Word X: My Favorite Table Assignment

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Macintosh
March 10th, 2003 • 6:14 am

My favorite job assignment on Word X has got to be what I spent one hour doing last Friday: cleaning up horrendously messy stuff created by other Word users using Word’s formatting features.

That particular job included a series of tables supposed to outline the various components of a major project. The problem is, first of all, that people do not know how to use tables properly. They keep putting multiple lines of stuff in the same row and trying to align the multiple lines in adjacent columns by adding multiple empty paragraphs (returns) between the lines. Ugh. If you want to align stuff horizontally in a table, use table rows! People don’t realize that you can have both invisible rows and visible rows (i.e. rows with borders) so that a series of table rows looks like a single row.

Of course, this type of thing is way too clever for Microsoft to ever be able to come up with a useful “wizard” for it. So people don’t realize that they should it that way, and try to do it the way I’ve described above. And then disaster strikes. And someone is called in to fix the mess.

The frustrating part for me is that Word constantly gets in the way of my trying to fix the mess. For such repetitive tasks (selecting lines, cutting them, inserting rows, pasting the lines, etc.), I like to go as fast as possible. So I try to use the keyboard. But unlike regular Word text, text in Word table cells does not end with a paragraph mark. If you have multiple paragraphs in a single cell, all the paragraphs end with a paragraph mark… except the last one. So try to do cmd-shift-downArrow to select the last paragraph in a table cell… and Word selects the whole cell contents instead! Grrrr…

Why doesn’t the last paragraph have a paragraph mark like the others? Beats me. It does have paragraph formatting like the others, so the paragraph formatting must be stored somewhere… but it’s not stored in a paragraph mark. Must be stored in that weird (invisible) square-like mark at the end of each cell:

A picture named WordX-TableCell.gif

Trouble is… you cannot select that square mark. Grrr…

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