down to the Show document content section and check the option for Show field codes instead of their values. OK out.

In Word for Mac, select Word>Preferences>View and check the option Field codes instead of values, then close the prefs panel.

The TOC changes to something like this:

{ TOC \o "1-3" \h \z \u }

The brackets are not ordinary curly brackets: they are special characters that begin and end Word fields. So you can’t just type them in on your keyboard. The contents of the field are editable from the keyboard, just not the brackets. At the beginning of the field is the name of the field type, in this case TOC for Table of Contents.

After that are a set of switches (the letters after backslashes). Each switch makes the TOC behave differently. The sample from Microsoft use the \o switch followed by “1-3”. This combinations grabs all text that is set in the built-in styles Heading 1, Heading 2 and Heading 3. After that, the \h switch creates hyperlinks from each TOC entry to the heading that it refers to. The \z switch hides the dot leaders and page numbers if the document is in Web View. And the \u switch gets all text that is set to outline levels 1, 2 or 3. It’s this switch that creates problems when you also have outline numbered lists, since they use the same text levels as heading styles do.

To make a TOC display only Heading 1, 2 or 3, just delete the \u switch. If the heading styles have custom names, then delete the \o switch and the “1-3” text. Instead, use the \t switch. That switch specifies styles name, followed by the TOC level that the style should use. Here’s a TOC field that uses three custom heading styles:

{ TOC \t "Custom Heading 1,1, Custom Subhead 2,2, Custom Subsubhead 3,3" \h \z }

Pro Tip to Display the TOC Field

Select the Table of Contents, plus the paragraph mark immediately below it. Then right-click on the selection and choose Toggle Field Codes. Or just press the combination of Shift + F9. This shows the field codes for the selected area instead of the whole document. If you see a field code for a Hyperlink instead of a TOC, it means you forgot to select the paragraph mark below the Table of Contents.

Word for Windows Insertable Custom Table of Contents

If the TOC is not to appear in the template as a sample, then the user must have a way to insert it when needed. The simplest way to do this is to add the TOC to the template as AutoText. AutoText entries travel with the template, so they are always available in any document created from that template.

The first wrinkle to overcome is that if you simply select the TOC and add it to AutoText, it can be stored with all of the current displayed text. This will be misleading to the user. To prevent this, switch the document or the selected TOC to show the field codes first. Then select the field code and add that to AutoText.

In Word for Windows, follow these steps:

  1. Select the TOC heading, plus the TOC field code and the paragraph mark immediately following.
    TOC Selection
  2. Choose Insert>Quick Parts>AutoText>Save Selection to AutoText Gallery.
  3. In the Create New Building Block dialog, edit the Name field. It’s usually a good idea to include the client name, so their users know this is the TOC they should pick.
  4. Change the Gallery dropdown to Table of Contents.
  5. In the Category dropdown, choose Create New Category.
  6. In the Create New Category dialog, type in a name like _Client Name. The underscore preceding the name makes the entry pop to the top of the list
  7. .

  8. Double check that the Save in dropdown is the name of the template to which you’re adding this TOC. OK out and save the template.
  9. On the References tab, click on the Table of Contents dropdown and you should see something like this:
    Custom Table of Contents in TOC Gallery

Word for Mac Insertable Custom Table of Contents

You can achieve the same result with Word for Mac, but Microsoft makes it more difficult, since they omitted the Create New Building Block dialog. I’ve written previously about hacking AutoText entries to place them in the correct AutoText Gallery. But here’s an easier way, using a VBA macro.

Here’s the macro listing:

Sub AddTOC2Gallery()
    Dim oTemplate As Template
    Dim oBlock As BuildingBlock
    Set oTemplate = ActiveDocument.AttachedTemplate
    Set oBlock = oTemplate.BuildingBlockEntries.Add( _
        Name:="Client Name TOC", _
        Type:=wdTypeTableOfContents, _
        Category:="_Client Name", _
End Sub

This macro will work with the template that will contain the TOC, or a document attached to that template. Yes, we did test this in macOS and Windows, so if you have problems running it, the issues are at your end.

Switch the document or the selected TOC to show the field codes first. Then in Word for Mac, follow these steps:

  1. Edit the macro, changing the text in double quotes to suit your client.
  2. Select the TOC heading, plus the TOC field code and the paragraph mark immediately following.
  3. Run the macro.
  4. Save the template.
  5. On the References tab, click on the Table of Contents dropdown and you should see something like this:
    Custom Table of Contents in Word for Mac

Further Reading

For more detailed pages about Word TOCs, please see Generating Table of Contents in Word. It’s also worth reading Susan Barnhill’s TOC Tips and Tricks and TOC Switches. Though the Barnhill articles are old, they contain obscure information that is still relevant, like how to set up a TOC that doesn’t depend on styles or outline levels.

Graphics Over Placeholders – Best Practices

Back at the dawn of time, when PowerPoint was first being programmed, a fateful and incorrect decision was made. Placeholder content would always appear in front of static content, regardless of how placeholders and other content were stacked on the layout. This has led to countless bald designers, from them tearing out their hair because there’s no way to place static graphics over placeholders. Here are 5 ways to work around this problem.

