NEARLY WORD PERFECT

WordPerfect is an iconic word processor, known in song and story. Okay, so we’re exaggerating a bit, but the fact is, this was the first big-time word processor and millions of users became addicted to it. Many still are.

wordperfect-x5WordPerfect has millions of users partly because it’s cheaper than Microsoft Office and has lots of useful features. The new “WordPerfect Office X5.” for example, has a built-in screen capture utility; you can “grab” all of part of anything on the screen, including pictures.  And it has its own PDF utility; you can bring in any PDF files and edit them.

That means you can keep the parts you want, erase the rest, add pictures or comments– all things you can’t normally do with PDFs. (PDF files retain the original content and page formatting.)  If you use this capture utility while surfing the web, you can capture anything you want from a web site and convert it to a PDF. You can pull parts or all of it into whatever you’re writing.

WordPerfect X5 includes a spreadsheet, a presentation program (like Microsoft PowerPoint),   and one of our all-time favorites: PaperPort, a powerful file organizer.  When you start PaperPort, all your files appear as thumbnail images. We find this extremely handy. If you drag and drop one PDF thumbnail into another, they combine. PaperPort also lets you convert scanned slideshows into PowerPoint files or scanned spreadsheets into Excel files.  Basically, any piece of paper you can scan can be edited with this program. Just about anything you do in WordPerfect X5, can be saved in a format used by Microsoft Office, and this works in reverse as well.

X5 includes a customized version of Mozilla’s Thunderbird email, which has a built-in calendar, mail merge functions and can pull in news feeds from Reuters, ESPN and other sites. For the first time, WordPerfect is compatible with Microsoft SharePoint, which is what most business people use for collaboration on the web. You click “check in” to view and make changes or add comments, then click “check out” to make those changes stick.

A warning: The Microsoft Word documents we opened in WordPerfect came in as bold text, instead of standard text; we had to use WordPerfect’s “reveal codes” feature to return it to normal. (“Reveal codes” is very useful and we haven’t seen it elsewhere.) This problem of text being made boldface without our permission only happened when we pasted in documents from MS Word that used the “Calibri” typeface. Unfortunately, Calibri is now Microsoft’s default typeface, though many say it looks ugly in print. (Could Microsoft have been thinking ahead about how to make life difficult for WordPerfect?) In any event you can easily change the typeface to a more common one, like Times Roman or Arial. Or you can re-select Calibri from the drop-down menu. The second time it comes in un-bolded.

This tiny complaint may not bother you, especially if you’re a lawyer who likes the built-in legal aids, or a novice who likes an easy-to-use program.  We’ve always liked the way WordPerfect handles the insertion of pictures: the text automatically wraps around the art work. Everything is pretty easy in WordPerfect, and they make it even easier with a big “Reference Center,” that has links to tutorials and tips for all of the included programs. The standard version of the program is $250, the student version just $99, at Corel.com.

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