Designing for style use

Subject: Designing for style use
From: Gerry Kirk (
Date: Thu May 17 2001 - 03:57:24 CDT

A few weeks ago there was a lively discussion on how to get people to use
styles, and how to get the most benefit from styles. One point that was
made is that it should be very intuitive for people to understand the
purpose of styles and how to use them.

Here's an idea: what if there was a rectangle in the left margin at the
start of each paragraph that shows the style for that paragraph and also
allows for that paragraph's style to be changed? That way, the user is
reminded as he/she types that each paragraph has a particular meaning, i.e.
it's a title, subtitle, heading, section, list, etc. After pressing the
Enter key, the cursor is next to the box (since the box appears at the top
left of the current paragraph, and can immediately select a new style if
the default one is not the desired one.

Word and WordPerfect often have symbols to the left side that the user can
click on, for example to change properties of the paragraph or table.

So, what do people think of this approach? Is this a good way to encourage
style use?


Information System Specialist,
Mennonite Central Committee

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