Sunday, June 12, 2011
Word 2007: My Weekend Spent Struggling With Microsoft's Annoying "Improvements" to the Program
The early versions of Word were such a great, user-friendly product, but for some reason, the people at Microsoft couldn't leave well enough alone. Word 2007 has a lot of nice features over previous versions of Word. But there are changes in the 2007 version that are so frustrating and useless it makes me want to tear my hair out. It also makes me wonder what computer egg-head sitting in some office someplace thought these changes would be good, something that people who write for a living would like.
My paper contains a number of typed paragraphs with centered headings. To center the headings, I highlight the heading and hit the center button. No problem, right? Not with Word 2007. For some reason, the computer egg heads think that even though you didn't highlight the text above and below the heading, that should automatically be centered too.
Why? If I wanted that text centered, wouldn't I highlight that text too? Why can't the change just be made to the text I highlighted? Doesn't that make sense? I spent about two hours yesterday and today researching the issue on line and trying to get it fixed so just the text I highlight gets changed. This isn't just a problem with centering text, by the way. It is common with Word 2007 that when you highlight text to perform certain formatting tasks like alignment or spacing, the text above and below gets changed even though it's not highlighted.
Then you have the automatic numbering and indention functions. Annoying. The problem is the computer guessing at how you are organizing your material is rarely correct. Thus you're constantly fighting the functions.
Word 2007 has another annoying function. When you do a hard return, such as between paragraphs, it assumes you want double the normal space between the lines. For some reason the computer egg-heads at Microsoft feel that that is the way writing should be organized, single space until you are between paragraphs which should be double spaced, for example. Writing for court though, everything is already double-spaced, so then it is a quadruple space between the paragraphs.
While this too can be addressed as you're going along, you can still end up with a typed document with frustrating extra spaces between lines that the computer added. If you highlight the text to try to fix the spacing, Word 2007 will also change the spacing in the text above and below the highlighted area. Again, why? Why not apply the change to just the text that is highlighted? Doesn't that make sense.
Twelve point type used to be the norm. But in Word 2007, apparently the computer egg-heads thought 11 point would be better and should be the default. Well, at least that's an easy thing to fix.
Virtually everyone I know who uses Word struggles to turn off many of the annoying defaults built into the program, defaults that virtually nobody uses.
When the good folks at Microsoft are considering changes to Word, why not sit down with people who actually use the program to find out what changes are helpful and which ones are annoying? And why not create a big button to make it easy to turn off annoying functions that users don't want?
Fifteen years of using Word and I have to spend hours researching how to turn off the annoying "improvements" they keep adding to the program.
Note: I know a number of people are going to encourage me to quit using Word and the Microsoft Office suite. I don't plan on doing that since that is what I've used very happily for years and it's compatible with everything else I have. I am interested though in advice on turning these "improvements" off in Word 2007, however.