Re: Word Features

Subject: Re: Word Features
From: dmbrown -at- brown-inc -dot- com
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 31 Dec 2001 11:13:29 -0800

Wow. What a hodgepodge. Here's my advice...

Most of these automatic features cause trouble rather than saving effort. I turn these off as soon as I install Word.
> Auto Format
> Auto Format as you Type
> Auto Correct
> Auto Text
> Automatic Cross Referencing
> Automatic Style Updates

A couple of folks on the list say they've used this one, but I'd avoid it under all circumstances.
> Master-Sub Documents

I wouldn't ever use Word's *automatic* lists in anything more important than a simple memo, but I certainly use numbered and bulleted lists in documentation--I just make my own. (Several of us have posted the method--check the Techwr-L archives).
> Numbered Lists
> Multi-Numbered Lists
> [Bulleted Lists]

Word's TOC and Index features work perfectly well and are (for me) far preferable to creating and maintaining the same content by hand.
> Table of Contents
> Indexing

This is useful as long as you use a bookmark as the target. I never create a cross-reference to a heading, because it'll break if I reorganize the document. Even if the target is a heading, I bookmark it and point the cross-reference (or hyperlink) to the bookmark, not to the heading.
> Cross Referencing - Note that the reference text has to be the same
as the text of the bookmark it points to. If you
want the reference text to be different in any way
from the text of the bookmark it points to, use a
*hyperlink* to the bookmark instead of a cross-

These features provide much of the power built into Word. If you don't use them, you're probably working too hard.
> Fields
> Mail Merge - The ability to create conditional text is hidden here.
> Macros

These features are absolutely mandatory to maintaining a consistent style.
> Styles - You can always tell a document where the formatting was done
without styles.
> Templates - Again, I wouldn't allow automatic updates. Your template
should be a "sacred repository" of sanctioned styles.
> Headers/Footers - If you don't understand sections, these can be
frustrating. If you do, and if you learn how
to use SET and REF fields, you can do all kinds
of useful things in your headers and footers.

Office includes a few features aimed at helping people share documents.
> Route Document - Seems "gimmicky." I haven't used it.
> Comments - Occasionally useful during development and review.
> Track Changes - *Very* useful during reviews. I don't include
revision bars in finished documentation, though.
> Protect Document - I never distribute .doc files as final copy, so
I haven't had a use for this.
> Custom Dictionary

Another group has to do with how you want your book to look.
> Tables - If you plan your table before creating it, you shouldn't
run into trouble. Multiple complex merging and splitting
of cells, however, may eventually confuse Word.
> Frames - I've used them, but not often.
> Borders - If you use tables, you're almost certainly going to use
> Captions - If you want a table of captions, this is the way to go.
> Appendices - These are just chapters by a different name.
> Forms - I've never had occasion to use them.

There's an option called "Confirm Conversions" that I turn on as soon as I install Word. As for creating PDFs, the PDFMaker macro that comes with the full version of Acrobat is the only sure method.
> Conversion Filters (to convert Word document to .pdf file)

This final category has nothing to do with Word, but pertain to how you prefer to work.
> Outline View - Be careful moving whole sections. Before Word 2000,
the section break moved with the *following* paragraph,
even though it contained formatting information for the
*preceding* section--BIG MESS!
> Page Layout View - I prefer Print Preview in Edit mode for final

Happy New Year.


David M. Brown - Brown Inc.
dmbrown -at- brown-inc -dot- com

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Word Features: From: Steve Lefevers

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