Using multiple DOCX override-files for different documents in a sub-binder


I have been using the “Base document” DOCX file override setting found under Styling>Page. Whilst this works well for single documents, I am struggling to get it working with several different documents in a Binder. I am looking for a way to have different DOCX “Base documents” for different files within a binder.

When opening a Binder, under Binder>Advanced>Properties>[Document]>Custom styling>Page>Settings to override through DOCX; I can set different Base documents per Sub-Document. However, this change does not seem to have any effect.

Am I doing something wrong here? Is there a way to achieve this?

Thanks so much!


Hi Kai,

Unfortunately this is not currently possible.

  • The Base Document feature really stretches what MS Word is capable of in terms of styling, because it is essentially merging style sets of two different documents (the Clause9 document and the Base Document). You can see this if you have a look at the resulting document in MS Word: you will notice that styles are getting renamed as a consequence of this merging.

  • Performing such a merge between multiple Base Documents is theoretically possible, would make the end result even more “dirty”, with potentially hundreds of styles getting created. We therefore strongly hesitate to add it to Clause9.

I don’t know whether this is the case for your scenario, but usually when users are getting into this kind of territory, it is a signal that they are starting to treat Clause9 as a free-form layout engine, similar to MS Word. We know that the hundreds of layout functions in Clause9 can easily give the impression that free-form layouts are a good idea, but you should really try to stay away from this.

MS Word’s layout freedom is its biggest asset (users can change any paragraph anyway they want), but also its biggest enemy, because MS Word gives users so much rope that 90% of legal professionals often “hang” themselves, with inconsistent and badly formatted documents as a result.

Clause9 is instead conceived as a much more structured layout engine that tries to nudge you away from this kind of freeform styling. It wants to you think on a large scale about layout (= automation!), instead of on the small scale (= on a per-document basis), as is the case in MS Word. The upside of this approach is that documents can be generated in large batches, and will automatically get a uniform, clean and structured layout, and even the possibility to dynamically switch layouts for different clients while keeping the legal content identical. The downside is that (compared to the MS Word per-dcoument approach) you should are given significantly less freedom.

In other words, when you are trying to do layout things in Clause9 that seem difficult and undocumented, you are most likely entering into a zone where you should probably ask yourself whether you aren’t creating a layout that is much too attached to the original document. Sure, if you know a lot about Word, you can create multiple layouts within the same documents — but Clause9 is not intended for those scenarios, and you will “work against the software” in multiple ways when you try to achieve it.

We are very aware that lawyers are highly attached to their layouts, but these are moments that you should change your documents to fit the software, instead of trying to fit the software to the documents.

1 Like

Dear Maarten,

thanks for the thorough response! I understand the reasoning here and can see how it can lead to better automation. Having one DOCX-File already helps a lot.

In my case, I think I can solve my issue via clauses, so I will use that. Good to know.