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Old 09-16-2021, 05:40 PM
Peterson Peterson is offline What are best practices for changing a document's template? Windows 10 What are best practices for changing a document's template? Office 2019
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Advice I once got was, never attach a new template to an existing file. Always create a file based on the template, grab all content but the last paragraph mark from the old file, and paste into the new one.



I'm helping a colleague roll out a template to hundreds of users, and she doesn't see the need to do what I describe above.

I understand that the last paragraph contains an unseen section break containing commonly corruptible elements -- hence the reason for skipping it -- and I'm under the impression that this section break undergoes a sort of entropy over time, collecting "garbage," such that, Bad Things will eventually occur.

Two questions:
  1. Is my paste-all-but-the-last-pilcrow-into-a-new-file method needlessly cautious, or a sound approach, in fact, a best practice?
  2. Does the last pilcrow contain information about styles, or is it limited to other, unrelated document attributes?
My biggest concern is, if my approach is sound but not adopted, we're going to end up with a lot of corrupt files, as the template and the old docs both have complex list numbering, and many of the files have been recycled many times over the years.
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Old 09-16-2021, 07:57 PM
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Guessed Guessed is offline What are best practices for changing a document's template? Windows 10 What are best practices for changing a document's template? Office 2016
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I don't agree with the first piece of advice - I attach different templates to existing documents all the time. Depending on what documents contain (eg embedded metadata & custom XML), pasting content into a new document can leave behind vital components which might be required.

Yes, it is an age-old method of removing corruption to a document by copying all apart from the final return to a new document. However in my experience this doesn't actually do a great deal anyway. I think perhaps it used to work with particular types of document corruption but over the past 20 years, I have only seen truly corrupted documents a handful of times and in all of those cases the corruption was located elsewhere in a particular paragraph or in xml tags associated with equations.

The last pilcrow contains information about the page setup and header/footer for the final section in the document (and the final paragraph style and list format). As far as I know, it contains nothing else of note. So if the corruption appears to be in the page setup of the last section I would probably use this method as a solution.

There are have been other threads here in the last few days talking about corruption of lists caused by Sharepoint multi-authoring and/or editing via the browser. I would say those are more pressing issues than worrying about accumulation of garbage in documents.

20 years ago we used to see issues with proliferating list templates in documents (refer to this thread for instance (Topic: Document Corruption @ AskWoody). I believe this issue doesn't persist as MS seem to have corrected the copy/paste of legacy list templates somewhere along the way.

So in short, I agree with your colleague - update the template and apply it to your existing documents. Actually, I would recommend you amend the existing template or rename the new template to the same name as the old template and that means the old documents get access to the new template without the user needing to do anything to 'attach' it again.
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Old 09-17-2021, 06:34 AM
Peterson Peterson is offline What are best practices for changing a document's template? Windows 10 What are best practices for changing a document's template? Office 2019
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Thanks for the detailed response, Andrew -- I appreciate it.



Thanks, too, for the heads-up on SharePoint -- our organization is gearing up for moving our entire server-based system to SharePoint...
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Old 09-22-2021, 10:34 AM
Charles Kenyon Charles Kenyon is offline What are best practices for changing a document's template? Windows 10 What are best practices for changing a document's template? Office 2019
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See also: What is the relationship between a Microsoft Word document and its template? and What happens when I attach a new template to my document? or How do I copy content and settings from a template to a document? by Shauna Kelly MVP.

Following your first mentioned procedure of a new document gives the new document the content and structure from the template (page size/orientation/margins/background/styles). Attaching a template can give you the styles and access to macros/QAT mods/building blocks but not to the underlying structure or content.
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Old 09-25-2021, 12:53 AM
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Stefan Blom Stefan Blom is offline What are best practices for changing a document's template? Windows 10 What are best practices for changing a document's template? Office 2019
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Whether it is a good idea to attach a template depends on what you are trying to accomplish. Attaching the template ensures that the document gets access to keyboard shortcuts, building blocks and macros that are stored in the template. You can use the "Automatically update document styles" to update the styles (and their formatting) in the document.

However, if you want a document to adjust to the layout and content of a different template, creating a new document based the template and importing the existing content would be a better idea.
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