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Working with Building Blocks

Earlier versions of Word had a feature called AutoText that stored and retrieved snippets of text. Word 2007 has greatly expanded this capability into a new feature called building blocks. Building blocks are stored snippets that can contain formatted text, graphics, and other objects. They can be inserted into any document at any time.

Building blocks are categorized by their function and are organized in galleries. The gallery in which a building block is stored is a matter of preference, but different galleries do show up in different places in the program. For example, if you place a building block in the Quick Parts category, it will appear on the Quick Parts drop-down list on the Insert tab.

Building blocks are stored in templates. To make a block accessible to all new documents based on Normal.dotm, you can store it in that template. Alternatively, you can store a building block in a template called Building Blocks.dotx, designed specifically for holding them. The Building Blocks.dotx template is always available, no matter what template is applied to the body of the document.

Creating a Building Block

A building block can contain text (formatted or unformatted), graphics, objects such as text frames, diagrams, or WordArt, and more. Anything you create in Word can be saved in a building block.

To create a building block, first create the content and then do the following:

  1. Select all the content that should be included in the document part.
  2. On the Insert tab, choose Quick Parts, Save Selection to Quick Part Gallery. The Create New Building Block dialog box opens (see Figure 3.24).
    Figure 3.24

    Figure 3.24 Create a new building block and specify which gallery it belongs to.

  3. In the Name box, change the default name if desired. This name will appear on lists of building blocks. By default, the name is the first few words of the text.
  4. Change the Gallery setting if desired.

    By default, the Gallery is set to Quick Parts. Items placed in this gallery will be accessible via the Quick Parts menu, so they'll be very convenient. However, if you add too many items to the Quick Parts gallery, it might become unwieldy to work with the list. Various galleries are used for features you will learn about in other chapters throughout the books, including headers and footers, page numbers, and cover pages.

  5. (Optional) Assign a category to the item. You can stick with the default General category or choose Create New Category to build your own system of categories.
  6. Type a description of the building block in the Description box if desired.
  7. Change the Save In setting if desired. The default is Building Blocks.dotx.
  8. Select the desired insertion method from the Options list:
    • Insert content only—Places the item at the insertion point.
    • Insert content in its own paragraph—Places the item in a separate paragraph.
    • Insert content in its own page—Places the item on a new page.
  9. Click OK to create the new building block entry.

The new building block will now be available for insertion, as explained in the next section.

Inserting a Building Block

A building block's insertion method depends on the gallery in which you placed it when you created it. If you chose to place it in the Quick Parts gallery, it appears on the Quick Parts list (see Figure 3.25).

Figure 3.25

Figure 3.25 Building blocks appear on different menus depending on the gallery in which they were placed.

If the desired building block does not appear in either location, you can select it from the Building Blocks Organizer, as follows:

  1. From the Insert tab, click Quick Parts and then click Building Blocks Organizer. The Building Blocks Organizer dialog box appears.
  2. Click an item to preview it (see Figure 3.26).
    Figure 3.26

    Figure 3.26 Insert an item from the Building Blocks Organizer.

  3. When you find the item you want to insert, click Insert.

Deleting Building Blocks

You can delete any building blocks, both those that you have created yourself and those stored in the Building Blocks.dotx template that comes with Word. To delete a building block, follow these steps:

  1. From the Insert tab, choose Quick Parts, Building Blocks Organizer. The Building Blocks Organizer dialog box appears.
  2. Click the item to delete.
  3. Click the Delete button.
  4. When you are finished deleting blocks, click Close.

Changing a Building Block's Properties

All of a building block's properties are editable, including its gallery, its template location, and so on. Follow these steps to edit building block properties:

  1. From the Insert tab, choose Quick Parts, Building Blocks Organizer. The Building Blocks Organizer dialog box appears.
  2. Click the item and then click Edit Properties. The Modify Building Block dialog box opens. It is much the same as the dialog box you used to create the building block initially (refer to Figure 3.24).
  3. Make any changes as needed, and then click OK.
  4. A confirmation box appears; click Yes.
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