Thursday, October 7, 2010

Some weaknesses of Word

Microsoft Word often makes mistakes with hyph-ens.
Its me-thod is migh-ty fru-strating.

Sometimes Word seems to guess, or follow a rule based on recognizable patterns rather than consult an internal dictionary. It sometimes makes bad guesses. Word 2010 is a little bit better than Word 2007.

“The-rapist” is my favorite abomination sanctioned by Microsoft. I also really like “of-fline” “who-lesaler,” “books-tore,” “upl-oad,” “wastel-and,” “proo-freading,” “apo-strophe,” “li-mited,” “identic-al,” “firs-thand,” “fru-strating,” “whe-never,” “foo-ter,” “miles-tone,” “grays-cale,” “distri-bute,” “percen-tage,” “prin-ter,” “fami-liarity,” “misunders-tanding,” “mi-nimize,” “sa-les,” “me-thod,” “libra-rian,” “mi-spronounced,” “migh-ty” and “bet-ween.”

Word often assumes that the letter “e” indicates the end of a syllable as in “be-come” and causes errors like “cre-dit” and “se-tup.” Word recognizes that “par” is a common syllable, which leads to “par-chment.” Maybe Bill Gates retired too soon. Someone has to fix this stuff.

Terms that can have two meanings and can be pronounced in two ways cause problems. Word 2007 won’t hyphenate either “Polish” or “polish, and can’t distinguish between “minute” (the noun) and “minute” (the adjective). It gives you “min-ute” when you want “mi-nute.”

Automatic hyphenation can give weird results with proper names, such as “Fe-dex” and “Pa-nasonic.”

So now you have another reason to proofread very carefully, and never to have complete faith in robots.

W o r d   o f t en  p u t s too much space between letters.

Word’s “loose” text can make a book look much worse than one designed with real publishing software, and may waste paper. Some fonts, such as Trebuchet MS, are worse than others. Examine each paragraph closely. If there is too much "white space," change some words, force hyphenation, adjust Character Spacing—or use all of the tricks—to close up gaps. Character spacing is in the Font tab. Condensing by .1-.5 points often works right. Most letters should not touch. It's particularly important to have attractive spacing in chapter titles and subheads.

Watch out for unexpected changes.

Check your text carefully. Word has a mind of its own and sometimes makes decisions without consulting you. Changes in line spacing (leading) are fairly common. Alignment of bulleted lines can change, too. Sometimes you'll fix a problem and Word will unfix it.

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