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On 3/25/2014 6:24 AM, Tanstaafl wrote:
But what if someone *wanted* the formatting to be controlled by the sub document(s)?


Having the option one way or another (the current way as default makes sense though) provides more control, no?

I suppose having options is generally a good thing, but I'd much rather create and change formatting in one master document than have to change and synchronize 20 or 30 subdocuments to make sure they all work together. Is it better to encourage people to learn better methods of working or to keep giving them the option of using older, less proficient, methods?

Just philosophizing for a second, I think one of the drawbacks of office suites in general is their attempt to be all things to all people. If you were raised on the typewriter model and don't want to learn a better way, you can apply direct formatting to each and every paragraph of each and every document as you type, without regard to styles. If you prefer styles and templates, you can take full advantage of them. As a result, most tasks can be performed in at least four or five ways -- i.e. keyboard shortcuts, menus (accessible through either the keyboard or mouse), toolbars, direct formatting, styles, etc.

But, by having so many options, people retain the option of never learning, never growing, into more proficient document creators. Having too many options keeps it easy to stagnate and continue to work harder.

I teach a technology for paralegals class at our local university, and I cringe when I get to the section on office suites. Following someone's advice (Tom, I think), I recently gave my students a six-page unformatted computer file along with a printed copy of the same document, fully formatted. I asked them to use whatever methods they normally use and reformat the computer file to make it look like the printed product. Using direct formatting, they each spent about 45 minutes and ended up with a mess. I had one student declare that, in order to achieve the desired result, she would simply delete the text from the document and retype the whole thing, formatting as she typed. She had no clue even how to directly reformat existing text. I then demonstrated how I could reformat the entire document in 4 minutes using styles. Even so, the resistance to learning styles remains high. Perhaps, we could get folks past the Underwood model if office suites stopped offering that as a legitimate option for creating typeset documents. Instead, in order to placate those users who remain in the (early) 20th century, office suites still have to provide a typewriter style method of working. By retaining old methods to satisfy those who refuse to grow, we have poor Brian still trying to get people to stop thinking in terms of "line spacing" (good luck with that).

Of course, I realize that office suites can't be so elitist as to insist on one way of working. There are too many different methods of achieving results, and we have to accept people where they are. But, it is so sad to see people remain stuck in outdated technological methods simply because their computer programs continue to permit it.

Oh, well, enough of an early morning rant.


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