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Work with Themes in Office 2010

Standardize the appearance of your Office document with these tips

A theme is a set of three types of placeholders:

  • Fonts
  • Colors
  • Graphic effects

Themes are useful when you want to standardize the formatting across multiple documents, or between applications. For example, you might want your résumé and the cover letter that you send with it to be consistent in formatting. Applying the same theme to both would ensure that they use the same fonts and colors.

Or, bigger picture, you can use a theme to apply consistent formatting across lots of documents, and even between applications. For example, you could have a Word document that uses the same theme as your PowerPoint presentation on the same subject, so it looks like they match.

When I use the word “theme” in a general sense in this book, you can assume that I mean a combination of those three types of placeholders: fonts, colors and effects. However, you can also apply more specific themes that just cover one of those: font themes, color themes and effect themes. This is great because it lets you combine the parts of different themes to create your own special look. For example, you might use the fonts from one theme and the colors from another.

Instead of choosing a specific font, color or graphic effect for an item in one of the Office applications, you can instead choose to apply one of the theme placeholders. This formats the item with whatever definition the current theme specifies. Then if you change to a different theme later, the item changes its appearance. This is a great help in allowing you to quickly change the look of an entire document, spreadsheet or presentation without having to worry about consistency.

To apply a theme in Word or Excel, follow these steps:

  1. Choose Page Layout-->Themes.
  2. Choose a theme from the menu that appears.

To apply a theme in PowerPoint, you have two methods:

  1. On the Design tab, click one of the samples in the Themes group.
  2. On the Design tab, click the down arrow in the Themes group and select a theme from the menu that appears.

Each theme on the menu has a name, but you can’t get a very good overall sense of a theme without seeing it in action. Fortunately, there’s a quick way to do this. Just hover the mouse pointer over a theme, and the document behind the open menu shows a preview of how the theme will affect it.

If you apply a theme (or preview one) and it doesn’t seem to have any effect, you probably have specific fonts and/or colors selected that are overriding the theme choices. Earlier in the chapter, where I show you how to choose a font, I mention the Theme Fonts section at the top of the Font menu. If you choose anything other than what was in the Theme Fonts section, any theme changes you make will not affect that text.

So, say you applied various fonts to a document, but now you decide that you’d rather let a theme handle the font choice. Here are some possible ways to fix that:

  1. Reselect the text.
  2. On the Home tab, reopen the Font drop-down list and choose the Body font from the Theme Fonts section. Do this for all the body text.
  3. Repeat this process by choosing the Heading font for any headings.

Or reselect the text and press Ctrl+spacebar. This strips any manually applied formatting from the text. As long as you haven’t applied any styles to the paragraph that specify a certain font, this allows the theme’s font choices to be in effect.

You can also apply color themes, font themes, and effect themes. To the right of the Themes button in each of the applications are smaller buttons for each of those things. Each button opens a drop-down list from which you can choose a different theme of the corresponding type.

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