Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Why Does Word Suck So Bad?

I'm a writer, and I am currently working on a book in Microsoft Word 2007. I have authored in XML, HTML, FrameMaker, PageMaker, Quark XPress, RoboHelp, WordPerfect, OpenOffice, TROFF, NROFF, Script, TeX... and earlier versions of Word. But I have never encountered an authoring tool that sucks as bad as Word 2007.

It is incredibly buggy. Some days I feel like I'm wrestling with a giant squid that is wrapping its tentacles around me sucking me down and as I valiantly hack off its arms they grow back, their destructive suckers adhering to my carefully chosen words and formatting and distorting, maiming, killing...

The really evil thing is that Word has the ability to learn. That is, it learns to stop destroying my doc in one way and then learns to destroy it in a new way.

For a while it did this: Whenever I formatted a paragraph, Word applied the formatting to every paragraph in my book. If I made a paragraph a bullet, every paragraph became a bullet. Then I would press Ctrl-Z to undo and Word would roll back the changes to all paragraphs but the one I wanted to change. This went on for a month or so, then it stopped.

Now it is targeting my internal cross-references. I created hyperlinks to headings within my book. A link will all of a sudden be corrupted in the most pernicious way. Several weeks ago I cut and pasted a section of text by highlighting it and pressing Ctrl-X. Although I have put thousands of things on my clipboard since then, Word remembers that section of text and it inserts it into the middle of a hyperlink. It does it to links that I haven't even changed recently. The phantom text just appears. I created headers for my chapters, and Word particularly likes to insert the phantom text into the headers of certain pages in a chapter. At first it was extremely difficult to delete the phantom text. Then the monster "learned" that I wanted to delete it and made it possible to do so, but it keeps inserting the text!

I also own a copy of Acrobat and I use it to create PDFs. I'm not sure whether it's Acrobat or Word that is the culprit, but again inexplicable bugs are cropping up. Like links are getting produced with internal numbering revealed.

I work responsibly. I pay for licensed copies of software. I put up with the chaos of automatic updates in order to get bug fixes in a timely manner. I read the Word forums to keep up with the experts on best practices.

I can always find a workaround. It takes time and it's annoying, but I can find a way to produce a decent book even with the insane bugs. But why oh why is Word so buggy? Why can't the world's largest software company make its flagship office product work reliably? Why does the new Word interface emphasize little-used bells and whistles and make key functionality more difficult to use? Why oh why???

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54 comments:

Mark H said...

Microsoft has answered this question. I don't remember who said it, but someone at Microsoft has publicly stated that features sell software, bug fixes don't. You have already paid for the software, and probably made your decision to purchase based on the features it has. You don't pay for software updates.

I should also point out that although word processors are designed to be able to handle large documents, they really shouldn't be used for documents of more than a few pages long. (This is true of all word processors, not just Word.) Anything longer than that, and your best bet is to use a creative writing tool (or even a plain text editor,) to do the actual writing, then import to a desktop publisher when it comes time to print.

Yappa said...

Hi Mark -

Believe me, if I could avoid using Word I would. I'm stuck with it for this project. Actually, there's a real gap in the word processing market for a decent program that provides a complete off the shelf solution at a reasonable price. Entrepreneurs, anyone?

Anonymous said...

Have you tried one of the free alternatives such as OpenOffice?

Yappa said...

I tried out OpenOffice for several months last year. I have forgotten my reasons, but I decided that it was inadequate for my purposes - even for just small document preparation. The problem may have been some compatability issues with Word (since I regularly share documents with other people), but I think there were some feature issues too.

Jeffrey Hughes said...

I have to use Word for work but everything else I use Pages from iWork. If you're already familiar with Apples work flow, then its a no brainer but if you're not, its very simple to learn. I've used it a couple times for work but some of the things do not translate well with word. Here is the real treat, its only $79.00 and it comes with Number (spreadsheet) and Keynote (presentation program), which kicks Power Points tired a**.

Jacques said...

I would just like to say that after a very frustrating week trying to work with Word, I pulled up google and typed in "Why does Word suck so bad?" (in quotes) not really expecting to find an exact match. The fact that there was a match to those words, and a whole discussion forum, kind of says it all.

Anonymous said...

I just did the same thing as the last commenter.
I'm here at work wrestling with Word to do what I want, so googled for 'why is word so bad'!

I wish I could use Pages on a Mac at work.

Computers seem fun at home, but are a nightmare at work.

Scott said...

I really hope whoever coded word never does any safety critical system. Doing so would most certiantly result in the loss of life.

