Word and suchlike

Not a Scrivener issue, but I’m pretty sure there are people here who could give me some advice …

I’ve just been offered a series of academic editorial projects which will be a welcome source of freelance income. I’ve resigned my tenure and so no longer have university facilities i.e. no access to a PC or Word - which, of curse (nice typo) is a requirement for this work as it’s mainly hands-on track-changes etc. I’ve not noticed any lack of Word since leaving it behind - Scrivener does all of my serious writing and I compile and then tidy up with Nisus - but the publishers didn’t want to hear about that.

So what are my options? Will a new version of Word for Mac be o.k. (I’m running a new MBA) or should I invest in a cheap PC (it can be low-spec, this is the only thing it would be used for) and go back to Windows? Is Word available as a stand-alone product - I’ve very little need for the rest of Office.

The income, as one stream of a few, is o.k. - but I don’t really want to spend too much of it in advance - on the other hand, given the tightness of the deadlines they seem to want me to work to, having a guaranteed working system (I mean, not kludging through OpenOffice and the like) is necessary.

Any ideas?

word for mac should be OK (I’ve seen folks use it with track changes and comments here)(I don’t run it personally though as I’m pretty much “no MS on my mac” type).

Other than Word for Mac I’m not sure there is any 100% certainty for other apps. Have you tired pages? I expect it to fail but can not test now.

How long is this likely to take you?

Looks like you can get a free month of Office 365 and then it’s $9.99 a month thereafter.

And if you qualify, the academic pricing is considerably cheaper.

I haven’t tried those myself so I can’t vouch for how well they work.

I’ve seen notes that Nisus Write Pro can do track changes, and can save (and load) Word format. Isn’t that the case?

I like NWP and use it as my default editor for stuff I write. BUT, it is NOT fully compatible with Word.
NWP can read and write .docx files and has a very nice version of track changes, which seems to work well with the Mac version of Word (at the 2007 version level). However, I am editing a fairly complex document that came as a .docx file and it has figures and text boxes and tables and NWP burped with the text boxes. Formatting – as such – was hopeless and, had I continued with NWP, I would have had to re-enter the text. I forget what it did with the tables, but they didn’t look quite right.

Thus, I reverted to using Word. Didn’t want to, but what can you do. So, check out some complex documents before you commit to not buying Word. Your time has some value, and figuring out how to do something in NWP that is done unconsciously in Word will cost you.

HOpe this helps.


For complex (i.e., messy) documents in Word, I usually rely on LibreOffice. It’s not 100% perfect, but I’m speaking about very intricate technical documents, that I end up having to heavily clean-up. My LO documents exported to a Word format are read with no problems when going back to the original senders.

The cost is very low: from free, to a freee donation (I’m giving them a few euros each time I download a revision).


I like SarsenLintel’s suggestion of trying Office365. Microsoft seems to have given up on offering its Office products separately, but a year of 365 is about half the price of the full Office suite. Depending on how much work you’ll be doing for them, it might be worth paying for a few months of 365, rather than shelling out for Office 2011.

I use Word on Mac when I have to, but if you’ll be doing a lot of work with tracked changes, be sure to save often. At least on my system, it has a nasty habit of corrupting its autosaves and then crashing so hard I have to force quit.

Pages does pretty well with Word documents, though sometimes the formatting doesn’t quite make it through the conversion. I do know some people who use Google Docs for change tracking, but I think they’re all fiction writers; their editors probably have a higher tolerance for formatting oddities than yours likely will.

You might also check with the IT department at your old school - if you still have an email address, they might be able to get you academic pricing, even if they can’t give it to you for free.

Thanks for all the replies. I was excited by the NWP prospect and do very much like the track changes it now offers, but guaranteed compatibility is a must. So it looks like it will have to be MS word on a Windows machine. I notice that David Hewson who wrote a Scrivener book is extolling the virtues of the new Word track-changes features so that part sounds good. The contributors are world-wide and so in that context the strict Word requirement makes more sense.

This is a long term project, so it will defray the costs, and my old university e-mail address is still active and I maintain contact with my college so perhaps the academic discount will apply.

Thanks again.

Not sure why it would need to be on a Windows machine? I use Word on my Mac without issue (well, apart from the fact that it is Word). There are three main reasons why I keep it on my Mac: tables (Word handles Tables exponentially better than Pages); track changes; seamless file sharing with colleagues. I haven’t yet had a file of mine that colleagues couldn’t open or vice versa.

I do recommend using Word’s new docx file type (instead of plain old doc).

If for some reason you do really truly need Windows (I’d love to know why), then Parallels should be sufficient. At under $100 it’s a heck of lot cheaper (and more portable) than a second computer, even if you need to pay full price for Windows. A new MBA will easily run Windows in Parallels.

If you really want to avoid using Parallels, then you can set up Bootcamp on your Mac. It’s built in to modern Macs (i.e. free) and allows you to choose whether you run Windows or Mac OS X when you start your machine (although Windows must be installed separately). Once Windows is installed via Bootcamp, you can also set up Parallels to use the same Windows installation.

My 5 year-old MBP easily runs Windows 7 under Parallels, it’s a little slow, but not much slower than the dedicated desktop in my office on campus. Windows 7 in Bootcamp on my Mac flies along, and makes my 2-year old campus desktop seem geriatric. Because I have both Parallels and Bootcamp, I can choose whether I need full performance (when I use Bootcamp) or if I just want to access an app or two briefly while still using my Mac (in which case I use Parallels).

