RE: Word Features

Subject: RE: Word Features
From: "John Fleming" <johntwrl -at- hotmail -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 01 Jan 2002 01:35:12 +0000

Subject: Word Features
From: Steve Lefevers <scl -at- pcisys -dot- net>
Date: Sun, 30 Dec 2001 20:00:54 -0700
X-Message-Number: 5

For Those of you who use Microsoft Word at work for your Technical Writing can you give me a general idea which of the following Word Features you actually use and are practical for your Documentation and which Features to avoid?

Auto Format

No. Don't use it.

Auto Format as you Type

No. Don't use it.

Auto Correct

Yes. I find it does speed up my work. Do watch, however, for ocassions where Word "misspells" at word for you because you want one word and it thinks you want something else.

Auto Text


Custom Dictionary

No. but I could use it more than I actually do.


Always. At first I was skeptical of the feature. These days, I wonder how I ever did without them.

Automatic Style Updates





Almost never. They have their use. I just haven't needed them in my more recent projects.


On tables, yes. Otherwise, no.

Numbered Lists

These things are a nightmare for any document of any length.

I can remember one project where I cobbled together a 120 odd page user manual. To make the numbered lists work correctly, I (an other writers working on other documents in the project) had to turn off auto numbering and renumber all our lists manually,

Multi-Numbered Lists

See above.

Track Changes


Problem I find is that not everyone knows how to use the feature.

Master-Sub Documents

Not recently.

Some people have real problems with it. It seems stable enough in Word 2000, and I haven't tried it with Word XP yet. Consider the jury out on this feature.

Route Document

No. When I never have to send a document to more than one person, a route feature isn't all that practical.

Also, like "track changes", not everyone may be able to use it.

(Sidebar, I have my concerns about a staff member's ability to use the more advanced features of Word when they haven't yet figured out how to transfer a document from one PC to another as an e-mail attachment, and insist on coming around for the file with a floppy disk.)

Protect Document

Never used it yet.

Mail Merge

Not for tech writing projects. I have had reason to use it for other projects.


Not for tech writing projects. Like tracking changes, not everyone seems to know about the feature.


More in Excel than in Word.


Most of the time.

Cross Referencing


Automatic Cross Referencing

Never. I wasn't even aware the was an automatic version, and I am a highly skilled Word user.





Table of Contents

Yes, on larger documents.


Sometimes--depending on document length and client needs.



I wasn't aware such a feature existed.

Conversion Filters ? To Convert Word Document to .pdf File

Not in a tech writing context.

I do have some old Ami Pro files kicking around, and so I do ocassionally use conversion filters on opening files.

Outline View

Sometimes. Is very project dependent.

Page Layout View



Lots. Like styles, I sometimes wonder how I ever did without them.



John Fleming
Technical Writer and SAS Guru
Edmonton, Canada

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