Anonymous said...

Did the exact, exact same thing as two above commenters - Googled "why does microsoft word suck?" and found this. Glad to know I'm not the only one.

My problem is that I have been completely unable to add new words to a Custom Dictionary. It's there, I've added and checkmarked the Custom Dictionary, but I still can't add words! And I'm using English (UK) but it tells me words like "colour" and "neighbourhood" are wrong. Oh my goodness.

THEO said...

i totally agree, i'm trying to merge a bunch of Word documents into one, but it's destroying everything... it suuuuuucks, glad to see you feel that way too

William said...

I too searched for why word sucks so bad...I have been struggling with formating and the constant nonsense. One time I can get it to work another it just flips me off. WORD SUCKS!

Manitcor said...

Googled why does word suck and got this page. I didn't think I would find an answer just needed to know i wasn't the only person in the world who hates this program. I write many 100+ page technical documents and have used since Win3.11.

While earlier versions also sucked pretty bad, MS really put the icing on the cake with this "intellegnce".

Word needs to stop guessing at what I am trying to do and give me the right controls to do what I want.

I'm not even trying to do anything complicated, hell consistent bullet points in a document can be a struggle for this software.

Oh well, I have ranted, I feel a little better now.

Richard said...

Well like many previous posts, I came to this page because I became so frustrated with Word. I absolutely hate this program with a passion!!! A previous person commented that Word is designed for short documents. I working on a 1 page resume and it is absolutely killing me. It is applying arbitrary formatting to random places in my document. I'm trying to apply columns to a section of the document and it will not work. I'm doing exactly what Word Help & other help websites are telling me to do. AHAHAAHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA I hate this stupid program. Burn the 7th and darkest circle of Hell you freaking Word programmer!!

Tony said...

I googled why does microsoft word suck so bad and look at me.. Here with all of you..
I've been in graphic arts business for along time and can't believe how bad Word is.. It's really a shame. I had my office convert to Indesign for long technical documents. (Thank Goodness they listened to me), but still have to do day-to-day small technical documents in word. I have tried for years to figure out how to keep a picture in place. Like previously state, I will think I got it "whipped" and Word figures out a way to destroy me.

It is very apparent to me that the programers of Word really never used it for more than a few words.

Nice know I'm not the only one...

Jeffrey Hughes said...

I commented awhile back and since then, every once in awhile, I get a notice via email from this site that Word has claimed another victim. Its comforting to find like minded people and to know that I am neither incompetent nor crazy. I hate Word.

Anonymous said...

So I am having a nervous breakdown trying to figure out how to make WOrd work with tables that WILL STAY put!
It's impossible - absolutely no rhyme or reasons to anything. I HATE This program!!!!!! I google why does MS word suck so bad - and sure enough I'm not alone.

jk said...

Why people still insists using Word as the only submission format for International conferences? It sucks so bad!

eeartist said...

I completely agree! This problem could so easily be solved, and yet permit MS to add as much crapware to sell product as they like: Add a single setup control that turns off all the "Intelligence" which overrides our will. The program would then just act like a straight editor for those of us who actually want to get something done! If that switch is in there somewhere, I haven't found it yet.

What I find really ironic is that when transferring content among MS apps (like Excel and Powerpoint), formats still get totally screwed up.

Powerpoint really kind of works, among MS apps. Sure, it'll destroy your formatting when you drag and drop content into a slide, but you can usually fix it and it stays fixed. Maybe the Powerpoint team should be re-assigned for the next round.

Has anyone sent this link to MS lately? I'd encourage everyone to!

Anonymous said...

Just another user who HATES Word 2007 ... Its the only product I have ever used where I HAVE to be connected to the web .. just to keep googling getting around the various problems, hidden bits, and annoying timewasting formatting issues.

NO, we dont have the option 'not to use it' .. my clients send me stuff in docx format, I HAVE to live in this MS world ..

Doesn't stop me hating it though, and I will NEVER give MS another cent of my money .. Lifelong worldwide boycott (VISTA didnt help) !

Its simple bad programming, by a team that dont live in the real user world...

Morons !

PS .. No newbie, experienced IT guy. Have been battling with Word 2007 for 12 months now.

Anonymous said...

you guys rock - like a few of you, I also googled the words 'word' and 'bad' together, and so glad I can vent alongside you all. Currently having an amazingly annoying time with the programme, and I'm no beginner. I want to burn my computer right now.

Anonymous said...