The Locked Graphics Graphics Over Placeholders Workaround

One way to circumvent this design flaw is to create a placeholder on the layout as usual. Then create a sample slide from it. Place the logo over the photo and lock its position in the XML. Here’s my article on how to do that: OOXML Hacking: Locking Graphics. This allows the user to replace the placeholder content while keeping the logo in front.

The disadvantage is that you can’t create a new slide from the layout. Instead, the user must copy and paste the sample slide to create another one.

The Background Picture Fill Workaround

If you’re trying to create replaceable background photos, there’s another method. Don’t place a picture placeholder on the layout. Instead, just place the graphic there. In use, the user right-clicks on the background and chooses Format Background. On the Format Background task pane, choose Picture or texture fill, then click on the File button and choose the background photo. The logo will stay on top.

The disadvantage to this technique is you have to include instructions to the end user, who may never have used a picture fill previously. My thanks to Jaakko Tuomivaara of Supergroup Studios in the UK for this tip.

Graphics Over Placeholders: The Placeholder Picture Fill Workaround

This works with any size photo, it doesn’t have to be full-frame like the previous hack. No copy and paste, no instructions required. I heard about this one from Joshua Finto (Make It So Studio in Austin, TX).

On the layout, insert a picture placeholder to hold the photo. Then add another placeholder on top, sized to exactly the same size as the logo. I use Online Image placeholders because they are rarely used, using a common placeholder type risks content being placed in it if you change layout types. Remove bullets, if there are any, and type a space character so no placeholder text appears.

In the Format Picture task pane, click on Picture or texture fill, then on the File button and fill the placeholder with the logo. Create a slide, place a photo and voila! The logo appears over top of the photo! After creating this, it’s wise to lock the placeholder in XML on that layout, to prevent distortion by the user playing with it. OOXML Hacking: Locking Graphics. EMF, SVG and transparent PNGs are all good logo formats for this application.

The Holey Placeholder (Windows)

For simple graphics, or logos contained in a simple shape like a circle or square, create a logo-shaped hole in the placeholder. Here’s how to do this in Windows:

  1. On the layout, create the picture placeholder.
  2. Insert the logo as an EMF vector file, then ungroup it twice, confirming with PowerPoint that you want to do this. This changes it from a placed picture to a set of vectors embedded on the layout.
  3. With the logo parts selected, hold the Shift key and click on the placeholder.
  4. Choose Drawing Tools Format>Merge Shapes>Subtract.
  5. Fill the background, or a shape placed behind the logo hole, with the logo color.

The Holey Placeholder (macOS)

If the logo is in a rectangle or circle, use this method in macOS. (It will work in Windows as well.) Place the logo over the placeholder, then draw a PowerPoint shape exactly the same size as the logo, placed over the logo precisely. Select the shape and the placeholder, then use Shape Format>Merge Shapes>Fragment, then delete the shape to reveal the logo-sized hole in the placeholder. For some reason, Merge Shapes>Subtract works differently on a Mac, deleting both the shape and the placeholder, but Fragment still get the job done. Thanks to Ute Simon for suggesting this method in the comments.

A variation on this that can be more detailed is to place a copy of the logo above the placeholder. Then, shape-by-shape, use the logo over the placeholder with the Combine variant of Merge Shapes to knock holes in the placeholder. Then add colored shapes below the placeholder to “fill” the holes. If you have compound shapes (like the letter O or A), you’ll have to release the compound shapes, then connect the inner shape with the outer one. Here’s what the end result looks like in Illustrator.

Outside line connected to inside to simulate a compound shape
Modifying compound shapes to place graphics over placeholders

Graphics Over Placeholders: The ActiveX Hack

I’m including this for completeness, but it’s the least desirable workaround, as it only can be created in PowerPoint for Windows.

  1. Choose View>Slide Master and choose the master or the layout to which you want to add a graphic.
  2. On the Developer tab, choose the Image control from the Controls group.
  3. Click on the Enable ActiveX button when the Microsoft warning appears.
  4. Draw the Image control to the size and postion the graphic will be.
  5. Right-click on the control and choose Property Sheet.
  6. Set the PictureSizeMode property to 3 – fmPictureSizeModeZoom.
  7. Beside the Picture property, click on None, then click on the three-dot button that appears.
  8. Select the graphic. The primary format choices are EMF, WMF, JPG, GIF and BMP. You cannot use a PNG file.

This process will fill the control with the chosen graphic, and the control will float above a placeholder in Slideshow mode.

There are several down-sides to this method:

  • If the graphic doesn’t fill the rectangle of the control, a light gray background will display in the unfilled area in PowerPoint for Windows
  • In PowerPoint for Mac, an ActiveX warning pops up every time you open the deck.
  • The graphics still fall behind the placeholders in Edit (Normal) mode. They only pop to the front in Slideshow mode.
  • In PowerPoint for Mac and PowerPoint for the web, some opaque white EMF shapes become transparent.

Thanks to my readers who have added some useful suggestions!

PowerPoint Font Embedding – Best Practices

Font embedding in PowerPoint is great, when it works. But macOS users can have mysterious problems that are hard to diagnose and even harder to fix. This article sorts out the most common PowerPoint for Mac font embedding issues and how to prevent them.

