Word 2008: Buggy copy-and-paste behaviour with styles

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Microsoft
October 30th, 2008 • 3:10 pm

There are so many ways in which Microsoft Word is a failure as a word processor. But in particular there are numerous ways in which it is a failure as a text editor. And as a professional translator (among other things), I am particularly aware of this, because a lot of my time in word processors is spent editing existing documents—as opposed to composing new documents from scratch.

What makes things even worse, however, is that, from one version to the next, Microsoft keeps breaking things that were working properly before. This means that, with each new version, in addition to having to endure crashes, bugs and poor performance, we have to develop yet more workarounds to deal with the new quirks that Microsoft’s engineers, through their sheer carelessness or incompetence, have added to the already lengthy list of things that are wrong with Word (and will probably never get fixed).

Here’s a perfect, simple illustration. Take the following situation:

Body text and bullets

It’s a simple document containing a mix of paragraphs in body text style and bullet lists. The entire first paragraph (in body text style) is selected (including the paragraph mark at the end). I copy it to the clipboard.

Then I go and select the second paragraph in body text style before the second bullet list:

Second paragraph in body text selected

Again, the selection encompasses the entire paragraph, including the paragraph mark.

Now I choose to paste the contents of my clipboard (i.e. the first paragraph in body text style) into the selection, i.e. to replace the selected second paragraph with the contents of the first paragraph, which I copied to the clipboard.

What do you think is going to happen? It should be a straightforward swap, one paragraph in body text style replacing another.

Instead, here’s what happens:

Pasted text is in bullet style

Word pastes the text, but changes its style to the bullet style of the following paragraph!

This is absolutely ridiculous. And of course, it’s something that Microsoft broke in Word 2008. It used to work (and still works) just fine in Word 2004. And it works as expected in Apple’s Pages. But not in Word 2008.

How on earth could Microsoft’s engineers be so careless as to break such a fundamental behaviour? Or is it another one of these bugs that Microsoft actually considers an “enhancement” designed to make text style management more intuitive?

It’s unbelievable—yet at the same time hardly surprising. With each and every new version, Microsoft’s MacBU manages to demonstrates its incompetence in yet another collection of bugs and flaws that just get added to the list and make using Word in the real world to do real-world work more and more of a pain.

If Microsoft’s engineers ever decided to take such issues seriously, I would also direct them to this post and this post, which illustrate other similar behaviours involving paragraph selection/deletion. But it’s all in vain. Microsoft will never listen to its users, because it does not have to.

Comments are closed.

Leave a Reply

Comments are closed.