Word (Again)

23 01 2007

What is it about MS Word that makes me want to drown kittens? I don’t know why in God’s great name I can’t get this word processor to work for me. I’ve discussed it with some of the folks over at the Absolute Write message board, and most of them agree that I must be some sort of moron.

It doesn’t matter what automatic thing I track down and shut off, there is always something else Word wants to do for me that I don’t want done. Our latest conflict is over the TAB feature. I have everything set up such that, when I open Word, I am presented with a blank document set up with all the format specifications that I want. I turned off every auto whatsit that I could find. I even learned how (and where) to rid myself of that annoying “Widow/Orphan” control thing. And yet, invariably, somewhere along the line, Word decides to start tabbing for me every time I hit the “enter” key at the end of a paragraph. Since I am used to doing this myself, I wind up with two tabs, and the first sentence of the paragraph is five extra spaces too far right. There is a little marker in the ruler at the top of the screen, and when I drag it back to where it should be, the line of text moves flush to the left margin. Go back down to tab that line back over, and the damn marker resets again. Somebody at AW suggested that I ctrl-a to highlight the entire document, then move the stupid tab marker back where I want it. Problem is, when I hit ctrl-a and highlight the document, the stinking ruler disappears completely, taking that annoying marker with it.

My current project involves a lot of cutting from one file and pasting into another, along with the addition of new material. Half of my quotation marks are “smart quotes,” the other half are all “straight quotes,” and the two mix and mingle like guests at a friggen Star Trek convention. I’ve tried various free word processors that you can download online. Most of them suck, and the rest simply don’t work. It’s an exercise in futility, at any rate, because everything has to be brought back over into Word before I can submit it anyway.

I’ve begun to notice a certain smugness among experienced Word users. There seems to be this underlying assumption that, if I’m a real writer, then it is my job to know how to operate MS Word. I think that’s a load of crap. I think that the publishing industry ought to have as it’s standard a word processor designed for writers, not for business applications. At the very least, Word should come with a big button labeled “all automatic crap OFF,” so that I could just turn on those features that I need, when I need them.

Might save a few kitties.

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3 responses

31 01 2007
Zornhau

LOL. I hate Word, but I also love it. It’s like having an anxious hyperactive granny intruding on your work at random. Being a techwriter by trade, I have to know the tricks.

To switch off the tab thing, you need:

1. Tools> AutoCorrect Options
The AutoCorrect window opens.
2. Select the AutoFormat As You Type tab
3. Deselect “Automatically as you type”/”Set left- and first-indent with tabs and backspaces”
4. Click OK

Hope that helps
Z

5 02 2007
e_journeys

You can also check your paragraph formatting:
Format>Paragraph>Indents and Spacing
Make sure the Indentation before text is 0″.

To get rid of the smart quotes from what you’ve pasted in, you can cut/paste one and then the other in the windows of your Search/Replace menu.

Good luck with it all!

4 03 2007
SK

You guys are great. Thank you for the tips. Sorry I’m so late in reading these comments, I’ve been off on other adventures. Again, thank you.

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