Some of Your Fonts Cannot Be Saved

The client has asked that the presentation be saved with the corporate fonts, to make distribution easier. On your Mac, you choose PowerPoint>Preferences>Save and check the Embed fonts in the file option, along with the Embed all characters sub-option, so the deck can be edited. Then you choose File>Save As to get the fonts embedded. But when you click the Save button, you get a dialog that reads: Some of your fonts cannot be saved with the presentation. Save the presentation anyway?

PowerPoint font embedding problem

First, trying fixing this with PowerPoint’s Edit>Find>Replace Fonts utility. If that works, you’re good to go. But if it doesn’t, you’re probably dealing with a bullet font problem.

When you create a custom bullet in PowerPoint for Mac, PowerPoint uses the macOS Emojis & Symbols utility for picking the bullet. But the Emojis & Symbols dialog doesn’t immediately tell you which font is being used. You have to click on a sample in the Font Variation area to check the typeface. If you don’t choose a font variation, the Emojis dialog will give you a symbol from one the system fonts.

System Font Regular Can’t Be Embedded

When you first try to enter a custom bullet, the Emojis & Symbols dialog appears in condensed form:

Condensed Emoji & Symbols dialog

It’s nearly impossible to insert an embeddable bullet from this dialog, as only macOS system fonts are displayed. Instead, click on the expander icon in the upper right corner (circled in red) to view the large form of the dialog:

Emojis & Symbols large dialog

A bullet is selected, and the preview in the upper right corner is labelled BULLET. When the font name is not displaying here, you are inserting a non-embeddable bullet from an Apple system font. Saving the file displays this dialog:

Incompatible format for PowerPoint font embedding
System Font Regular isn’t an actual font. It’s a pointer to whatever font macOS is currently using to display opertaing system text. The font can change between releases of macOS, but the pointer retains the same name.

Unsupported Font File Format

The key to choosing an embeddable bullet is to always choose one from the Font Variation panel in the lower right side of the dialog. But not all of those variations will work! Any font with Apple in the name is formatted as an AAT (Apple Advanced Typography) font. Here, I’ve chosen Apple SD Gothic Neo Regular as the bullet font:

AAT font choice

But when I save, I see this:

Unsupported font file format

AAT fonts can’t be embedded in Office files!

PowerPoint Font Embedding – What Works

All the other fonts that I’ve tried in the Font Variations panel can be embedded. Here, I’ve chosen Arial:

Arial Font Variation

The file saves! No errors!

Here’s your working procedure for custom bullets in macOS:

  1. Always expand the Emojis & Symbols dialog to full size.
  2. Always choose a bullet from the Font Variations panel.
  3. Never choose a bullet from a font that has Apple in the name, nor one that is called System Font Regular

I haven’t tested every font, so there could other than cause issues. If you find one, please write to me and I’ll update this article.

Keep in mind that fonts can also have embedding permissions set by the foundry that prohibit embedding, so these would be a poor choice for use with Office. But that’s an issue in Windows as well as macOS

PowerPoint Font Embedding – Fixing a Problem

You got the dreaded Save with Fonts dialog, and you’ve tried Edit>Find>Replace Fonts. The dialog still appears. What do you do now? That’s a real problem in PowerPoint for macOS.

In Windows, I fix these issues with the following steps:

  1. Open the file in PowerPoint, choose Save As and set the Save as type dropdown to PowerPoint XML Presentation (*.xml) and click on Save. This saves the deck as one giant XML file instead of the usual format of many small XML files tucked into a Zip archive.
  2. Open the XML file in a text editor. NotePad will work but a real coding editor like NotePad++ or Microsoft Code is better.
  3. Do a Find and Replace, finding typeface=”System Font Regular” (substitute the problem font name) and replacing it with typeface=”Arial” (substitute a known embeddable font name).
  4. Save the file, open it in PowerPoint, then resave in normal .pptx or .potx format.

Unfortunately, Microsoft has not given PowerPoint for Mac the XML single-file format. So the fix requires that you check each bullet in the slide master, slide layouts and slides. PowerPoint does not have a way of seeing what the font is for existing bullets, so you have to slog through and replace every damn one! Yuck!

Out of time and no access to PowerPoint for Windows? Send the file to us, and we’ll do the fix for you.

Most Recent Office You Can Run – Best Practices

As Apple and Microsoft release new operating systems, it’s no longer possible to install the latest version of Office on your old computer. Here’s is a list of the most recent Office you can run for the operating system you have, plus where to find it.

Most Recent Office You Can Run on macOS (Updated for 2024)

Rant alert! Microsoft supports the last three operating systems in both Windows and Mac. Unfortunately, Apple has a policy of releasing a new operating system every year, whether we need it or not. The result of these two business decisions is that there are rafts of perfectly serviceable Macs out there that can no longer install the current version of Office. It looks like Apple intends us to toss them and buy new ones. Another case of lip service to environmental sustainability. Rant over

If you buy or subscribe to Office for Mac today, you’ll only find the current versions of Microsoft 365 (the subscription version) and Office 2021 (the retail edition) to be easily available. But Microsoft maintains a page of older installers at Update history for Office for Mac. All of them can be activated under a current Microsoft 365 subscription or Office 2021 license.

Please note that all of these are final releases: there will be no security updates to follow. Be careful when downloading Office files from the interweb.

