« Penmachine.com home | « EAC pages

Derek photoOnscreen Editing: Word and Beyond
SFU Harbour Centre, Vancouver, B.C. - Thu, 6 July 2006

A workshop by Derek K. Miller, Communications Manager, Navarik Corp., for SFU's Summer Publishing Workshops

NOTE: Information from my previous editing workshops and seminars is available elsewhere on this website: May 2004, October 2004, March 2005. Look at the top of my EAC-BC page for links to notes from my other website seminars too.

Information about my latest or most current onscreen editing workshop is always at penmachine.com/word, if you want to bookmark it or note that down.

Get the audio

I've now posted selected audio files from the workshop that you can listen to for free:

  1. Part 1: A history of Word: how it looks at documents, and why it works the way it does (MP3 file, about 1 hr 15 min).
  2. Part 2: Wrestling word to the ground: preferences, Track Changes, and other nastiness (MP3 file, about 1 hr 15 min).
  3. Part 3: Editing for the web and email: what's the same, what's different, and how to make it work (MP3 file, about 30 min). Also see my previous podcasts on the topic.

You can look at the top of my Editors' Association page for links to all of my talks on various web and editing topics, some with audio.

How will the workshop work?

[Word cannot edit the Unknown]

The workshop will include both lecture-style and lab portions, with lots of Q&A. I want it to be the workshop you want, so I'll ask for topics to cover at the beginning, and you can ask questions or make suggestions anytime. We run from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on July 6.

We'll spend much, though not all, of our time talking about Microsoft Word, since for better or worse that's what most of us have to work with much of the time. I'll also cover email, text editors, and maybe a few other things.

The agenda (sort of)

Here's my plan on how we'll schedule things. It's 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 knowledge 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.

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 the Word stuff I don't want to miss covering:

  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 tips:

  1. Get all non-contiguous.
  2. Plain old ASCII is your friend online.

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.

Page BBEdited on 11-Jul-06
Valid XHTML 1.0!

« Penmachine.com home | « EAC pages