Styles and templates are essentially encapsulated formatting descriptions. Where templates define how the page and overall document looks and feels, styles are used for defining either paragraphs or individual characters. You can pre-define a paragraph format with specific margins, font conditions, spacing etc., and character styles for font face and size, any additional attributes like superscript, subscript, etc. You can also “overlay” a paragraph style with a character style for added punch.
You're asking yourself why bother, right? Your manuscript has basic formatting: headers, footers, margins, font face and size. And in the places you have a character’s thoughts, or songs, or any other changed format, you've simply altered the indentation and/or look of the text. What if you want to change it after a run through with a proofreader or your editor, though? What if you like to write at 14 pt. Courier font with single spacing on your paragraphs, but your proofer needs 12 pt., Garamond, double spacing with gaps between paragraphs, and larger margins for notes? What if the final output format is to be a completely different page size, with different margins, font faces and sizes? If the transitions from one to the other were accomplished with a few clicks, would the bother be worth it?
First define your paragraph and character styles and use them while writing your opus. When needed, click the style name to apply, or set a keyboard shortcut to do it, and keep typing. If you need to change the style after 100 pages, all you need to do is redefine it in one place, and with a mouse click, all instances in the document can be instantly updated. No searching and replacing; no muss, no fuss.
How else can you use styles? You can apply character styles to the characters' names (and automatically insert the already-styled text with autotext) so finding variations on a character (e.g., nicknames, possessives, etc.) can be a matter of searching your document for the style, not the many possible variations on the text itself.
So, generally speaking, using paragraph and character styles handles the working manuscript nicely. What about when you hand it off to others who require a different look and feel? That’s where templates come in to play.
In your other template, the same name can have a completely different look and feel, and when that template is attached to your document, every place in the document that has an applied style will take on the attribute of the new definition. Pretty sweet.
For example, you had styled thought bubble paragraphs in your working manuscript as an +1" left and right margins, Italics font. Cleverly, you named the style "ThoughtBubble" and off you went. Your editor absolutely despises italics, so, in order to appease her and so she doesn't go all Red Pen on you, you want thought bubbles to be double underlined and not italics. What you do is create the paragraph style in a different template with double underline, and name it "ThoughtBubble" in that template too.
When you attach the Editor Template to your document, all instances of "ThoughtBubble" are now double underlined with nary an Italics character in sight. Editor: appeased.
Fortunately, both views are incorrect.
You can use macros to automate mundane repetitive tasks so they can be accomplished with a simple keystroke or by assigning it an icon on the Quick Access toolbar. Here is a good tutorial on how to record and save a macro. Specifically what tasks should you think about processing through a macro? Any task that you have to do multiple times through multiple documents that takes multiple steps. What actions are those for you? I don't know, since everyone is different and their processes are different as well. My personal metric to determine if something is macro-worthy is if it meets the following criteria:
- I have to do something more than three times;
- I will likely have to do it again at a later date;
- It takes more than a single change in a dialog box.
If it meets those, I create a macro. It ensures the same result every time I have to do it, and I don't have to remember any settings. What can I say? I'm lazy.
Write on, dudes.