Googled word bullets suck and Voila found this site.
I am not a noob and have worked in IT for 12 years, I know what I'm doing.
So, here's a simple one, why can't I change the color of a bullet? I've looked for the answer online and only found a bunch of convoluted "answers" that don't work. I fight this damn application more than I use it for it's intended purpose. Excel? I"ll save that rant for another post.

Anonymous said...

Ya it's terrible, I'm rewriting a ppurchasing order for my college course, I have to switch most references to the word "university" to the word "college," I can't simply use the replace function because a few need to stay in the doument. ANyway I have the word "College" copied and I highlight the word University and then paste....wel, i get bold sometimes (even thought there is no bold in the entire document), it continually changes fonts and sizes adn creates a gap after the word that I can't delete or backspace through. I have typed the word "College" about a thousand times today because I can't just paste it, it ends up taking longer to fix the errors and heaven forbid it erases something and I don't notice: my project would be denied, so it's no better than a type writer at this point.

Anonymous said...

I use a Mac at home and at work, and would change jobs if I had to use Word every day!!

Anonymous said...

I typed "why is word so crap" on google! I'm trying to put together a newsletter. Nightmare. Things I've typed jump from one place to another on the screen. Text wrapping makes no sense at all. Why cant I put one text box inside another? Why is it so difficult to lock two objects together. ARRRRRRGH. I'm using word 2007, it's the 12th version. they have had 12 attempts over 2 decades to get it right.

Alex said...

This morning something happened with my .doc files. I didn't understand because of all of them were corrupted. To my good fortune I by accident discovered - fix corrupted word files on the Inet. The tool worked out my issue effortlessly...

Pete said...

When I write an equation long enough that it reaches the margins on the page, Word crashes and not only that... It corrupts the entire file! Come on. Seriously.

My only hypothesis is that they are intentionally sabotaging Word so as to bring out another piece of software soon.

Anonymous said...

Ahhh... the only thing keeping me sane right now is this blog posting! Thanks for venting and thanks for being #1 with googled "why does Word suck?"!!!

I just want to indent paragraphs. Yet by hitting tab -the standard practice to indenting for decades- WORD wants to indent MY ENTIRE DOCUMENT! Hey, thanks WORD, if you think you're so smart, why can't you just tab a f@#$%g paragraph?

And while I'm ranting, what about bullets? I just want ONE bullet right THERE! Not too hard, a basic of word processing since... whenever. Yet WORD doesn't want to do it...

Sigh.

What pisses me off the most is that these are very, VERY basic. I'm writing a stupid college paper, 10 pages max, using VERY BASIC formatting. Yet WORD thinks...

Maybe I should just stick to Google docs. At least they're improving over time...

Marc Pelletier said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Marc Pelletier said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Marc Pelletier said...

I have purchased and used 2007, 2008, 2010, and 2011 - they are all very buggy. Your giant squid metaphore is accurate. Worst experience I have ever had using a computer. The MS technician told a few weeks ago to not use DOCX files. This was in Dec 2010...

2011 won't print images if they are placed in a text box - and saved as a docx. The fix: save it as a doc file. This is not a workaround, this is an MS reach-around. I have experienced about 30 major and minor bugs that have cost me 100+ hours of wasted time. Cross referencing ALWAYS fails. I have seen text wraps disconnect from text boxes, and simple text formatting that is impossible to fix. Chaos theory in action. Paperclip on ATARI 800 was better.

Try Pages - it is like a cool summer breeze ; )

PurpleSparkleBright said...

Pages is good. I also find Bean incredibly refreshing- but I think its only for Mac. I am at present struggling with a document filled with mysterious invisible codes and styles..I feel your pain. Nasty.

sherry-lee said...

yes, I searched for 'Why does Word Suck so Bad' and was thrilled to see an exact match. At least I'm not alone. It took me half an hour to find the fricken help and it's online, not in the document like it used to be... and where are the g-damned templates?!
It's like from the book Illuminatus- they are trying to deprogram us through distraction via stupidity and the inane. I'm convinced. No logical person would create a program this bad.

Anonymous said...

I know this was made reaally long ago but I sure as heck agree with you.
I just made a 9-page report for a project but then when I was finally going to save it my computer screen suddenly froze. I am so frustrated! I wasn't able to save my file....

Seriously...

Anonymous said...

I thought I was going nutty? Then I typed in "Why does Word suck so bad?" And here I am with other people who also found Word 7, as useful as bailing out the Titanic with a teaspoon! I purposely wrote bad grammar, and it said it was fine? STUPID! What a waste of space on my computer.

Anonymous said...

