Gratuitous but gratifying snarky post about how awful MS Word is
Especially if you try to use it to compose blog posts before pasting them into a web publishing interface like Wordpress, which this here little blog thingy uses with gusto. Money quote:
What makes Word unbearable is the output. Like the fax machine, Word was designed to put things on paper…That’s great if you’re making a lot of church bulletins or lost-dog fliers. Keep on using Word.
…For most people now, though, publishing means putting things on the Web. Desktop publishing has given way to laptop or smartphone publishing. And Microsoft Word is an atrocious tool for Web writing. Its document-formatting mission means that every piece of text it creates is thickly wrapped in metadata, layer on layer of invisible, unnecessary instructions about how the words should look on paper. I just went into Word and created a file that read, to the naked eye, as follows:
[very long string of meta-data garbage]
The whole sprawling thing runs to 16,224 characters. When I dumped it back into Word, it was an eight-page document. Online publishing systems gag on this stuff; gremlins breed in the hidden spaces. Some publishing platforms have a built-in button especially for pasting text from Word, to clear away the worst of it, but they don’t work very well. Beyond the invisible code, there are those annoying typographical flourishes—the ordinal superscripts, the directional quotation marks, the automatic em dashes—that will create their own headaches in translation. Multiple websites exist simply to unmangle Word text and turn it into plain text or readable HTML.
Thank you for letting me get that off my e-chest. You may now go back to your regularly scheduled conversation. Life should let up a bit soon and I’ll be ready to jump back in to the fray.Email this Post