25 Reasons to Make the Switch
Why paralegals should consider
changing from WordPerfect to Word.
By Kim Plonsky
May/June 2005 Issue
Like a lot of other die-hard Corel
WordPerfect fans, for many years I was convinced WordPerfect was the
superior word processing program, bar none (particularly barring
Microsoft Word). However, with each new release of WordPerfect,
beginning with Version 9, I increasingly became disappointed and
frustrated with at least one irritating glitch to be worked around. This
proved to be time-consuming, counterproductive and inefficient.
Recently, the administrator of the law
firm where I work as a litigation paralegal informed the staff and
attorneys that, although the firm is not switching from WordPerfect to
Word, within the next two years, the staff is expected to become
proficient in both programs because most of the firm’s clients and an
increasing number of its co-counsel, opposing counsel and others with
whom the firm regularly interacts, use Microsoft Word exclusively.
Faced with the necessity to become
proficient in Word, I decided my best approach to combat this
encroachment of the enemy was to do some intense, comparative research
and study. Then, I would use my findings as ammunition in my battle to
keep Word out of my office.
Well, just imagine my rather unpleasant
surprise when my in-depth research and study revealed Word (version
2002) was far superior to WordPerfect (through version 12), in nearly
every way. Since my initial review of Word, I have upgraded and
exclusively use Word 2003, and now cringe when forced to work on a
I was so impressed with Word, I prepared
the following list of the 25 features of Word 2003 that convinced me to
drop WordPerfect forever.
Over the years, the No. 1 reason I never considered using
Word was because it lacked a feature similar to Reveal Codes in
WordPerfect. This is the most-cited reason legal professionals resist
using Word. While the “Reveal Formatting” feature isn’t quite the same
as Reveal Codes in WordPerfect, it does show all the formatting in use,
such as font, language, paragraph alignment, indentation, margins,
layout, paper and so forth. The concept of Reveal Codes in WordPerfect
is necessitated by the fact that WordPerfect features are turned on and
off, thus Reveal Codes is needed to find the on and off codes. However,
formatting in Word is paragraph-based — the formatting codes are
embedded in and controlled by the paragraph mark found at the end of
each paragraph. The paragraph mark at the end of each paragraph in Word
conveniently carries forward to the next paragraph, retaining the
formatting of the previous paragraph. In my comparison of Word and
WordPerfect, Word’s “Reveal Formatting” option eliminated my long-held
dislike of Word.
From the “Format” drop-down menu, choose “Reveal Formatting.” The
formatting information appears in the “Reveal Formatting” task pane on
the right side of the screen.
Another problem I encountered when using Word in the past was
the inability to universally get rid of all formatting already in use.
Since, in prior versions of Word, there was no “Reveal Formatting”
option, editing a Word document created by someone not proficient in
Word was frustrating and time-consuming. WordPerfect made it so simple
to locate offending code and simply delete it. But now, with the
simple-to-use “Clear Formatting” feature in Word, which selects text and
clears all formatting, another of my previous arguments against Word has
Select the text from which you want to remove formatting. Click “Styles
and Formatting” from the “Format” drop-down menu. Click “Clear
My favorite and most-used feature in Word is the Format
Painter (similar to QuickFormat in WordPerfect 12). This feature
replicates the formatting that is already in use in a selected area and
applies it to other selections without having to know the formatting
options in use. Although this is particularly useful in editing a
document created by someone else, I find I often use it in my own
documents, such as when I decide I want to add the same formatting from
one section of the document to another section.
Select the text or graphic that has the formatting you want to copy.
From the “Standard” toolbar, click the “Format Painter” icon (small
paintbrush). The pointer then changes to a paintbrush icon. To apply the
formatting, click within the area you want to change. To apply
formatting to more than one block of text or graphics, double-click the
“Format Painter” icon.
This handy option checks the document for formatting
inconsistencies and allows review and selection of suggested format
changes. Format Consistency Checker indicates a formatting inconsistency
in a document with a blue, wavy underline. Right-click on the underline,
and options appear allowing you to correct the inconsistency, remove the
underline and not correct the inconsistency (choose “Ignore Once”), or
skip all occurrences of the inconsistency in the document (choose
From the “Tools” drop-down menu, select “Options,” and then the “Edit”
tab. Select the “Keep track of formatting” check box, then the “Mark
formatting inconsistencies” check box, and click “OK.”
