Re: Tech writer list of #10s

Subject: Re: Tech writer list of #10s
From: Beth Friedman <bjf -at- WAVEFRONT -dot- COM>
Date: Mon, 6 Oct 1997 20:18:46 -0500

As a long-time power user of Word, I have a few comments, though I'm
in general agreement with Jane's comments.

In our previous episode, Bergen, Jane said:
> #1 Disable (uncheck) fast saves. This is in your preferences dialog on
> the Save tab. The fast save has long been discussed as a real problem.
> It will eventually corrupt your document, I promise.

I'm also suspicious of Background Save in Word 97, though I don't have
any proof that it does evil things.

> #2 Forget about trying the Master Document. It doesn't work period.

That's certainly true in Word 6.0. There are some hideous bugs where
documents get renamed without any user intervention. I've had limited
success with them in Word 7.0. Dunno about Word 97.

> #4 Understand how Word works. All the formatting for a paragraph is
> in the paragraph mark. All the formatting and header information
> (and much more) for the document is in the last paragraph mark in
> the document.

If you have more than one section, all the formatting and header
information is in the section break at the _end_ of the section in
question. The last section, the final paragraph mark is the
equivalent of the section break.

> Understanding this system will unlock the secrets of the
> universe....well, almost. For this reason, I work EXCLUSIVELY in Page
> Layout (yes, that's not a typo) with all my paragraph marks and tabs
> visible.

Hmm. I generally work in Normal view unless I'm working with frames
or drawing objects. I agree that having the paragraph marks and tabs
visible is useful.

> It's tough to get used to, but will save you work in the long
> run. With everything visible, you won't accidently delete paragraph
> marks when cutting and pasting. I never ever include that last paragraph
> mark when pasting to a new doc either. Yikes!

Warning: Word 97 is supposed to prevent these errors; I find that it
doesn't do what I expect because I'm used to the previous version's

> #7 My toolbar is full of icons that represent little simple macros (made
> with the Record feature) for often-used actions, such as "Keep with
> Next" or Insert>Break>Next Page. I also set up a table style using the
> Record Macro and put it on my toolbar.

I assign many macros to key combinations -- "Keep With Next" toggle is
Ctrl-Shift-K, and "Page Break Before" is Ctrl-Shift-P.

> #9 Don't base a document on the Normal template. Create your own
> template (such as "publications," "engineering specs," or "release
> notes") and use those. It gives you more flexibility and you can build
> in your own set of styles for each type of document.

And don't ever leave the "update styles to template" box checked when
you're handing a document off to someone else.

> #11 If you should ever, perish the thought, have to restore a document,
> always SAVE AS with a new name, rather than overwrite the old. Then you
> can compare the two to make sure which is which and what you're doing.
> This is another one of those "been there, done that" maxims.

Absolutely. The autosaved version may be later than your last
manually saved version. Doing a "save as" lets you compare the two.

And a bonus #12:

Field codes are your friend. If you have a bit of information that
is a reference rather than actual text, consider inserting a field
code so that you don't have to change the text when the reference
changes. Read through the field code list -- you'll find some
amazingly useful things there. And keep your field codes visible --
if you see them as gray, you know not to fiddle with the text inside

Beth Friedman bjf -at- wavefront -dot- com
"A civil war is such an awful bother.
We fought at Tewksbury and still ran out of mustard.
I wonder where my brother Richard is." -- John M. Ford

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