At the time of writing, the current crop of obsolete Macs are those that can only run Big Sur (macOS 11). These are machines that are around 10 years old, but are completely useable for applications like Office. The last Office version that Big Sur can run is 16.77. At the History page, look for the Office Suite Installer, with or without Teams, dated September 12, 2023. Do not download the updaters for individual programs! Download the Office Suite installer!

Then run the downloaded installer. After installing, normally Microsoft AutoUpdate fires up and installs the final 16.77 version. Wait until it finishes, then open Applications and run one of the Office apps.

Prompt to sign in.

You’ll see a dialog prompting you to sign into your account. Enter your name and password.

Enter your Microsoft Account email and password.

If you’re a Microsoft 365 subscriber, that should be the end of the process. Your software will be activated and you’re good to go.

If you have purchased multiple permanent license editions, you’ll see a dialog asking to to choose which license to apply. Office 2019 and 2021 no longer have separate licenses for Mac and Windows, so at this point it possible to switch Office 2019 (for example) from Windows to macOS or vice versa.

Choose an Office license to use with your installation.

Older Editions of macOS

Catalina (macOS 10.15) can run Office 16.66. At the History page, look for the Office Suite Installer, with or without Teams, dated October 11, 2022. Reminder: Do not download the updaters for individual programs! Download the Office Suite installer!

Office for Mac Update History

Catalina was the first OS to require 64-bit software. This requirement made Office 2011 obsolete, since it’s 32-bit. But Office 2011 is still a useful edition in macOS. It can still do things that were permanently removed from later versions of Office. So you might want to stick with Mojave and install the newer Office that goes with it. (There’s no problem in having Office 2011 and a later version installed on the same computer.) In this scenario, download and install the 16.54 version dated October 12, 2021.

One of my favorite Macs is my 17″ MacBook Pro. It’s the machine that travels with me, but it’s 12 years old and can run only High Sierra. The most recent Office you can run on this computer is 16.43, dated November 10, 2020.

There’s a pattern here: Apple releases new operating systems in the fall, usually in September or October. The Office version that Microsoft releases the same month is the last one for the fourth-oldest macOS. I don’t have any machines running Sierra, but if I did, I would try the October 15, 2019 edition of Office 16.30.

As I mentioned earlier, you can run an older version of Office on an older computer. Since Office 2008, the file format has remained pretty constant, so the software can still be useful. You can install Office 2011 under Mojave or earlier, while Office 2008 can be installed under El Capitan and earlier. These versions can co-exist on a Mac with a newer version (or with each other), though Microsoft’s History page only goes back to 16.27 from July, 2019.

Most Recent Office You Can Run on Windows

Under Windows, the situation is easier, as Microsoft waits about 3 years between operating systems. Plus Windows isn’t as finicky about the hardware it runs on. I have an old Mac Pro from 2006 that can only run OS X Lion and Office 2011, but under Boot Camp it does either Windows Vista and Office 2010, or Windows 7 and Office 2016. Windows 8 is likewise limited to Office 2016, while Windows 10 (now 9 years old!) can run the current version of Office 2021 and Microsoft 365. You have to have a really old Windows computer to be unable to run a useable copy of Office.

Chart Templates – Best Practices

Chart Templates allow you to capture and reproduce the appearance of sample charts. This avoids having to include sample charts for users to copy and paste. Here’s how to use them:


Chart templates must installed to a particular folder so Office can find them.

Windows Installation

  1. Open a File Explorer window.
  2. In the address field, paste in: %appdata%\Microsoft\Templates.
  3. If there isn’t a Charts folder there, create one.
  4. Copy the chart template(s) into it.

macOS Installation

  1. While holding down the Option key, click on the macOS menu bar. Choose Go, then Library. The hidden user Library folder opens.
  2. Open ~/Library/Group Containers/UBF8T346G9.Office/User Content/Chart Templates.
  3. Copy the chart template(s) into it.

Using Chart Templates

Chart templates can be used in Word, Excel and PowerPoint. Here’s how to access them:

Windows Usage

  1. In the Office program, choose Insert>Chart.
  2. In the Insert Chart dialog, click on the Templates icon.
  3. Select the chart template in the right-hand pane, then click on OK. A chart is inserted in your document.

macOS Usage

  1. On the Insert tab, choose Charts>Templates and select the template from the pop-up list. A chart is inserted in your document.

For more information about creating chart templates that work better then the Microsoft default, please see OOXML Hacking – Chart Template Colors

Your Office Questions Answered – Best Practices

Brandwares provides top-quality, bulletproof templates to a world-wide clientele. We have the Client List to prove it. But you can get your Office questions answered for free (or cheap)!

I answer questions online about PowerPoint and Word for both Windows and macOS. For general questions about formatting and using both programs, visit the Word or PowerPoint forums. If you’re a VBA programmer working with Word or PowerPoint, you can get my help at the Stack Overflow Word or Stack Overflow PowerPoint pages.

I also answer questions at Experts Exchange, where I’ve been awarded a Distinguished Expert award for 2021.

Office Questions Answered - Experts Exchange Distinguished Expert 2021

This site isn’t free, but it is jam-packed with expertise. There’s a 7-day free trial, if you want to check it out. Tag your post with Microsoft PowerPoint, Microsoft Word, VBA and/or Fonts Typography to ensure your Office questions are answered.

