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Advanced authoring in Microsoft Word – Part 0: Introduction

I have always been very interested in the art of digital text authoring. In particular, I have always been extremely careful to do things the right way, such as separating content from presentation; in fact, already in gymnasieskolan, I gave a talk about this.

This article is the introduction to a series of articles about using Microsoft Word for serious writing (such as technical articles or even books). Although Microsoft Word is arguably the world’s most used word processing software, it is a sobering fact that Word really isn’t very good at this kind of advanced document authoring. Instability (yes, bugs), a lack of many important features, and bad design choices make it needlessly difficult to create decorated and easy-to-maintain documents. Nevertheless, with a firm understanding of both the existing features of Word as well as of the limitations (and bugs) of the software, it is possible (even fairly easy) to create good-looking documents that are easy to maintain. But you have to learn a few tricks and – sadly – simply refrain from doing a small number of things that ‘cannot’ be done. In the course of the series, I will not only point out these things, but I will also mention how easily the problems are solved using superior document authoring tools such as HTML + CSS.

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