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April 13, 2012

Death to Word

aaclippy.jpg

Microsoft Word is cumbersome, inefficient, and obsolete. It’s time for it to die.
Around the first time Clippy launched himself, uninvited, between me and something I was trying to write, I found myself wishing Word had a simple, built-in button for "cut it out and never again do that thing you just did." It's possible that the current version of Word does have one; I have no idea where.

Posted by gerardvanderleun at April 13, 2012 6:52 PM. This is an entry on the sideblog of American Digest: Check it out.

Your Say

"It's possible that the current version of Word does have one; I have no idea where."

If automobiles were built by Microsoft (or many other software vendors) you would have to take a multi-week training course every time you bought a new car. (One model would have a steering wheel. The next would have a tiller. Then a joystick. Then....)

Posted by: pst314 at April 13, 2012 11:16 AM

Its grammar checking is a bad joke, too.

Posted by: Fletcher Christian at April 13, 2012 11:46 AM

OpenOffice.org a free MS Works alternative. It opens, reads, and saves in all common file formats.

Posted by: Scott M at April 13, 2012 12:21 PM

My son turned down a job at MS years ago. They had flown him out there, dated him for three days and he basically said, it's not me, it's you: MSWorks is obstructive, obtuse, and continually wants to do things you don't want it to do. It's unteachable.

Ah, youth.

Posted by: Joan Of Argghh at April 13, 2012 12:34 PM

I always shudder when the company "upgrades" its software, to include MSWord. Who uses those fancy "features" anyway, those that obscure the simple ones that I actually need, like "save" and "print"? I shouldn't have to scroll through half a dozen toolbars to find the functions I'm looking for.

Posted by: waltj at April 13, 2012 12:43 PM

The last time I saw Clippy, many moons ago, I was writing some programming documentation. I typed in something like

void* some_function(


and that little sumbitch popped up saying "It looks like you are writing a letter. Yeah, I'm writing a letter: Dear Mr. Void Star,...

Posted by: SteveS at April 13, 2012 1:30 PM

Clippy can be uninstalled, but you need the program disc.

I have used MS Word 97 for 15 years now, and I still hate it, but I refuse to spend money on it. My daughter, who is corporate, has to use Word 2010, and she says it is worse than Word 97.

I have used Open Office (LibreOffice is much the same having forked off after Oracle bought Sun). I has quite a bit of clunk also, and I found that there were some things I could do in Word, that I could not do in OO. But, the price is right. YMMV

Don't forget that Google Docs allows you to use your browser to access its free web based word processor.

Posted by: Fat Man at April 13, 2012 2:31 PM

Scott M, Don't mention Open Office ... people might start using Linux if they like the open format where things work. Let them use Microsoft products.

Posted by: Flep at April 13, 2012 2:54 PM

I hate Word with every fiber of my being. I ditched Word in 1997 and took up Wordperfect and have never looked back. Alas, the current version of WP, X5, is likely to be the last. But oh, how infintiely superior it is to Word.

I am forced to use Word in the work for documnts sent to external offices, agencciesm, and for a few intra-office files. But I do all my own work on WP X5.

Unfortunately, Corel, which makes WP, seems never to have heard of the Cloud, and that's why I can see my WP days are numbered.

Posted by: Donald Sensing at April 13, 2012 2:57 PM

Word is fine for simple text inputting. I wrote my last book in Word, for example, and let the publisher worry about margins and kerning.


When I'm doing the layout as well as the writing, I bang out the copy in Word (or, more frequently, in Notepad), then cut and paste it into an InDesign doc for formatting, pagination, etc. Works for me.


Caveat: ID can have a steepish learning curve for non-designy types. My solution may not be optimal for everyone.

Posted by: B Lewis at April 13, 2012 4:05 PM

I work in a printing shop and Word is the bane of my existence.

It's probably fine for letters and flyers to be printed out on office printers, but commercial printing has requirements that Word was never designed to handle. Word can't generate spot color separations, for example.

