The Building Blocks feature came about in Word 2007 and it is a great tool for inserting standardized headers, footers,, cover letters, tables, and many other things into your new documents. Sounds a lot like AutoText in older versions of Ms Word doesn’t it? This feature can save you countless hours and keystrokes. Suppose you work in a law office that specializes in Wills & Estates? You could create a template of all the boilerplate language of your Will and then just create Building Blocks for the special clauses for each client. Sounds intriguing doesn’t it? Every person I know that works in a law office loves to save time and keystrokes just as much as I do!
Suppose, for instance, that you work in a law office that has several different fee agreements that you send to your new clients, which must be signed before you begin work on their matter. Mostly the fee agreements have the same elements but there are different clauses for flat fee agreements, hourly agreements, step agreements, etc. Instead of copying and pasting from previous letters which greatly increases your chances for errors, you can save your clause as a building block. And suppose, in a perfect world, the attorney you work for loves to learn new things and wants you to share your building blocks with him so he can put together fee agreements when you are not there? You now look like the rock star of the firm – a regular genius who really knows how to save time and keystrokes.
Building blocks are essentially parts of a document that can be reused over and over. they are contained in galleries in the user interface for easy use. Where you ask, are these building blocks stored? The short answer is that the contents of all building block galleries ae stored in templates in MS Word. There are several locations where you can save your building block content:
- Word’s building blocks template
- Word’s Normal Template
- Any custom Template (for use with a specific type of document or across all documents)
You will find these options in the Create New Building Block dialog under the field for Save In when you save a selection as a building block.
All default building block content that is shipped with Word is stored in the building blocks template (Building Block.dotx). Word selects this building block template as the default location to store building blocks and the Building Blocks template can be distributed to others as long as it is saved in the appropriate directory.
You can also store general purpose content in the Normal template. This option is only recommended if the Normal.dot is distributed company-wide.
There are two main scenarios where you would save building blocks to a custom template:
To have specific building blocks available to a customized type of document that is based off of a template, such as a Will or Financial Statement.
To have building blocks available for all documents, where building blocks are stored in custom templates.
If you are putting together a template for a specific kind of document (Will) you can save building blocks into your own custom template. When you create documents based on that custom template, you will see cover pages, headers, footers, etc tailored to that specific kind of document. These document-specific building blocks are only available when you are working on documents based upon the custom template. You can distribute the custom template to others within your firm and they will now have those building blocks available to them as well.
For building blocks that you would like to have available for all documents you work on, you can put a template containing them in the Document Building blocks directory (%appdata%\Microsoft\Document Building Blocks). You can put your own templates directly in the main directory or within a sub-folder corresponding to a particular language (e.g., the1033 sub-folder contains parts in English.
Word will automatically load any template added to the Document Building Blocks or sub -folder directories in order to combine all of your building blocks for use in the various galleries. The Building Blocks templates act as libraries, not as templates upon which you would base your documents.
Deploying the document building blocks directory or custom templates within the directory will allow others in your firm to use your building blocks to save time and keystrokes and you will be revered!
Follow the steps below to create a Building Block:
- First key in and format your text and insert any graphics you may wish to use.
- Then select everything, including any tabs or other formatting you wish to incorporate.
- Click on the Insert tab | Text Group | Quick Parts | Save Selection to Quick Part Gallery or click on Alt + F3 which will display the Create New Building Block dialog box.
- At this juncture, key in an abbreviation in the Name field. This abbreviation combined with your F3 key is what you will use to insert your Building Block into your document so be mindful of that. This name is not case sensitive.
- You an add a brief description in the Description field if it will be helpful to you, but this is optional.
- You can change the gallery also, if you like.
Note that the default Save in location is the Building Blocks.dotx template. Each user has one.
Building Blocks stored in that template will be available to the user regardless of which template he or she is using at any given time, such as pleadings or letterhead.
Before you go ahead and try this, be aware that if you want to save any paragraph formatting, be certain to select the pilcrow (paragraph symbol) at the end of your paragraph along with any text and graphics. To be certain that you have selected that pilcrow, tabs indicators, etc., be sure to turn on the Show/Hide feature (which should always be turned on).
- On the Home tab, click the paragraph icon in the Paragraph group or use the shortcut Ctrl + Shift + *.
- After creating your Building Block, click OK.
To insert your Building Block (such as a signature block), you can either click the Insert Tab | Quick Parts, locate your entry in the list and click Insert or simply use the shortcut you named it and F3,
See how much time you can save? I know you will be very busy creating Building Blocks now!