I recently had an opportunity to speak with Stephanie
Stephanie is a Microsoft Office MVP and professional
How did you come to build the templates for Office for Mac 2011?
My expertise is in creating great documents and templates for the Microsoft Office applications. For Office for Mac templates, the team engaged a wonderful graphic designer and brought me on to build the templates from his designs. Office 2011 is the second release of Office for Mac that I’ve worked on—I also built many of the templates and themes in Office 2008.
Which templates did you build? How many total templates are there in Office 2011?
I built most of the templates that come with Word 2011, several of the themes that you see in PowerPoint 2011 (and, of course, you can apply the same themes in Word and Excel as well), and—along with fellow Office MVP Beth Melton—some of the Excel 2011 templates.
There are more than 200 templates (including themes) built into Word, PowerPoint, and Excel, but when you search for templates in the Office 2011 template galleries, your results might also include templates from Office.com, giving you access to far more than just the ones I built.
Can you share some simple tips & tricks for customers who want to customize Office templates?
So many things come to mind, but maybe the most important one is to always consider a template before starting from scratch. A lot of people look at a template and think it won’t work for them because of the colors or placeholder photos, or even the template name. But customizing a template is much easier than you might realize. In fact, you can customize the colors and fonts of a template right in the template galleries in Word or PowerPoint, before you even create the document. Using themes, it’s so easy to change so much about the look at any time—fonts, colors, and graphic formatting effects—with just a click. And replacing placeholder images with your own is a breeze. For example, in Word, just drag photos from the Media Browser or Finder and drop them on a picture placeholder. Voila!
Even if the layout of a template isn’t exactly what you need, you can often save a lot of time by keeping just the parts you need. Say you need a custom template to fit your company branding. You can apply your custom colors and fonts to a built-in template you like, and then customize whatever elements you need—such as adding your company logo and appropriate images. Why reinvent the wheel when you have so many professionally designed, pre-built templates to help you get started?
Templates can also be a great way to learn about Office features. For example, if you need to create a newsletter, brochure, flyer, or other publication-styles document, you have many templates to choose from in Word 2011. But you can also use the wide variety of Publishing Layout templates for ideas on how to use Publishing Layout View in Word, to easily lay out professional-quality documents for yourself.
Do you have a favorite template?
Too many to pick just one, but here are a few of my favorites…
- For publication-style documents, I really love a lot of our newsletters and brochures, especially because of how customizable they are. For example, the seasonal family newsletters (named Fall, Spring, etc.) could so easily be used for either a business or a school … just replace the pictures and maybe add your own custom colors.
- Small businesses (like me, for example—I’m a one-person business) who want a visual brand identity but don’t have the budget to hire a designer, can use (and customize) one of several identity sets that provide templates across Word and PowerPoint for an instantly-branded look. What I refer to as an identity set is a coordinated set of templates that include a full batch of everyday Word document types (letterhead, memos, agendas, invoices, business reports, and more), and a theme for use with PowerPoint presentations. It’s a huge timesaver. You’ll find these for the Advantage, Capital, Plaza, Revolution, and Spectrum designs.
- I also really love the evergreen calendars in both Word and Excel. Office MVP Beth Melton worked on both of these with me. In fact, she wrote the code for both. In Word, we used VBA macros so you can pick a month and year for your calendar and have it update automatically. In Excel, we have calendars that update with your selected month and year, all generated by formulas.
NOTE: To view all templates, in Word, PowerPoint, and Excel, click File > New from Template.
Besides templates, do you have a favorite Office for Mac feature?
Once again, there’s just no way I can pick only one! But here are a few of my favorites:
- Dynamic reordering in PowerPoint and in Word Publishing Layout view is so beautiful and so useful for people who create complex documents and presentations. When I first saw it, I loved how it looked, but didn’t think I’d really use it that often. In reality, I don’t think I’ve created many Word or PowerPoint documents, templates, or themes since, when it didn’t save me a lot of time.
- Publishing Layout view in Word is another amazing Office for Mac-exclusive that I just couldn’t do without. It is much more than just one feature – it’s essentially an easy-to-use desktop publishing tool built right into Word. It provides layout-specific features such as dynamic guides, and the ability to drag and drop pages right where you need them. (And, of course, the advanced picture editing tools that are available across Word, PowerPoint, and Excel—such as the improved cropping tool—are perfect for the content I create in Publishing Layout view.)
- SmartArt graphics! This diagramming tool was introduced in the previous version, and it’s available in Office for Windows as well. What I like is that I can create great looking, professional diagrams essentially by just typing a bulleted list. There are, I believe, over 130 different built-in diagram layouts across a number of diagram types such as organization charts, process diagrams, and list diagrams. And they all coordinate automatically with your document theme. So powerful and ridiculously easy to use.
Your website is named for Voltaire. Would he be a Windows or Mac Office user?
I’d like to think Voltaire would be a cross-platform user—but maybe that’s just because I am.
If you have any questions for Stephanie about Office, templates, or even Voltaire, feel free to contact her.
- The Office for Mac team