Creating and Keeping Stationery

Written and published April 2, 1999

Last week responses to the issue of Eudora poured in. Look for those answers in a supplementary column very soon. Meanwhile, this column addresses this week's main topic: AppleWorks (ClarisWorks) templates and those of other programs that use templates/stationery. However, since all of you might not know what stationery is or what it can do for you, before I just talk about where and how to file and backup stationery, I feel I should talk a bit about what it is. Therefore, in order to do justice to the topic, I am breaking it into parts. So this is part one...

Intro to Stationery/Templates

In case you're wondering, the terms template and stationery are interchangeable. (Apple says Stationery, Microsoft says template.) Stationery is a fabulous time-saver. It allows you to format a document and add any text that may be redundant, then never have to go through all that formatting again for that document. After you save that document as stationery, you get to open a fresh copy of it each time. To put stationery in perspective, look at printed letterhead, which not just coincidentally, is commonly known (in English speaking countries) as "stationery." A printer prints a ream of stationery for you. Each piece contains certain "boilerplate" information - info that is redundant. To write a letter, you start with a piece of that stationery so each letter contains your name and address. The Mac's stationery is similar - but much more powerful. Imagine if the letterhead you get from your printer could include text such as "sincerely yours" or "Dear" or "Thank you for your interest in such and such," then move down on the paper as you add supplementary text. Or if your printer could print all the text you might need to use and you could delete it from the paper for the letters in which you don't need that text. With the Mac's stationery you can do all that because the content of a computer document in fluid. Remember on the typewriter when you had to set the margins to fit the stationery you were using? With Mac stationery you don't have to because the margins are set within the document and therefore saved when the document is saved as stationery. When you open a normal document it appears with its name in the Titlebar and when you save changes to the document you physically change that document. With a document that is stationery, when you open it, the name in the Titlebar is "untitled." Each time you open a stationery document, you are opening a whole new document - only it can already contain things such as margins, headers, footers, page numbering, redundant text, even styles. The Mac is sort of doing an invisible Save As each time you open your Mac stationery. It is opening a copy of the document you pre-formatted. You can add to that document, delete text or alter it. When you save it, you are asked to name it since it's really a new document. You are not in danger of altering the original from which you made the stationery or ruining your stationery.

Uses for Stationery

So you can see that stationery can take a lot of redundancy out of your work. At the very least you'll want letterhead and perhaps an envelope template. (I have business and personal versions of both.) I also have an invoice template - one for each customer. And then there are my business card templates, my greeting card stationery, and well... you'll find your own needs...

Next Week

Unfortunately I have to leave you here. Next week I'll talk about how to actually create stationery.

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