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Creating and saving building blocks

From: Word 2007: Forms in Depth

Video: Creating and saving building blocks

We have an existing letter of agreement, probably five or six of them, that show different options that a user could insert into the letter of agreement. Three or four different possibilities, for example, for work location. A couple of possibilities for materials management. And so we're going to take that contract or several of those contracts and abstract out the different choices that a person could use. So, for example, under Work Location we have three different choices. One is the training will be provided at a client location.

Creating and saving building blocks

We have an existing letter of agreement, probably five or six of them, that show different options that a user could insert into the letter of agreement. Three or four different possibilities, for example, for work location. A couple of possibilities for materials management. And so we're going to take that contract or several of those contracts and abstract out the different choices that a person could use. So, for example, under Work Location we have three different choices. One is the training will be provided at a client location.

The second is that it will be done at a facility that's rented by the client, and the third is that it will be provided at our office. So three different options, each one of them could be a valid choice. Then we also have three different possibilities for how Materials will be handled. Whether they'll be client printed, office printed, or there are specific other materials that our client generated that will be used. Now as you go through a contract in your organization you might find that in five or six pages of contract there are 12 or 13 different options like this; places that you could make it really easy, because you're copying and pasting text, or copying and modifying it in some minor ways.

So these are the kinds of things you look for to create this kind of an internal form. But this is a form that you could send to somebody else that you could duplicate. In order to create this form we have to understand how we're going to store the building blocks that we create. There are two different possibilities about how we save building blocks. One is that we can save building blocks so that they're on your local machine. So when you start Microsoft Word, there is a list of Built-In Building Blocks and we saw those in the last movie, the built-in headers, footers, cover pages, page numbers, text-boxes and so on that already exist.

They are stored in a file called Built-In Building Blocks.dotx. So it's a template, it's dotx extension. As soon as you create a building block, the very first one, Word creates another template called Building Blocks.dotx. The Building Blocks stored there are your personal building blocks that you created. Now it's possible to store building blocks in the Normal template, but I want to strongly recommend against this, because there are times when Normal.dotx gets destroyed in the act of updating Microsoft Word and you don't want to lose your building blocks.

So don't keep them there, although you can. But here is what's most true. When Word launches it doesn't just look for specific files. It goes to a file folder called Document Building Blocks and in that Document Building Blocks folder, it opens every single template and loads all the building blocks out of all of the templates into your built-in galleries. So if you create a lot of building blocks that you want to be able to use, you can actually create different templates for them, and make it easier for you to manage them then.

So, all of these templates are loaded when Word launches. However, you can also store building blocks locally in any template, and then they're not loaded when Word launches, and they're not even stored in the Document Building Blocks folder. They're actually stored in the template itself. Here is the magic. What I can do is I can create building blocks, save them in my template, and then I can send that template to someone else, and when they open it those building blocks will be added to their building block galleries.

This is really incredibly cool. So what we're going to do in our letter of agreement is we're going to actually create three building blocks for Work Location, one, two, three, and we will save those in this document template. Then we'll create three building blocks for Materials and we'll save them in our materials template, and we'll save them also in this template. So we'll have six building blocks that are built-in that move around with this. Now, before we get started, if we were going to, for example, save this is as a building block, I can hold Alt and hit F3 to open up the new Quick Parts dialog, or I can go to Quick Parts > Save Selection to the Quick Parts Gallery, which is where building blocks go.

I'm going to make a mistake here, because it's a mistake that you'll make. I'm going to save this selection and tell it that I want to save it. You'll notice I only have two choices. First, I can't save it in built-in, that's not mine. Here's my Building Block gallery. Here's Normal.dotx. My question is why can't I save it here? And the answer is really easy. This isn't a template; it's still a document. So the very first step we're going to go through is we're going to save this document as a template as we did in the last chapter. So I'm going to say File > Save As > Word Template, slide up here to Microsoft Word > Templates and I'm going to Save this as Letter of Agreement and just leave it at that.

So here is my template. Now just that simple change when I go back to Quick Parts > Save Selection to Quick Part Gallery, you'll notice that one of my choices is Letter of Agreement, because it's now a template. So the first thing is, I have a client location, so I'm going to say, Word just grabs the first two or three words or phrases out of your text that you've selected and all of these start the same way. So I'll say that this is actually, this training is going to be held at a Client Site. That will be my first choice.

I can save this anywhere I want. There are actually some custom galleries that I can use, but I can just leave it in Quick Parts for right now. That's fine. Here are the two things we need to pay attention to. First, we're going to save this here in the local template. Second, we want to set up a Category for it, because when we connect this to a content control, it's going to ask what category? So this is Work Location, easy enough to find; it's the same as this heading. I'm going to Create a New Category and I'm going to call it Work Location.

This isn't a time to get mystical. If I have a heading nearby that describes these, I should just grab it. Last choice here. If it was a cover page, it would go in its own page. If I want it never to be in-line content, I'll put it in its own paragraph, or I could insert the content only. Now just a little thing to look at. Out here at the end when I've select this line, I'm actually getting at the end where I have a return, where I pressed Enter; what's known as a carriage return and a line feed. What I can do is I can say Insert the content only and know that I'm going to get this return at the very end. That works nicely.

I could have selected and left the return out then and chosen Insert content in its own paragraph. But if I ever want to use this as the middle sentence of a three sentence paragraph, then I really want to have Insert content only, and I would have preferred not to have included the return at the end. So this is Client Site, Work Location and the Letter of Agreements template fine. Let's do this again. I'm going to hold Alt+F3 this time, just to open that Create New Building Block gallery more quickly, and this is going to be Rented Facility.

Once again my Category will be exactly the same, another alternative under Work Location. I'm going to Save it once again in Letter of Agreement and Insert content only. Finally, my third choice, Alt+F3, this is at the Triad Office. You can Tab between these and use the Arrow keys, if you prefer. Save this in Letter of Agreement, in the Letter of Agreement template. Now I can enter a Description for each of these if I wish, and I could easily put 3 of 3 choices and it is stored in the Letter of Agreement template, but the only person that's going to see that right now is me.

If you're developing templates for other people to use and distributing them broadly, I encourage you to put descriptions in here. Let's go ahead and say OK. Now if I go to Quick Parts, you'll notice there are these three options. Notice also that because I had included some formatting on these so they stood out, that I still have that formatting here in my Quick Parts. If I didn't want them to be formatted, it would be a really good idea for me to remove the formatting before I start. I have the same kinds of choices here and I'm going to do only the first choice so that you can see the difference. This is Materials.

So we're going to hold Alt and hit F3, and this is going to be Client Prints the materials. And I don't want to store this in Work Location; I want to store this in Materials. So I'm going to create another new category called Materials. I'm going to save this in my template and I'm going to Insert content only. I'll let you go ahead and create the remaining two building blocks that are here saved in the Quick Parts gallery. And I'll meet you for the next movie, when I'll show you how to hook up the Building Block gallery content control to be able to call these out in your document.

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Word 2007: Forms in Depth

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Gini Courter
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