Microsoft-Compatible PowerPoint Templates – Best Practices

The vast majority of presentations are created using the default templates that comes with Microsoft PowerPoint. All Microsoft-compatible PowerPoint templates have a uniform structure, and the result is that you can copy and paste slides between any deck and the paste works as expected: the content comes across perfectly, and the formatting is updated.

But in almost all corporate presentations with custom templates, this no longer works. Slides pasted from Microsoft-based presentations always need to be reformatted manually, because the custom template haven’t been created to be Microsoft-compatible.

It doesn’t have to be this way. Here’s how to create custom templates that will be both Microsoft-compatible and have a look and feel that is brand-compatible with the organization.

What’s in a Microsoft-Compatible PowerPoint Template?

Most designers create presentation templates incorrectly for the purpose of importing of slides created with Microsoft templates. Almost universal infractions include deleting or renaming the default slide layouts, and deleting or adding placeholders on whatever default slide layouts are left. Less common methods that designers use to wreck templates include deleting all placeholders on the master slide, and deleting all default layouts, then trying to replace them

To understand why these actions could cause problems, we need to understand the PowerPoint file structure. All new blank PowerPoint files contain the following:

  • 1 Master Slide (in Slide Master view, the larger slide at the very top of the left-hand thumbnail list). The parent to all the layouts, to which the slide layouts are children. All text formatting is inherited from this slide. Deleting placeholders here will cripple the template.
  • 11 default slide layouts, which inherit the formatting set in the master slide. These 11 comprise:
  • Title Slide, for the presentation title.
  • Title and Content, for the bulk of the presentation content.
  • Section Header, to divide the deck into relevant sections.
  • Two Content, with 2 content areas.
  • Comparison, similar to Two Content, but each content area also has a corresponding heading placeholder.
  • Title Only, displaying only a Title field, with the rest of the slide blank.
  • Blank, with not even a Title field.
  • Content with Caption, a little-used layout the includes a Title, Text and Content placeholder.
  • Picture with Caption, similar to Content with Caption, but with a Picture placeholder replacing the Content one.
  • Title and Vertical Text This layout is intended for Asian language use and is only displayed as a choice if your operating system has an Asian language set up.
  • Vertical Title and Text Similar to the previous layout, only visible on computers with Asian language input enabled in the operating system.
Mandatory default layouts (Asian-language-enabled system).
Microsoft-compatible PowerPoint Layouts

Each of these layouts has a specific layout type, set in XML and not alterable in the program interface. You can create the correct placeholder types by generating a new, blank PowerPoint file. Each of these layouts contains placeholders for the date and slide number, plus a footer field. All but 1 have a title placeholder.

Here’s the second line of a default Microsoft layout. In this example, obj is the XML type for a Title and Content layout:

<p:sldLayout xmlns:a=""
type="obj" preserve="1">

If a slide layout has been created by the user from the Insert Layout command, that layout will not have a type. Instead, the second line of the XML will include userDrawn=”1″:

<p:sldLayout xmlns:a=""
preserve="1" userDrawn="1">

PowerPoint reads the userDrawn property and will not treat your layout as a default layout no matter what you do to it. It will never be Microsoft-compatible.

If you have deleted a default slide layout, you can restore it by creating a new blank presentation, then copying and pasting the layout under the slide master of the deck to be repaired. You can also restore a default layout by running this VBA:

Sub RestoreLayout()
  With ActivePresentation.Slides
    .Add(.Count + 1, ppLayoutObject).Delete
  End With
End Sub

The example above restores a deleted Title and Content layout. Just change ppLayoutObject to the type you need from this list:

Layout Type VBA Parameter
Title Slide ppLayoutTitle
Title and Content ppLayoutObject
Section Header ppLayoutSectionHeader
Two Content ppLayoutTwoObjects
Comparison ppLayoutComparison
Title Only ppLayoutTitleOnly
Blank ppLayoutBlank
Content with Caption ppLayoutContentWithCaption
Picture with Caption ppLayoutPictureWithCaption
Title and Vertical Text ppLayoutVerticalText
Vertical Title and Text ppLayoutVerticalTitleAndText

Here are the recommendations that Microsoft should have published with the release of PowerPoint 2007: All new PowerPoint templates should include all default slide layouts and placeholders. That would have saved so much grief! Every file would be a Microsoft-compatible PowerPoint template or theme.

Please note, I am not suggesting that you restrict your design to only these layouts and placeholders. As long as you have the default layouts with the default placeholders, the rest of the master slide view can be filled with all kinds of special-purpose layouts with any number of placeholders. Just remember, whatever you create today must be supported in the future, if the slides are to remain paste-compatible. For more details, please see my article about best practices for reusing old (legacy) slides: Legacy Slides – Best Practices

I’m adding a plea for sanity on behalf of users everwhere: restraint in slide layout numbers is best for your client’s users. Too many layouts and they just don’t know which one to pick! Don’t confuse them more than they already are. Consider a limit of 25 layouts maximum.

