Friday, May 25, 2012

Do You Still Use Microsoft Word?

.. and if so, for what?

MS Word is a great word processing tool. You can make all kinds of things with it. You can write letters, create technical manuals and develop lesson plans in it. When you're done, you can print or email the file to share it. Do you still do any of that?

Facebook, twitter, blogs, the web, texting and the rest of the new media don't lend themselves to MS Word documents. Yes, you can cut and paste from Word to your blog, but why? Blog editors are good enough now to do everything you want to do. At the informal end, Word gets in your way. It's an extraneous step in the process of creating content.

Printed materials are still useful, but if you're going to do a truly professional job, you don't use MS Word. My friends who publish magazines all use Adobe InDesign. So do the authors of graphics-intensive books that I've met. So do companies that make brochures. So at the high end, MS Word doesn't compete with Adobe InDesign.

Where does that leave MS Word? Here in the Catican we use it for writing our packing lists for travel, writing to-do lists for our kids and ... well, that's about it.

That browser war thingy isn't going so well for Microsoft, either.


Kelly the little black dog said...

We still use it for technical documents. Its more of a requirement than a choice. We hoped to switch to a plain text document tool like LaTeX so that we could track document changes using a code management tool like SVN, but that was shot down.

Social media doesn't really lend itself to multiple hundred page documents. Although we could set up a wiki. I suspect the real issue is unfamiliarity with the new tools.

I've tried to use google docs for small documents, but I find that it doesn't play well with my linux box. I'm unable to consistently cut and paste between a terminal window and the google doc. Best I can tell its a browser issue. Works just fine on my Mac doing the same thing.

Doo Doo Econ said...

I write content management systems for websites and word has spawned "word clean." That is used when people paste content from word documents into content systems. When it is not used, websites go boom.

Word is horrible to cut and paste from to the web.

Jedi Master Ivyan said...

I use it for writing stories, to copy and paste recipes from the internet, and to-do lists.

tim eisele said...

I still use it for writing technical papers and research proposals, but only because I have to.

My Wordpress blog actually has quite a bit to recommend it as an alternative platform for technical writing. I view it as an on-line book with each posting being a chapter. Since the tags and categories index it on the fly, I actually think it is a better format for a non-fiction book than a Word document would be. Especially since whenever I write a document in Word that is more than about 50 pages (with illustrations), it gets very slow and crashy.

Foxfier said...

Trying to get a story past the "I can't get this scene out of my head if I don't write it down" stage.

Foxfier said...

Oh, and windows LiveWriter is actually not nearly as bad as it could be for updating blogs.

Mostly Nothing said...

Since I setup our wiki at work. I hardly use Word at all.

Making a handout for Scouts or something like that.

It looks like the MacStore has split everything out now. iLife is all separate. Probably costs more separately, but we use all of those. Pretty much all I use is Excel. And not for that much. If Office is broken up, I'd just by Excel, I don't need the rest. Or I would try to convert my spreadsheets to Google or Numbers. I want the Lotus spreadsheet that was made for NeXT back.

K T Cat said...

Wow! What a great thread! Thanks for all the comments.

DDE, we do the same kind of work. Word is the bane of our existence. People who create content in Word and then cut and paste end up with sites that look like Frankenstein's monster - components stitched together from the bodies of the dead. I have to use Dreamweaver to strip out Word's swamp of pointless formatting tags. Horrible.

Kelly, you're absolutely right. Unfamiliarity with new tools drives a lot of Microsoft's business. I would bet a Confluence wiki would work wonders for you. We love ours.

Ivyan and Foxie, you reminded me I also use it to write letters when I need to send something snail mail or by fax.

Tim, using your blog to write chapters would be great. Editing would be a snap, too.

MN, we've got a wiki, too. No need for Word at all.

Anonymous said...

When I was an undergrad, a million years ago, we had these machines called "typewriters" and we used them to "type" our papers on. The guidelines for formatting our papers were spelled out in the MLA Style Guide. And my particularly cruel professors required footnotes. I learned a little trick of typing up the paper normally, typing up end notes, then cutting everything up and pasting it all back together and turning in a photocopy of the paste-up. I also recall that the pagination block was in the upper right hand corner, and RIGHT justified. I got used to typing my longish last name in reverser order: R-back space-back space-E-back space back-back space-G-back space-back space... and so on, for ten more letters...

Fast forward a decade and a half...

I was in grad school, and now, there computer labs at school and, more importantly, MS WORD! To me, it was a wonderment of wonderments! Foot notes were easy! Headers with automatic pagination! Huzzah! No more snotty comments from professors about two page 5's completely destroying the thesis of your paper. Right justification of text was a breeze! No more back-space-back-space through a thirteen letter name... Copying and pasting! Editing! Wheeee! Outlines were magical--delete one r two points, and it all renumbers! No more having to retype the whole %$#&*king outline just to correct the numbering!

I still see the magic. (Because typing on typewriters $√¢℅-ed sooooooooooo much!)

Anonymous said...

P.S. The $#%%&king MLA style manual changed, and professors' preferences changed, such that by the time I was in grad school, the header was in the left corner, left justified, and end notes were just peachy. No way for me! I suffered with typing and formatting footnotes and right-justified headers (with a long last name to back-space through) on a typewriter, and now that MS Word made it easy, damn it, I was going to continue the old right-justified header and footnotes. So, I did. (I mean, how completely lazy do you have to be to use end notes and a left-justified header with Word?)

Anonymous said...

nice posting.. thanks for sharing.