But worse than that is its habit of flowing text differently when opened on different computers which may have different versions of the fonts used in the document. And editing the text is a nightmare. Often, changing one thing will cause other changes elsewhere in the document, in a cascade effect.

I try to avoid using Word as much as possible. When somebody gives me a Word file, usually the first thing I do is make a PDF and send it to them, saying, "Is this what you want?" Then I work exclusively with the PDF. I'll open it in Photoshop and manually create the color separations. I even find it a lot safer to do minor text edits in Photoshop, even though Photoshop isn't really designed for text editing.

Posted by: rickl at April 13, 2012 4:17 PM

Yes, B Lewis, Adobe InDesign is the shizzle.

I know, many people swear by QuarkXpress, but I never liked it. I was a PageMaker fanboi back in the day. I even resisted upgrading to InDesign for the longest time, then when I did, I kicked myself for not doing it sooner.

Laying out flyers, brochures, and booklets is soooo much easier in InDesign, and Quark too for that matter. I would go stark raving crazy if I tried to do that in Word.

Posted by: rickl at April 13, 2012 4:25 PM

Come to think of it, Clippy is probably my favorite thing about Word.

Posted by: rickl at April 13, 2012 4:47 PM

For some reason I have not run into Clippy for years. Maybe because he seems to be disabled by default on the version of Word that I run on my Macbook, and I don't have much call to use Word on my Windoze machine. I don't mind Word too much for the simple things I need to do with it. But more often I can do just fine with a plain old text editor, like TextEdit, or if I'm on Windoze, NotePad. And I absolutely hate it when I am given a Word document by some website for a form (which dialect of Word will it be today?). Given my field, for professional documents I mainly use a Latex system.

Posted by: Grizzly at April 13, 2012 7:04 PM

If you are facile with Photoshop, you can set type fast, taking care of kerning and crashing descenders align and justify as needed.
I work with Photoshop constantly as a photographer and designer. A full suite of Photoshop does help.

Posted by: Peccable at April 14, 2012 5:11 AM

Thanks to all for the reinforcement. I have always cursed Word, but figured it was just me - unenlightened, technology-challenged old curmudgeon that I am. It's a relief to learn that I'm normal. At least in this area.

Posted by: Jimmy J. at April 14, 2012 8:10 PM

I run a Mac and don't use any Microsoft software, but I used to have to deal with the clunky MS Word when I was still working. Talk about using a battleship's sixteen-inch gun to shoot a truck....

Posted by: pfsm at April 15, 2012 5:48 PM

I dread those times when our programs at work get updated. For some reason - probably a hatred of all humanity - the engineers/designers have to move every function around, rearrange controls, hide things. It takes a couple of weeks before all of the new hiding places are found.

Posted by: Mikey NTH at April 16, 2012 7:06 AM

Pity Photoshop is so expensive, I used to use it until our house fire, after that I could never justify the cost of buying the full Photoshop. The almost annual upgrade prices were bad enough, but $700 bucks was too much.

Of course it settled in my mind the whole,"what you buy is a license", question. I contacted Adobe and explained I had a license number for my copy of Photoshop, but the disks (and PC it was installed on) were destroyed. So would they please send me a new set of CD/DVD's to go with my license. Hello? Hello?

So I spend more time taking pictures and less time tweaking them.

Posted by: John the River at April 16, 2012 10:13 AM

For those of us who have the background to use it intelligently, Microsoft Word is an incredible program. I can adjust positioning of an inserted object created by a non-Microsoft program to within a gnat's asshair of where I want it. I can create document templates of government forms that are indistinguishable from the originals - except they can be filled in by typing. I learned early on how to use the programming aspects to create macros to automate documents and ease tasks. Not exactly basic user stuff, but for those of us who had to learn or do it the hard way, it's a powerful tool.

I use it at home, too. My 6-year-old granddaughter is already typing letters, etc., and even customizing documents she creates by inserting clip art, etc.

So, for some of us, Word is still the BEST thing out there...

Posted by: Wordsmith Paul at April 19, 2012 10:04 AM

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