One of the basic tools of Windows software programs we all
are familiar with is the universal Windows Clipboard, which allows cut
or copied selections of text or graphics to be transferred to the
Windows Clipboard for easy retrieval (using the paste or “Ctrl+V”
option). In prior versions, the Clipboard would overwrite the previous
Clipboard entry, which made using the Clipboard to edit word processing
documents tedious and repetitious. The new Clipboard feature in Word
stores up to 24 clipboard items.
From the “Edit” drop-down menu, click “Office Clipboard.” When the
“Clipboard” task pane appears, you can choose to “Click on item to
paste,” “Paste All” or “Clear All.” At the bottom of the “Clipboard”
task pane, there is an “Options” button where one or more of the
following preferences can be selected: “Show Office Clipboard
Automatically,” “Show Office Clipboard When Ctrl+C Pressed Twice,”
“Collect Without Showing Office Clipboard,” “Show Office Clipboard Icon
on Taskbar” or “Show Status Near Taskbar When Copying.”
6. Select, Copy
and Paste Multiple Noncontiguous Items
In addition to the Office Clipboard feature, Word offers the
option to select, copy and paste multiple noncontiguous items. While
this also can be accomplished by using the Office Clipboard and choosing
each item to be pasted separately, I like the added capability of
achieving this task on-the-fly, with just a few keyboard strokes.
Select the first item or paragraph, then choose “Copy” from the “Edit”
drop-down menu (Note: At least on my PC, “Ctrl+C” doesn’t work with this
feature), hold down “Ctrl,” then select the next item or paragraph and
then select “Copy” from the “Edit” drop-down menu, and repeat as
necessary until all noncontiguous items to be copied and pasted are
selected. Then paste the noncontiguous items in your document.
The EXT feature toggles on and off to select an extended area
of text. This is handy when you need to select large areas of text and
graphics in a document. It’s much more efficient than manually selecting
each paragraph or line while holding down the “Shift” key. Simply toggle
on the “EXT” button (which must be enabled to appear on your Status bar)
at the point where you want to begin your selection, then navigate to
the end point of your selection, and all of the text in between the
beginning and ending points is selected for easy copying or cutting and
Turn on the Status bar so it appears at the bottom of the document
window by choosing “Options” on the “Tools” drop-down menu. Then, select
the “View” tab, and choose the “Status bar” check box under “Show.” The
Status bar then will display the current location of the document’s
insertion point, and also has buttons that display several options, one
of which is the “EXT” button. Double-click the “EXT” button (disregard
the fact that EXT appears to be grayed-out, which usually indicates an
unavailable option) to begin selecting text (EXT then becomes available
to select), release the mouse button, and then select additional text
without losing the original selection.
8. Find and
In Word 2003, you can find and highlight all instances of a
word, symbol or phrase (not to be confused with the other type of
electronic highlighting, which is similar to that accomplished by using
a highlighter pen on a hard copy of a document). Although WordPerfect 12
does allow the option to find and remove highlights in a document, it
doesn’t allow the Find and Replace option to insert highlights. Finding
and removing highlights in WordPerfect 12 is somewhat complicated.
To find highlighted text, from the “Edit” menu, click “Replace.” In the
“Find what” box, enter the text that you want to search for. Then, enter
the same text in the “Replace with” box. Next, choose the “More” radio
button, select “Format” and choose “Highlight.” Then, choose “Find
Next,” “Replace” or “Replace All.” To temporarily mark items in a
document, from the “Edit” menu, click “Find.” In the “Find what” box,
enter the text you want to highlight, then select the “Highlight all
items found in” box. Choose “Main Document” or “Headers and Footers”
from the drop-down menu below the check box, and then click “Find All.”
9. Document Map
With this feature, you can view a document in two frames,
with the left frame showing headings in the document and the right frame
showing the document. Clicking on a heading in the left frame navigates
to that point in the document on the right. This is one of my favorite
features in Word 2003, and something I find especially useful in working
on long, legal documents and briefs. Although WordPerfect 12 also has
the “Document Map” feature, it requires the use of index, table of
contents or table of authorities reference markers. The Word 2003
Document Map is superior because all that is required is the use of
built-in heading styles. Not all legal documents, or even legal briefs,
require indexes, tables of contents or tables of authorities.
Go to “View” and click “Document Map.”
In the outline view, headings and text can be re-ordered by
moving them up or down, or you easily can promote or demote headings or
text. To see a document’s structure in outline view, a document must be
formatted with one of Word’s built-in heading styles or outline levels.
From the “View” drop-down menu, click “Outline.”
