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Bill Bennett

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Microsoft Word’s missing feature

Microsoft continues to develop Word and add features. The software is mature and stable. It has been around for almost 40 year. The software first showed up on MS-Dos and the original Apple Mac in 1983.

There was a time when I used it every day. That’s no longer the case. I’ve found more productive ways to writer. Yet I still use it a lot when working with others.

Word is feature packed. There are far more features than I could ever need. I doubt I use more than 10 percent of the product.

Yet there is one important feature missing from Microsoft Word. It’s frustrating that I can’t use it to create professional, high-end output.

You couldn’t produce a great-looking printed book with Word. There’s little point sending Word manuscripts to professional book printers. And Word is not much better when it comes to top-flight on-line layouts or creating classy PDFs.

Word does basic page layout well enough. It seems designed for people who still print documents using laser and inkjet printers. That’s something of an anachronism for many of us in 2020.

Microsoft Word is fine, although overkill, for emailed documents. Email clients have all the editing tools you need.

Word’s fonts are gorgeous. Calibri works particularly well on-screen. The problem is you never know for sure which fonts Word will use when you send a document to another computer.

Things can go more wrong when you send Word documents to commercial printers or pre-press companies.

Colour is also a Word danger-zone. You never know for certain what colour you’ll see at the other end.

I’ve found if I’m just doing low-resolution work, Word is good enough.

When I’m creating high-end documents or working with professional printers, I still have to use Adobe InDesign. At around NZ$1,500 that’s an expensive sledgehammer cracking my layout nuts.

Apple’s Pages word processor is a solid alternative for digital documents. It has built-in layout features. Indeed, at times it feels more like a layout application than a word processor.

Life would be easier if Microsoft fixed Word.

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2 thoughts on “Microsoft Word’s missing feature

  1. Have you considered Publisher 2010? It’s come a long away from the early days.

    Sure it’s no InDesign, but it has a lot of powerful page flow options, imports Word documents natively, and can produce press ready documents, including colour proofing.

    1. Hi Dave, that’s a smart and intelligent observation – I’ve tried earlier versions of Publisher and I’ve not been impressed, but the new version could be the answer.

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