Word 2004: Nonsensical bullet formatting behaviour

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Microsoft
March 28th, 2007 • 11:21 am

I have to use Word 2004 for my work today, and I am not pleased. (Can you tell?)

Here is another one of these nonsensical behaviours that just drive me crazy. I have to work with existing Word documents authored by other users here, which tends to drive me even crazier than usual, because when I author my own documents, I can at least use my own style sheets and my own strategies to minimize the amount of non-sense that Word throws at me on a continuous basis.

Here I have a document where the author has used Word’s dreadful automatic bullet formatting. There have been so many different flavours of this formatting option in various versions of Word that it is really impossible to tell which flavour was used in this case and with which options. All I know is that I have a list with bullets and I have to translate it, which means replacing the English bullet items with French bullet items. So I type my stuff and then I select the English stuff in order to delete it:

Selected bullet items

The highlighted section is the stuff I need to delete. But look at what happens when I press the Delete key:

No bullet after deletion

Where the hell has the bullet before “Augmenter…” gone?

I am aware that, for years, Microsoft has struggled with the implementation of useful behaviours when it comes to the deletion of paragraphs with various formatting options. Since the paragraph formatting is technically speaking stored in the invisible paragraph mark at the end of the paragraph, deleting or not deleting that mark (as part of the deletion of the paragraph itself) can have consequences on the formatting of the previous paragraph.

But the thing is, in this particular case, the paragraphs that I am deleting have the exact same formatting as the paragraphs before them, i.e. the automatic bullet thing. So why on earth does the bullet in front of the last non-selected paragraph disappear when I delete my selection? I know I am deleting the paragraph mark at the end of that particular bullet item, but I am not deleting the paragraph mark at the end of the last bullet item in the selection, so technically speaking the last non-selected paragraph should inherit the formatting of the last selected paragraph, i.e. keep the bullet formatting—shouldn’t it?

This is exactly why I never use Microsoft’s automatic bullet formatting myself. But when I have to work with documents authored by other people, I don’t have any choice. (I could strip all the formatting used by these people and replace it with my own styles, but that would be even more time-consuming than dealing with Microsoft Word’s built-in idiocy.)


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