We have years of expertise in this area and can assess your template for Microsoft compatibility, or create a template or theme for you that will work seamlessly with decks based on Microsoft templates. We’re here to help! Contact me at

Word Table Styles – Best Practices

Unlike PowerPoint, Microsoft Word has a utility to create custom Word table styles. You might think this makes life a lot easier, but you would be wrong. The Word utility has quirks and bugs, and Word tables don’t work the same way as PowerPoint’s. Using the Table Style dialog is not intuitive. To get a Word table style to work exactly to the way it should, you may have to hack the OOXML.

To start, let’s clarify that a table style is one of 4 styles that you can create in Word. The others are paragraph, character and list styles. A well-constructed table style does not need to have paragraph styles applied to it later. That’s because it already contains paragraph styles, though these don’t have the conventional names that you’re familiar with. Here’s how to get the best possible results.

Start with a similar table style

The first step in creating a custom table style is to insert a table, so the Table Design tab appears. By default, a new table will use the Table Grid style, which is very plain. If your final table style requires design options like a distinctive first column or a total Row, Table Grid is a poor place to start. It doesn’t include any of those options, and adding them back in is difficult. Switch the style to a Microsoft default that already has similar features.

Next, expand the table style gallery dropdown again and select New Table Style at the bottom. This ensures that your table style will appear in a new Custom row right at the top of the styles gallery. By contrast, starting with Modify Table Style lumps your style in with all the Microsoft defaults.

New Table Style in custom Row

Base the new style on the chosen one

When you choose Table Design>Table Styles>New Table Style, Word sets the Style based on dropdown to Table Normal, not the style you chose. If you originally chose Grid Table 5 Dark, then set Style based on to the Grid Table 5 Dark. (Current versions of Word for Mac have a display bug whereby choosing a different table style does not update the preview in the dialog. Choose the style, OK out, then choose Modify Table Style to see a corrected preview.)

Start with Whole table

Start with the Whole table choice in the Apply formatting to dropdown. This is the default cell formatting that will appear when no other Table Style Options are applied. The formatting controls are condensed, here’s a breakdown of which control does what:

Table Style Formatting Controls

If the formatting control you need doesn’t appear in the dialog, use the Format dropdown in the lower left corner to access more of them.

Move on to Header row

After you’ve set the default cell style, choose Header row from the Apply formatting to dropdown. This is where the dialog gets buggy. Many of the controls will retain their value from whatever table part you were previously editing! The controls will sometimes, but not always, display the values used in the new table part you have just selected (in this case, Header row)! So it’s up to you to keep track of what the correct values are for the table part you’re formatting, and apply each in turn.

Format each table part in order

Because of the dialog display inconsistencies, it’s easiest to format each table part in the order they show in the Apply formatting to dropdown.

As you format each table part, Word creates, in effect, a separate paragraph style for each table part. But you don’t apply these styles by choosing a style name. Instead, you check a box in the Table Style Options group of the Table Design tab. Checking the Header Row option automatically applies the Header Row style to the top row of the selected table. When you’re creating a table style for a client, this means many design options can be included in one table style, and you don’t have to include elaborate instructions about which style to manually apply to which table part.

What about the corner cells?

The last 4 items on the Apply formatting to dropdown are to format the top left, top right, bottom left and bottom right corner cells. But there is no Table Style Option to turn these on and off directly. The way Word handles this is that if both the Header Row and First Column options are checked, then the formatting for the top left corner cell is turned on. This formatting can be different from either the header row or the first column. Header Row plus Last Column will turn on the upper right cell. You get the idea.

FWIW, PowerPoint table styles can also have corner cell formatting and the cell formatting is applied in the same way, by using pairs of style options.

Header Row + First Column = Top Left Cell

Word Table Style Quirks

There are some oddities about Word table styles, and a few bugs. One oddity is that table text is based on the Normal style in relationship to Word’s Default Text settings. If Normal has been set to any color other than Automatic, applying different text colors to different table parts will have no effect. The text will remain the color set for Normal. You then have to apply new paragraph styles to the table parts after creating the table.

Another weird result of the dependency on Normal is that Word expects to have the default line spacing for your version of Word. As I write, Word 365’s default Normal style has a Line spacing of Multiple at 1.08 with Space After of 8 points. In a table style, this gets automatically reinterpreted as Single with 0 before and after. Centered vertical spacing then works as expected. If you change the Normal line spacing to a larger or smaller value, text that is nominally vertically centered will actually sit higher or lower in the cell. If you add 12pt after, the table text will jump from being vertically centered to having 12 pt after, a huge difference. Microsoft doesn’t publish any of this information. Surprise!

This is one of the reasons why Word experts recommend that Normal style should stay as is and not be actually used in a document unless the default formatting matches the needs of the design. Better to format all text as Body Text style and give that style the custom color and line spacing.

But what if you’re given a template that already has a non-standard Normal, and the client asks for a table style? All is not lost. Table styles can still work as designed if you are using Word for Windows (sorry, Mac people). The trick here is to set the document text defaults to the same values as the revised Normal style. (Thanks to MVP Stefan Blom for this tip.) Here’s how to do this:

  1. With the document or template open in Word, click on the Styles pane dialog opener below the Quick Styles gallery, or press Alt + Ctrl + Shift + s at the same time. The Style pane opens.
  2. Click on the Manage Style button at the bottom.
  3. Select the Set Defaults tab.
  4. Set the defaults to the same values as Normal style: same font, size, color and paragraph settings. OK out.

