Word 2004: Merged cell pasting poetry

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Microsoft
June 24th, 2005 • 12:41 am

Ah, Word… What would we do without you?

Take the following table:

Word table with merged cells

It’s a pretty straightforward table with some merged cells. (Cell A and Cell F are the result of the vertical merging of two cells, Cell B and Cell G are the result of the horizontal merging of three cells.)

Now select the first two rows of the table, like they are in the screen shot above. Copy them to the Clipboard with command-C. Then select the last two rows of the table, like so:

Last two rows selected

And paste the contents of the Clipboard with command-V. You’d expect Word to simply replace the last two rows of the table with a copy of the first two rows, right? Expect again… Here’s what you get:

Pasted rows

Ah, the beauty of random cell pasting… I’m telling you, when it comes to poetic licence in software, nobody can beat Microsoft.

Now, granted, there is a way around this: Instead of selecting the last two rows of the table before pasting, just place the insertion point at the beginning of the last two rows, i.e. before the text “Cell F“. Then press command-V.

This time, the pasting works as expected.

But that doesn’t change anything to the problem above. Why don’t things work as expected when the user selects the rows he wants to replace first? After all, in regular text editing in Word, when you copy a block of text and want to use it to replace another block of text elsewhere, that’s exactly what you do: You copy the initial block of text, you go to the other block of text, you select it, and you paste the Clipboard into the selection.

But this doesn’t work in tables. At least it doesn’t work in tables with merged cells. Instead, you get this weird result that follows some impenetrable logic about which cell should go where. It serves absolutely no purpose. It’s… poetic.

There is all kinds of other weirdness involving tables with merged cells in Word. This is just a small example. The reason for the weirdness is probably that the cell merging feature was added to Word as an afterthought — and that, in typical Microsoft fashion, the developers never bothered to make sure that it worked properly with existing features, like, oh, I don’t know, copying and pasting, for example…

It’s always nice to know that some developers have so much respect for their users. And it’s amazing what a little bit of software-generated poetry can do to brighten up your day…

2 Responses to “Word 2004: Merged cell pasting poetry”

  1. Ern says:

    It works in Office XP too, awesome. You have been quiet about Pages for a while, I’m curious about what Pages does but I can?t try it by myself because I don?t own a mac.

  2. Pierre Igot says:

    I am trying to use Pages… but some of the current limitations make it hard for me (especially the waste of screen real estate — I need to work with several windows side by side most of the time). I also need to define a number of styles…

    I will definitely post more impressions on Pages… in time :).

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