Issue 7760 - Option to force users to adhere to style sheets
Summary: Option to force users to adhere to style sheets
Alias: None
Product: Writer
Classification: Application
Component: ui (show other issues)
Version: OOo 1.0.1
Hardware: All All
: P5 (lowest) Trivial with 4 votes (vote)
Target Milestone: ---
Assignee: AOO issues mailing list
QA Contact:
Keywords: oooqa, rfe_eval_ok
Depends on:
Reported: 2002-09-17 04:58 UTC by Unknown
Modified: 2013-08-07 14:38 UTC (History)
3 users (show)

See Also:
Latest Confirmation in: ---
Developer Difficulty: ---


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Description Unknown 2002-09-17 04:58:58 UTC
In my oppinion, most users should ONLY ever use styles. In an organisation, the
styles should already be set up by a layout expert and the users just pick
styles(types) for each paragraph/section. This prevents inconsistent, and
usually ugly, documents being produced within an organisation. It also allows
the organsation to globally change the look of all their documents with having
to manually fix each individiually.

OOo should have an option to force the user to use styles and locks-out all the
other layout controls. This could be on a per template, per document, or per
installation basis. The option should should also include the capability to
disallow blank lines, and limit the amount of boldface/italic/underline per
style per element.

If a user really wants to change the layout/look of a document, they should then
add a custom style to their templates (or just the document). This will get
people thinking in terms of styles and content, and not of how the document 'looks'.
Comment 1 stefan.baltzer 2003-06-04 14:21:33 UTC
Reassigned to Bettina.
Comment 2 dizzygeepster 2003-07-31 12:04:39 UTC
I agree with this wholeheartedly. It would be nice to have an
interface option that, rather than catering to whim, makes the user
think about what they are actually trying to do with formatting, and
in a consistent manner. Note that this is not the same as treating
people as dumb. It merely acknowledging that, lacking formal training
in DTP etc., the only times the average user thinks about formatting
is at the point they come to apply it; and why should they? Producing
documents (communicating ideas) is usually a supporting activity to
another, more central purpose (enacting the ideas).

As the original poster says, an interface configured this way will
make people think more of the meaning, and of its importance, rather
than its appearance.
Comment 3 Rainer Bielefeld 2003-08-02 21:11:06 UTC
Might be REMIND would be a hopeful Keyword?

I think it would be a fine feature.

Comment 4 Rainer Bielefeld 2003-08-02 21:16:04 UTC
No good Idea with REMIND

Comment 5 rblackeagle 2003-08-03 07:12:03 UTC
I really had to think about this when I read it.  I can imagine a
professional Secretary (nowadays often called a Word Processor) doing
it in an office environment, but Mom and Pop (and their kid) at
school, are going to be really irritated with having to choose
character styles for highlighting and choose one thing or another from
styles when they do not yet have any idea what styles are or really
need them.

The flexibility can be enhanced by simple office procedures in which a
default style for most uses is included and there is a requirement to
File > New > Templates and Documents to find special situational

Perhaps this would make sense if what you are asking is for an office
to remove the possibility of selecting anything except Templates and
Documents or a default template.  Could this possibility be included
in OOo?  I wouldn't use it and wouldn't want to use it, myself, but
I'm quite used to styles and know when I want to and when I don't want
to use pre-set styles or design a custom style.

If OOo is to be brought home by the secretary to use at home, why give
them the impression that it is far less flexible than MS Word?
Comment 6 Unknown 2003-08-04 02:59:47 UTC
This is the kind of option that would not be the default install or in
the default install templates. So mom and pop would not even know it

It is mainly an enhancement for the corporate environment to limit
both the risk of portraying an inconsistent corporate image and/or the
hours wasted in reformatting documents. These conditions normally
happen when a document is produced by a staff member who is not an
expert in document layout - ie. pretty much everyone, especially most

The option might also be required to be activated by publishing houses
for any document submissions. This would significantly reduce the
amount of time that they waste in removing the formatting that is
added by the original author. When manually 'fixing' these documents,
a lot of time is spent removing multiple spaces (used as tabs),
multiple consecutive tabs, and multiple carriage returns. In some
cases it is faster to retype sections of a document than to hunt
around a fix formatting problems.

When there is only one simple way for an end-user to apply formatting
(ie. selecting the appropriate style), then everyone benefits. The
focus when authoring a document should be the content and not the
layout. If the focus is layout, then a word processor is probably not
the correct tool to be using.
Comment 7 rblackeagle 2003-08-04 20:16:02 UTC
I am a professional writer.  It makes me money.  I have to follow
style sheets established by publishers or they won't use it.  Most
require that I submit printed copy.  Only one publisher I work with
wants a disk file and that in MS Word 97/2000 format.  One small
publisher uses, but does not yet request files in that
format.  If they did, here is the problem your solution would cause.

Let us say that I am to follow a template I download from the
publisher's site.  I am to make all my style changes and features
conform to that template.  For some strange reason, the template takes
over my copy and refuses to allow me to even make a word bold without
using a pre-set character style.  This would match your use of the
word "force."

