31 May 2016

Why I hate working with Microsoft Word

Like a lot of people, especially those who style ourselves as consultants, Microsoft Office is my main tool and while I would not claim to be an expert in it I have been singing it heavily since the very early 1990s with Office v1.0 which included Word v1.1. While I use OpenOffice out of choice at home I have been using Office ever since wherever I have worked.

Twenty five years of serious use and I am still frequently confused and frustrated by the quirks in Word that makes it do things that are so weird that I find it hard to believe that they were intended yet they are so obvious that if they are bugs then surely they would have been found and fixed many years ago.

I have said many times that I defy anybody to use numbered and/or bulleted lists and to get the result that they expected and I came foul of my own rule this morning.

I had pasted some text (keep text only) from one document to another. I then added the headings (1.6, 1.6.1 and 1.6.2) using the styles from the target document. So far so good.

Then I wanted to restore the numbered lists that had been imported as text, i.e. the "1", "a" etc. were included within the text rather than in the formatting. I wanted to use the numbered list formatting for the obvious reasons, to be consistent with the rest of the document and to make modifying the list easy.

So I selected the relevant text and pressed the numbered list button on the toolbar.

The numbering worked much as I hoped but in creating the numbered list Word also decided to modify the styles of my headings! Headings 1.6 and 1.6.1 were both indented and by different amounts. The paragraph mark on the normal line above the 1.6 heading shows where they were and should have been left.

Checking the style confirmed that it was the style that had been changed (so the changes were made to the whole document) rather than just the settings to those paragraphs.

I have absolutely no idea why Word chose to do that and this is a typical example of the frustrations that I have with working with Microsoft Office. It's simply not up to the job.

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