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In Word 2007, I was the program manager responsible for driving both the changes in the styles user experience and the investment made in lists. There a number of decisions that were made by those of us involved in those efforts that folks are still talking about (including in recent comments on this and other blogs). This post gives you some of my personal insights as to why we went in the directions we did. The goal is to provide a bit more information about both how Word works and why it works the way it does in these areas.
The organization of the Home tab of the Ribbon had two primary driving forces from my perspective. The first was to get the most commonly used commands readily available to the user. The second was to present the style features of Word in a UI that matches their design (separating text styles from list styles from table styles). The underlying reasoning for this second focus was to subtly guide users in properly using these features.
The UI is very much biased towards applying text styles, with both visual and semantic cues to guide in the selection of the appropriate style. We made this change for three reasons. The first two relate to taking advantage of new user experience technologies – galleries and live preview. For the first time, users could see what applying a style would do to their content. The other was to separate text styles (which can be applied to any range of text) for the more specialized list and table styles (which should only be applied to those structures).
Note that List Styles are on the Home tab – but in the UI that emphasizes how they are meant to be applied. And Table Styles are on the contextual tab for a table – out of the way except for in the cases where they have meaning. One of the benefits of this organization was that we could add more specific UI around these styles. For example, when you apply a list structure from the Multilevel List gallery, we highlight the list that you are formatting. (Note that the Multilevel List gallery includes both list styles and unnamed multilevel list structures – a topic discussed in other blog posts.)
We also ensured that we continued to support two of the most common ways that power users applied styles. We updated the UI that you see when you use Ctrl+Shift+S, adding a bit more power to that dialog box. And we made sure that you could still add the old Style combo box to the QAT if you preferred that model (which has the advantage of reporting the dominant style for the current selection).
Linked Styles is functionality introduced in Word 2002 as the default definition of new styles. Its purpose is to allow the easy creation of “run-in” headings where only the first few words of the paragraph are formatted as the heading. This meant that the style could either be used on the full paragraph (as a traditional heading paragraph style) or on a range (as a heading character style) and both would pull to the same level in a Table of Contents.
In conversations with various people, including several MVPs, we agreed that being able to turn off the ability to apply to a range was very useful in some cases. This led to exposing the concept of a Linked Style a bit more aggressively in the UI so that people could explicitly define a Paragraph Style (prior to Word 2007, any paragraph style was automatically a linked style). And to allow me to add the “Disable Linked Styles” option to the Styles pane, which forces any linked style to behavior as a paragraph style – applying to the entire paragraph even when a range is selected.
The number structure in Word is extremely complex for a variety of reasons including the need to support scenarios that require that list structures and paragraphs each independently have indents. The most common scenario that I can easily describe is one where bullets are used to imply meaning and indentation is used to indicate importance. The classic of this might be red/green/yellow bullets for status and indent for priority. It’s not the core scenario but it is one that Word has always supported.
Restart is one of the most challenging aspects of lists and I admit I can see several different ways we might have implemented it. Word treats restart as part of the definition of how the automatic behavior of the list should behave – you can think of it as training Word how to number. The reason for our current model is that in many list structures (most notably in legal), the restart is not based on the level immediately before but rather a higher level. Thus, you see structures like the following:
1. Level 1
a. Level 2
b. Level 2
i. Level 3
ii. Level 3
c. Level 2
d. Level 2
iii. Level 3
iv. Level 3
2. Level 1
e. Level 2
f. Level 2
In this example, the second level (the lettered list) does not restart based on the first level but the third level does. Certainly these are not the most common structures – but they are ones that Word needs to support to appeal to its breadth of users.
One of the things that’s not obvious about this type of structure is that you needn’t actually have any bullet or numbering at a level. This allows you to define a level of plain text that will trigger the restart of a list. (Of course, using this sort of model is one of the cases that then pushes the need for more than nine levels of numbering – something we’ll definitely consider in the next version).
Restart is very different then from a Start at value, which is used to associate a specific numbering value with a paragraph. You can’t associate a Start at value with a paragraph style because in almost all cases, it is a better model to have all of the paragraphs within a given list level share the same paragraph style.
