Microsoft Word 2004: Mind-boggling style madness

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Microsoft
December 4th, 2007 • 10:50 am

Today I encountered a problem in a Word document that I had to edit that was so ridiculous that I could only laugh out loud.

Here’s exactly what happened. I was editing a few paragraphs of text when I notice a line spacing problem. I quickly figured out that the problem was that, for one “paragraph” in particular, there were hard returns at the end of every line, effectively creating a “paragraph” actually consisting of several successive single-line paragraphs.

So I just put my insertion point at the end of the first “line” (actually the first paragraph):

Before Forward Delete

Then I simply pressed the Forward Delete key once to remove the paragraph break and bring the following “line” back inline with the previous paragraph. And here’s what happened:

After Forward Delete

I know that there can be issues with the need to determine which paragraph style to apply when you turn two separate paragraphs (each with its own style) into one by suppressing the paragraph break between them. But surely only Microsoft could have come up with a scheme that would produce this result!

Do I really want to waste any time trying to figure out why on earth deleting the paragraph break here causes the font of the first paragraph to change from Colibri to Garamond?

No, I don’t.

My strategy in such cases is simple: Try to refrain from laughing out loud (not easy) and simply use the ugly “Format Painter” tool to bring some semblance of uniformity to the paragraph formatting:

Format Painter tool

It’s not pretty, and it completely fails to “repair” the document in any significant way (meaning that the next person who tries to edit it will probably encounter just as many weird problems), but I simply do not have time either to deal with Microsoft Word’s own inanity or with the myriad of problems created when people author documents using Microsoft’s tools.

(Needless to say, this document was not a document that I had created myself.)

It’s just that sometimes, the behaviours triggered by the underlying flaws in the very design of Microsoft’s software are too ridiculous not to mention.

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