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June 14, 2010


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I'm not so sure that it means you're getting old, but just that no one outside of the legal world uses word perfect. (That's an exaggeration, of course, but for reasons that are mysterious to me, word perfect is wildly more common among law firms, judge's chambers, and, because of those, law professors, than any other part of society I've seen. I don't really know why.)

Mary Dudziak

The quick answer to Matt's comment comes from a Louis Menand essay: "It is time to speak some truth to power in this country: Microsoft Word is a terrible program." More on this is here:
The essay is hysterical and I highly recommend it, even if you are a misguided Word-lover.

sign me: die-hard wordperfect user


I wish Word Perfect and Apple got along better. I find that I'm able to open Word Perfect docs by using Neo Office, but I cannot save documents in WP on a Mac with anything. Unless you have a resource?


I'm not trying to say that Word is better than word perfect. Word perfect has some real quirks, but when I was clerking I did become fond of many of its features. (The "reveal codes" feature is one of the most useful.) The problem, though, is that word perfect documents are not readable by the vast majority of people who use Word. When I was a law student there were dozens of times when I had to ask law professors to please re-save the document they had sent in word-perfect as a .rtf file and sent it again so that I and my class-mates, who did not want to shell out several hundred dollars for another word-processing program (one used by very few people), could actually read the file. Given these difficulties, insisting on word perfect for anything other than one's own amusement doesn't seem worth it to me, even if it is in some ways better. (I haven't used it for a while now, but I do recall, when I used it regularly, thinking it was also in some ways clearly worse than word, too, though what I had in mind I no longer remember.)

Mary Dudziak

The compatibility difficulty Matt refers to is a feature of Word. WP, in contrast, lets you open Word docs, and lets you convert a WP doc to a Word doc.

I share WP-generated docs with Word users by converting to PDF (much easier to do in WP than Word), or by converting to Word. And by sticking w/ WP, I can format a document however I want to, rather than having Word make choices that I can't override, or enter formatting errors just as I'm trying to finish something (one middle-of-the-night mystery was when page numbers on every other page suddenly disappeared!).

Here's more from Menand:
"First of all, it is time to speak some truth to power in this country: Microsoft Word is a terrible program. Its terribleness is of a piece with the terribleness of Windows generally, a system so overloaded with icons, menus, buttons, and incomprehensible Help windows that performing almost any function means entering a treacherous wilderness of pop-ups posing alternatives of terrifying starkness: Accept/Decline/Cancel; Logoff/Shut Down/Restart; and the mysterious Do Not Show This Warning Again. You often feel that you’re not ready to make a decision so unalterable; but when you try to make the window go away your machine emits an angry beep. You double-click. You triple-click. Beep beep beep beep beep. You are being held for a fool by a chip.

"When, in the old days, you hit the wrong key on your typewriter, you got one wrong character. Strike the wrong keys in Word and you are suddenly writing in Norwegian Bokmal (Bokmal?). And you have no idea how you got there; you can spend the rest of the night trying to get out."

Read more:


Well, I don't want to be the one cast defending word, but Menand writes a bit as if he were an idiot. Word is not wonderful, but it's not _that_ hard, either. And the incompatibility is (mostly) a feature of word. I didn't imply otherwise. (Word perfect does have some problems reading word files, too, often having trouble with formatting and the like, but you can deal with those.) But the point was, if you use a format that almost no one else does, and no one else can read the documents you produce, it really is _your_ problem. It's a bit like insisting on speaking in esperanto. Maybe it really is a better language, but if you're not willing to make yourself understandable to everyone else, it really is your problem. Converting to pdf is sometimes an answer, unless you want someone to be able to do something with the document, in which case it's no answer at all. (I also have never had the slightest trouble converting a word file to .pdf. I'd done lots of word and wordperfect files, and both are equally easy in my experience.)

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