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Saturday, 29 January 2011

The trouble with Microsoft ...

There can be no doubt that Microsoft Word, Excel, Powerpoint and so on are the dominant tools in the world of commerce and government at present. They're everywhere and anything sent electronically probably has to have some of their code in it somewhere. But I wonder how many people have the same sort of trouble I'm currently encountering with it.

I use a Mac. In order to make the things I do available for those unfortunates who don't or who are stuck, thanks to employer choices or government policy, with the PC and all its Microsoft problems, I have Office for Mac installed and I have to say that 99% of the time it runs just fine. In fact, on my machines, it runs 100% of the time exactly as I want it to. The problem is there is a difference in the coding between Word 2008 for a Mac and Word 2007 on a PC. As long as you are working Mac to Mac it doesn't matter, but the moment you open a Word 2008 document from a Mac on a PC with any version of Word after 2003, the formatting starts to do some odd things. In fact, I've noticed that this happens on PCs as well when you open an older version of a Word File in a new version.

What it does, is randomly removes the little gaps in lines of words. So, randomly it will close the gap after a fullstop and the start of the next sentence, or simply remove the gap between two words. As long as you are aware of this, it needn't be a problem, but it rapidly becomes one when you send a Word Document to a publisher or to someone not using the same version of Word as yourself.

Why am I bothered by this? Simple, I recently submitted a manuscript to a publisher. Two days ago I got the Galley back. On every page of the 300+ pages there are at least four of these little spaces missing and which will now have to be inserted by the publisher at no little expenditure of time and effort. Effort on my part to find all of them and time on theirs to fix it. Why has this happened? Refer to the beginning of this and you will guess that their Word 2007 and my Office for Mac Word 2008 are not playing from the same song sheet.

They simply copy and paste my document into their Page Maker for Word 2007. In the process the Word "Different Versions Don't Talk the Same Language" Gremlin strikes. Yesterday I rang the Publisher and didn't get a lot of help. The only suggestion was try saving it in an older version - I did that on a previous occasion and guess what? It doesn't make any difference, in fact, it seems to make it worse. I can turn it into a PDF without this happening and that works at their end as well - but then they can't edit it or turn it into Page Maker...

So now it's back to marking up and editing. I just hope I find all the Gremlins...

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