A few words about Word

Love it or hate it — and it’s a programme that’s driven me up the wall several times — you’re pretty much stuck with Microsoft Word. Unless you have enlightened authors who fill in your QuarkXPress templates or write tagged ASCII text, you’re going to have to deal with their ropey old MS Word files.

Now, it’s very easy to be down on Microsoft, but I’m going to try and be balanced. MS Word is very good for composition. Its Autocorrect and spellchecker functions are very good and even its grammar checker throws up useful suggestions sometimes. It has a very powerful find and replace function, which I’ll discuss in detail at a later date, and can generate things like tables of contents.

Where MS Word is really lousy is formatting. It’s really not a programme with which to attempt any sort of even moderately ambitious page layout. Word tries to be all things to all people — usually unsuccessfully — and the trick is to know which features to turn off and which features to ignore.

What you really need to get your head round are its Styles and Formatting features. They’re neither straightforward nor foolproof, but will really save a lot of time in the long run.

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