Why I hate Microsoft Word

Look, I’m no Mac fan­boy — you’ll notice that I don’t write Microsoft as Micro$oft — but I’ve just about had it with Microsoft products, and a few minutes ago the final straw came using Microsoft Word. (Today’s rant shoots hot lead John Woo-style — you know, side­ways through the air and in slow motion — at Word for Mac 2004.)

My nov­el, Proper Job, is a nice, single Word doc­u­ment (not too big; only a meg or so) with care­fully applied styles, con­tinu­ous sec­tion breaks, and chapter num­ber­ing that auto­mat­ic­ally updates, and has a neat list of chapters in the table of con­tents. In oth­er words, this is not an excep­tion­al doc­u­ment. Its com­plex­ity should be well with­in the grasp of Word.

Well, m’friends, it ain’t.

Today, while remov­ing some snip­pets of Proper Job to put on the new PJ page, I noticed that — steady, Ian; deep breaths — Word has ran­domly removed line breaks between sec­tions (those blank lines that indic­ate a change of view­point). I can’t describe how angry this makes me, but will attempt to do so. I put those frickin’ breaks between the sec­tions because, oth­er­wise, the ever-lov­in’ read­er will get con­fused when one sec­tion appears to run into the oth­er. Not only that, but, dam­mit, I spent more than a week proofread­ing the entire nov­el and, though typos will doubt­less remain, any agent/publisher look­ing at the manu­script will think, ‘Tcha! He hasn’t even read it — and this guy wants to be taken ser­i­ously as a writer? I’ve got a mil­lion writers lined up behind him who can actu­ally format their manu­scripts. I haven’t got time for mor­ons. Next!’

I am so fed up with Microsoft Word. This whole incid­ent brings back fond memor­ies of the day of my PhD sub­mis­sion dead­line, when I fool­ishly wanted to print out a couple of pages in col­our. Because the col­our print­er was attached to dif­fer­ent com­puter, I loaded up the doc­u­ment on that computer’s ver­sion of Word (which was, ostens­ibly, identic­al to the ver­sion that I’d writ­ten the PhD on in the first place) and oh! how I chortled when I dis­covered that the second com­puter had pagin­ated my thes­is in a com­pletely dif­fer­ent fash­ion. That second copy of Word had a whole dif­fer­ent take on what my thes­is should look like, and if I didn’t like it I could eff off and use Notepad.

Grrr.

Over the past month or so, I’ve been eval­u­at­ing some Word-replace­ment products, and though I haven’t found one that com­pletely fits the bill, there are sev­er­al can­did­ates. In a future post, I’ll write a brief review of each.

Here’s a sum­mary of what I hate about Word:

  1. It’s dog-slow on my Mac (this is because the code base is PowerPC and my MacBook Pro is Intel, so I can’t be too fussy, but the app is soooo slow I have to men­tion this)
  2. It is unpre­dict­able = untrust­worthy = unus­able if you want to look pro­fes­sion­al (do I have to re-proof my entire nov­el the next time I print it out, in case Word has ran­domly inser­ted porn or italicised on a com­putery whim or switched every third para­graph to right-jus­ti­fy?)
  3. It says my book has too many spelling errors and refuses to show them on the doc­u­ment itself. Since the word-by-word spell check­er is a usab­il­ity night­mare, this poses a prob­lem. Anyway, how can there be too many? Even if every word was spelled wrong in a mil­lion-word doc­u­ment, shouldn’t my 1.5 gig o’ RAM MacBook Pro be equal to the task? Hello? Bill? Hello?

Here’s what I like about it:

  1. Nothing! Haven’t you been listen­ing? Grrr!

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Author: Ian Hocking

Writer and psychologist.

8 thoughts on “Why I hate Microsoft Word”

  1. Hey, Ian. I don’t know about the rest of it, but you can turn off the ran­dom porn insert option under Preferences > General.

    My exper­i­ence print­ing out my dis­ser­ta­tion was night­mar­ish too: I had to do it at school because our print­er back then wasn’t a laser (this was 1996). This meant send­ing it from the com­puter room in our build­ing to com­puter print­ing ser­vices blocks away, and for some reas­on the trans­fer wasn’t tak­ing. And you had to call them and make sure the pack­age was received and tell them how many pages it would be. And I had to keep resend­ing it because it wasn’t work­ing. Insane. But mak­ing it far, far worse was the fact that Rebecca was, let’s see, prob­ably about a week old, and she was hungry roughly every 17 minutes, so she had to be with me, but I couldn’t deal with her while deal­ing with my dis­ser­ta­tion, so my hus­band was there, and he was being impa­tient about wait­ing around with her while I got the thing prin­ted, which I still haven’t for­giv­en him for. Horrible.

  2. Thanks, Debra. It’s the obvi­ous things one over­looks…

    Sounds like you had a bit of a night­mare! Still, if it didn’t have night­mar­ish prop­er­ties, it wouldn’t be a PhD. I remem­ber giv­ing a tutori­al a couple of days before my sub­mis­sion — i.e. telling the stu­dents to do group work while I worked on the thes­is in the corner of the room — and man­aged to walk through the power cable, fling­ing my laptop into the centre of the room. Miraculously, only the power sock­et had been dam­aged. I had a dodgy bat­tery, though, and only about fif­teen minutes to reach my office and back it up to the network…I’ll leave you in sus­pense as to wheth­er I actu­ally man­aged to do that…

  3. **Hey, Ian. I don’t know about the rest of it, but you can turn off the ran­dom porn insert option under Preferences > General.**

    Oh, God. That made me laugh so hard I think I rup­tured some­thing.

  4. Eric, there doesn’t appear to be a Universal Binary build of OpenOffice yet, so it’ll be slow like Word (though maybe not AS slow). Not sure what you mean by Google- do you mean Docs and Spreadsheets? As a browser app, it’s a bit on the slow side.

  5. I’m using OpenOffice and though it has it’s quirks, it does seem to do a bit bet­ter than the MS stuff.

    Just found your blog and I’ll return often. I’m a humor colum­nist here across the pond. Nice to meet’cha.

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