Re: Word _Please Help

Subject: Re: Word _Please Help
From: quills -at- airmail -dot- net
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 18 Jan 2002 09:21:29 -0600

At 5:10 AM +0000 1/18/02, Doc Writer wrote:


I just started a new job as the Documentation Manager. During my negotiation period, I expressed my concern about their DTP tools (namely, the only tool that they use is Word). No flames please.

The manager said, "No problem; we're gadget lovers, and we'll get you anything that you need."

If you are the Manager, even if you are the lone writer, find out what they want to produce. Why the customers need to change the final document and plan from there. If you are the manager, then they should give you some latitude. But back up your demands for software with a plan and reason.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, I spent all hours of the night hashing through the ins and outs of adding hyperlinks, TOCs and just plain numbering the darn document correctly. I was truely in tears.


Word is not a layout program, it is a word processor with delusions of granduer. Yes you can use it to do all those things. You can also use NotePad to program C++, but why would you want to. Because so many things in Word do not work as advertised, or limit what you can do, or restrict your choices because of how it behaves, and because you have to use so many work arounds to do what the documentation says you can do, you should use it as it was intended. As a word processor.

If you use any style named after the built in styles, or a style sheet that is built in, you are going to have major problems.

I have used Word since it was a third-rate DOS program (it had nothing to recommend it over WordPerfect or WordStar), and it is not intended to produce page layout, or to do long complex documents.


Can someone please tell me why you like using Word? Or, why companies still use this tool for documentation? Is it only because Frame is expensive? Is it because everyone has Word, so it's more compatible to send electronically? I've suggested that they send pdfs to customers, etc., but they want to be able to change items as needed. <scream!>

They are obviously using it because Word was bundled on original Windows PCs, most companies started using it exclusively because it was Microsoft. It used to be that they said "No one gets fired for buying IBM." That saying has changed to "No one gets fired for buying Microsoft," even if the product is not designed to accomplish your goals. The other reason is ignorance and fear of the unknown. Most companies can't overcome their inertia, and many documentation groups are afraid of innovation. Also the company may not understand their own documentation needs, and goals.

Find out why the customers want to play with the documentation. Just because the can? That's the way they've always done it? Find the reason. Then you can offer an alternative. That is your job.

You are the manager, if they won't let you design a method to accomplish your assigned goals, you need to move on, posthaste.


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Word _Please Help: From: Doc Writer

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