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Top Ten Tips for Editing With Microsoft Word
University of Victoria, B.C. - October 2, 2004

A workshop by Derek K. Miller for the Professional Editors' Association of Vancouver Island (PEAVI)

NOTE: Information from my May 2004 Microsoft Word workshop in Vancouver, including many links to outside resources, is available on its own archive page.

Thanks to everyone who came to this workshop on 2 October 2004. We talked lots about various versions of Word, mostly focused on Word 2000, 2001, XP, 2003, and 2004, for both Windows and Mac. We even discussed the ancient Word 5.1 for Mac and 2.0 for Windows a bit.

I'll be running another, similar workshop (possibly a day-long version) sometime in spring 2005 in Vancouver. Keep an eye on penmachine.com/word and my home page journal for updates.

Latest links and resources

Why is Word such a pain sometimes?

Here are five reasons:

  1. "There is no word processor, including Word, that's perfectly suitable for professional writers [since they] represent only a small portion of the overall market for word processors. The majority of people who use Word have a primary job function that includes having to do some writing, yet where writing isn't the core of their work. The needs of most Word users aren't the same as the needs of professional writers."

Rick Schaut, who's worked for Microsoft on Word for Mac since 1990

  1. "We hired interns this past summer who were younger than Word's code base."

– Schaut again

  1. Word 2004's plethora of toolbars (115 KB image). Might the program be a tad too complicated?
  1. Ode to Word: "Even though you,/Oh mighty Word,/Are licensed to William Smith/I do not mean to type William Smith/Every time I type 'will'."

Rebecca Smith, Word user

  1. "It's kind of weird but everything that's happened in Office since about 1995 has been more or less user interface churn. Oh, let's put in the paper clip! Let's take out the paper clip! Or slightly redoing the toolbars, and then you have to do it for every single product. There's all this flotsam that's not the actual core functionality of the product but just crap on top of it. It's good crap, but once you get to 100 percent crap..."

Joel Spolsky, programming guru and former Excel program manager

The top ten tips

Here's what I'm planning to cover on Saturday:

  1. Understand that every Word document has a Normal soul, and is also a six-layer cake.
  2. Turn off the crap. (But turn on the goodies.)
  3. Sections, paragraphs, and characters are Word's favourite things.
  4. Learn to love styles.
  5. Create tables of contents.
  6. Use bookmarks, cross-references, and variables.
  7. Enjoy the views.
  8. Paste special(ly).
  9. The monsters under the bed: Comments and Track Changes.
  10. Set languages and spelling in blobs.

Bonus tip (possibly Macintosh-only):

  1. Get all non-contiguous.

It'll make more sense if you're there. Really.

Files for the seminar

REMEMBER: You don't have to know all the details about how to do something in Word. Just knowing that you can do it is most of the battle.

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