I'll do your props — PowerPoint templates & content
I seem to have forgotten my own advice when it comes to building corporate templates. This notion came to me, again, after another session of frustration and hair pulling at trying to match an InDesign file, created by excellent designers. MSWord strikes again. Against itself. Why is it taking me so long to say NO.
For long boring documents with consistent look and feel, MS Word works superbly. Annual reports, books, newsletters, transcripts… It has style sheets for fonts, a programable colour palette, left and right page options, headers and footers, automatic table of contents, inline footnotes, sections, a different first page, a cover page, watermarks, inline image boxes, callout boxes, inserted chart options …
If you try to bend it in any way, with a bit of design flair, AND have it remain functional — forget it! It’s a word processor, not software for design. But all is not lost. You have options. If you’re willing to convince your client to switch. It can be difficult, I know.
Yes, switch to PowerPoint. PowerPoint “Slidedocs” that is. Which is basically a vertical eight and a half by eleven PowerPoint template. Easier to handle by most, for those beautiful content layouts. By no means for long documents. But it shines for short repeat pages with lots of design items. I’ve been in the business for decades. I know the limits of the software, both of them, and I know the advantages in using either of them, MS Word and MS PowerPoint.
If your final end product is a PDF sent out to its destination, who cares how it was built. Use either software, PowerPoint or Word, by exploiting their best qualities. Print to PDF from both of your templates. The PowerPoint template for those beautiful design pages, those with visual impact. And use Word for the lengthy text sections that need consistent look and feel. Then, assemble the exported PDF pages into your final document, it’s easy with Acrobat, drag and drop.
Text linking from page to page is missing in PowerPoint, which is why people have stubbornly stuck to MS Word. Which is fine, use Word for the meat and guts of your document, all that text and data. But for the elaborate pages, here and there, those short single unit pages with many design elements, make your life easy, use PowerPoint as a vertical template. I would.
Beautiful graphic design in MS Word is an oxymoron. You can paste a JPG of a wonderful image, but it certainly will never be a functional part of your document. As soon as you attempt to change the text, your margins will go wonky, the page numbers will disappear, the columns will seem to hide behind non-existent barriers. I shake my head as to why this software is still in widespread use. Don’t get me wrong, it is possible to create a template in Word, but it should have limits. I’ve created quite a few, and they are all simple and functional. I just have to remember to mention this to my colleagues and clients!
A few more posts that might convince you otherwise, to assemble your wonderful project from multiple locations, different software:
Although already 7 years past, “Slidedocs, Spread Ideas with Effective Visual Documents” is a free ebook by Nancy Duarte and it hits the nail on the head. Let users be users, they look for and find the easiest way to do things. Rather than spending frustrating hours trying to bend MSWord out of shape and failing, use PowerPoint. It’s flexible, easy to use, part of the MS Office 365 suite of tools. Use the tools you have.
Nolan Haims has written a post on this slidedocs topic as well, he is a quite respected author of PowerPoint books. He says pretty much the same thing I do “… Microsoft Word has become an entirely unusable program for most (myself included) if one wishes to inject any degree of design or complexity.”
Please. Leave comments. Tell me what you think. Have you tried this?