Let’s face it, sometimes working with Microsoft Word is challenging. Especially when you have to edit an RFP or sales proposal document once again for formatting irregularities!
It isn’t easy when you have a variety of fonts and paragraph spaces in your document. It’s frustrating when you paste a bullet list into another document, and the bullet icon and spacing change unexpectedly! Or, in your document, an important table jumps to the next page, leaving vast amounts of silly-looking white space at the bottom of the previous page. There are some days that old IBM Selectric typewriter looks real good!
Don’t Let Microsoft Control Your Brand
Well, before you go old school on your proposals, let’s understand why we sometimes long for the golden age of typewriters.
Microsoft Word uses “Themes” to help us quickly change the branding of our documents. It performs this magic by reusing the style names and changing the style definitions for each theme. In Word, a theme is a collection of colors, fonts and paragraph spacing, that when combined, defines the document’s brand. In Word 2007 and 2010, themes are called Style Sets. They are found on the Home tab, in the Styles group, under Change Styles. In Word 2013, the Design tab is dedicated to themes.
Each theme uses Microsoft-defined styles, with specific fonts, colors and paragraph spacing for the styles. Themes are very handy, until someone modifies the paragraph using the formatting tools that are available on the Home tab. For example, if you directly format text using bold or italics, you are by-passing the theme.
Problems arise when the directly formatted text is copied from one document to the next and Word applies the new document’s theme. As text is moved, Microsoft Word takes over the formatting, your brand, and makes some of us long for simpler tools, like the typewriter.
Create a Custom Style Template to Brand your RFP Template
To efficiently deliver proposal documents that support your brand, we recommend that you create your own theme by creating a custom Word Style Template and then apply this template to your RFP Template and content in your RFP database. This will prevent Microsoft from taking control of your RFP documents.
Within your custom Word Style Template, you create custom styles using your brand-defined fonts, colors, paragraph margins and spacing. The custom style template and styles are applied to the content in your RFP database. By doing so, the RFP documents that you create are automatically formatted for your brand—and if required, make it easy for you to tailor the document formatting.
When formatting your Word content, custom styles are easily applied – and provide many options to control the format and layout of your documents. For example, with one click you can:
- Apply your font, font size and color. And just as quickly, you can change the font, font size and color for every paragraph in your document.
- Automatically start a new page. The “Page break before” setting forces text to flow to the next page and is best used with section headings.
- Keep the paragraph heading with its following paragraph using the “Keep with next” paragraph control. Nothing looks sillier than the paragraph title at the bottom of one page and its paragraph text on the next.
- Control paragraph spacing. Instead of pressing the “enter” key between paragraphs, use “Before” and “After” paragraph spacing in your custom style. If you don’t like the amount of space between your paragraphs in a given document, you only have to change the style, rather than scrolling through the entire document to adjust paragraph spacing.
When creating your custom styles, keep in mind the following:
- “Keep lines together” should be used with caution. It does just what it says, lines in a paragraph will not break across pages. This setting can cause rows in a table not to break across a page properly.
- Do not use fonts that include (Body) or (Headings) at the end of the font name. These fonts are linked to Microsoft Word’s built-in themes. Select your font name from font list, otherwise you may get the Microsoft font du jour.
- When you select colors, always select from the color palate and avoid setting the color choice to “Automatic.” Automatic provides Microsoft with another opportunity to control the applied color based on the current document’s theme.
- If you set “Line Spacing” to be “Exactly” 12 pt., anything taller, like a picture, will be cut off.
Who spends too much time in your organization formatting RFP responses and sales proposals? Please share this posting!
When implementing RFP and proposal automation solutions with SalesEdge, we help you save time creating your RFP responses, sales proposals, and other documents using best practices and the right technology.