Word 2007 Annoyances

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Allow me to vent… I know that there are whole sites devoted to this, but I don’t have rights there and I need to get this off my chest

Not Bad Really

I’m testing Office 2007 Home Edition. Some things I like. In general, I like the interface and find that but for a few incredibly annoying things, I could really appreciate this. In fact, it’s the best version of Office so far in my opinion, but that does not, of course, mean that I’m happy;-) People complain about the size of the Ribbon, which is sort of your command center in Word, but I find that if you take some time to set things up, you almost never need to expose it. For example, I create a Quick Styles set for each document template (always use styles, never direct formatting, right?) and the right-click context menu then has pretty much everything I need and most days I can leave the Ribbon minimized for 95% of the time. So for me, it’s a cleaner, more compact interface than older versions of Word and most actions take at least one fewer keystroke or click than in Word 2000. It’s much much smarter at putting the right things in the right-click context menu.

A Fitting Companion to Vista

Still, to me it is at the same time the Office equivalent of Vista. That is to say, the improvements in interface are offset by just absolutely abysmal stability and quality control at every level. It looks great. There are some nice, ehttp://raisedbyturtles.org/wp-admin/media-upload.php?post_id=233&type=image&TB_iframe=trueven beautiful interface enhancements. But deep down, some things are just plain broken. Like I say, a fitting companion for Vista.

Whenever I use a Microsoft product, I wonder if they just don’t do any unit testing at all or what (unit testing is where every time you design a part of a program, you also design a program to test all possible options).

So What’s Pissing Me Off Today?

So the things driving me nuts right now are:

  1. Improper language handling in footnotes. Most things in my computer are in English and I have an American keyboard, but I write a lot in French (a lot as in I’m writing my fifth 400+ page book). I also use a lot of footnote (a lot as in the book I’m working on currently has 2227 footnotes). So I set my computer locale as English (US) and the document language as French. But every time I create a footnote, it switches to English. I say switches, because it actually briefly shows in French, but after a second or two switches to English. So I decided to go nuclear: I went into the Word Options —> General —> Language and changed the Primary Editing Language to French. No luck. I went in and changed the Footnote Text style to explicitly use French. No luck. So far, nothing I’ve tried has allowed me to create a footnote in French. Even in a French document, with my primary editing language set to French and the Footnote style set to French, when I create a footnote, it’s in English and I have to manually change it to French. Nice work guys. I haven’t seen anywhere else that mentions this problem.
  2. Proofing Tools Hell. When I tell Word not to check spelling and grammar in this document, turn off autocorrect, and tell it not to check spelling as I type, why does it insist on running the proofing tools anyway half the time? Why does it occasionally and without rhyme or reason that I can see insist on highlighting the occasional spelling error anyway? This is an edition of an old document — 80% of the words are not in the dictionary. The only way I have gotten this to really quit happening, is to disable proofing tools altogether for all documents. Obviously I don’t want that. I haven’t seen this mentioned anywhere.
  3. Proofing Tools Hell 2. But wait, that’s not all! Why, after all these years, is Word still incapable of letting me keep the proofing tools on in a document with a "too many spelling errors"? My document has footnotes that include archaic terms and proper names. Because there are a lot of those, I can’t have it check spelling errors at all because it has some maximum number of spelling errors that it can check and every important document I’ve ever written exceeds that number. Come on! If I want to use proofing tools, I would have to run spell check and laboriously tell Word to ignore the thousands of words it doesn’t know. Just highlight the mispellings and let me scan for the ones I want to correct. This is a known problem in all versions of Word since at least Word 2000 and that Microsoft sees no need to fix.
  4. Empty Document Pane in Word 2007
    Empty Document Pane in Word 2007
    The Phantom Window. A new one with Word 2007 and, I believe, only happens on my Vista machine (or is it the XP machine?). Word has the bad habit of opening an “empty” window when I open a document, but when I close the empty window, it closes the document. For example, when I launch Word it shows me a blank document by default. So then I go to the Recent Documents menu and click on the most recent document. It opens the document in one window, and leaves an empty window. This can also happen if I double-click on a Word file — it opens one window with the file and another empty window. I do not mean, by the way, a window with a blank document. I mean a completely non-functional window with no document of any sort whatsoever. Fortunately, this is intermittent so I can open and close Word until it opens correctly. Alternatively, I can open a document in the empty window and then close it. If, however, I simply try to close the empty window without opening a second document in it, Word closes entirely, include the document I’m trying to open. I’ve seen this mentioned elsewhere on the net, but no solutions posted.
  5. Phantom Footnotes when Track Changes is on. If you’re wondering “Why do my footnotes disappear?” it likely has to do with having Track Changes on. I had a footnote, which I deleted. Sort of. The number disappeared and the footnote disappeared, but it still counts. So, assuming this was note 3, the notes are now numbered 1,2,4. So I tried to use find and replace and find the mark and delete it. Word 2007 won’t find it. But if I go to References —> Next Footnote, it stops at the phantom note. So I cut and pasted the text into a new document to see what would happen. The phantom note disappears. So I cut and pasted the text in the original document. Unfortunately, the footnote counter doesn’t disappear, so now the notes in the original document are numbered 1,2,5. Great. It turns out, this is quite a simple fix — it’s caused because I’m tracking changes and Word does not update footnote numbers (and many other field code-based numbers) until changes are either accepted or rejected. This makes sense in the “Final with markup” view but is damn confusing in the “Final” view that is supposed to be, uh, the Final view.
  6. Large Document Handling. This is a shame. One of the main reason our workgroup quit using Wordperfect was because it was so cumbersome with large documents. With WP, you pretty much had to divide a large document into subdocuments and then assemble it from a Master document when you wanted to generate an index, cross-references and so on. Since we have a massive index and hundreds of cross-references (possibly thousands), this was just too much of a hassle (plus WP was unstable and kept corrupting our files and creating "holes" in the middle causing data loss). Word 2000 shined here. Indexing was logical, flexible and accessible via search and replace in a way that neither WordPerfect nor Open Office could match. We left Wordperfect primarily because of the stability issues, but after a serious look at Open Office, we chose Word 2000 because of how well it handled indexing and cross-references and how well it worked with large documents. Lately, with two large documents open, I feel like I’m back in the 1980s. With a relatively fast dual-core processor and 3GB of memory, things draw to a standstill. I click on a point in the text and literally go make a cup of tea while I wait for Word 2007 to decide it’s ready to accept input. It’s pretty strange — everything goes along fast and nice, but then things begin to bog down until I simply have to close all instances of Word and start back up. Meanwhile, the CPU is not running hard and there seems to be system memory left. Other applications open quickly and run quickly while this is happening. If I let it sit for 15 minutes or so, it seems to sort itself out too. I’ve tried turning off background saves and some other things that supposedly slow Word down, but no luck. It’s still terribly slow compared to Word 2000.
  7. Interoperability with Other Versions of Office. I’m not a MS hater. I don’t dislike them any more than I dislike Google or Apple. That is to say, I think they are all aggressive companies who have used every advantage and all their available resources to shut out competition whereever possible. Traditionally, MS had the most resources and was the most successful at this strategy. Now Google seems to have taken over. Apple, with its totally closed, proprietary systems, has tried just as hard as the others, but with less success. Okay. But if there is one thing I hate about MS, it’s that you can’t run multiple versions of their programs at the same time. If you want to keep Word 2000 and Word 2007 on the same machine, prepare for Hell. It will effectively want to run an install program every time you use Word 2007 if you had the poor judgment to run Word 2000 since the last time you ran 2007. Want to run Internet Explorer 7 and 8 on the same machine? Forget it. The only way to really do this with MS products is to run virtual machines using VMWare or some such with each machine having it’s own browser and version of Office. Would it really be so hard to let me run multiple versions? I might have a good reason to do so, like the fact that you broke large document handling in your new version!