The most common lists, those that have one or two levels with consistent formatting are easy to define. It’s even relatively easy to see how several of these might work within the same document. And these are generally managed by our simple list UI, not needing the added complexity of a list style (or multilevel list). In these cases, the list is managed by the numbering being associated with the paragraph. And the UI for creating a paragraph style reflects this simple relationship. Multilevel lists (including List styles) exist for when the structure of the list is complex and when the ability to promote and demote among levels in the list is important.
I think the core confusion is the belief that you would ever apply a List Style to a paragraph – that’s never been the intent or the internal structure. A List Style is used foremost as a structure for formatting a collection of paragraphs based on “level.” You might apply a list style to a group of paragraphs and that’s why it has its own gallery on the Home Tab (which neatly highlights the members of the current list when you go to change the applied formatting). The second purpose is as a container to relate a set of paragraph styles—to define how one moves among them using promote and demote actions. In that case, one applies the paragraph style, not the list style, to any individual paragraph.
To be clear, in earlier versions, it was possible to associate a paragraph style with a single level of a list structure. This was a flawed model in that it did not explicitly define the promote or demote behaviors for that paragraph style while given the illusion that more than the formatting of the single level had been created. The UI is reworked to emphasize that if you want a list format as part of a paragraph style, you need to be associating only the simply number formats (not a list structure).
Using Adjust List Indents should be updating the indents stored in the list structure. However, if you have created paragraph styles linked to levels within a list structure (rather than a list structure that contains paragraph styles at the various levels), then changing the indent would indeed change the relationship (because you’ve in effect redefined the list that the paragraph is associated with).
Word 2007 introduced a variety of ways for the style creator to organize the styles in the UI, stepping away from the solely alphabetical listing of previous versions. Part of the reason for that was to provide the sort of control that people had expected from the “In Use” string. At its most well-behaved, the “In Use” functionality reports any built-in style that has ever been used in the document and any custom-defined style in the document (whether or not it has ever been applied). I think the naming is unfortunate but so far no one has come up with a better description that wasn’t significantly longer.
@ Dieter I very much appreciate your engagement on this topic and both the knowledge and passion you are bringing to the discussion. In many ways, I think we’ve reached a point that I see frequently in discussions of this sort where we are agreeing – LOUDLY. So I’ll try to keep my answers short and to the point this time. Certainly styles and lists structures absolutely need to be stable and understandable. The long and complex document scenario is a core one for Word and one I focused on for the Word 2007 product cycle when updating the list and style features. I would say updating a document with a modified a template is less of a core scenario but still very important. We on the team continue to prioritize this scenario in all of the work that we do. Certainly we might have designed Word differently if we were uninterested in more typical documents such as letters, business presentations, and ad-hoc short documents (including flyers and other complex layouts). The addition of the Style gallery in Word 2007 was intended primarily to increase the use of styles and provided an interface that more people can understand. I believe we succeeded in that goal but it may well be that it is less powerful for users such as yourself who are working on precisely structured style-based documents. We continue to balance the needs of our full range of users. And, again, your well-structured explanations of your concerns help us understand one perspective. Certainly, there are cleaner models for the creation of lists if you reduce the scenarios that you intend to support and do not have to concern yourself with the existing document repositories. One of the absolutely core promises of Word is that any legacy document can be opened and edited while preserving its original layout; this goal is more important than improving any single feature. And mapping from our existing model to ones such as you have described is not straight-forward – or at least so my developers and testers assure me. I believe, but certainly cannot prove, that Word is more stable across a broader spectrum of list scenarios than any other product on the market. Those of us who work with lists and styles take the customer feedback we hear very seriously and I know of no set of reported problems that we have not investigated in depth. But there are cases where we make trade-offs among those scenarios – and sometimes that means that the behavior is not what one might want in an application focused a specific type of document. You have definitely articulated ways in which Word does not work as you would prefer and, again, I appreciate and respect that feedback. I hope that in at least some of the cases, we’ve also given you control as a template designer to override some of those behaviors. If you want to use the Table style feature as though it implies semantic meaning, you can add those table styles and they’ll appear in their own section of the gallery. If you want to block direct formatting, you can use the style lockdown feature. And the new style management features let you control the presentation of text styles including their order and when they appear in the UI. -Stuart One minor clarification – list templates is the internal structure used by hybrid/simple lists, single-level lists, multi-level lists, and List Styles. It is not a term exposed in the UI but rather an internal construct that you can access via VBA. None of these are more or less associated with direct formatting than the others.
