Creating and Keeping Stationery II

Written and published April 7, 1999

Creating Stationery

There are basically two ways to create stationery: in the Finder or from within an application if the program provides the feature. Either way, before you create stationery, create a regular document, set it up fully including all the text, styles, even macros you want it to have. Continue to do regular saves as you create it. Finally place the cursor where you want it to be upon opening. Now you're ready to turn that document into stationery. Years ago, I think with the intro of System 7, Apple introduced the ability to turn a document into a Stationery Pad. Just click once on the closed document to select it, choose File->Get Info, click the box next to "Stationery Pad," then close the Get Info window. Watch closely and you can see the document disappear, then reappear with the stationery icon - a pad instead of a single page. These documents can be located anywhere on your Mac or removable drives. (This method works well for programs such as Photoshop, which don't provide an option to save as stationery.) Several applications provide their own interfaces for stationery creation. When you use these interfaces sometimes the actual document you have set up remains intact and a Save As is done to create the stationery. Don't let this confuse you: you can actually have two similar documents - one that's the model and the other that is the stationery. Let's look at AppleWorks (formerly ClarisWorks) as one example of an application creating stationery. In its save dialog box, you click a radio button called Stationery. (See Saving AppleWorks As Stationery screenshot.) When you do, the folder to be saved into jumps to one called "AppleWorks Stationery" which resides in the AppleWorks folder. (In older versions of ClarisWorks it may have saved into the Claris folder in the System folder.) If you allow the stationery to be saved there, you can further use the AppleWorks interface, shown here in a screenshot, to select this stationery for use later. However... if you save your stationery there, then don't back up your Applications folder later, you may lose your stationery. In Word 98 when you choose Save as File Type "Document Template" from the pop-up menu (see screenshot), Word's templates want to land in a folder called Templates in the Office 98 folder. (In this case creating its own custom icon for those templates). This poses the same back up issue as AppleWorks. Word 98 and the other Office 98 apps offer an alternative to physically turning a document into a stationery template: any regular document in the Templates folder (within the Office 98 folder) is automatically opens as a new document (like stationery) when opened via the New Document interface. In the demo screen shot, notice the MacCentral Template file has a regular document icon. Yet, it will open as stationery - an unnamed document yet to be saved. However... any document that resides within an application's folder still presents the same problem. Other programs that help you create stationery and open it also provide the same dilemma.

Alternatives to Stationery - not necessarily recommended

Rather than create stationery, some people prefer to find and open an already existing document that contains the text or formatting they wish to start with. Then they do a Save As to create a copy and. work from there. I absolutely do not advocate that - for a few reasons. The time will come when something distracts you and you'll forget to do the Save As, doing a save by reflex. (Save should be a reflex.) On that day you will lose the original document, as you knew it. (If you have a back up you can go seek it out and copy it back, but that's not efficient. Granted if you are just working based upon a document one or two times, it's not efficient to create stationery. In that case, instead of gambling with Save As, do yourself a favor and work off an actual duplicate. To do so, simply select the base document in the Finder, then choose File->Duplicate. Open that copy and work from that. Your original remains safe from accidental change. Another reason not to base a new document on an old one without making stationery is styles. Lets say you have one document in which you used styles that work, but not very well. In a later document you refine the styles. But when you go to open a model document to do the Save As from, you open the older one. There you are with all your new text, but the styles are wrong. Now you've got fixing to do and that's not efficient. That's not a problem, you tell me, because you're always careful to start with the correct document. (Isn't it just as easy to copy that document once, delete the text you won't be using again, then do the Save As choosing Stationery or Template and having a proper template to work from. Not doing word-processing? Styles apply to graphics too. What about words? Perhaps you are using a base document to reuse words. But somewhere along the line you refined the words. So which documents have the preferred words? There are all types of time-savers in each application - all of which you can apply my example fooh-pa too.

Next Week

So that's where I'll leave you this week - with the power of stationery and the dilemma of where to store it for back up. Maybe you can wait until next week to actually begin making stationery? Or, create to your heart's content and let it save where the application wants you to, but make a note of what you name the stationery so you can find it next week.

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