Word schmerd

September 04, 2009

My name is Susan and I’m a WordPerfect addict. It’s every bit as essential as my Clairefontaine notebooks and Shaefer Javelin fountain pen (peacock blue ink, please). WordPerfect is not perfect, but for writing a novel, it’s close.

And then there’s Word. The industry standard. Do not ask me why. The first time I saw “Clippie,” I thought I was hallucinating. C’mon, Clippie? Am I not enraged enough by the program itself?

But let’s be fair. Word has one huge virtue. I love the way it prints out a draft. A draft, I am forced to tell you, I created in WordPerfect. Word is too stupid to open it, so while In WordPerfect, I click “Save As” and select some version of MS Word.

(Side note–My nomination for dumbest upgrade ever? When New Word refused to recognize Old Word, thus creating the doc to docx confusion.)

But back to the draft. My early drafts are riddled with side notes or comments, the little hidden things that say “this is dreck–revise later” or “sheer genius,” (rare) or “then, a miracle occurred…” They also contain research material, continuity notes, deleted sentences I’m not ready to let go of, questions to ponder, you name it.

When you print out the draft in Word, it automatically prints those side notes oin a nice little column on the side. If a note is long, it continues it at the end of the document.


I love this feature! But I hate everything else about Word.

Are there Word-defenders out there? What do your drafts look like?

The ONLY thing I love about Word: is the way it prints out a draft.
It puts my side notes or comments in a nice little column on the
side. If a note is long, it continues it at the end of the document.
I love this feature! I hate everything else about word.

  • Great tips! Thanks everybody! I’m a WordPerfect addict too, Susan.

    Here’s an alternative idea. . .save and share your drafts into a PDF file using Acrobat software.

  • All I’ve ever really worked with was word. I LOVE the save-as function. I have a rough self-published book that discusses a prisoner of war I know coming out soon, and I was just looking at the drawer full of versions with the hand written comments before updating in the computer.

    I find that I can’t proof drafts on the computer. I need to print and sit someplace else while I read a hard copy.

  • What can I say? I like Word. It’s fun for some folks to rank on it, and I’ve done my share, but I like Word. Can’t say anything about WordPerfect, as I’ve never used it. But everyone I know who uses WP are as rabid about it as you, Susan.

    One thing I like about Word (and Excel) is the support. You can go to Microsoft’s site and log into the Word Help page and there are a million Word freaks who just sit by their computers waiting for a cry for help so they can blast you with tons of solutions in Plain English. These are not MS employees–they’re a community of Word experts (and Excel experts) who like to help others, and Microsoft supplies them with a forum to do so, and moderates the site. Naturally, I can’t find the URL just now. You should be able to find it by doing a search at the Microsoft Web site.

    I don’t want to come across as a walking advertisement for MS, but I have found their help site remarkably useful, and for what it’s worth, I pass it on to you–I find that most people don’t know it exists. This might be a good place to start:


    And here’s another site:


  • You wrote:
    BUT NOW IT WON’T ACCEPT MY EDITING. I’m trying to delete a freakin tab space and it just sits there, putting a stupid vertical line in the left margin like, Hel-LO, you’re trying to edit here, and I’m not letting you.


    I always loved WordPerfect too, but was forced to change because work adopted Word and I had to be able to establish continuity in my stuff between work and home.

    Two hints:

    1. Get into the habit of using “Save As” and specifying the Rich Text Format (.rtf) — it should be portable between all wordprocessing programs

    2. The vertical line means there is a change in that line. If you right-click randomly around the line, you will at some point discover an option on the context-sensitive menu that offers to “accept change” or “reject change” … accept the change, and see if the display corrects itself. A pain, I know, but it has saved my sanity on more than one occasion!

    Hope these little tricks help ~

  • I have never worked in word perfect. Well, I take that back, I have, hated it, and vowed never to use it again. So, thats when I boned up on Word and taught myself patience. I still scream when it won’t let me put the header and footer for page number and title on the same space, but thats when I call hubby in and he deals with it. In fact if I call ‘DAD’ in the right pitch and tone (hehehe….I am evil) he comes running ready to slay the evil dragon known to writers as WORD!

    And..and…I hate that docx extension that has been placed all over my computer! If the programmers can’t get it work right for the people that pay for their product, what the hell are we suppose to do? Drop word?!

    Susan, I feel for you! I think all writers are in the same boat!

  • I never know what anything is called. I know my way around Word and Excel and a few others but if you say “Outlook” or “Explorer” to me, I’m lost. I just do things. I have landmarks.

    So I had to look closer here and realize that you were talking about WordPerfect which I had forgotten about versus Word (quite different) and tortures me in here on my laptop as a docx but at work (tech writer, I am) it’s a “doc” world. Annoying.
    Just freakin’ annoying. Thank goodness for “clear formatting” and ” save as” (and timestamps because my save as versions have tiny little file name changes that at the moment seem telling, but are not!.)… I do all my writing in Word, (here at home, docs) then print it and proof it. Then go back to the laptop and put ’em in. I am miserable at editing electronically. Yeah, I know. The amount of paper used….ah, well. Still beats a typewriter, though those had the best “sound.”

  • I am a diehard WordPerfect user who refuses to surrender. I keep Word around for the “track changes” feature, which my editor now uses as well as critique partners. That’s it. Otherwise, it lost me the first time it tried to convince me it was the boss instead of me. WordPerfect’s “reveal codes” feature is worth any amount of hassle to make it work. I am converting everything here to the Mac, and refused to make that move until Mac started running Windows, too–which I only use for WordPerfect. In a PERFECT world, they would bring back WordPerfect for Mac!

    Viva la WordPerfect!


    • Okay, so I figured out how to turn on “Track Changes” in Word. (I’m working on a collaborative project and we’re sending this ms back and forth.) BUT NOW IT WON’T ACCEPT MY EDITING. I’m trying to delete a freakin tab space and it just sits there, putting a stupid vertical line in the left margin like, Hel-LO, you’re trying to edit here, and I’m not letting you.


  • I never spent much time with Word Perfect, and it sounds as if that’s a good thing–I’m very slow to let go of something I love. I used Word Star eons ago, but that’s probably telling my age…

    Word is manageable for me, and we do edits/revisions with Word’s Track Changes tool instead of on paper.

    But when a friend emailed me his script to read and I couldn’t open it because it was in .docx, THAT nearly sent me over the edge. Software engineers really should check with us before they release stuff like that into the world!

  • I have a major love/hate relationship with Word. Major pain in the ass some days, especially under extreme deadline pressure. Computer software – love/hate. Same for computer hardware – love/hate. So short of becoming a computer software developer (??) we have to live with Word and other imperfect programs. Oh yeah, and the computer hardware which changes every five minutes to something better after you have dropped a whack load of money upgrading everything.

    That column on the side is pretty cool though.

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