I have been working in technical documentation and communications for decades, yet I am struggling with Word 2007. I just came home from another brutal day at the office, due to the complexities and mysteries of the Word 2007 redesign. I tried so hard to attach a customized document template to an existing file, to clean up the list of available styles and simply display what comes from my custom template, to set up the numbering and format it, to find my way around the ribbon. Usability is a big deal, especially for experienced users of your product. After all of these years, I should be a Super User. Your upgrade has set me back, again. I am stumbling, fumbling, and hopelessly lost in this new environment. That work flow you've designed, who's that for? A publishing house? The documents I work with are mine from beginning to end, and I don't follow your work flow. You've obviously spent lots of time talking to Society Members. Why did you abandon me?
Thank you very much for your detailed answer. And I really appreciate your statement: "I believe, but certainly cannot prove, that Word is more stable across a broader spectrum of list scenarios than any other product on the market." Great!
The consequence is that I will strongly recommend to use Word 2007/2010 only in the document scenarios I mentioned. And I like the overall new UI concept which from Word 2010 up may be customized (to our structured documentation needs) again without the need of XML programming.
Some small (but imortant) things I still missing in the customization features are: - The command "Modify list style" ;-) and the possibility to create different drop-down lists for character, paragraph and table styles ;-) @ Terry: I'm working in the same field and I thought quite similar like you two years ago. You need on a daily basis access to:
@Terry -- Dieter has pointed you to the best resource for easing the transition from the Word 2003 UI to our new UI. As someone who has made several such transitions over the years, I definitely can relate to your struggles. We make changes to maximize the benefit of the product across all of our users -- in this case, the benefits for users still learning the applications are significant. We constantly hear about "new features" in Word that users are being able to discover because of the new user experience. But, you're quite right, that doesn't help those of us who remember where it used to be and aren't sure how to figure out to where it's been moved. @Dieter -- I don't know whether you are using Word 2010 or not but I did confirm that one of the problems with Restart was addressed this release -- when you redefine a paragraph style, we no longer remove any paragraph-level Restart settings when updating the paragraphs that use that style.
@ Stuart - ListTemplate names ARE exposed in the UI in the following places:
- Insert | Quick Parts | Field | (scroll to LISTNUM) Field properties | List name - (right-click) Adjust List Indents | More> | ListNum field list name: Fields is a read-only location while the Define New Multilevel List dialogue is a read and write location -- sans VBA! By the way, Stuart, cannot tell you how exciting it is to hear that ability to build a multilevel list with more than 9 levels is under consideration. In the legal industry, the average number of numbered levels per document in the US is 14, while in the UK, it is 24 (based on statistics gathered by the New York Word Legal Users and the UK Document Excellence groups). Cheers from both nations for that one! @ Dieter - thanks for quoting our site. Would you also like an updated edition of our venerable 'Seven Laws of Word's Outline Numbering'? Am happy to share it with you. Sherry
@Sherry -- I didn't mean to imply that it wasn't possible to manipulate the list templates -- particularly once you've associated a name with one, simply that the construct itself is not directly exposed in the UI. I think the closest would be examining the XML but that's still not the in-memory representation. I admit a bias about the ListNum approach and do tend to forget about it when talking about general best practices for numbering. Thanks for sharing your opinions about the need for multi-level numbering; those are interesting numbers. And your documentation is quite useful for many folks and I'm confident that they benefit from the model you present.
