Office 2007 Themes Standardize Document Look, Feel

By David H. Ringstrom, CPA

It can be a significant challenge to ensure that your company's documents have the same look and feel, particularly when you're using Excel, Word, PowerPoint, and Outlook together. Fortunately Office 2007's Themes feature can simplify the process.
Office 2007 ships with twenty built-in themes that you can readily apply, or you can download dozens more for free from the Microsoft Web site. You can even create your own themes that use the exact colors of your company logo or other design elements. I'll briefly explore each of these options in this article.
First, let's see how to access themes in Excel 2007. As shown in Figure 1, choose Page Layout, and then click the Themes button to display a list of choices.
Figure 1: Office 2007 ships with 20 pre-built themes that you can apply to your documents.
To apply a theme, simply click on the name, or hover over a theme to see how the fonts, borders, and colors within your document will change. As shown in Figure 1, you can access more themes through the More Themes on Microsoft Office Online command. This command takes you to the Microsoft Web site, where you can browse dozens more themes that you can download to your computer at no charge.
You also can create new theme elements on your own. As shown in Figure 2, click the Colors button in the Themes section of Excel 2007, and then choose New Theme Colors. The dialog box shown in Figure 3 will appear, from which you can assign colors that suit your needs.
Figure 2: You can choose from existing color sets, or create a new set.
Figure 3: You can create your own set of theme colors in Office 2007.
The Fonts button in the Themes section allows you to manage fonts, while the Effects button allows you to choose from prebuilt text effects.
Theme functionality in Word 2007 closely mirrors that of Excel 2007, with one caveat. Excel 2007 allows you to apply themes to any sort of document that you have open in Excel, including Excel 97-2003 documents. Curiously, Word disables the Theme option when you save your document in the Word 97-2003 format. Also, Outlook 2007 offers limited support for themes, as you must use Word 2007 as your e-mail editor to apply themes to your e-mail.
As you might expect, themes work a little differently in PowerPoint. You access themes through the Design tab of the PowerPoint ribbon, but all other functionality works the same. If you create a theme in Excel, Word, or PowerPoint that you want to use in one of the other applications, simply choose Save Current Theme, as shown in Figure 4.
Figure 4: Themes saved in one Office 2007 application can be opened in others.
To open a saved theme, choose Browse for Themes from the Theme menu, as shown in Figure 4. Your theme will appear in a new Custom theme section.
If you need even more control with regard to customizing themes, try the free Theme Builder for Office 2007. Although the application is still in beta, it provides granular control over themes that goes far beyond what you can do in Word, Excel, or PowerPoint.
Visit the Theme Builder Home page to get the free download. Before you click the Download link on the left-hand side of the page, do note that you must first install two components:
Keep in mind that the Theme Builder requires you to make numerous decisions that you might not be prepared for, so make sure that you really want a deep level of control over your themes before you download and install the software. For most users, simple color and font changes through the Office 2007 applications likely will suffice.
Read more articles by David Ringstrom. 
About the author:

David H. Ringstrom, CPA heads up Accounting Advisors, Inc., an Atlanta-based software and database consulting firm providing training and consulting services nationwide. Contact David at or follow him on Twitter. David speaks at conferences about Microsoft Excel, and presents webcasts for several CPE providers, including AccountingWEB partner CPE Link.


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