This article describes some options in setting up MS-Word to be more helpful and less annoying. Broadly, these options pertain to all versions of Word, but instructions here are specific to versions prior to Word 2007.
The way MS-Word comes set up "out of the box" can be extremely annoying at times. The good news is that Microsoft has provided ways of getting Word's behaviors under control by changing its options.
I Just Want to Do It MYSELF!
A fair number of the suggestions here are to disable certain Word automatic features. Some "auto" features, like AutoCorrect, are useful. Others are distracting (like Startup Task Pane and SmartTags), or counter-productive and even destructive (Define styles based on your formatting, Keep track of formatting).
You probably won't agree with all these suggestions - Hey, "different strokes for different folks", right? - but some of them might fix one of your Word annoyances.
Changes to options and defaults take place in one of three different places:
All three places can be accessed by going to the Tools menu of the Menu Bar.
Show me the gold... ALL the gold!
Out of my face, Part I: Smart TagsWhen Microsoft introduced Smart Tags many reviewers considered them quite useless and a complete disaster on the part of Microsoft. Nevertheless, they are probably very useful for a very small percentage of MS-Word's users. For the rest of us:
Out of my face, Part II: Paste Option Buttons
Out of my face, Part III: Real-time spelling and grammar checkingWhile I find Spell Check essential, I find Word's Grammar check is not smart enough or sufficiently discerning to make it at all useful.
However you feel about them, you may not want them in your face all the time - they can be very distracting when you want to focus on a completely different aspect of your writing. You can turn them off and request their services when you're ready (F7).
Don't call me, I'll call youThe Startup Task Pane - Clippy's dipshit cousin.
Formatting Marks, turn on your headlights!Almost universally, uninformed users want these off all the time, but they are essential while applying formatting.
Recently used filesRecent is a convenient way to retrieve existing files, maximize it's utility by having Word show you more of them.
Beware of double-edged swordsDrag-and-Drop and Typing Replaces Selection are two features that can be very useful to some, and very frustrating to others. Have it the way you like:
Stop Word from trashing your Styles and bloating the Styles listStyles are one of the most useful features found in any word processor, if you're not using them you really should find out how. In an effort to introduce more users to styles, Microsoft has implemented some features which, unfortunately, actually can make using styles more difficult and annoying.
Bruce Miller, 2000, 2005
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