Thursday, March 03, 2005

Microsoft Word

Why is it impossible to make the cut-and-paste function work correctly in Microsoft Word? Why does the pasted text often get reformatted in something that looks totally unlike anything else?

For example: Just now, I had two documents open. In both, the default font is Times New Roman, 12 point. I selected text from one document and pasted it into the other. It should have stayed Times New Roman, 12 point, right? Wrong. The last paragraph mysteriously turned into Verdana font, 10 point. I have never used that font for anything, and it certainly isn't a default anywhere. This isn't the first time. On other occasions, Microsoft Word has turned the pasted text into bold print, turned the last paragraph into a bullet point, etc.

Why would Microsoft Word be incapable of the simple action of pasting something without totally screwing it up?

Stuart Buck


Blogger nshumate said...

Ah, WordPerfect, how I love thee...

10:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Take a look at the pasted text and see whether it is in the normal style or some other. Often, especially when one of the documents comes from someone other than you, there are user-defined (read as "user other than you") styles that have certain fonts associated with them. When you paste, it may force that style and the font associated with it.

11:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There are two solutions:

Short-term: Use "Paste Special", and select either "Unformatted text" or "Unicode". (The drawback is that italics and bolding will disappear, but the font will conform to the destination document's.)

Long-term: Switch to WordPerfect, which makes it much easier to control all aspects of a document's appearance.

11:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We can put a man on the moon, but the world's largest software manufacturer cannot make a word processing program properly render footnotes (my particular gripe with MSWord).

I've gone (temporarily - maybe permanently) to using an open source program, OpenOffice, as it does my footnotes properly. Time to change, Stuart...

-Brian Mattson
a.k.a. The Banty Rooster

12:28 PM  
Blogger QD said...

Bring up an new document and go to Format>Font. My guess is that your default font is 10 point and that's why it copied it as such. You can change it as you wish and then hit the "Default" button.

Or, you could wave voodoo dolls at it and dance in a circle on odd Tuesdays.

Both may work...

2:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have used Word since version 1.0 circa 1985. It has always sucked.

2:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Word is doing the right thing ... the source from where you cut the text had formatting information associated with it that Word could read. Word then carried both the ASCII text and the formatting information into your new document.

If you want to "lose" everything but the plain text, you will need to take an extra step or two.

2:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In MS-Word many of the "style" parts of a paragraph ... are hidden in the "paragraph mark" that follows the paragraph (when you make the "PM" visable on the screen) and frequently when several paragraphs are -copy-and-pasted- to another document, the last "paragraph mark" is not SELECTED and carried over with its information.
The behind the software explination is that WordPerfect text data is a linear ribbon of characters interupted with "flags" that turn on and off various things (i.e, italics, bold, ...) and are only visable in the Revial Codes; while MS-Word is a data base with fields and ranges, where the Revial Codes are never visable to the user.

11:26 AM  
Blogger P. G. said...

My big grievance with M$W is numbered lists. It's practically impossible to get the wretched thing to format something as a numbered list when you want it, and then STOP formatting something as a numbered list when you want a real paragraph.

It's like that old joke, "I know how to spell bannannanna, I just don't know how to stop spelling it." M$ Word knows how to format text, it just doesn't know how to stop formatting it.

1:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

nshumate is right on. Particularly for legal drafting, I have found word perfect to be far far superior.

3:30 PM  
Blogger Stuart Buck said...

Numbered lists are the worst.

A commenter said that paragraph styles are hidden in the last paragraph mark. I've heard that before, but I have no idea what the heck it's supposed to mean. My default font in every document is Times New Roman, 12 point. Why would there be some sort of hidden code at the end of each paragraph that, if not pasted itself, turns the paragraph into Verdana 10 point, a font that I've never used in any context whatsoever? That just doesn't make sense.

5:06 PM  
Blogger brainwidth said...

First, working with Word can be a real pain. I've found two things that help: (1) Don't use direct formatting for paragraphs. Use styles for consistent formatting throughout your document. (2) Open the style area in the right margin. You can get to it from Tools > Options > View. This will help you see what's going on with formatting and numbering schemes much more easily as well.

Second, the primary--and insoluble--problem with all software like Word is that it mashes writing and formatting into the same process. Write your document first, then format it. You might even find switching to a system using LaTex useful. Kieran Healy has written about his writing workflow using LaTex.

4:21 PM  
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4:16 AM  
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5:49 AM  

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