Now I have a problem.  I need two different kinds of margin notes but
the template has but one.  I am unable to introduce another style.

Worse, I normally have written the book (or am at least 2/3rds to
3/4th way done) when I first contact the publisher.  (Very few of us
ever submit a "project" to a publisher if we have not written
something ahead of time -- exceptions being freelance reporters.). 
Now I have to do a Paste Unformatted into a blank and procede to appy
the template styles to the document.  We have moved all the hard work
from the publisher (whose typesetter and layout artist will again redo
it anyway) to the writer.

In practice, when I follow a publisher's stylesheet, I make my own
template which allows me to add features not considered by the
publisher.  Being forced to follow only a publisher's stylesheet
removes flexibility and increases the need for extraneous
communications between the publisher and the writer (something neither
one of us really wants -- we're both too busy).

I can see it in an office environment and many people have asked for
some sort of "settings" that could be mandated for all users in an
office while permission to remove or change any settings would be an
office manager decision and not permitted by the individual users
(consistency of appearance is one reason).

I can see an option for the administrator to be able to set mandatory
settings for all users, but I would never want it for myself and would
NOT want it mandated by a word processor.  If it were, I would use
another word processor.
Comment 8 Unknown 2003-08-05 01:26:26 UTC
There are different levels of author. This feature is mainly useful to
magazines, journals and corporate style reports, where very little
formatting should be used at all.

If you are writing a whole book - or even a large report, there are
going to be many different things that you want to do that may not be
pre-defined in a template. This will probably also apply to someone
writing a large corporate report.

In situations where the occaisional deviation from the standard format
is acceptable, the 'force' option could (and probably would in most
cases) be relaxed with an option to allow the addition of a new style.
The new style could then be defined to cater for this new piece of
formatting. Yet, at the same time, 'exception' based formatting is
still not allowed. Good practice says that it must be a style unto

Yes I know this poses the problem of how you mark various types of
text mid-sentence. That is where the style system needs to be improved
to cater for something like sub-styles. The user interface should also
warn of excessive use of a sub-style to discourage people typing in a
whole document set to, for example, 'emphasise', 'numeric formula', or
'quotation'. The sub-style could even be automatically deactivated
when a carriage return is entered.

As someone who ends up 'fixing' numerous style abberations, I find
that in most cases a user will add all sorts of formatting that is
unnecessary. If the formatting is applied with styles, it is easy to
find all occurances of that style and either automatically or manually
change it. If extra formatting is added outside the control of the
style system, it takes considerably more effort to re-lay the document.

I have seen many reports submitted with the whole document set to a
single style and all formatting applied in the form of exceptions to
the style. This causes much pain, especially when the user has tried
to use every single feature MSWord has to offer.

On a different note, a tool could also be written to help with the job
of template translation. ie. translation of a document from one
differently named style sheet to another. This would be more useful
than a forced lockout for professional authors that probably already
use styles anyway.

I believe it is important that forced lockouts like this are not
defaults and can be made warning based. I also believe that the
lockout should still be adjustable to allow the addition of new styles
to a document. The professional authors out there that have written
3/4 of a book would be most unimpressed if they were suddenly forced
to activate the full force of this option on a sub-standard template.
It would be more useful for them (or anyone) to have a mode that
highlighted all 'exception' based formats, that could then be
rationalized into a few extra styles. In this way, the document could
easily be 'cleaned' for submission - or if nothing else, for internal
consistency. Together with the template translation tool, much effort
could be saved.
Comment 9 rblackeagle 2003-08-05 21:09:56 UTC
This sounds to me like a Top-End option, say an administration option
for an office, publisher and so on.  But you would have to lock out
such things as boldface fonts as well (I have often seen writers
violate stylesheet requirements regarding boldface).  It would have to
be either an installation option or a completely different version of
OOo with that option designed for office or business use where the
option was desired.

I'm wondering if this might relate to the issue (don't recall the
number) that was raised to permit an office administrator to
"pre-install" the options for users.  If one is permitted, perhaps
this could be part of it.

Still, it would remain an optional enhancement, I would suspect as,
for my own use (sole user) I not only have no use for it but would
object to it.  An office setting is quite another matter.

If added, it would be an enhancement that would make OOo stand head
and shoulders over the competition for those offices with rigid policies.
Comment 10 Unknown 2003-08-06 00:36:20 UTC
I completely agree.

I know I myself would never enable this option at home, nor would I
ever recommend its use by a home user. Besides, most non corporate
users wouldn't have access to well enough defined templates to make it

As for being an option in the administrative tools - this is an
excellent idea. There would be really no point if the option could
easily be disabled by the user anyway, and as pointed out, it has no
real use outside of a controlled / corporate environment.
Comment 11 lohmaier 2003-08-10 01:25:55 UTC
confirming, adjusting priority, setting target-milestone.