This feature allows you to display or edit two different
areas in a document simultaneously. It’s a valuable tool for legal
professionals working on long documents or legal briefs.
Point to the split box at the top of the vertical scroll bar, and when
the pointer changes to a resize pointer, drag the split bar to the
position you want. To move or copy text between parts of a long
document, display the text or graphics you want to move or copy in one
pane and the destination for the text or graphics in the other pane, and
then select and drag the text or graphics across the split bar. To
return to a single window, double-click the split bar.
Preview Multiple Pages
This feature lets you print preview up to 24 pages at a time.
Usually, when I use Print Preview, I am looking for widows and orphans
in the paragraphs. The ability to view multiple pages at a time
expedites this process.
From the “File” menu, click “Print Preview.” When the “Print Preview”
toolbar appears, choose the icon for “Multiple Pages” and select the
number of pages that you want to preview.
The Document Browser lets you browse for a document by
heading, page, section or graphic. It’s easy to access from the scroll
bar, and is a must-have feature.
On the vertical scroll bar, click “Select Browse Object” (the round
ball), and then choose how you want to browse — by page, section,
comment, footnote, endnote, field, table, graphic, heading or edits. The
“Browse Object” icon also gives you access to the “Find” and “Go To”
With this feature, menus automatically update to feature your
most recent menu choices and hide the menu items you use least. Arrows
at the bottom of each menu allow the full menu to be displayed. This
feature takes some getting used to for those who prefer to always find a
menu item in a specific location.
This is an automatic feature of Word 2003.
Document security has become an important issue in law
offices. There are many times your firm would not want opposing counsel
to see all of the revisions, tracked changes or comments in a particular
document or pleading sent via e-mail or disk for review. But this type
of information is easy to access. Therefore, the ability to remove such
hidden data is a valuable tool.
Although Word’s online and offline help
explain how to enable this security feature, in practice, I found it
didn’t work. I found this out by having enabled another Word security
feature, called “Warn before printing, saving or sending a document that
contains tracked changes or comments,” after having previously chosen
“Remove personal information from file properties upon save.” After some
online research through Microsoft’s Knowledge Base (http://support.microsoft.com),
I learned the installation of an add-on tool, “Remove Hidden Data,” is
required to use this feature. The “Remove Hidden Data” tool for Office
XP and 2003 can be downloaded at:
www.microsoft.com/downloads (type “Remove Hidden Data” in the
“Search for a download” search box). After I downloaded and installed
this add-on tool, I successfully removed all hidden data from my
After installation of the “Remove Hidden Data” tool, this feature can be
accessed in two different ways. 1) Go to the “Tools” drop-down menu and
select “Options.” Go to the “Security” tab, and under the “Privacy
options” heading, select “Remove personal information from file
properties on save.” Just below that option is another good security
choice “Warn before printing, saving or sending a file that contains
tracked changes or comments.” 2) In a document with tracked changes, a
new menu item appears on the “File” drop-down menu, “Remove Hidden
For those who frequently use PCs, using keyboard shortcuts is
much quicker than using the mouse. Activating the “Function Key Display”
option in Word 2003 displays a special toolbar at the bottom of the
screen, just above the status bar (if activated), with reminders of how
to accomplish certain common tasks by using the F keys on the keyboard.
For example, to “Go To” a place in a document, press “F5.” What is
really neat about the “Function Key Display” toolbar is, by pressing
“Ctrl” or “Alt,” the toolbar displays the options for that F key
combination. For instance, by pressing “Ctrl,” notice the “F5” key on
the “Function Key Display” toolbar changes to “Restore,” and by pressing
the “Alt” key, the “F5” key changes to the “Restore All” option. This is
a valuable tool to learn F key keyboard shortcuts. I eventually plan to
disable the “Function Key Display” once I have mastered the F key
From the “Tools” drop-down menu, choose “Customize,” then “Toolbars.”
Select the check box “Function Key Display.”
Multiple Pages Per Sheet
While WordPerfect 12 offers a similar feature (print
thumbnails, with options including print down or across), I found Word
2003’s feature to be far superior. For example, in WordPerfect 12, I
printed four thumbnails across a sheet, which produced thumbnails in the
center of the page in type so tiny it was illegible (and I could not
readily find any WordPerfect controls to enlarge the thumbnails). In
fact, I got the exact same output when I chose to print four thumbnails
down a sheet. In Word, I printed four pages per sheet, and the output
was nicely laid out over the entire sheet, and all the pages were
From the “File” drop-down menu, choose “Print.” Under the “Zoom”
category, use the “Pages per sheet” drop-down list to select the number
of pages per sheet you want to print.
