Word processors need to get out of the 1990s.

It’s a long time since I used a word processor to create a printed document. Yet word processors are still made as if the goal is a sheet of paper.

Take Microsoft Word:Mac 2011. It offers six ‘views. All of them pay homage to print. At least three of the views go out of their way to reproduce what looks like a printed page on-screen along with cheesy skeuomorphic designs. You can’t use Word for long before coming up against page breaks.

What an antiquated idea that is.

Apple’s Pages 5.0 feels more modern, yet it still offers a line across the screen to tell me where a page break might fall. And depending on the settings paragraphs move around to accommodate those page breaks.

It gets worse. The default setting of the standard Pages 5.0 template assumes you’ll want to have page headers and footers. I haven’t used headers or footers since WordPerfect 5.1 — kids ask your grandparents.

Google Docs has its faults, but at least there is an option to not show pages. Google can’t quite bring itself into the 21st century though. Google Docs’s default setting is what it calls the ‘paginated view’.

I would like to see Apple and Microsoft offer non-paginated views. Perhaps they do. I can’t find them in any documentation or support forums.

On one level this is just a grumble. I prefer minimal writing interfaces, the less distraction the better. A page line might not be much distraction, but I’d still rather not see it.

There’s a deeper complaint. The fact that word processor developers are so conservative that they feel the need to include paper-like views and make those views the default, tells me they are too conservative full stop.

2 thoughts on “Word processor software still geared to print

  1. If you don’t want to print then why are you using tools that are designed for print?? makes no sense.

    • That is my point. I use them less and less. Many of the people I work with expect to see copy arrive in Word’s docx format, that doesn’t mean I have to use Word to write them…

      When left to my own devices I mainly use iA Writer: See https://billbennett.co.nz/my-ipad-my-typewriter/

      On the other hand, I’m often sent Word documents, so I can’t avoid it all together.

      And it’s my job to test all of these tools, so I cycle through the best known word processors every few weeks.

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