At the moment, you can ignore multiple spaces, tabulators/spaces at
the beginning/end of a paragraph/line, apply styles and remove empty
paragraphs (using the AutoFormat/AutoCorrect-feature).
Comment 12 aexl 2003-09-27 11:52:52 UTC
For me as Corporate Design Maintainer this would be HEAVEN and i would
consider this a "unique selling property".

How i imagine it:
in "Template Properties" (or like this) i have the options
[ ] Allow Ad-hoc-Formatting (non-styles)
[ ] Allow Addition of new Styles
Comment 13 bettina.haberer 2003-11-12 10:54:37 UTC
Thank you very much for reporting this issue. This issue considers the
styles concept, which needs a conceptual change here. But that is not
a keyfeature area for OO.o 2.0. It is taken into account for OO.o 2.0.
Comment 14 kmcl 2007-02-12 18:01:39 UTC
I asked for a version of this feature in the OOo [users] mailing list, calling 
it a "Discipline" feature... and was pointed here. I definitely want this 
OPTION. I would prefer that it not necessarily lock the template, but that it 
require any changes/additions be done by use of styles.

So, I write a document and make it public within my company. I set this "Styles-
only" feature to "ON".
A reviewer or contributor gets hold of the document and begins modifying.

When that person attempts to bold a piece of text or change its font, or any 
other format change, they can do so only by using an existing style, or adding 
a new style.

The person gets annoyed at this requirement (in MY document...) and looks to 
switch it off. They are presented with a pop-up confirmation dialog - showing 
text that I was able to input when I invoked the option (something like: 
"This document is built on a style-based template for purposes of consistent 
appearance and of maintainability. If you wish to impose formatting not 
supported by existing styles, please create new styles - if you don't know how, 
ask the author. If you switch off this style-enforcing feature, your changes 
may be rejected by other collaborators in this project, or might delay the 
project completion. Do you still wish to defeat the feature Yes? No?")

So, the person could elect to go ahead and start ruining the document, thereby 
placing a nasty burden on those who must maintain the document (or its 
descendents), but they would have had to make a conscious, knowing choice to do 

I would like the additional option to have the feature RE-SET itself each time 
the document is closed. So the offender would need to re-assert their vandal 
intentions each time they re-opened the doc... (make the undoing of _that_ 
option harder to find, please  :-)
Thus, if the document was handed from one person to another, the willful 
vandalism of one person in the chain would not open the flood-gates to all who 
came after.

I'd like a way to record (in the document) the identity of anybody who switched 
off my template, so they can be given a good talking-to later, when I'm 
repairing the damage, half an hour from a release deadline.  OK, maybe that's 
getting a little much. 

As mentioned by those who favor the feature (and possibly ignored by those who 
have expressed objections), this would be an OPTION that could be switched on 
or not, and would not be the default setting in OOo. In other words, you would 
not be forced to use icky styles if you wanted to install OOo and start using 
it as a glorified typewriter... UNLESS you opened an existing document or 
template, created by somebody who chose to switch on that OPTION for the 
particular document.

The very fact that a seeming majority of commenters (so far) have said they 
have no use for such a feature tells me that corporate users of OOo (like me) 
are still very much in the minority. That's a big market.  Just keep in mind 
that the feature being discussed would be OPTIONAL as a setting for any given 
document or template - available for those who have reason to use it, ignorable 
by those who don't.

Somebody said: "... simple office procedures..."  If that stuff worked 
consistently over time and across departments, there'd be no requests for a 
feature like this.

Somebody else objected that publishers could impose unreasonable constraints on 
authors/contributors. In my version of the feature, you could add your strange, 
unanticipated formatting by creating your own styles... you'd merely be 
prevented from perpetrating simple spot-formatting that didn't use styles.

All objections covered?  Good.  Let's get on with it.  Thanks.

Kevin (tech-writer in Ottawa, Canada, using OOo where I can)
Comment 15 aexl 2007-05-14 08:47:04 UTC
This is an important issue, which would give OOo a often-wanted unique selling
property in the market of Document Management Workflow.
See this (german) XING thread about this issue:
Comment 16 udippel 2008-12-20 12:27:20 UTC
Agreed fully. Just finishing a book, and my co-s use direct formatting, which is
a good habit for everyday-letters and **** for books to be sent to a publisher.

Though I wouldn't want a complete kiosk-solution here (direct formatting is
impossible), my proposal was that 'Applied Styles' actually show applied styles,
only, and not their ancestors. As a first step. When all paragraph styles
displayed are the ones prescribed (I called them, e.g. 'Springer text body',
'Springer bibliography'), and no more 'Default', I do know that all paragraphs
are formatted with the prescribed styles. Now I have to 'Find (and Replace)' all
styles shown as 'Applied Styles', one after the other, to check if some person
has (unintentionally?) clicked another style, some parent. Showing the parents
increase the chance to make a mistake.

This request has my vote!
Comment 17 bettina.haberer 2010-05-21 14:48:23 UTC
To grep the issues easier via "requirements" I put the issues currently lying on
my owner to the owner "requirements".