You’ll know you got it right when you insert a table in the new style and it automatically has the correct styling for header row, first column and the other table style options. It is no longer necessary to apply text styles to the table, you can simply turn the Table Design>Table Style Options on and off to affect the related table area.

Word Table Style Bugs

Lousy User Interface Design

In the table style dialog, color dropdowns remain set at the color last chosen, even if that was for a different table part. The dropdown should update to the color currently in use for the table part that has been selected. This is just common-sense UI design.

The interface for setting border styles is pretty bad. It’s almost impossible to set one color for vertical borders and a different one for horizontal borders. All borders switch to the last selected color. But we can fix this with an OOXML hack (see below).

Defective Override Capabilities

Subsequent parts can’t always override the XML of earlier parts. As an example, set the Whole table to have internal vertical rules. Then set the first column to have no rule on the right. This should make the vertical rule separating the first column from the second column disappear, but it doesn’t. The rule has to be manually removed after the table is created.

Non-Functional OOXML Tags

The Paragraph Properties (w:pPr) element for each table part has a pStyle attribute that is supposed to set the paragraph style for that part. It does nothing. As mentioned above, the style is always derived from Normal style.

Format the Word table style options in order.

Word Table Styles: Order of Elements

Start by formatting the Whole table section with the defaults for cell in the middle of the preview. Most of the time, this will include the font size and color, and the table background color and any rules that are to appear if banded rows are turned off. If you can’t get the formatting you need from the few controls on the dialog, click on the Format dropdown to find detailed access to Table Properties, Borders and Shading, Banding, Font and Paragraph attributes. Under Windows, you’ll also see a Text Effects choice, which is of dubious value in a table.

Word Table Styles Formatting Options

Then move on to Header Row formatting, the next item on the Apply formatting to dropdown. Format each item on that dropdown until you have set all the properties you need. After you get all formatting set, apply the custom style to the sample table you created at the beginning. Then use Modify Table Style for any tweaks required.

Word Table Style Hacks

Default style formatting is hardcoded in Word. So the styles that get stored in a Word file are only styles that have been modified or newly created in the document. All of the style exceptions and new style definitions are stored in the word/styles.xml part. Here’s the OOXML for a full table style. First, the section that formats the whole table. Pr stands for Property. tbl is Table, tc is Table Cell, p is Paragraph and r is Run (any length of text less that a paragraph).

<w:style w:type="table" w:customStyle="1" w:styleId="SampleTableStyle">
  <w:name w:val="Sample Table Style"/>
  <w:basedOn w:val="GridTable3"/>
  <w:uiPriority w:val="99"/>
  <w:rsid w:val="00264468"/>
    <w:color w:val="282828" w:themeColor="text1"/>
    <w:sz w:val="18"/>
    <w:szCs w:val="20"/>
    <w:lang w:val="en-US"/>
      <w:top w:val="none" w:sz="0" w:space="0" w:color="auto"/>
      <w:left w:val="none" w:sz="0" w:space="0" w:color="auto"/>
      <w:bottom w:val="none" w:sz="0" w:space="0" w:color="auto"/>
      <w:right w:val="none" w:sz="0" w:space="0" w:color="auto"/>
      <w:insideH w:val="single" w:sz="6" w:space="0" w:color="BFBFBF"/>
      <w:insideV w:val="single" w:sz="6" w:space="0" w:color="282828"/>
    <w:vAlign w:val="center"/>

(Above) The w:rPr section sets the default text while w:tblPr sets the borders. This table is transparent when all design options are turned off, so there is no fill. Note the entries for w:insideH and w:insideV. I had to hack this XML to get different colors for the inside horizontal and inside vertical borders.

(Below) Next is the formatting for the header row. w:rPr sets the text as bold and white, while w:tcPr sets the cell borders to nothing and the fill to Accent 2.

  <w:tblStylePr w:type="firstRow">
      <w:jc w:val="left"/>
      <w:color w:val="FFFFFF" w:themeColor="background1"/>
        <w:top w:val="nil"/>
        <w:left w:val="nil"/>
        <w:bottom w:val="nil"/>
        <w:right w:val="nil"/>
        <w:insideH w:val="nil"/>
        <w:insideV w:val="nil"/>
      <w:shd w:val="clear" w:color="auto" w:fill="346577" w:themeFill="accent2"/>
  <w:tblStylePr w:type="lastRow">
      <w:jc w:val="left"/>
        <w:left w:val="nil"/>
        <w:bottom w:val="nil"/>
        <w:right w:val="nil"/>
        <w:insideH w:val="nil"/>
        <w:insideV w:val="nil"/>
      <w:shd w:val="clear" w:color="auto" w:fill="auto"/>

(Above) The previous section formats the Total Row, removing the borders. There’s another hack here: the w:shd illustrates how to set the fill as No Color, with both w:color and w:fill set to auto.

(Below) Next up is the First Column formatting. w:pPr sets the text flush right, w:rPr makes it bold and w:tcPr removes the borders and keeps the fill No Color. Oddly, while w:insideH successfully overrides the internal horizontal rules set in the Whole Table section, neither w:right nor w:insideV are able to remove the internal vertical rule to the right of the column. This works as expected in a PowerPoint table style, but is broken in Word.

