MS Office themes that provide good design to my documents?
July 30, 2011 3:49 AM   Subscribe

What Themes and Style Sets to pick in Office 2007? Some design and typography advice please.

I have no knowledge of document design and typography.
I'm looking for some Themes and Style Sets I can quickly choose between to make good looking documents.
I find it hard to pick from the options because there are so many combinations. And the name of themes don't mean much to me.

For me the criteria are:
- clean look; no gadgetry like ornaments, garish colours, design features that are so prominent as to distract
- probably I err on the formal side of look and feel in preference
- conservative use of colours if at all. No orange and pink probably
- uses are work memo's, private documents

If you have an example that would be great. Also just your favourite combinations of theme and style set to try out would be helpful.
posted by joost de vries to Media & Arts (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
In Word, I think the "Simple" style set is quite nice, as well as the default, whether in color (called "Word 2007" in the drop-down list) or in black and white.
posted by maxim0512 at 4:33 AM on July 30, 2011

Unfortunately, Word's themes display fairly poor design and typography. "Blank" is certainly a neutral one, but they will all create recognizably officey, Word-generated documents.

If you have any time, I would suggest making your own from one of the base themes: even a few small changes can make it much more readable, as well as distinctive. Here are things to do immediately:

- Word usually defaults to 12 pt. type (font) size. Except for proof-reading, this is far larger than necessary. Books are often in something closer to 7. I use 10 for generic documents.

- Word's "line-spacing" (within the paragraph style) is usually set very low: exactly 1 space. This sounds like what you'd want for a normal document, but readability is helped a lot by extra padding, especially if you have text running the full length of a 8.5 in. page. Set it to a multiple of 1.2 to 1.4 of your font size.

- Are your documents going to be printed most of the time? Make sure you select a serif typeface, preferably getting away from Times New Roman. Later versions of Word have defaulted to Calibri, which is sans-serif: that's better for screen-reading, but less so for the printed world.

- Reduce your tab and bullet-list spacings: these are far too large usually, which makes the document look clunky.

Hope that helps, and good luck!
posted by JLMC at 5:50 AM on July 30, 2011 [2 favorites]

Note that some of JLMC's legitimate complaints about Word's defaults are more true of older versions of Word than of Word 2007. For example, Word 2007 defaults to 11 point font and 1.15 line spacing. I also think that Calibri, and some other modern sans serif fonts, are quite readable in print.
posted by maxim0512 at 6:35 AM on July 30, 2011

Microsoft published some great "small business" templates that I usually take and reconfigure for my use.
Group 1
A larger collection
posted by msbutah at 7:06 AM on July 30, 2011

I'm sure maxim0512 is right...but maybe not for Mac Office? Most of the simpler themes on it are still 12pt. So it depends on your OS I guess!
posted by JLMC at 8:02 AM on July 30, 2011

Response by poster: Thank you for your thoughts so far.
I was hoping for a perfect theme/style set combination. Maybe somebody will stop by yet and suggest one.

The alternative is indeed to make one myself. JLMCs tips are very helpful for that. Combined with the suggestion of fonts mentioned in this comment. (I'll add that Consolas seems to be a good monospaced font)
Just exploring on my own I came up with Theme "Metro" combined with Style Set "Distinctive".
The resulting font is Corbel, 10 pt. The line spacing is 0 pt before and 10 after. So that seems to confirm JLMCs point. The indent is 1.27 cm on an A4 page (21x19.7cm). Which is probably a bit high.
I see if I can tweak the indent and line spacing and save that as a standard theme/style set.
posted by joost de vries at 1:23 AM on July 31, 2011

Response by poster: I've created this image which shows the different fonts per theme. (Also the different colour schemes and look of effects.)
I'd be interested to hear what a person with typographical taste would make of the given combinations of fonts for headers and body text.
posted by joost de vries at 6:12 AM on July 31, 2011

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