Microsoft Word

by Joe Gillespie — Sep 1, 2001

It doesn't really matter how you get the words from your head onto a Web page except that the process should be as transparent as possible. That comes down to being comfortable with your computer and software and not letting them color your thoughts in any way.

Using pen and paper gives the ultimate in transparency but still needs somebody to decipher the handwriting and key it into a computer. Many writers still prefer an old fashioned typewriter but unless you are a very skilled typist, having to constantly retype revisions is a pain.

The suggestions that follow are ones that work for me, you might be happier with something else.

Microsoft Word is often accused about being over-bloated and unfriendly, and I don't entirely disagree with those sentiments.

I "moved up" to Microsoft Word Version 1.0 from MacWrite way back in the mid '80s and, apart from a few minor skirmishes with other word processing programs, have stuck with it since. In its defense, I will say that the current Mac version is leaps and bounds ahead of its predecessors (and the Windows version, which I also have) in terms of user friendliness. The fact that I can exchange documents seamlessly with the PC versions has a lot to commend it.

Although it is called "Word" and you can manipulate words with it, I think that the term "document processor" is more accurate. If you are only interested in the words, there is far too much extra baggage. For all its customization possibilities, I'd still like to be able to disable (permanently hide) the 85% of it that I never use. I'd never, for instance, use it to create a Web page!

On the plus side, it catches most of my typos as I type (badly) but I have to switch off its grammar checking, which is just like an authoritarian English teacher with a stick ever poised to rap my knuckles.

Microsoft Word
Features red bar95%
Ease of Use yellow bar95%
Value for Money green bar95%
'Must Have' Factor blue bar100%
Manufacturer Microsoft
Price From $149 (Mac Word/Entourage bundle)
Summary Ubiquitous, if not perfect.
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