  <w:tblStylePr w:type="firstCol">
      <w:jc w:val="right"/>
        <w:top w:val="nil"/>
        <w:left w:val="nil"/>
        <w:bottom w:val="nil"/>
        <w:right w:val="nil"/>
        <w:insideH w:val="nil"/>
        <w:insideV w:val="nil"/>
      <w:shd w:val="clear" w:color="auto" w:fill="auto"/>
  <w:tblStylePr w:type="lastCol">
        <w:top w:val="nil"/>
        <w:left w:val="nil"/>
        <w:bottom w:val="nil"/>
        <w:right w:val="nil"/>
        <w:insideH w:val="nil"/>
        <w:insideV w:val="nil"/>
      <w:shd w:val="clear" w:color="auto" w:fill="auto"/>

(Above) The right-most table column is formatted with no borders and no fill.

(Below) If your design includes banded columns, the table style will include a section like this. There is just a definition for odd columns: even columns would be formatted with the defaults from the Whole Table section. If the First Column option is turned off, odd columns start at the left-most column. If First Column is turned on, all columns shift and the column just to the right of the first column takes on odd column formatting.

  <w:tblStylePr w:type="band1Vert">
      <w:shd w:val="clear" w:color="auto" w:fill="D4D4D4" w:themeFill="text1" w:themeFillTint="33"/>

  <w:tblStylePr w:type="band1Horz">
        <w:left w:val="nil"/>
        <w:right w:val="nil"/>
        <w:insideH w:val="nil"/>
        <w:insideV w:val="single" w:sz="6" w:space="0" w:color="282828" w:themeColor="text1"/>
      <w:shd w:val="clear" w:color="auto" w:fill="F2F2F2" w:themeFill="background1" w:themeFillShade="F2"/>

(Above) Odd Row and (Below) Even Row formatting.

  <w:tblStylePr w:type="band2Horz">
        <w:left w:val="nil"/>
        <w:right w:val="nil"/>
        <w:insideH w:val="nil"/>
        <w:insideV w:val="single" w:sz="6" w:space="0" w:color="282828" w:themeColor="text1"/>
      <w:shd w:val="clear" w:color="auto" w:fill="D9D9D9" w:themeFill="background1" w:themeFillShade="D9"/>

(Below) Formatting for the 4 corner cells. These are only activated when both options that affect the cell are turned on. As an example, if the table has both a Header Row and a First Column, then the nwCell formatting is turned on. In the formatting for nwCell below, the text becomes flush right when both options are used.

  <w:tblStylePr w:type="neCell">
      <w:jc w:val="left"/>
        <w:bottom w:val="nil"/>
  <w:tblStylePr w:type="nwCell">
      <w:jc w:val="right"/>
        <w:bottom w:val="nil"/>
  <w:tblStylePr w:type="seCell">
        <w:top w:val="nil"/>
      <w:shd w:val="clear" w:color="auto" w:fill="auto"/>
  <w:tblStylePr w:type="swCell">
        <w:top w:val="nil"/>
      <w:shd w:val="clear" w:color="auto" w:fill="auto"/>

If you base your Word table styles on a table other than Table Normal, that table style will be included in styles.xml. If that table style includes formatting that you don’t want to included in your table style, then delete the section in the style it’s based on. As an example, this style was based on Grid Table 3, which includes a last column and a total row. To remove all last column and total row formatting from your style, delete the corresponding XML sections in both your custom style and in the style on which it’s based. You’ll know when you’re succesful when turning the Last Column and Total Row Design Options on and off in Word has no visual effect on a sample table.

Too complicated? Shoot me a message and we’ll create custom Word table styles for your document or template.

Search Engine Expertise – Best Practices

I don’t actually know much, but I have search engine expertise. I’ve answered thousands of question for users on various online fora, and I’m constantly amazed by the vast number of queries that could be answered by a simple Google search. My takeaway is that people just don’t know how to use search engines to their best advantage.

Search Engine Expertise – The Mandatory Word

When a search must include a particular word or phrase, put it in double quotes, if you’re using Google. For Bing and most other engines, add a plus sign before. Here’s a search that must include Word in the results:

Google - "Word" VBA typestyle
Bing and others - +Word VBA typestyle

Search Engine Expertise – The Excluded Word

You’re looking for Word VBA information, but you get pages of useless Excel stuff. For all search engines, add a minus sign before the word you don’t want:

VBA -Excel tables

Search Engine Expertise – The Special Site

You know that you saw an answer on a particular web site, but it was a long time ago and you can’t remember where. Type your search terms, then type site:, then the site URL. No space between site: and the URL:

"edit mode of header/footer"

Searching Phrases Instead of Words

Put the phrase between double quotes. The following shows results about the top of the page that don’t refer to the header and footer:

Word top part of page -"header and footer"

A Practical Example

Do you use Office for Mac? It’s hard to find relevant information, since the Mac version is still quite different from Office for Windows. Just add “for Mac” to your search terms and watch as hundreds of pages of useless Windows pages disappear. This can save you hours of time!

Using just these 4 tips, you’ll find relevant information much more quickly. You may have even more specific requirements. Check out the Advanced Search page for your preferred engine, you may find some techniques that will make your day more efficient:

Google Advanced Search

Bing Advanced Search