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[Word cannot edit the Unknown]Editing With Microsoft Word
SFU Harbour Centre, Vancouver, B.C. - Saturday, March 12, 2005

A workshop by Derek K. Miller for the Editors' Association of Canada, B.C. Branch

NOTE: Information from my May 2004 and October 2004 Microsoft Word workshops in Vancouver and Victoria, including many links to outside resources, is available on their own archive pages.

I'll be running another session for editors about using Microsoft Word all day (11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.) on Saturday, March 12, 2005, at Simon Fraser University's Harbour Centre campus in downtown Vancouver. You can find out more and register online at the Editors' Association of Canada Workshops page, for $145 Cdn. EAC members get in 33% cheaper ($90). We do still have space, so if you have friends or colleagues interested in attending, please have them sign up.

NOTE: By the way, if you're so inclined, in the evening after the workshop, my wacky sixties revival band The Neurotics will be playing the last night of our week-long residency at Lulu's Lounge at the River Rock Casino in Richmond, and you're welcome to come on down. You can see me wear a wig and a glittery jacket there.

How will the workshop work?

Derek photoIt takes place this Saturday, March 12, 2005, from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. at the SFU Harbour Centre campus in downtown Vancouver.

The workshop will include both lecture-style and lab portions, with lots of Q&A, and we'll have the very capable Leigh MacKay on hand in the lab to help out too. (You can hear him talk about using Word in a corporate setting at the EAC-BC site.)

Where and when will it run?

We'll begin in the Canfor Room (#1600) at 11:00. Depending on how many people are in the final group, we may split into two groups in the afternoon, with the first one going to the PC Lab (#1330) in succession in the afternoon while the rest of us talk some more in the lecture room; then the groups will switch places. We'll have at least two breaks, maybe more by consensus of the group. We'll finish by 5:00, since I'd like to see my family before I head off to my next job in the evening.

Planned agenda

Here's my plan on how we'll schedule things. If there are few enough people that we don't need to split up, we can decide whether to split into smaller groups or to go to the lab all at once.

NOTE: The agenda is subject to change on a whim, depending on how we all feel. But at least there's some sort of plan, so we can take comfort in the solid knowldge of being totally off course once we've been there for a few hours.

What will it be like? May I make suggestions?

While the main computers at the session and in the lab run Windows and Word 2000 (I think), I'll be talking about all recent editions of Word for Windows and Macintosh, and will show some Mac version specifics too.

I want to keep the session informal, and to try to address the topics that most interest all of you, so I'll run it from my rough outline and prepared material, then see where we go from there. If you have questions in advance, or suggestions for topics you'd like us to cover, please leave them on this page:


You can find my current notes (including this text), and links to my past workshop pages, at:


That's also where I'll archive material from this session afterwards. See you Saturday!

In the meantime, here are some recycled links from my last session:

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

You can find various useful files we'll be working with during the seminar at:


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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