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Three Ways Word Can Drive You Crazy[er] and What You Can Do About Them

📄 Contents

  1. Automatic Entire Word Selection and More
  2. Automatic Formatting
  3. Automatically Correcting?
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Does autoformatting make you nuts? We computer users have a love-hate relationship with Microsoft Word. Some of us see Microsoft as the Evil Empire of Computing and refuse to use its software at all. The rest of us are more realistic; we understand the benefits of using some of the world's most popular software for everyday chores. But even fans know that Word has a few features that can drive anyone absolutely bonkers. Maria Langer presents the top three ways Word can drive you crazy and tells you how to fix it to maintain your sanity while you work.
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Computer users have a love-hate relationship with Microsoft Word. Some see Microsoft as the Evil Empire of Computing and refuse to use its software at all. The rest of us are more realistic and understand the benefits of using some of the world's most popular software for our everyday chores.

I fall into that second, bigger category. I use Word every day—I'm using it right now, in fact—to create the documents I need to get my work done.

But that doesn't mean I absolutely love Word. Sure, it gets the job done, but it has far more features than the average user will ever need. And if you've been using Word for awhile, I'm sure you'll agree that right out of the box, it has a few features that will drive you absolutely bonkers.

In this article, I present the top three ways Word can drive you crazy and tell you how to fix it to maintain your sanity while you work. Although this article refers to the current version of Word—that's Word 2003 for Windows and Word 2004 for Mac OS—many of these annoying features can be found in previous versions of Word as well.

Automatic Entire Word Selection and More

Throughout the Windows and Mac OS world, there's a consistent way to select text in a document: Drag the mouse pointer over the text. In every program you use, the selection will include the point from which you began the selection to the point where you stopped. This process makes it possible to select any amount of text, including text from the middle of one word to the middle of another, like this:

Figure 1Figure 1

Standard, yes. But not universal. Because Word doesn't work this way, at least not right out of the box.

Word has a feature that automatically selects entire words when you select text in more than one word. Someone at Microsoft must really like this feature because it's turned on (enabled) by default when you install Word. So if you attempted to select what you see highlighted in the preceding illustration, what will really be selected in Word is this:

Figure 2Figure 2

Okay, so maybe you do have a need to select entire words. But all the time? I don't!

Turn that feature off!

In Windows, choose Options from the Tools menu to display the Options dialog box and click the Edit tab:

Figure 3Figure 3

In Mac OS, choose Preferences from the Word menu to display the Preferences dialog box and click the Edit list item:

Figure 4Figure 4

Turn off the check box labeled "When selecting, automatically select entire word."

While you're in this dialog box, you may want to disable a few other annoying features.

  • Tabs and backspaces set left indent automatically sets the left indentation when you press the Tab or Backspace key. Do I really want Word to mess with my indentation settings while I type? No.

  • NOTE

    If you're using the Windows version of Word, you'll find this option in the AutoFormat As You Type tab of the AutoCorrect dialog box. Read on and you'll see it.

  • Show Paste Options buttons displays a pop-up menu (like the one shown next) onscreen every time you use the Paste command. (Of course, the menu doesn't appear unless you click it; normally, just the menu button appears.) I find this feature extremely distracting. If I wanted to change the text formatting, I could change it a lot faster than I could use the silly menu.

  • Figure 5Figure 5

Examine the other settings in the dialog box to see which ones have the potential to make you nutty. You can learn more about an option in Windows by clicking the ? button in the dialog box's title bar or in Mac OS by simply pointing to the option. When you're finished fine-tuning settings, click OK to start your return to sanity.

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