19 comments on “Those who can write, write

  1. bah, if you want a pure writing experience use vi or edlin.

    I use LibreOffice, which is in danger of going the same way as Word for incomprehensibility.

  2. Turn the automated stuff off, learn enough vb to automate the stuff you do regularly, and word is fine. I admit I have never got the hang of the hieroglyphic toolbar and curse their abandonment of long-established keyboard shortcuts, the refusal to fix Sendkeys, and the fact that it is extremely hard to hunt and kill inadvertently imported styles and local formatting.

    Oh, and that documents over 100 pages get unstable and fuck up document management systems.

    Apart from that and a few hundred other things, word is ok.

    Wordstar For Windows was still vastly superior (except for the document crashing thing).

  3. Exactly, BnLiA. I shudder when I start up Word, and half my screen is covered with crap I never use.

    Simple formats are impossible to achieve.

    I wish I could bring up Word 1995.

  4. There are dozens if not hundreds of alternatives, free and otherwise, available.
    Unless his employers are forcing him to use Word – in which case he either has to try to convince them it will be no trouble to them if he uses something else (at least for the initial writing stages before final conversion), resign, or live with it. Workers in a factory don’t usually get to dictate the brand of lathe they’d prefer.
    As he seems to want the simplest of text producers he could do worse than try the two free programs already on his Windows machine, Wordpad and, erm.. Text.

  5. Other editors and word processors are available. Hundreds of them. Eschew features, go for simplicity.

    Pencils still work too. Writers write. Writers who can’t write still write.

    I can spend all day doing this stuff, so how come my book is still hardly started?

  6. PS Starting out in an era when “Cut and Paste” meant literally using scissors and a Pritt Stick my sympathy for his plight is somewhat limited.

  7. I still miss Ami Pro. The successor, Lotus WordPro was pretty good too, had some features that Word still hasn’t managed to match.

    Somewhere I have a CD of a pre-release version of WordPro for OS/2.

  8. I see no fundamental advantages of modern word processors over WP5.1 which did everything I have ever required and, if I recall correctly, ran on one 1.44 Mb floppy disc

    Everything since is fluff and marketing bloatware

  9. Word has to be the perfect exemplar of bloatware.

    Despite that I’m still using a 2007 version of Office, having regressed from Office 365 when I stopped working, because I can’t be bothered investing time and effort in learning any of the other products.

    I had to use Google Docs for a while, that is crap.

  10. “Despite that I’m still using a 2007 version of Office”

    Still on 2003 (originally purchased on disks, hence still re-installing it onto the latest hardware). It was the one before bloody ribbons. It’s absolutely fine. The only flip side is that I sometimes get sent (for example) spreadsheets with too many rows or columns, or with “more recent” formulas, for which a current version of Libre Office occasionally gets fired up.

  11. Disappointed that noone has yet suggested TeX.

    The company I’m currently consulting for has a style guide. Three pages concern layouts, styles, headings etc. The other 25 pages are what to do when Word fucks it all up.

  12. The one I really liked was Lotus Manuscript, but that was at the very end of the DOS era, and they ditched it in favour of Ami Pro.
    I use Libre Office because it will usually open the Word docs everybody expects me to read, and most of the time the .docx I send back with changes is still readable. But using Libre Office for spreadsheets is a pain (stop trying to spell check the cells!), and shuffling from doing real work with SQL and gnumeric to exporting to xl, sometimes via Libre Office, creates a real mess.
    [this past month has been particularly frustrating in that regard]

  13. WP was the last time I actually felt “in control” of what the computer was actually doing re the formatting etc. I feel like I should feel that way with Tex but somehow don’t, which is probably a sign I’m doing it wrong. I don’t think I’m going out on a limb if I say that Tex is more complicated and less intuitive to a new user especially.

    I do a lot of writing of my short documents in Notepad. No format issues when copying/pasting is a big plus.

  14. “The one I really liked was Lotus Manuscript”

    I really liked Lotus 123, scripting (macros) was so easy).

  15. Why would you use Word for journalism? Isn’t it mostly simple text that gets reformatted?

    Use Wordpad, Markdown or HTML.

  16. “Word has to be the perfect exemplar of bloatware.”

    Fun fact, about 80% of new feature requests that Microsoft receives from Word users, are for things that has been in there for about 15~20 years.

    I don’t really know why, and not sure about the Office 365 version, but from about 1995, Word just wasn’t very stable internally. It could do very odd things indeed, if it felt like it.

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