Today I got so frustrated with how crappy the word art feature has become that I typed "why does word suck so much?" into Google, only to find this page. I have gone from frustrated and wanting to throw my laptop to immense amusement that I am not the only person typing my complaint into Google :)

Leroy Van Winkle said...

Ahhh what a relief...to find that I'm not the only one who thinks that Word is a putrid abomination ejected from Satans anus...like all of you here I sneeringly put 'Why does word suck so bad' into Google out of pure frustration at its constant tics breakdowns and hiccups (Im calling it the Bobcat Goldthwait of software), just to vent more than get an answer...but im pleased to see that im not the only one...I'm a designer...Ive used a myriad of software that is required to do VASTLY trickier things than MS Turd and yet they seem to do it reasonably well...they even obey my commands! Consistently! Shock! Horror! Back to Adobe products for me boys and girls...abandon hope, all ye who enter MS Office!

Anonymous said...

Googling Microsoft word followed by various expletives/sucks is the only thing that gets me through the day. Company policy, I can not install anything on the machine so word 2007 it is, perfect for those 120 page 33,000 word documents, with pictures of varying formats.

What bugs me:
Point numbering
Page numbering
Indenting
Auto anything

Does not even print the fricking pictures. No Microsoft, what kind of idiot would spend 4 days formatting the whole document and want it to print out exactly as it looks, even in print preview. Go ahead, change whatever you want, I didn't like that photo anyway, and that numbering system, of course I want it to start at 8 not 1, i'm not an imbecile.

They can only get Windows right 50% of the time. ~3.1 Good, 95 Bad, 98 Good, ME abortion, XP Very good, Vista %$&@£#, 7 Good. I wouldn't touch Windows 8 even if they paid me, and they won't, I'd have to pay them.

And breathe, thanks for the vent...

Anonymous said...

Please excuse my English, I'm a Brit in the UK. Having worked with PageMaker, Ventura, Quark, FrameMaker and InDesign, having to produce docs with Word feels like a prison sentence. Horribly unfriendly, it just gets worse with every release.

Anonymous said...

I'm using Word 2007. After years of struggling with older versions and finally learning how it works, quirks and all, I now find they've (a) hidden all the useful dialog boxes deep in the bowels of the ribbon or (b) separated things miles apart - eg "convert text to table" and "convert table to text" used to be on the table menu and now they're 12 clicks apart. You can't even access the table menu unless a table already exists. And don't get me started on Styles. They've made them nearly impossible to use. Heading styles 1, 2 and 3 are essential for any properly formatted document. Only Heading 1 appears on the "recommended list" along with some weird shit that no one in their right mind would use. It remember idiotic stuff and applies it when you don't want it, but it never remembers things that you do over and over and over and over again. In every document, and add to the template, and add to the Quick Styles list. Nope, it starts over fresh every effing time. What a waste of time.

AllezFlex said...

I was wondering why there is so little hate sites for word. Everytime its a fight against futility.
A half hour work turned in a 4 hour hell of everchanging format.
Good thing there was a storm to cool me off because it took to long.

Anonymous said...

My company recently forced me to "update" from Office 2007 to Office 2010. The first time I had to revise a document originally created in Word 2007, Word 2010 deleted 90% of the original formatting. Paragraph numbers, billeted lists, tables - everything. I went into an unending menu string, and found what appeared to be a way to turn off all of the ways Word auto-screws documents. Opened an earlier version of the document, made the changes again and saved it with a new name. Opened both the old and new versions, and Word had now screwed up the formatting on both versions - including the one I DID NOT SAVE CHANGES on, just opened and closed.

Our Corporate IT group can't figure it out, but won't re-install Word 2007 because "it is no longer supported".

Anonymous said...

The options were punch the screen or google "why does word suck" and here I am on the Werd Rage blog. Love your work people!

Anonymous said...

The people who make Word are psychopaths. They actually delight in knowing that every day, millions of people the world over are frustrated beyond measure by their product. That is why "numbering" has sucked for over a decade... They would no sooner fix a bug than you (a normal person) would deliberately put a stone in your shoe--it is anathema to them. They are the same people who deliberately drive slowly in the fast lane, because they love to make people angry.
They live their dreams, getting paid very well to do what they love more than anything else in the world, to increase human suffering. On the weekends they torture puppies and kittens, and make children cry. They are monsters who deserve no happiness, but since there is not one trace of justice anywhere in the universe, they are among the happiest people ever to have lived. I personally insult all people who have ever worked on developing Microsoft Word. I hate you all, you perverted sickos.

Anonymous said...

