Academic writing is difficult enough without the ‘tools’ making life harder. MS Word is 22 years old! Any system this old would generally be called a ‘legacy’ system. Here are my top reasons for replacing Word.
1. Referencing does not work
The referencing function in MS word is very simple, and generally does not format to academic standards. If you use bibliographic software (e.g., Zotero, Endnote, Mendeley) then you have to manage a plug in, which often fails. Also, the reference types used in these applications (they are pretty much all the same) are mostly ‘not quite right’ forcing you to have to edit the reference in Word. This means you need to (a) know the intricate details of academic referencing, and (b) allow sufficient time for re-formatting.
2. Contents and captions must be re-numbered constantly
Move an image or add headings requires the user to re-number the caption label (for images), or ‘update’ the table of contents when new headings are added. This constant annoyance means continually checking what you are writing, wasting valuable writing time.
3. Formatting often takes longer than writing
Aside from the above two issues, headers & footers, page numbers, bullet alignment, often can get ‘out of whack’, and if you do not know how to manage Word Styles, then formatting can take longer than actually writing.
4. Collaboration requires cut-and-paste assembly
You cannot write collaboratively using MS Word. Which means if you are working on a group project, someone has to take charge to be the cut-and-paste assembler. This person then ends up with all the formatting to do. When it is finally assembled, the text can seem disjointed because the members have used different writing language, and then one person needs to edit to fix it up so that it reads ‘as if’ written by one person.
5. Version control is manual
If you are writing over an extended period of time, or writing a large document, then you need to keep different versions of your history ‘just-in-case’ of a system crash, or a hard-drive fail, or because you want to retrieve something you wrote last week.
- It is in the cloud, saves every 30 seconds, stores history (3-in-1 reason)
- Reference and text formatting are done automatically, including numbering, after you hit ‘export’
- I can spend more time on researching and writing content, thereby improving the quality of my work