Fuss-free default footers for Word?
January 18, 2006 10:52 PM   Subscribe

How can I set up a totally fuss-free default footer in Word? I want to add a default footer to Normal.dot, so that if users doesn't specify their own footer they get mine, and people who get printed copies of their documents know where to go to find the originals.

I want the default footer contents to be

{pathname} {Printed on (date)} {Page x of n}

with as much space as necessary inserted between the three fields to make the footer begin at the left margin and end at the right.

I know how to use Auto Text to insert the information I want into the footer, and I know how to stuff it all back into Normal.dot. What I'd like to know is how to make the three footer fields space themselves out nicely.

Most of my users are footer-illiterate, so I don't want them to need to fiddle with tab settings in the footer if they change the margins in Page Setup or save a file with an unusually long pathname.

I also don't want them warned about macros every time they open a document.

At the moment, my best effort consists of the three fields I want, with twenty spaces between the fields, a forced line break at the end, and full justification turned on. This works pretty well most of the time, but if the pathname is short then all the intra-field spaces get stretched more than I'd like, especially if the pathname itself contains spaces; and if the pathname is very long, it b0rks quite spectacularly.

Instead of my run of twenty spaces, what I'd like is a "weak" space that Word will stretch as needed, treating all the normal spaces in the line as if they were en spaces. Can this be done?
posted by flabdablet to Computers & Internet (11 answers total)

Response by poster: blarg! s/users doesn't/users don't/
posted by flabdablet at 10:54 PM on January 18, 2006

Instead of my run of twenty spaces, what I'd like is a "weak" space that Word will stretch as needed, treating all the normal spaces in the line as if they were en spaces. Can this be done?

Not without a macro, and the enduser would still need to run the macro.

My suggestion would be to place the pathname on a second line in the footer; that way, you don't need to worry at all about it interfering with the other two fields.
posted by solid-one-love at 11:23 PM on January 18, 2006

Could you put it into an auto-fit table?
posted by yt at 12:05 AM on January 19, 2006

I would just set the text justifed, put tabs between them, and set the tab stops on the ruler.
posted by camcgee at 12:33 AM on January 19, 2006

Response by poster: I don't like the look of the two-line footer much. Good thought, though.

I messed about with tables for a while, but couldn't find a way to do more than two of (a) force the whole table to auto-occupy all the space between the margins (b) make the table cells resize to accomodate a variable sized pathname (c) make the text inside the table cells look normal i.e. not hideously stretched to fit the cell size.

I'm sticking with 20-space field separators at this point. I improved things a bit by using en spaces inside my date and page number fields, but short pathnames with embedded spaces still look a little weird. I'm not so fussed by the spectacular b0rkage on long pathnames, as I'm using an unobtrusive 8 point font and have yet to find a document at this site with a pathname long enough to screw things up.
posted by flabdablet at 12:37 AM on January 19, 2006

Response by poster: camcgee: that was my first approach too. Unfortunately, if you change the margins in Page Setup, tabs stay in the same places relative to the left margin; the required right-tab on the right hand side doesn't move with the margin.

Also, I'd rather that the date field automagically sat itself halfway between the pathname and page fields, rather than living at a fixed position on the line. Call me anal if you will, but the footer really is (a) unobtrusive (b) readable when done that way.

What I'm trying to do is make all those documents that pile up in binders around here traceable to source, dated and page numbered by default. The reason they're not like that already is because very few of the staff here have the time or inclination to pay attention to details like that.

The last thing they need is a sysadmin telling them they have to fiddle with the @#$%ing tabs in the @$%#ing footer to make their documents look non-ugly, and that's assuming they know what a tab or a footer is in the first place - many don't; you wouldn't credit the number of document authors around here whose only formatting tools are the space bar and the Enter key.
posted by flabdablet at 12:56 AM on January 19, 2006

I seem to remember that you can use a "Centre-tabstop" in your documents, around which your text will always centre. I found
this link very quickly.. so it might not be much use, but it does describe it.

Left side, left justified
Centre tab stop, centre text.
Right side, right justified.

That should work I'd think.
posted by snarkle at 1:15 AM on January 19, 2006

Yeah, snarkle's idea is the way to go, I think. I just got it working in Word 2003, with the following steps:
  1. In an empty paragraph, type "one[tab]two[tab]three"
  2. Format -> Paragraph
  3. Hit the Tabs... button at the bottom of the dialog
  4. In the Tab stop position field, type 3" (or something roughly in the middle), select Center alignment, and hit the Set button
  5. In the Tab stop position field, type 6.5" (or wherever your right margin is), select Right alignment, and hit the Set button
  6. Hit OK
You should now see "one" at the left margin, "two" centered around the first tab stop, and "three" right-justified. If the pathname is so long it passes the first (centered) tab stop, though, things will get messy. You might try just having a single right-justified tab stop, and separating the date and page number by 10-or-so spaces instead of a tab.
posted by The Tensor at 1:33 AM on January 19, 2006

Best answer: flabdablet: I just tried the table thing, to test it against your requirements. I think it works.

Insert the table, and set it to auto-fit to contents. Put in your fields, and then, in Table properties, set the preferred width of the table to 100%. And probably centre-align the middle cell, and right align the right-most.

This way, the text looks normal, the path will wrap down in it's cell, the margins / page size can be changed, and it doesn't require macros eetc.
posted by yt at 1:54 AM on January 19, 2006

Response by poster: yt: that's beautiful. That's exactly what I wanted. I'd missed the fact that Preferred Width could be a percentage.

And here I was all set to post my latest ugly hack (use 100 spaces instead of 20 and set them to 1 point font size) and declare myself the best answerer of my own question.

I love AxMe!
posted by flabdablet at 3:11 AM on January 19, 2006

Response by poster: Snarkle, Tensor: see my earlier reply to camcgee.
posted by flabdablet at 3:14 AM on January 19, 2006

« Older Trying to figure out what to do with pine forest...   |   What is the best pool cue I can get for under 100... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.