I feel so much better after reading some of the entries here. Thought I was psycho cuz Word 2010 was doing inexplicable buggy things. Now I know I'm not alone! So what if Word still sucks!

BG said...

My job deals with writing, so we heavily rely on Word. Some of the "recommendations" this program gives me make my head spin. Not to mention the fact that it is constantly getting in my way trying to offer "assistance" that is a pain in the ass more than anything.

I'd love to know how many students got an F on their papers because they blindly went with every asinine correction Word recommended. Trusting Word's grammar corrections is like trusting Stevie Wonder as a driving instructor.

Anonymous said...

I searched for "Why does MS-Word Suck so Bad" and, yup, here I am.

This is, without a doubt, the buggiest mainstream application I have used. Unfortunately, it's now the word processing standard, so at my company I'm stuck with it. The arbitrary formatting--and the Undoing that does not Undo--makes me want to pull my hair out. The squid analogy was an apt one.

I hate it. Whoever coded this should be ashamed. They could have a great program if they focused on bug fixes instead of feature "enhancements" that most users admit are unnecessary and just add bloat. Give me a stable word processor with decent formatting (and wide use) and you'll have a disciple. Instead, you have an irate user (who also teaches at a tech college) who gives his 2 cents to his students.

Anonymous said...

I have been at computers since punch card days. I've worked with real-time assembly-level code, and have written code and done GUI development in FORTRAN, LISP, Basic, MATLAB, C, various macro languages as needed, etc. In all my days I have never seen anything as intractable as MS Word. They bullied their way into the market, displacing far superior products such as WordPerfect (at least for technical writing), and now since it's the industry de facto, I'm being forced to transition.

I have no words bad enough to describe the level of frustration this program gives me - I have tried several different tasks this morning to modify a report format:

- change page no. format - clicked on the new format, but it didn't change. So I selected the full field, tried again. No change.
- it took several re-selections/re-clicks to make it change the page no. value.
- Once I got the footer the way I wanted it, I wanted to save the footer style to the "library" - but that option was grayed out.

These are specific comments, but it's this way all the time! Nothing about the program is even remotely intuitive other than typing a word or two.

I've tried Open Office (not bad, anything but Word) and I've actually maintained a WordPerfect license on my own nickel here at work to avoid the transition. There's just something about a word processor that works for you that I find attractive... but MS will continue to dominate because it's the 800 lb gorilla in the market.

Anonymous said...

Oh man, this has made me happy to read. I've been a long time LaTeX user, and it has taken me longer to figure out how to format my citations in Word than it did when I was just starting in LaTeX!!!! The whole business is absurd. There's something wrong when it's easier to manually input citations than it is to use the tool.

I wrote my thesis in LaTeX, and I can't imagine having to do that in Word--probably would have a lot more gray hair than I do now. I love the idea of turning off all of Office's 'smart' features.

Anonymous said...

Second Anon up there ---

For those interested in (La)TeX, a few bits of reading:
http://fluff.info/terrible/
http://tex.stackexchange.com/questions/1756
http://tex.stackexchange.com/questions/110133

If you are still interested, check out http://www.tug.org/TUGboat/tb23-2/tb74flynn.pdf

Anonymous said...

Second Anon up there ---

For those interested in (La)TeX, a few bits of reading:
http://fluff.info/terrible/
http://tex.stackexchange.com/questions/1756
http://tex.stackexchange.com/questions/110133

If you are still interested, check out http://www.tug.org/TUGboat/tb23-2/tb74flynn.pdf

Anonymous said...

Second Anon up there ---

For those interested in (La)TeX, a few bits of reading:
http://fluff.info/terrible/
http://tex.stackexchange.com/questions/1756
http://tex.stackexchange.com/questions/110133

If you are still interested, check out http://www.tug.org/TUGboat/tb23-2/tb74flynn.pdf

Anonymous said...

Second Anon up there ---

For those interested in (La)TeX, a few bits of reading:
http://fluff.info/terrible/
http://tex.stackexchange.com/questions/1756
http://tex.stackexchange.com/questions/110133

If you are still interested, check out http://www.tug.org/TUGboat/tb23-2/tb74flynn.pdf

Anonymous said...

Second Anon up there ---

For those interested in (La)TeX, a few bits of reading:
http://fluff.info/terrible/
http://tex.stackexchange.com/questions/1756
http://tex.stackexchange.com/questions/110133

If you are still interested, check out http://www.tug.org/TUGboat/tb23-2/tb74flynn.pdf

Anonymous said...

... oh god.

I am so sorry - feel free to delete the extra comments.

And here I was thinking I was a robot!!