I hate Microsoft Word

DrDoc's picture

Since getting Apple's iWork in December, I haven't opened Microsoft Office. Not once.

Until today.

My MacBook crapped out on me a few days ago, and now I am forced with the harsh reality of composing all of my final papers in Word. I am currently rewriting a paper on J.M. Coetzee's Foe for my English class, and the experience has been, shall we say, less than ideal. I thankfully had my papers from this semester saved in the storage that Rice gives me, so instead of having to re-type the entire paper, I was able to copy-paste the entire thing into Word. Here's where it begins.

Word apparently can't interpret ligatures, so every instance of "Th" was replaced with an exclamation point. "tt" became an inch glyph, "fi" a percentage sign, "ft" an octothorpe. I had to go through my entire document and figure out which instances of punctuation were misplaced ligatures and which were actual punctuation marks. I used the Find>Replace function, but Word recognizes the inch glyph as the same as quotation marks, so I had to go through each instance of a quote in my English paper in addition to the misplaced tts.

Then I decided to set my paper in Hoefler Text (I was using Arno, but very few of this school's computers have CS3). My title is bolded, but there is no bold Hoefler Text on the computer I'm using — only black. Word doesn't tell me that. All it says is that I'm using Hoefler Text with bold option enabled. I decided to play around a bit, and I soon realized that Office organizes typefaces by hiding the bold and italic version of whatever precedes it. So I can select "Gill Sans" and "Gill Sans Light," but I can't select "Gill Sans Bold," "Gill Sans Italic," or "Gill Sans Bold Italic." Worse yet, if I enable the bold function on Gill Sans Light, Word fakes it, because it doesn't see a bold version of Gill Sans Light (because clearly Gill Sans Light and Gill Sans are not in the same family).

I used to live with this, because I didn't know anything better. I had used InDesign, but it was a bit impractical for just writing academic papers. Since using Pages, which is beautiful in its simplicity and quality type management, I can't stand Word. I yearn for a nice drop-down menu for typeface families, with another for the different fonts within that family. I want a word processor that is smart enough to recognize that Helvetica Neue, Helvetica Neue Light, and Helvetica Neue UltraLight are in the same family. I want easy management of leading (although leading by points rather than multiplier in Pages would be nice), and goddammit I want ligatures.

I had a recognition last week of how much Microsoft Office has hurt (or at least how it hasn't helped) understanding of type. I was rambling about something having to do with type design, which usually warrants rolled eyes from my friends, when my friend Kevin said, "You know what I really like lately? Gill Sans Light." My initial reaction was, "Hey, I like Gill Sans Light, too! My friends are finally starting to appreciate good type." But as I thought about it more, I realized that he was talking about Gill Sans Light as though it were its own typeface family, not as part of the family Gill Sans. The way Pages handles typeface families is so intuitive and simple that it also manages to create an understanding of how families work.

I guess I'll have to live with Word through this week, but I'm certainly not enjoying it. I can't wait to get Pages back.

somol's picture

:) Well, just to add my bit. I once had a nasty argument with Word. You know the
crazy "hide unused menu entries to simplify navigation" feature that came with Word 2000 (or whichever version it was) ? It made my life much more difficult because suddenly the position of entries became unstable - they can appear anywhere (vertically in menu) or not appear at all, depending on whichever other entries Word decides to hide. Instead of mechanically clicking to the same position in menu as always, I now need to actually read the menu contents each time what takes unnecessary time.

It happened once that I moved my mouse quite fast through the whole menu in desperate search for some apparently lost entry (that I had been using for years before) - when a pop-up window showed up saying: "Dear user, it seems you are using MS-Word for the first time. Do you want to watch our introductory video ?". I answered no and continued in my search for the lost option. In a couple seconds another pop-up came saying "Dear user, are you sure you do not want to try the introductory video ?". I could not undestand my eyes. I clicked yes, I am sure I do not want to see the bloody video and moved on to other things. Guess what, it took just another minute or so before Word just defiantly launched the bloody introductory vid !!

Well, now this is what I call the "Artificial Intelligence to Improve User Experience", Microsoft-style.

blank's picture

Can’t you just install the 30-day trial of Indesign on the Windows box?

Ricardo Cordoba's picture

What's this? There are people who hate Microsoft Word??? I CAN'T BELIEVE IT!

...Sorry, just trying to make you laugh. But yeah, welcome to the club.

Check out some of these past threads; you may find good tips in there:


dtw's picture

Petr: ‘the crazy “hide unused menu entries to simplify navigation” feature that came with Word 2000 (or whichever version it was)’

...you can always turn it off so that the menus behave properly :-D

Ever since I chose to block pop-ups, my toaster's stopped working.

aluminum's picture

Word is bad. But IE7 is worse. And I won't even get into the pit of hell that is SharePoint...

Thomas Phinney's picture

I'm not saying Word is wonderful, but this is most likely NOT primarily a Word bug.

1) How are you getting the ligatures into your document? Are you manually inserting them in some way (and if so how?), or are you relying on automatic ligature formation in the application?

2) If you're using automatic ligature formation (as I would hope/assume), then the problem most likely lies in what iWork is putting on the clipboard when you copy the text. It should be the underlying text, and apparently it is not.



Si_Daniels's picture

Normal disclaimers, I’m not a professional psychologist, but I think Eric’s initial post is text-book “seven stages of grief” over the loss of his Mac Book...

Shock or Disbelief
Acceptance and Hope

Fortunately he’s at the latter stages (anger, depression) but is using Word as a kind of surrogate for his subconscious feelings towards Apple. So I'm concerned that without tackling the Apple issue head on he'll reach the acceptance and hope stage without fully facing the root cause of the problem. It's okay to feel betrayed and let down by Apple, it's okay.*

Cheers, Si

*unless of course the Mac was the victim of some college drinking game.

DrDoc's picture

Fair enough, Si; I actually reached the acceptance stage before writing this post, so Word is not a surrogate for my frustration. I wasn't shocked, because I've had issues with my MacBook in the past. Electronics kind of hate me. I'm not convinced I'd have any fewer problems with a Windows book, and I like the UI better in OS X (not to mention the whole loyalty thing, since I've been using Macs since I was 3). Also, the fact that I can bring my computer to the mall and get it back in working condition for free in less than a week is nice.

It was really hard to feel upset when my hard drive crapped out, because even though I've apparently lost all of my data (because I was too stupid and lazy to back it up and $500 isn't worth it), it couldn't have come at a better time. It was four hours after I had finished my last paper during regular-class-time, and I hadn't started any of my finals yet. I was actually thinking about wiping my entire hard drive and starting over.

This wasn't so much a "Gah! Why do I have to use Word?" post as a "Hey, I never realized how much I dislike Word until I used Pages" post. Right now I'm using InDesign on one of the Mac Minis in the library, and it's not altogether unenjoyable.

Also, Thomas, I'm not asking for help about a bug; this was kind of a short essay that I had worked out in my head, and I needed to find an appreciative audience. I tried to tell my friends about how much I dislike Word's type management, and they just rolled their eyes.

For the record, I'm blaming Facebook. I was using Facebook chat for the first time when my computer locked up on me.

Si_Daniels's picture

I was secretly hoping for a beer-pong-toga-party incident.

But clearly Facebook is clearly more dangerous. :-)

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