More On

The trouble with finding the perfect word

The trials and tribulations of Microsoft Word users

Microsoft Word is an abomination.

It frustrates ordinary writers, irks good ones and sends professionals (many of whom are lawyers) into anger-management programs. Its coded approaches to the creative process of writing are not only inane and wrong, they are unyielding and unchangeable. And most insidiously, Word’s near-total dominance of the word-processing software market has already lowered the quality of writing in every sphere, including the legal profession.

The ugliest manifestation of this surrender to Word’s way is the badly formatted document. Too many people are producing texts that are featureless and therefore less useful because they can’t make heads nor tails out of Word’s formatting features. The crazy things that appear on their screens when they try to number or highlight something often forces writers to settle for a page of dense typing that impedes easy understanding. As these dense and standardized documents crossed my desk with increasing frequency over the years, I was met with the cold realization that an entire generation of office workers have never experienced the freedom of the typewriter, much less the freedom of WordPerfect.

Microsoft feigns user friendliness with the always-available Help button. It can even appear as a cute cartoony paper clip called Clippit. But Clippit is a sly-eyed bit of twisted wire that often dispenses little more than a list of index entries when asked a question.


Bruce D. Collins

Bio and more articles

Join the Conversation

Advertisement. Closing in 15 seconds.