Thanks Nom - the reason is simply nervousness: I trawled a number of board discussions last night and there seemed to be almost as many horror stories as happy campers, especially where tracking changes and complex texts are concerned. I’m sure a fair few of the former are user error so I think I’ll take your experience as a hopeful sign and look into things a little more deeply.

VirtualBox is a free alternative to Parallels or VMWare Fusion.


Education pricing on Office for Mac is competitive and worth checking.

I use Pages to edit Word files (BTW, I really like tables in Pages, Nom) and send exported .doc files in return. Never had a complaint.

Ahh, user boards; 'nuff said.
Oh! Hang on… :wink:

I’d chalk it up to user error. Or, less charitably, Word being Word (from a platform agnostic perspective, Word is not the most stable application on the planet). Most of the issues I’ve had over the years are not with cross-platform compatibility problems, but just plain old Word problems. To be fair to MS, though, the stability of Word is better than it used to be.

However, while Word is bloated and slow, it is a powerful beast that can do any number of things that other word processors can’t. This is true on both Mac and Windows. I use it on both platforms and, apart from wishing the Mac version was more “Mac like”, have no problems on either platform. All of my colleagues that have a Mac also use Word (some of them exclusively) and none report any issues. We all share documents (specifically journal articles, theses, conference papers, funding applications and other academic stuff) seamlessly with our Windows colleagues. My wife uses Windows and we often share documents.

Note: sometimes the layout or look of a document will differ, but this is a “different machine” issue rather than a “different operating system” issue - sometimes people confuse the two. As an example, if my wife downloaded a fancy font and used it a document, then sent it to me to print, it wouldn’t look the same if I don’t have that font on my computer. It wouldn’t matter what type of computer I have, Windows or Mac, it’s the lack of the relevant font that matters.

I like tables in Pages too (particularly the shortcuts for adding new rows and basic formulas), but they are limited and very basic compared to Word. For complex table layout, Word can do things that Pages won’t even try to mimic, it just dumps the formatting. In terms of tables, I’ve pushed Pages to the limit and it was a very short trip with not much to look at on the way.

As a recent example, I had a table that had a cell of vertical text used to label consecutive rows (the cell was several rows high). Pages stripped that formatting out, reconfigured my table and left it looking… ugly. No point in exporting back to Word at this point (although I did try out of curiosity, Pages simply exported the Franken-table it created). I had to go back to Word to keep the table structure I needed.

As another example, try (from memory) mid-table page breaks in Pages. Be sure to have some coins ready for your swear jar…

Personally, I’d drop in a text box of vertical text, write a
separated by carriage returns, or tweak the design to avoid vertical text completely rather than resort to Word.

Shocked to learn that you think I would ever swear, let alone need a swear jar. :open_mouth:

If you already have access to a Windows license and a copy of Word then parallels is an option, but I’d recommend dual booting instead of running as a virtual machine for anything you’re going to be spending this much time in.

Another thing to look into - depending on just how close your ties are to your old University - is Microsoft’s Home User Program. That enables employees of organisations with large numbers of licenses to offer very favourable terms on MS products. By which I mean £15 for the Office suite.

Maybe it’s because you don’t use Word or need complex tables. I note you didn’t try the page breaks, so keep the jar ready just in case… :wink:

Interesting factoid: swearing is good for you. It appears to be one a universal release mechanism in that it reduces pain (literally) and relieves tension. It can even keep the in-laws at bay. There seems to be something about expressing the taboo that helps. But, and this is important, the benefits are not dose dependant: swearing more does not increase the benefit. As with all good things, use only in moderation and keep in mind the effects on others. :slight_smile:

Another Word for Mac user here. I’m a user who regularly exchanges documents with Word for Windows users, with all kinds of layout and formatting - and nary an issue (well, apart from my ingrained dislike of Word, and, of course, the usual “finger” problems…). nom summarises what is also my general experience of the software.

I also have a virtual Windows environment set up on my Mac, using Parallels, on which Word for Windows 2010 is installed. I set this up for another particular piece of software that’s only available for Windows. But I don’t recommend stepping down this route if you don’t have to. You need quite a lot more RAM, and, basically, getting going is a fuss, apart from all the usual virus-blocking, update-downloading Windows annoyances - life’s too short.

Was a long term Word user, but avoid it as far as possible.

Not yet found a table I can’t format in Pages to a standard that I am happy with…I actually prefer the clarity of design that Pages offers. If a table flows across a page, why is a page break needed? Again, I’d rather work in Pages and allow the table to flow or create a separate table on a second page rather than work in Word. Intrigued to see a complex table that Pages can’t get close to replicating.

Yes, I’ve heard that about swearing. Can’t think of any word that I consider taboo, so I can’t think of a word I’d use. Perhaps…Microsoft. :unamused:

I also think there is no good reason not to proceed with Word for Mac. If you are emeritus, you probably still qualify for academic pricing as well (if there is any justice in the world).


Thanks - sadly not exactly emeritus: I resigned my tenure after 20 years so that I could write more of what I wanted to - but it seems that as I am still publishing and giving the odd guest lecture most academic discounts do currently still apply.

The situation at the moment is that Nisus said that Word/NWP/Word should work, so I tried a few small (but typical) editorial projects just using NWP (which has very nice Track Changes implementation) and the publishers have reported back that it all seems perfect so far, and that if it ever stops being so they’ll let me know …

Thanks again.