Word 2008: Random renumbering of headings

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Microsoft
June 19th, 2009 • 10:22 am

I positively hate Microsoft Word’s automatic numbering features. They have never worked as expected, they are a pain to edit and work with, and they tend to have a mind of their own.

Consider the following situation:

Heading and table in Word 2008

This is a section of a long document, where I have a heading with an automatic number (or letter, to be accurate) of “H,” followed by a table.

I want to move that table up so that the heading will move to the right to flow with the rest of the text on the right-hand side of the table.

So I grab that weird proxy control that is supposed to let you move a table around and I lift it up:

Table up

And then I drop the table in its new location:

New heading number


I just moved the bloody table, and Word 2008 changed the heading’s automatic letter from “H” to “A”!

Why does it do this? I have no idea. It’s not like there any kind of hidden section break or anything like that between the heading and the text that might explain (but not justify) the existence of such a bug. There is nothing else on this page, only the table and the heading and the text. What am I supposed to do here?

I am not making this up. It’s happening to me here right now. If it were up to me, no one would use Word’s automatic numbering feature in their documents. But people do. And I have to deal with it in the resulting documents that I have to work on.

It’s maddening. And it’s not an isolated incident, of course. There are hundreds of such problems in Microsoft Word that one has to deal with on a daily basis. It simply is a totally unreliable piece of crap.

Of course, Microsoft’s developers would probably argue that it’s a “minor” problem, that it does not cause the application to crash, so they have worse problems to address first.

Well, yeah, except that Word’s automatic numbering feature was introduced more than 10 years ago and it’s still full of bugs. It’s not just that these bugs are a low priority. It’s that they never get fixed. Ever.

Microsoft’s engineers seem to live in a parallel universe where only application crashes are important bugs (and even then, they still can’t make a Mac OS X application that does not crash; I have numerous crash logs to prove it) and all the rest is just stuff that people have to learn to live with.

That’s not the world in which Mac users live. They expect quality applications, applications that not only never crash, but also are reliable in daily use and in which key features work as expected, and not in totally unpredictable and uncontrollable ways.

Microsoft is simply totally incapable of delivering such an application.

Comments are closed.