Sunday, June 12, 2011

Word 2007: My Weekend Spent Struggling With Microsoft's Annoying "Improvements" to the Program

I spent much of this weekend writing a lengthy brief I produced using Word 2007.  I've used Word for probably close to 15 years, even when most attorneys, who are slow to change, were stubbornly using WordPerfect. 

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.


Downtown Indy said...

Some random comments:

1. You JUST got Word 2007?

2. Line breaks are shift+enter, different from pressing enter which is a paragraph break.

3. Paragraph break spacing is different from line break spacing.

4. I don't think you have to select a line to center it, which may prevent other lines from being centered too.

5. Turning hidden characters on (the 'backwards P' toolbar button) makes it somewhat clearer what the F Word is doing as you see paragraph and other markers which puts into documents.
6. I switched to Open Office some time ago and find it much friendlier, in addition to not costing anything.

7. Wait till you get Word 7 and go looking for the 'Save' and 'Save As' menu items. They are well hidden.

Paul K. Ogden said...

1. No have had Word 2007 for awhile both on home and work computer. I reinstalled it recently on my home office which is where I'm struggling trying to turn off the annoying functions that I turned off previously.

2. I know that. Still a needless change by Word that most people find annoying.

3. Ditto.

4. Not sure what you mean. If I want to center a single line in a document, I have to highlight it...or I guess I can do the whole document, but that's not what I want. I don't know why the geniuses at Word thinks that even though you're not highlighting text for a change, you want to make a change to that text too.

5. Not tried this.

6. Might be something to consider. I'm all about free.

7. Great, I have that to look forward too. Why would they hide the "Save" and "Save As" menu items? Idiots.


Basically the biggest problem is that it doesn't just change what I highlight. I read up on how to change things and one of the things I saw was that you had to create a macro or somethign. I actually followed the instructions and no change.

I know what is happening. Because I don't want extra space between my paragraphs, (This is not the norm Word people!)it considers a heading below a paragraph, part of the paragraph above. Therefore, I highlight the heading, it changes everything above because the Microsoft Gods assume that's what I want to do.

Finally, I did something on my own. I created a templete that wouldn't automatically add the extra space between the paragraphs. That wiped out the problem of it changing stuff in the paragraph above when I highlight a heading below to change it. Keeping my fingers crossed.

Cato said...

Please. MacWrite, 1992, was and is easier and faster than Word 2007. Ditto all the other Apple-house processors.

It's always funny to listen to the saps who slogged through the 90's with Word or Word Perfect, while the Mac folks were much faster and more productive, and having a happier time of it.

Office 2003 improved things greatly.

"If I had a Mac, I'd be done by now" was said a million times in the 90's.