Open Source Word Processing

April 27, 2006


I recently started to grow tired of Microsoft Office controlling my PC and the last time I reformatted my PC I opted out of installing Microsoft Office 2003 in favour of the free open source application suite This entry focuses on the Word Processors that are included with the suites.

Microsoft Word 2003

Like most of you reading this article, I am a Microsoft Word veteran having used the application suite Microsoft Office since Office '97 was available and I consider myself well versed in the operation of Word. By well versed I mean I am capable of formatting a document how I would like and using all the little things like spelling and grammar/synonym check, paragraphing, format painter, that sort of thing. I am 100% happy with the way Word operates 99% of the time. Why did I want to switch away from Microsoft Word? I didn't, but some advice from a friend of mine put me on the trail of Open Source software and I was no longer interested in using Microsoft Office for my daily word processing activities.

OpenOffice Writer

As a Word user, I expected Writer to look like Word when I opened it up after installing it. After waiting a ridiculous amount of time for the programme to execute I was greeted with a fairy familiar screen landscape. I proceeded to explore Writer and search for similarities and differences since Word/Writer plays a large part in my computing life, at any given time, if one of my computers is on, it is usually open to the Word Processing application of my choice, so I wanted to know exactly what was what with my new Word Processor.

I will say that Writer is clunkier, and not as streamlined as Word, but it is trying its darndest to look like MS Word in its layout and overall operation. One thing you will notice straight away is that the page that is displayed that you are typing on is actually to the left of your filed of view on the screen. This is most irritating for veteran Microsoft Word users like myself as I find that I like the page that I am working on at the time to be in the middle of my screen. Another thing that you will note immediately is that the menu bars at the top of the application are slightly irritating the way they sit atop one another instead of line up into one line. Without extensive configuration of the buttons you want to keep around, you cannot “slip” the toolbars into place.

What do I use now?

Microsoft Office 2003 for Microsoft Word


I will not mince words (no pun intended) MS Word works better. It formats better, it starts faster, and it looks better, IMHO. I am also not entirely sure, but, seems to mess around with the way that my pc is handling copying/cutting and pasting. Something has happened where it does not always work and after some thought this problem seems only to be in effect when OpenOffice Writer is involved.

Writer is a great alternative to MS Word but if you are used to MS Word I see no reason to switch to Writer at this time and in its present state of development. Switch at your own risk, I have decided to follow my original instincts and stick with MS Office.



5 Responses to “Open Source Word Processing”

  1. martinz Says:

    Hiya, MartinZ here, glad to know another blogger in WordPress. Keep in touch.
    tektrekgamer Says:
    April 30th, 2006 at 12:03 am e
    Heya: I was just doing a search on Technorati for my blog address and I came accross your site. I see your pulling my post about freewebs and me moving to a new domain… The contact information on my website is readily available. Please get in touch. Thank you. -Sebastian of Seb’s Random Thoughts.

  2. Henry Says:

    Hi. I’m sorry and surprised you didn’t get on with I use it constantly at home and work and I’m very happy with the programme.

    The main difference between the two programmes in terms of usability is the different approach to styles. Rather than applying formatting in an ad hoc way in M$ Word, OpenOffice encourages you to define formatting styles that can then be quickly and easily applied to your documents. When you’ve done this all sorts of powerful options become available.

    It sounds like I regularly use more advanced features than you (multiple columns, different page styles, macros, templates, indexes and tables), and I find almost all the functionality of Word, but usually in a better organised form. There is a learning curve, but if you can get through this I do believe OpenOffice is a better programme: and it’s free and easier on your conscience.

    As for your quibbles, you sound like you didn’t want to be convinced. It only takes a few seconds to place the page in the middle of the screen and line up the menu after all.


  3. olorinsledge Says:

    In support of Seb, OpenOffice does have some difficulties with opening Excel spreadsheets properly – I noticed this when my brother started using OpenOffice. He’s since had to go back to Office 2003 because of this issue.

    Not sure about it’s Word support – never bothered asking him about that.

  4. Uwe Says:

    Hey Henri,
    I have been using OpenOffice for a couple of months now but did not know how to change the page position from left to center in print view!

    How do you do that?

    I checked in “Option, Appearance” but it is not there nor in the menu it seems. I tried right-clicking in the desk area.

  5. tektrekgamer Says:

    Yup. Thats what I’m saying! There is no where as far as I could see to change that setting.

    I don’t think the guy is around to answer your question though. Thanks for stopping by and please check out the rest of the blog.


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