@Stuart - got it; I thought you were speaking about the list template name itself. And agreed: the list template structure isn't exposed as well through the UI (Define Multilevel List dialogue) as is clarified through the XML or even VBA -- the 'deep divers' gain appropriate levels of insight best through these constructs. Also wanted to mention: your description here of list structures, in particular, is wondeffully articulate and much appreciated, Stuart. Not to mention: taking on the topic itself, brave and needed. Thanks from all of us out here. Sherry
I wanted to wait at least a quarter before I commented on 2010. Here's something that frustrates me. I work a lot with documents that have 40+ pages. I used the old document map feature a lot. ? I'm unable to navigate the document map with the keyboard. In the old maps I used to use the Up down arrow key to navigate and the left right would expand and collapse sections. This appears to be completely disconnected now. Moving the up/dwn arrow moves the cursor in the document and not in the document map. For one this is clunky. Since I' have clicked the Document Map (Navigation) I expect the up/dwn behaviour there an not in another pane/window. Secondly, it's a huge waste of time to go from the keyboard to the mouse--- just to navigate. I do like the drag and drop reordering. Nice.
The most common numbering that I want to do I find very difficult. I want to number my headings 1., 1.1, etc, then have paragraphs under these headings numbered 1.1.1, etc. BUT there may be any number of levels of headings, so a paragraph may be 1.1, or it may be 22.214.171.124.5. It is not sufficient to use a particular level of heading as my default paragraph. I want to do this so I can write specifications where each item is numbered, and they are grouped under an arbitrarily deep structure of headings.
@Richard -- Am I correct that what you are saying is that the fact that a paragraph is numbered X.Y.Z could be either a regular body paragraph or heading?Sre all paragraphs in the document (whether a heading or not), numbered?
I was hoping I could get some help modifying a built-in style to "restart" the numbering each time the heading is used after a higher-order heading is used. Or if there's an alternative way to create a heading style that does this and that also pulls into the table of contents automatically, I could do that. But I would need the style to do the following:
1) Keep track of numbering and correct the numbering when headings are inserted
2) Pull into the table of contents in a leveled way
3) Restart the numbering after a higher-order heading is used, as described above. Do any of the style headings currently have this function? If not, how do I build one?
Yanailana -- that sounds like a standard format offered on the Multilevel List control. Look at the various formats that include the "Heading" identifier to show that the numbering is bound to styles. -Stuart
From very beginning Word (Word95?) has this issue, that I can't understand noone has noticed that it's an issue. Imagine I have such a list: This is a normal paragraph.
1. This is a List Paragraph.
2. This is a List Paragraph.
3. This is a List Paragraph.
Again this is a normal paragraph.
1. This is again a List Paragraph. 2. This is again a List Paragraph.
3. This is again a List Paragraph. I achieved this in Word by simple typing, and using Return... doing nothing else, the only Word feature I used is "Restart at 1" on "This is again a List Paragraph". And now imagine I need to change how my List paragraphs are looking across my all document. What I do... I put a cursor on any instance of my list paragraph, say on "2. This is a List paragraph", and then choose on the Home tab -> Select -> Select Text with similar formatting. This results in all 6 List paragraphs selected. Fine. Then I just press on the down arrow of the Home tab's Numbering button, and choose some other numbering style. And oops... My second List paragraphs change their numbering to 4. 5. 6.! How dare Word change my numbering! I see it as a major issue, especially in very long documents, which goes from version to version. I believe "Restart at 1" shouldn't be a part of paragraph, so it shouldn't react to any formatting change, be it numbering style change, or simple "paste formatting" groom.
Mantvydas -- I definitely appreciate your passion around this issue. When you select two different list and tell us that you want the formatting to be the same, we take that to mean that you want the lists to be one single, consistently formatted list. I know that's not what you want here but it is what other users frequently want(and perhaps even yourself in a different context). That's part of why it's not straight-forward to select multiple lists like this and then format them together--that initial hurdle helps remind you that you're merging mutliple lists back into a single list. (Though as you point out, we did make this much easier in Word 2007 with the additional of the List Paragraph style and your use of Select All Matching.) The workflow for the task that you're wanting to accomplish is to go to each list individually and make the change. But it's definitely useful to hear your goal and for us to consider that as a future feature. -Stuart
When are you going to fix the word to HTML issues... God I hate word.... this product is the worst...