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As this is an editor question.. this has high risk of becoming a flame war. Please, if you're compelled say "real programmers use Vim" or Emacs or whatever, turn away now.

60% of the time I "write" .. and use MS Word 2010 because I like it. It is the bomb for writing.

35% of the time I "edit" .. usually HTML,XML,CSS.

5% of the time I "edit" with REGEX, and I do it so rarely that I have to learn from scratch each time. Further fuel to the confusion when I do jump into REGEX, I have yet to settle on an Editor or REGEX dialect.

Anyway.. this leads to my Q: Can MS Word be "skinned" or otherwise changed to be a good Editor?

  • delete some cruft from the toolbar
  • set it up so there is no page layout, just continuous file (can that be done?)
  • set it to save to the desired txt file encoding

Just seems to me I could be more efficient if I didn't switch from Word, to Editor, to REGEX so often.

(..and yes, I acknowledge MS Word REGEX isn't true REGEX .. but it works for my needs)

Nervous asking this Q, since so many people have passionate feelings about Editors.

UPDATE: I tried this for a while.. and do hearby announce this was a profoundly stupid idea. (I can say that about myself:). MS Word is a word processor, and a very good one. It is nowhere near being a programmer's editor. It's that apple-orange thing.

share|improve this question
When trying to edit code/markup in Word, your biggest issue would probably be autocorrect, including things like auto capitalisation. Those can be turned off, but I don't know of a quick way to do so (since you spend most of your time using it for word processing, going through the options every time you want to switch would be less efficient than using a dedicated editor, e.g. Notepad++). – Bob Mar 2 '12 at 12:15
"Stupid" is a bit harsh - this question comes up periodically from people who don't program full time. It just turns out the tool you selected isn't well suited for this particular job. – Scott Wilson Apr 19 '12 at 18:18
up vote 1 down vote accepted

How much of this will work depends on what version of word you use. I don't have an older, non ribbon version of word on hand to test. This does work on starter, so it should work on better versions.

You can save as plain text (maybe would need to run tool to convert a windows/dos style line end to a unix style). File -> Options ->Save "Save files in this format" Then select plaintext (*.txt) to make it the default.

Rightclicking and minimise ribbon would remove the toolbar unless you needed it, or hit the little ^ there ( see the image).

Select draft view to have a continuous workspace.

I'm using starter edition, but it should be the same for the regular version - the screenshot is incorrect, its pointing at draft mode, but calling it outline mode.

enter image description here

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When you save as plain text, at least in my copy of Word 2010, it allows me to select encoding and line end style (CR only, CR + LF, LF only). Web layout would also work for a continuous workspace (what's the difference?) – Bob Mar 2 '12 at 12:17

No, there are several points which are not provided by MS Word (at least not to my knowledge) but by almost every "proper" editor, even the free ones.

  • Syntax Highlighting
  • Code Folding
  • Ability to set the encoding (CP-1252, UTF-8, etc.)
  • Integrated RegEx engine
  • Stuff like "Comment Region", "To upper-case", invoke a debugger

In general you have to disable many default functions in MS Word in order to make it suitable for coding.

share|improve this answer
Concur. It's been 3 years since I posted original q. I've learned and become adept at Notepad++, gVim, OxygenXML and others---they all excel at the MS Word shortcomings you mention. In particular, I could not live without syntax highlighting, regex and auto-pretty indenting. OTH, when I have serious "writing" to do, I still use Word. – Paulb Jun 3 '15 at 10:27

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