Solved Pros and Cons of Upgrading MS Word

December 28, 2012 at 09:23:15
Specs: Linux i686)
I'm currently finishing a book that I've been writing on educational technology. I just need to add pictures (screenshots) and finish proofreading. I am currently using Word 97. I seem to be running into issues, though. My Table of Contents seems to have permanently lost its formatting. I'm also not real crazy about inconsistently wide line spacing where text wraps around images and their corresponding text boxes. I have tried open source alternatives with mixed results and crashes. It occurred to me that maybe my 15-year old word processor just isn't up to the task. Would upgrading make a difference? Would Word 2003, for example, overcome these isssues? Thanks for the feedback.

"If it was so, it might be; and if it were so, it would be; but as it isn't, it ain't. That's logic." Lewis Carroll

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December 28, 2012 at 11:06:07
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Well, let's think about this. Upgrading from Word 97 to 2003 would leave you 2 versions behind instead of 3. That's not much of an improvement. The current version of Office is 2010, which came after 2007.

Since many people are using 2007 and 2010 now, you need to think about your audience. Will they be editing your document in 2007/2010? If they will be, then you need to be concerned with compatibility issues. As noted at the site mentioned below, certain 20xx features will not be available to them when they open your 97 document. If they save it in 20xx format and use some of the new features, you will need to install the MS Office Compatibility Pack before you can open the edited documents, but you'll lose any "newer" features that the last editor added.

On the other hand, going from 97 to 20xx is going to be a big change for you. The entire look and feel of the menus vs. ribbons is totally different and there is going to be a learning curve which may slow you down and break your concentration as you try to perform tasks that were second nature after years of using 97. If that is going to impact the quality of your book because you keep losing your train of thought as you search for the new way to do simple things like indenting, maybe an upgrade to 20xx doesn't make sense.

You might want to check out this site, as well as others that compare the various Word versions and see if the new features are something that you like, or something that your editors might use, thus making the document less compatible with Word 97.

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December 28, 2012 at 12:37:57
Thanks for the reply. I wasn't aware that I may need to install the Compatibly Pack, but it makes sense. I have used later versions of MS Office at work (2003, 2007), so I'm aware of the interface change, though not as proficient with it as I should be. You've really given me a lot to ponder. Thanks for the link to that site, by the way. It looks like 2003 isn't much more feature-rich than 97. I've got some homework to do. Thanks again. Your input has been very helpful and much appreciated.

"If it was so, it might be; and if it were so, it would be; but as it isn't, it ain't. That's logic." Lewis Carroll

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