this month, explaining how to create a style toolbar for custom templates, came
at a good time for me, because one of my consulting
clients—a wise, small business owner—hired me last weekend
to create a custom report template for his company. Wise, because he could see
the value in having a professionally prepared master report template, which
would now allow his staff to put together their engineering reports in much
less time and the results will look much more professional. Along
with Mike's custom template, I built him a custom style toolbar to allow him
to easily apply the new styles to their reports, as well as a fast way to become
more familiar with what styles they should now be using.
By reading Jonathan's article, Mike will see that my explanation—regarding
how to properly use templates and styles and how they will save his business
time and money—are not just my opinions, but facts shared by
To add to Jonathan's article, this one will show you how you can further enhance
your custom toolbar to add images. I find this beneficial to me, because I use
a lot of bullet styles when I'm writing documentation to explain VBA code I've
written. It allows me to provide a visual display for various processes, as
Why Use Decorative Bullets in Your Documentation?
As you can see below, from a recent code document (which has the client's name
removed), this documentation helps me see how the custom application is being
built. This provides me with a written explanation of the coding process and
allows me to more easily see specific areas.
With a quick glance, I can see where message boxes fall into the scheme of
things by looking for the little message box icons I've used. This type of display
helps me think through the coding process I'm using. If something isn't working
right, reading this type of methodology proves more valuable to me, usually,
than taking time to read through all the code itself.
Since coding an application is a big enough process, I don't need to waste
extra time by having to write elaborate documentation. The above document is
simple to write and easy to understand, thanks to my icons for each process.
And it provides me with important documentation on the overall application.
Plus, when it comes time to wrap up the project by typing up a user manual,
I have this information as a good outline of what I need to explain, already
in the proper order.
Creating a Custom Toolbar with Images
If you're just looking for any image to add a little design to your toolbar,
you can either make use of the icons provided with Word or use the Editor
to create your own icons.
First you need to enter the Customize mode by clicking Tools
> Customize. Then you can right click your toolbar item and choose
Change Button Image or Edit Button Image.
But Word also lets you easily copy and paste in any image you want. Although
it's best to use a fairly small image, so you can see what it's suppost to represent!
Creating my toolbar was pretty easy. First, of course, I needed to create the
styles and add the customized bullet images. I create a standard bullet style
and then customize the bullet image by clicking Format > Bullets
and Numbering > Customize.
From there I can choose the bullet style from the various icon fonts I have,
such as Wingdings or Webdings, as you can see below.
After dragging the styles to a new Toolbar, as explained in Jonathan's
article, it's time to plant a sample of each style on the page so I can
capture a snap shot of each as a toolbar icon. I type a line of text and click
on each style, so I have a sample of each bullet style.
I have several screen capture programs, but I generally find myself using SnagIt.
SnagIt is an inexpensive screen capture program that adds a wealth of value
to your capabilities to capture and enhance your screen shots. Not only is it
the fastest and easiest one to use, I have it locked into my Print Screen button.
So the minute I hit print screen, SnagIt jumps into action and allows me to
capture exactly what I need.
I capture a shot of each icon, one by one, by hitting Print Screen
and drawing out a tiny capture area around each icon in turn, as shown below.
I have SnagIt currently set to save each image to the Clipboard, which is where
I need it for this process.
Once the image is on the Clipboard, I can right click my toolbar,
while in Customize mode, and choose Paste
Image. This drops the picture I just took of the bullet on to the selected style
on my toolbar.
Even better, now that all my styles have a good visual representation of what
style they will apply, I can turn off the text and make my toolbar smaller by
just using the icons, as displayed below.
As a tip for those of you who might want to use this process to create your
own bullet documentation style bar, know that a useful trick is to just add
the bullets to the style and set the text face and size. But don't
add in the indent. This can make you nuts, because you may need to change the
outline indent for a particular process depending on where it falls in the story
So, although this trick doesn't fall under the theme of true styles,
I've found it much easier to set all the alignment for my bullets in this particular
set of styles to left align—no indents at all. I can
then, easily, use the indent hotkeys, Ctrl + M to move in
and Ctrl + Shift + M to move out. This allows me much
more freedom when composing than struggling with indent adjustments when
a style I thought should be third in line ends up becoming fourth in
This idea is better explained if you note the image below. Whereas the bullets
were lined up by each tab in the image above, here you can see all but one is
now aligned to the left. Hitting Ctrl + M pushed the one line into the position
where I needed it.
Just realize that this practice will somewhat defeat the purpose of using a
style. Meaning, if you decide to update the style in the future, all the text
applied with that particular style will jump back to the left margin. So I'd
also suggest you make a solid decision about the text size, spacing and bullet
style before you set the styles in stone, as future changes could wipe
out your alignment and cause you more work by having to go back and indent various
lines all over again!
Also note that capturing a text style will be a bit trickier, but it can
be done, as you can see in my toolbar image above. However, I'd suggest you
fudge the font size for the capture. My Heading style above (the top one with
the shaded background) is actually a large font. But if I attempted to capture
a 28 point font and smoosh it into a tiny icon, you wouldn't be able to easily
recognize what it's suppose to represent. Adjusting the size down to 10pts for
the picture helped keep the image in proportion.
Have fun creating your own toolbars.