Saturday, January 14, 2012

Writing proper technical documents with Word 2007 +

I am a geek and I always hated writing good looking doc...
I LOVE to document stuff, but only on a merely technical level (Javadoc, wikis, TDD, comments in code...).

When it comes to writing Word documents, all sort of aesthetic considerations come into account (font size, uniformity of the styles across the suite of documents etc), and a real macho-geek considers aesthetic issues something a bit borderline like homosexuality.

So the statement "I can write very good Word Documents" sounds like "I wear a pink pajama at night and I spend hours massaging my body with perfumes in the shower".
Real geeks don't waste time with Word. Real men don't wear pajamas and they rarely shower unless they have to - sweat it their only perfume.

But real men know how to bite the bullet and do something even if they hate it.

First thing occurring to my weak mind: use styles everywhere:

styles are the only way to ensure uniform presentation, and to quickly change look and feel of a document.

Styles: Ctrl+Shift+Alt+S, Manage Styles, export.... this only exports existing styles to an existing template....

there is a normal.dotm template. you want to create your own template.
You can save your document as "word macro-enabled template (*.dotm)"

But, wait a second, how does a template work? I have never used them...

Something interesting is also CUSTOM PROPERTIES.... Microsoft Office Button Button image, point to Prepare, and then click Properties.
On the Custom tab, you can add the name of a new property, but the Add button for that property remains disabled until you also assign a value (a point many users miss).

Here it explains the pain of enabling the "Insert property" option in the menu...

IT'S AWFUL the castration produced by Microsoft in the new 2007 menus, every single person I talk to HATES the new menus....

Ok, I stop here... on the whole I find the new Word incredibly complicated for those who want to use a professional but straightforward use... all the functionality is there, but they make it very difficult to use it. The "old style" menus where a lot more intuitive.

And, I still believe that every project should hire a (maybe part-time) technical writer, you can't expect very talented technical people to excel in word (hahaha pardon the pun).

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