Hey Geoff (Pullum),…

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In MS Word, buried deep in File|Options|Advanced|Compatibility Options|Layout is the option to check 'Do full justification the way WordPerfect 6.x for Windows does'". If you use full justification, your document will look ugly unless you check that box.

Does that qualify as a form of nerdview?


  1. Maurice Buxton said,

    March 6, 2018 @ 4:55 am

    I'll leave Geoff Pullum to comment on the nerdview question, but will just note that this EXTREMELY useful option, added to Word years ago to ensure compatibility with the then extant version of WordPerfect, and which could have been described as "Do full justification THE RIGHT WAY, DAMMIT" … does not appear to be available in the latest version by default. In fact, all those compatibility options have gone missing.

    However, if you first save as Word 97-2003 .doc format, then resave as .docx, carefully ensuring that you check the option to retain compatibility with older versions of Word … you get them back again. You lose access to whatever whizzy new things have been added to the latest format, but this will often be a price worth paying if you're creating a document that needs full justification.

    I seem to remember that it's Mr P who has the maxim "every upgrade is a downgrade"? Certainly applies in this case!

  2. Geoffrey K. Pullum said,

    March 6, 2018 @ 5:18 am

    No, it's not nerdview. Nerdview involves presenting a message to the user or the general public while clearly adopting a perspective appropriate to an engineer or insider. "MIXED CARDBOARD ONLY" on a recycling container, to give a very simple example: it's the recycling center that needs to know it is of mixed types, not the user. We users only need to know that we should put cardboard in there; our cardboard doesn't have to be mixed!

    As regards this buried option, clearly revealing what I have always thought about Word (that it is and always was inferior to WordPerfect 6), I am grateful to know about it, but it will not affect my daily life, because I use a Mac, and my version of Word for the Mac (version 15.17 (151206)) there is no sign of this option. There isn't even an "Options" choice on the File menu, let alone File|Options|Advanced|Compatibility Options|Layout. And I'm not going to revert to the Bad Old Days of Windows just to explore this option.

  3. Frans said,

    March 6, 2018 @ 5:52 am

    If I'm not mistaken the option was removed in Word 20xx (not sure which one) because it allegedly has a better justification algorithm now.

  4. Jonathan said,

    March 6, 2018 @ 6:14 am

    On Mac, using Word 14.7 (I have never bothered 'upgrading' to Word 15 so no idea about that) you get this by Preferences>Compatibility>Options> Do full justification like WordPerfect 6.x for Windows. Then check 'Default'.

  5. David Frier said,

    March 6, 2018 @ 7:14 am

    "If you use full justification, your document will look ugly."

    There, I fixed it for you.

    Ragged right forever.

  6. Ralph Hickok said,

    March 6, 2018 @ 7:58 am

    I can't see as nerdview because it's aimed specifically at former users of WordPerfect 6.x who switched over to Word. They would have known exactly what it meant.

    As a one-time WordPerfect user who converted to MS Word, I can testify to that.

  7. J.W. Brewer said,

    March 6, 2018 @ 10:18 am

    What David Frier said. One of my recurrent real-world peeves as a working lawyer is "helpful" colleagues who, without asking, reformat my documents to make them full-justified, apparently oblivious to the possibility that I had drafted them with ragged-right-margin as a deliberate stylistic choice. (These are often the same people who think fully-domesticated legalese-English expressions like "per se" or "in rem" ought to be italicized.)

  8. cameron said,

    March 6, 2018 @ 12:03 pm

    There are lots more layout compatibility options where that came from, and they often have very explicit technical descriptions like that. I agree that this is not nerdview, just precise descriptions about what the behavior involved, in a language that users can understand. "Auto space the way Word 95 does" and "Lay out AutoShapes the way Word 97 does" are a whole lot more concise than a full description of whatever the relevant behavior might be. And full descriptions of the relevant behavior would still probably need to be glossed with reference to the earlier versions of Word that they are meant to emulate for them to be relevant to anyone.

  9. 번하드 said,

    March 7, 2018 @ 6:54 am

    Well, that nailed down the definition in the way I expected it to be:)
    The case described here is jargon addressed at nerd users/domain specialists, which is even charming in a way.

    As I see the discussion about justification, double spaces and other typographical concepts in the comments of quite a few recent posts (BTW, when I read "ragged right" somehow I see Steve Bannon in front of my mental eye, *brrr*) I remember that my typographical instincts made me shudder when I first saw what I call "violent full justification" in some older material from Korea.

    Example: near the bottom of the article at https://blog.naver.com/yessoopark/220740948595 you will find an LP cover. Have a look at front side, bottom right.

  10. George said,

    March 8, 2018 @ 8:47 am

    @ 번하드

    I agree about the LP cover. That would fully justify violence.

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