Using Microsoft Word for Technical Documents

Microsoft Word is not the best tool for doing technical writing.  However, sometimes we are required to use Word because we need to collaborate with others who want to use Word.  Right now, I am using Word 2007  on Windows XP to write several mathematical papers.  In general, it is a big improvement from previous versions.  The new integrated equation editor is outstanding–except for the major bug I’ll discuss below.  Here is a brief “FAQ” you will want to read if you are using Word for technical writing.

Q: How do I enter multi-line equations in Word 2007?

A: Press Shift-Enter where you want a line break to appear

Q: How do I prevent a page break from splitting a table into two parts?

A: Select the table.  On the Home tab, click the little box in the lower-right corner of the Paragraph box.  On the paragraph dialog, choose the “Lines and Page Breaks” tab.  Check the box for “Keep Lines Together.”

Q: How do I automatically number headings in Word 2007?  For example: Section 1, Subsection 1.1, 1.2, 1.3, Section 2, etc.

A: It’s not obvious.  See this page from about number headings.

Q: In Word 2007, why do equations sometimes appear as blank spaces or question marks when I print or save my document as a PDF file?

A. This occurs when Word is installed on Windows XP Pro.  See the following Microsoft tech support item to find out how to install missing scripts:

The characters in an equation are not printed

You may also have an outdated printer driver:

Microsoft Support Item 920228

Q: Why do equations created in Word 2007 disappear when I open the document in Word 2008 for Mac?

A. Word for Mac does not support equations written in the new Word 2007 equation editor. Unfortunately, neither does PowerPoint 2007 on the PC.  You can work around this by inserting equations into Word the old-fashioned way: go to the Insert tab, click on Object (found in the “Text” box towards the right side of the tab), and choose “Microsoft Equation 3.0” from the list in the dialog box.


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