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Bill Bennett

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Word 2010: distraction free word processor

Distraction-free word processing appeals to writers looking for lightweight tools that stay out-of-the-way.

The thinking is that heavy-duty word processors like Microsoft Word 2010 take your focus off words. Word’s array of tools, together with its fancy layout features, distracts writers.

Distraction-free writing tools like Q10 offer a fresh approach.

Sadly Q10 is unstable. Crashes may not worry casual writers, but I write for a living. I can’t afford to use an unreliable word processor.

So I returned to Microsoft Word.

Big, bloated software

Word is a huge program. It packs more features than I’ll ever use. I rarely go beyond typing, emboldening, italicising and inserting a hyperlink with Control-K. 95 percent of Word’s features are untouched on my machine.

Word’s stability is important. It makes automatic backups. And, as the industry standard, it allows me to file copy to editors in a format they like.

Earlier this year I upgraded to Word 2010 and turned it into a distraction-free writing tool:

  • First, I hid the ribbon by clicking the tiny up-arrow next to the question mark in the top right corner of the display. This makes Word 2010 much less distracting.
  • Next, I hit the Alt-V key immediately followed by U. This removed everything on the screen except my words.
  • The escape key brings back the menu and status bars.

This gives the best combination of all: distraction-free writing, stability and compatibility with co-workers.

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