Why, Microsoft, is Normal not Normal?


I teach Microsoft Word every day, and no question comes up more since the release of Office 2007 than, “Why is the Normal style double spaced?”  The change in the Normal style appears to be sticking around as Word 2010 uses this style as it’s default, as well.  So why did Microsoft make this change that makes it difficult to use our old label templates and to create basic lists without bullets?  More importantly, is there a way to revert back to the old style and claim it as “Normal?”

At first I had thought the the style change was due to Microsoft’s bent to move to universal, web formatted document styles.  This does not seem to be the case, though.  For some proof, here’s a quote from the Microsoft Office site.

Microsoft Office Word 2007 introduces a newly designed default template for creating documents.

The new template uses fonts that were designed with readability in mind. According to a blog that was active during Word 2007 development, “the new fonts used in Word are based on the ClearType technology that provides a crisper, more easily read display of the fonts on most modern monitors.” Calibri is the new default font for body text, and “to complement the look of Calibri, Cambria was selected for use in headings.”

The default template for creating new documents in Word 2007 also uses “looser” line spacing and introduces extra space between paragraphs. The looser line spacing is actually only 15 percent greater than single spacing (it is not double spacing, or even 1.5 line spacing). Its purpose is to introduce more white space in blocks of text, which makes the text easier to read.

Because many Word users press ENTER twice after every paragraph, the Word 2007 default settings build in that extra space. Customers need to press ENTER only one time to add space between paragraphs.

Really, Microsoft?  On days where I’ve had to spend time selecting text and choosing,
“No Spacing”, only to have to go back and reformat again certainly has saved lots of time since I no longer have to double space between paragraphs.  Actually, if i’d thought ahead and selected the “Word 2003” style, I’d have saved myself a lot of trouble.  But nonetheless, I’ve met nobody who’s said that they were glad this change was made because their documents weren’t readable nor especially because they were tired of hitting the Enter key twice after each paragraph.  Further, it may not be more than 15 percent but it sure looks like a lot more to me.  With the choice of 11 point Calibri font instead of something larger, as used to be the case, the gaps between lines and paragraphs appear even bigger.

There is an easy way in Office 2007 and 2010 to choose to use the Word 2003 style as the default style.

  1. Open a new document in Microsoft Word 2007 or Word 2010.
  2. From the Home tab, select Change Styles.  You can use key commands to do this; Alt, H, G, Y.
  3. Select Office 2003 from the list.  You can use the mouse to click on it or use the up and down arrow keys to scroll to it and press Enter to choose it.
  4. Now, go back to the Change Styles control and choose “Set as Default” to set this as your default style.  Alt, H, G, S.
  5. Enjoy!  Remember, switching back to the Office 2007 or Office 2010 format, is just as easily accomplished.
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