Okay, I have that off my chest. I’m sure MS is listening. Microsoft has been working on its reputation a lot lately, but honestly, the number one thing they could do for their reputation is add six months to the testing cycle and do multiple public beta tests and not release until they’ve fixed the bugs. Aarrgggghhh.

6 Responses to “Word 2007 Annoyances”

  1. Allen Nugent

    I’m with you 100%. I’ve just spent hours trying to figure out how to make Word 2007 stop corrupting my cross-references every time I try to print or convert to PDF. Nothing works: Word doubles-up the field codes so that I get two paragraph number references (not always the same) back-to-back.

    This never happened to me in previous versions. I won’t buy Office again.

  2. i realise this is an old post, but i’ve had the same problems with language jumping (in my case english to french!), and i found that if you turn off ‘automatically detect language’ in the language choosing window it stops trying to change

  3. Thanks Ben. I should have mentioned this.

    Unfortunately, I know that tip from previous versions of Word. In this case, it doesn’t help and neither does anything else (setting the footnote style language, the document language, the default language, everything).

  4. Did you ever find a solution to the Phantom Window? I find that it still runs in the task manager even when I close it..

  5. Nope. That damn phantom window still shows, especially if I launch Word by double-clicking on a Word file. I do not have the problem where it stays in the Task Manager even after I close Word. I can’t believe this hasn’t been fixed. I guess you’re expected to upgrade to MS Office 2010. I’m not one of those rabid anti-Microsoft types, but this sort of thing burns me.

  6. Dear all, I have the same extremely annoying problem about “language switching” between main text and footnotes, in my case from English in main document to Norwegian in footnotes (Norwegian being the setting for the keyboard, and probably the somehow most global language setting). Incidentally, the switch is especially annoying since Word has a problem about making “smart quotes” when text is set as Norwegian…

    I’m using Word 2011 for Mac. Have tried explicitly determining English as language for footnote text, to no avail. Help with this would be greatly appreciated!

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