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Top Ten Word Annoyances

by Guy Hart-Davis, author of Word Annoyances
09/13/2005

How does Word annoy you? Let us count the ways: by "correcting" the already correct text you enter; by deciding unilaterally that you want a bulleted list or a table instead of what you've typed; by serving up a useless blank document each time you start it; by crashing and losing your work as a deadline surges across the calendar toward you; and in hundreds or thousands of ways in between.

You can write your own list; perhaps you already have. Here's a Top Ten list of the Word annoyances I've encountered or been asked about recently. For coverage of others, check out the book or visit Annoyances Central for new annoyances and their solutions. You can also of your own.

1. When Word Adjusts Your Capitalization

The Annoyance: Word keeps capitalizing words even though I'm trying to type them as lowercase. This makes it hard to create lists, write poetry, or use acronyms. I much prefer to make the choices myself rather than have Word make them for me.

The Fix: And make the choices yourself, you can--you just need to reclaim a little autonomy from AutoCorrect. More immediately, you can press Ctrl+Z or choose Edit -> Undo to undo any unwanted change that AutoCorrect has applied.

Choose Tools -> AutoCorrect Options (or Tools -> AutoCorrect in Word 2000) and uncheck the "Capitalize first letter of sentences" box and the "Capitalize first letter of table cells" box (in Word 2003 and Word XP, but not in Word 2000).

Related Reading

Word Annoyances
How to Fix the Most Annoying Things About Your Favorite Word Processor
By Guy Hart-Davis

If necessary, uncheck the "Capitalize names of days" box as well. Most people find this automatic correction unobjectionable, but your poems may disagree. Scan down the list of "Replace text as you type" entries and delete any acronyms (or indeed any other entries) that you don't want to use.

2. Escape Unwanted Copyright Symbols

The Annoyance: Every time I type (c) in my document, Word changes it to a copyright symbol. (a), (b), and (d) are fine.

The Fix: This is a built-in AutoCorrect entry intended to help you insert the copyright symbol easily. Similarly, (r) produces a registration symbol, ®, and (tm) produces a trademark symbol, ™.

To prevent Word from doing this, choose Tools -> AutoCorrect Options (or Tools -> AutoCorrect in Word 2000). On the AutoCorrect tab, click the (c) entry to load it in the Replace box and the With box, and then click the Delete button. If you need to be able to enter the copyright symbol via AutoCorrect, type your preferred entry in the Replace box (the copyright symbol will stay loaded in the With box) and click the Add button. Click the OK button to close the AutoCorrect dialog box.

3. Make Word Start Automatically When You Log On

The Annoyance: I need to use Word all the time in my work. It'd be handy to have Word start automatically when I log on.

The Fix: Click the Start menu and navigate to a Word icon, then drag it to the All Programs -> Startup submenu. Next time you log on, Word will start. If your PC doesn't have a Startup submenu on the Start menu, choose Start -> Run, type %userprofile%\start menu\programs\startup, and press Enter to open a Windows Explorer window showing your Startup folder. Drag a Word shortcut to this folder.

4. Prevent Word from Creating a Blank Document at Startup

The Annoyance: When I start Word, the last thing I need is yet another blank document based on the Normal template--I want one based on my template. Actually, what I really want is to open the document I need to work with.

The Fix: Word offers you a blank document based on the Normal template as a token of its continuing devotion, rather like your cat might lay out the occasional eviscerated rabbit for your early-morning dining delight. (Well, by now you should know better than to walk around barefoot without switching on the light, shouldn't you?)

Instead of continuing to dispose of the useless blank document by clicking the Close button and wishing you could dispose of the rabbit with similar ease, you can prevent Word from creating the document, make it create a document based on a template of your choice, or have it open a document for you. To do so, you use Word's startup switches (startup options) in the shortcut that you use to start Word.

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