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Understanding building blocks

From: Word 2010: Forms in Depth

Video: Understanding building blocks

You may already be familiar with building blocks for Microsoft Word, but there are some amazing things that you can do with building blocks when you combine them with some of the controls you find on the Developer tab. Here's an overview of building blocks in general. A building block is a chunk of text formatted. It might be a table, could have graphics, anything you want. It can be a paragraph, three words, five pages, that you're going to place in your document. Let's slide over to Word for a moment and take a look at some of the existing building blocks.

Understanding building blocks

You may already be familiar with building blocks for Microsoft Word, but there are some amazing things that you can do with building blocks when you combine them with some of the controls you find on the Developer tab. Here's an overview of building blocks in general. A building block is a chunk of text formatted. It might be a table, could have graphics, anything you want. It can be a paragraph, three words, five pages, that you're going to place in your document. Let's slide over to Word for a moment and take a look at some of the existing building blocks.

You find most of them on the Insert tab. For example, all of these cover pages are building blocks and you can create your own cover page and add it to this gallery. Additionally, the headers are building blocks, the footers are building blocks, and you might want to create your own building blocks that aren't any of those types and assign them to a gallery that you create. You do that on the Quick Parts Gallery. So let's say that you're creating a contract or a letter of agreement and you have a signature block that you want to put at the bottom. It's structured.

It's in a table. So what you can do is go to the bottom of your document where you want to insert that in Word and then go to your local Building Block Gallery. Choose that Building Block and simply drop it into the document. You don't have to copy and paste from another document. You can simply move a building block in and then you have it. But what if there is not just one possible building block that you wish to use? What if there are three or four options? Let's take a look at a situation where this part of the text of this letter of agreement depends on some terms that were worked out with the customer.

We've actually gone in and created a Building Block Gallery that has all three of the possibilities in it. One of these three will be right. So when we get ready to create this letter of agreement we'll move our cursor to that point in the Word document and we'll look at each of the items in the Building Block Gallery and decide which is the one that I want to insert in my document. Then we'll choose the one we want, place it into our document. That saves us from having to copy and paste from different areas. We can have as many of these customized building blocks in our documents as we wish to have.

Let's see a real example of this in Microsoft Word. Here we have part of that letter of agreement. The part where we know what the location information is and what the materials are. So there are three possible locations. We're going to click Choose Location Information and we're going to choose from a small subset of that Quick Parts list the location we want. So we'll choose that. Then we'll go to choose Materials and we will choose the first item and it will be pasted in here as well.

Now if we look at the Quick Parts Gallery here, it actually has all of these quick parts. But you'll notice that when we were looking for a Location we only saw the ones that are pertinent for Location and we chose Materials we only saw the quick parts that were available in the category of Materials. We did that little piece of magic using the Building Block Gallery content control here on the Developer tab in Microsoft Office 2010. Before we go back to Word let's take a look at how we save building blocks.

How we create and save building blocks determines how we will actually distribute the forms that we create using them. Microsoft Word comes with a bunch of built-in building blocks. The headers and footers and cover pages I showed you few minutes ago for example, and those are saved in a template called Built-In Building Blocks.dotx. As soon as you create a building block, it's placed into a template that is called Building Blocks.dotx that Word automatically creates for you.

Additionally, you could save building blocks in the Normal template. If you go back a few versions of Word ago, we saved everything in Normal.dotx. That's not a recommended practice anymore. You could, but you probably shouldn't because there are many occasions when Normal.dotx will be destroyed and re-created from scratch in updates and that kind of thing. So let's leave Normal.dotx off the list. But both Built-In Building Blocks.dotx and the Building Blocks.dotx template created for your building blocks are stored in a folder called the Document Building Blocks folder.

You can create other templates as well and save them in that folder and all of those building blocks will be loaded, because what Word does is when you launch Word it goes and takes a look and says everything that's in any template stored in the Document Building Blocks folder gets loaded. Whenever you open a document, if it's a template Word automatically looks to say does this have any building blocks in it? And if it does then it adds them to your Quick Parts Gallery and any other galleries where those building blocks would be stored.

So you have a number of choices here. One is simply to store the building blocks you're going to create in the Building Blocks Gallery. This Building Blocks Gallery here is local to you. So this would be for templates only you are going to use. If you have a template you want to send to other people to use or a template that you want to place in your Workgroup Templates folder for the use of other people in your organization, you'll store your building blocks directly in the template where they are going to be used.

If you want to organize all of your building blocks, if you have too many of them to work with, then you can simply create another template in the Document Building Blocks folder for those. But our two primary methods of storage here will be in the template that we intend to use the building block in. So it's easier to distribute to others, and is only then showing those building blocks in that document. Or for building blocks that you want to use yourself, you will save those in either the Building Blocks.dotx template or in any other template that you wish to store in the Document Building Blocks folder.

That's a lot to think about right now, but don't worry about it. We're going to cover saving building blocks right away in the next movie as we start creating building blocks to use in forms in Word 2010.

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Word 2010: Forms in Depth

28 video lessons · 13913 viewers

Gini Courter
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