Word 2004: Flaw in horizontal scroll bar behaviour

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Microsoft
December 9th, 2005 • 9:46 am

Here’s a small quizz. Take this screen shot in Word 2004:

Horizontal scroll bar

Now take this screen shot, in Word 2004, with the exact same document window:

Horizontal scroll bar

Can you see what the problem is? I give you five seconds.

OK, here it is: In both horizontal scroll bars, the blue blob is in the exact same position. And in both cases, that position indicates that, supposedly, I cannot scroll any farther to the left.

Supposedly. Because in fact I can. Indeed, this is how I was able to achieve the situation in the second screen shot: When I was in the situation illustrated by the first screen shot, I just clicked on the left-pointing arrow in the horizontal scroll bar.

Even though the position of the blue blob clearly indicates that clicking on the left-pointing arrow should not scroll any farther to the left, it does.

And how is this possible, exactly? Well, it’s very simple. All you need is a Word document containing a table whose width is larger than the width of the text and spills over the left margin of your page.

And of course it is very easy to have such a situation in Word, because it’s very easy to make a table wider than the actual width of the text on the page. And I constantly get documents authored by other people that contain such tables.

And clearly when Word has a document with such a table, it completely loses it when it comes to the behaviour of the horizontal scroll bar.

Mind you, I am grateful that Word actually does let me scroll all the way to the left so that I can view the table in full. Otherwise I would be stuck with a table that I cannot view in full! But still, the fact that the visual feedback provided by the scroll bar is so obviously wrong is unacceptable.

But it’s Microsoft. And with Microsoft, unacceptable is nothing.

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