Available from Right-click on Any Word
Access to the thesaurus by right-clicking on any word is very
handy. In WordPerfect 12, you must first select a word, then go to the
“Tools” drop-down menu, and select “Thesaurus” to find a synonym for a
word. Granted, both word processing programs ultimately offer this same
useful feature, but I prefer the handiness of the right-click access.
Right-click the mouse on any word and select “Synonyms,” then click
“Thesaurus” to see a list of synonyms for the selected word.
This feature creates a brief version of a document by key
points based on formatting. It works best on well-structured documents,
such as legal briefs and memoranda, reports, articles and scientific
From the “Tools” drop-down menu, choose “AutoSummarize,” and then select
the type of summary you want. Next, in the “Percent of original” box,
type or select the level of detail to include in the summary, selecting
a higher percentage of the original document to include more detail.
20. Create a
Table in the Middle of Text
In Word 2003, it’s easy to wrap text around a table, such as
when creating a newsletter. Keep in mind, certain other table format
settings might have to be adjusted for this feature to work properly,
such as table width and alignment. When I use this feature, I first set
my table format settings, then drag and drop the table into the
paragraph where I want it inserted, and it works beautifully.
How-to: From the “Table”
drop-down menu, choose “Table Properties,” and then click the “Table”
tab. Under “Text Wrapping,” click “Around.”
21. Table of
Unlike WordPerfect 12’s mark-and-generate “Table of Contents”
feature, Word 2003 can create tables of contents automatically, simply
by using Word’s built-in outline-level formats and headings styles
within a document. Each time I have used this feature in Word 2003, it
has taken mere seconds to create a beautiful and flawless table of
contents. I rate this option as one of Word’s best features.
Position your cursor at the chosen insertion point for your table of
contents. From the “Insert” drop-down menu, choose “Reference,” and then
click “Index and Tables.” Select the “Table of Contents” tab, and then
choose any other options you prefer. Note: Creating tables of contents
is an advanced feature. Please refer to Word’s offline or online help
for detailed instructions on creating tables of contents in different
22. Table of
Authorities and Mark Citations
While WordPerfect 12 still has the old-fashioned
mark-and-generate “Table of Authorities” feature, Word 2003 can mark all
citations automatically. The “Mark All” feature marks citations in the
document. This option is another one of Word’s best features for the law
From the “Insert” drop-down menu, choose “Reference,” then “Index and
Tables.” Next, select the “Table of Authorities” tab and choose the
category you want to include in your table of authorities, or select
“All.” Note: Creating tables of authorities is an advanced feature.
Refer to Word’s offline or online help for detailed instructions.
Footnote/Endnote as a ScreenTip
If you work with footnote-intensive or endnote-intensive
documents, you will appreciate this feature in Word 2003. By simply
positioning the cursor over the superscripted note number, the entire
text of the note appears as a Screen-Tip — a note that appears on the
display screen to provide additional information.
In a document, position the mouse pointer on the note reference mark,
and the note text appears above the mark in a “ScreenTip.”
24. View All
Footnotes and Endnotes
Because I frequently work with footnote-intensive briefs, the
ability to view and edit all of the footnotes at once is a great
timesaver. When this feature is activated, the screen is
split between the document pane (top) and the note pane (bottom). You
can drag the split-screen bar up to show more notes.
Choose “Normal” from the “View” drop-down menu. Next, choose “Footnotes”
from the “View” drop-down menu. When you have finished viewing and
editing notes, simply click the “Close” button to return to “Normal”
view, or choose the “Print Layout” view icon in the top left corner of
the note pane to close the note pane and return to “Print Layout” view.
Note: The following options also are available from within the “Note”
pane: “Footnote Separator,” “Footnote Continuation Separator” and
“Footnote Continuation Notice,” whereby you can alter each of those
Since the rest of the world mostly use Word, legal
professionals using Word have better document compatibility.
Purchase and begin using Microsoft Word 2003 today.
While I truly wanted to see WordPerfect
succeed and eventually triumph over Microsoft Word, I feel duty-bound to
preferentially use only software programs that streamline my work,
increase my productivity and make me more efficient. After objectively
comparing both software programs, it became apparent to me that
WordPerfect simply is not keeping pace. Will they ever catch up? That
remains to be seen. For now, Microsoft Word has become my program of
choice. Is it time for you to make the switch?