Why Word scares me

Need help with a Word bug
[Via Doc Searls Weblog]

I need help debugging this.

word bugThe image on the left is a screenshot of Word 2011 bug effects that are standing in the path of a book am finishing. If you click on it you’ll go to a larger image with mouse-over notes explaining the problem, which I’ll detail here in slightly greater length.

While the Print view looks fine, and clicking on any text shows the correct style in the Styles toolbox, the Outline view has big problems. Lines of normal text, regardless of formatting, show up in the Outline view as Level 1. They also show up as Level 1 or 2 in the Document Map Pane sidebar, which is the pane on the left.

“The Comity of the Commons” is Heading 2. So is “Agency,” though it shows up as something between Level 2 and 3. The other items flush-left are all normal text that Word has elevated to Heading 1, even though they are not.

I use this pane to navigate around the book, which is close to 300 pages and over 80,000 words. Having so many illegitimate Heading 1′s and Heading 2′s makes navigating nearly impossible using the Document Map Pane sidebar.

I can very temporarily fix the problem by clicking on the line of text incorrectly seen by word as Heading 1 or 2, clearing the formatting, and re-formatting it if necessary. But that takes me about an hour each time this happens, and it’s a huge PITA. And then it goes back to this state anyway.


Word all of a sudden does something unexplained and fixing it takes hours if it can be fixed at all. This seems to happen all the time.

Here we have a professional writer who works in Word as a living. Yet Word hosed his document in a way that he was never able to resolved before having to send it to the publisher.

He had spent multiple hours trying to get it fixed.

I got a call the other week about spellcheck just disappearing in Word documents. I had to spend a while tracking down that problem which just happened for no reason. The solution involved clicking a box in an obscure window where you wold never think to look for spell checking to be.

I find myself using Pages for so much of my own writing. I have not wasted my time at all racking down obscure bugs.