There are some things Word is good at. There are some that it is completely crap at. One of those is the classic mistake of using it as a DTP package.
The thing just doesn’t work! I’ve been handed a report to complete which is full of text boxes, shaded backgrounds for text, slightly complicated headers and other bits and bobs. It took me half an hour to stop the header printing on the first page, but on every page after that. ‘Easy!’ most people would cry. ‘Just set the first page to be different in the page setup dialogue!” Yeah, it would be easy, but doing that meant that pages 5 and 17 wouldn’t have them either. Confused? I was. In the end I had to go through the entire document with the formatting tags turned on deleting all the ‘Section breaks’ Word had so kindly inserted. After all, if you have numbered heading you are bound to want random formatting and headers being included all over the place, wouldn’t you? Jesus Christ.
That’s nothing compared the the problem I am still yet to solve though. Chapter headings are shaded across the whole page in black. On one, though, the line on the previous page, where the page break is, is black too. Remove that shading, and it goes from the heading. Insert a new line, delete page break and a new page break and it works, but the heading is a line space too far down the page. Delete line space. The page break line becomes black again. Hit head on desk and through mouse at screen in disgust. Ask boss if future reports can be written in Notepad.
Seriously, if offices invested in the right software, this wouldn’t be happening. Equally, if Word didn’t try and spoon feed the user it probably wouldn’t happen either.
It still leaves me with a report to sort out for publication this week, and I haven’t a clue how to fix the damn thing. At least this year’s will be designed entirely by me, and I’ll only have myself to blame…
Update: Richard, the report’s original author, has just informed me that the same problem was the bane of his life too. His fudge, in the end, was the do it with the extra line break and then reduce the eight of that line to the smallest possible, thus making it appear that it (almost) isn’t there.