MS Word screws up yet ANOTHER project?

Subject: MS Word screws up yet ANOTHER project?
From: Geoff Hart <ghart -at- videotron -dot- ca>
To: techwr-l List <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>, poshedly -at- bellsouth -dot- net
Date: Fri, 07 Dec 2007 10:30:04 -0500

Ken Poshedly reports: <<Nothing you guys haven't heard about before
now. And nothing anyone here can do. I'm just venting.>>

Well, with a little luck, we can possibly help you prevent the
problem in future, and maybe recover from the current problem with
less stress than the last time. Also note that you may not be the one
who caused the problem; someone else editing these files may have
done it. And sometimes Word really does happen for no reason anyone
can understand, but that's less frequent than most Word critics believe.

<<MS Word, the program that won't be fixed and won't go away, just
undid weeks of work in an instant -- without me even touching a key.
It simply changed the font and spacing in all of the dozens of tables
in the 164-page manual I'm currently working on. Yep, whereas
eveything in all of the tables was set to Arial 10 pt with preset
spacings in place, in the blink of an eye -- and with no action by me
-- I saw it magically change to Times Roman and goofed-up spacings.>>

When this happens, you've usually run into one of two problems.
First, many people set style definitions to update automatically,
which they assume means that if you update a style definition, all
text formatted with that style will take on the new properties.
Instead, Word updates the definition of the style to reflect the
changes you've made in the text. This feature is only useful if you
like to define styles by experimentation; for most people, it's an
unmitigated disaster. Second, Word's autoformatting tools (Tools--
>Autocorrect-->Autoformat as you Type tab) can screw you up in a
similar way; the "Define styles based on your formatting" option on
this tab will do this. So if you inadvertently changed the style by
typing a character in Times, Word might helpfully screw up all text
formatted using that style. As a general rule, both options should be
disabled _always_.

The flip side of the coin is that if you manually edit the properties
of a style such as Normal and click Apply when you close the dialog,
Word will helpfully update the properties of all text formatted using
that style, except for text that you have manually formatted (thereby
overriding the style) or to which you have applied a character style.
That's a good feature if you've defined and used styles rigorously,
but not so good if you were careless. Because Word uses hierarchical
styles (e.g., if you edit Normal style and your headings are left at
the factory defaults, which is "based on Normal" in the style
definition), then all linked styles will also change. Again, this is
a good feature if you've designed your document to take advantage of
it. Here, the solution is to define recurring elements such as table
data using your own style name (e.g., KenTable1), and ensure that
this style is not based on any other styles unless you want to edit
one style and cause all linked styles to change. That's a useful
feature too, but you need to plan for it.

<<they've finally ordered FrameMaker 8.0>>

Frame is certainly more intelligently designed and more robust than
Word, but taking the above steps will make Word more stable and
robust. Hope this helps you should you end up using Word again in the

-- Geoff Hart
ghart -at- videotron -dot- ca / geoffhart -at- mac -dot- com
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MS Word screws up yet ANOTHER project: From: poshedly

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