Thursday, January 6, 2011

WordPerfect X5 now X8 - Quick Review

WordPerfect X5 now version X8 - the venerable Word Processor. Brief comments about this product.

I'll keep comments short, because most of you are snickering - WordPerfect -- are you nuts? I suppose. But I do know this: In another window, I am editing a 1,800 page document with 900+ illustrations and not once have I lost a graphic or have been concerned with changed tab-settings or weirdo-bullet-lists that have gone astray.  Word would puke on this.

2016 Update:  WordPerfect is now at Version 18 (x8).  Same menus, same features as their first Windows version.  If you learned on any older version, you will feel perfectly at home.  Sure, there is new stuff, but it is the same tried-and-true word processor that we all love.  And the price is right.  Buy the Student version for something like $45.

Things like tabs, margin-releases, indented paragraphs and graphics with word-wrapping, all work nearly effortlessly in WordPerfect. If you are fiddling with the ruler-bar each time you need an indented list or header, then you are working too hard and I'd bet you are using Microsoft's Word.

I'm sure in Word you can remember having to backspace an entire sentence just so you can delete a bold or underline that wouldn't go away. In WordPerfect, this doesn't happen. WP resolves these issues by exposing everything about the document -- as you type, using a feature called Reveal Codes.

(Click image for larger view; click right-x to return)

In the image above, note the Revealed Codes in the bottom of the illustration.

You can see the paragraph-block protect codes, the bolds, underlines and margin-releases. Anything you can do to a word, sentence, or even an individual character, is exposed in this window. These codes are editable, deletable and selectable and you can do this without switching modes. Most of the time, you don't even use the mouse - you can do the work from the keyboard.

Most importantly, these codes are unobtrusively resting at the bottom of the screen, occupying about 5% of the editing space. Compare this to Microsoft Word, which can show tabs and carriage-returns and a few other measly codes -- but that is all.  When word does show these codes, it clutters your editing space.

Here is how it looks in Word.  This is so sad:

I could go on about other features but it is enough to say WordPerfect understands word processing; this program is not an after-thought and it lives and breaths document processing. You will find this an easy-to-use, fluid program. And it is inexpensive.

WordPerfect X5 (version 15) Home and Student Edition:

I recently upgraded from WPX3 to X15 (skipping version 14), for no other reason than I wanted to see the latest edition.   Update:  I am now on version 17 and am pondering 18, again, for no other reason that to keep it current.

You get the following in the Home/Student edition:
  • WordPerfect
  • Presentation - similar to Powerpoint
  • Quattro - Spreadsheet, similar to Excel
  • Lightening - a Note-taker program
  • A DVD of Clipart, Fonts, etc.
  • Complete DVD training videos

The other programs, particularly Presentation, are probably swell, but I have no need. If you do not already own an office suite, then this is an added bonus. The suite has a lot of features and the price is right.

WordPerfect is not Word

WordPerfect operates differently than Word.  Here are the most important points to understand:
  • Take 5 minutes and learn how Reveal Codes work. This is not the only reason to use the program, but it definitely rates top-on-the-list.

  • When you make a font-change, tab, margin, etc, the change happens where the cursor is, and flows through the bottom of the document (or until stopped by another related setting).
    There is no need to highlight a 17 page document to change the font.
    Just move to the top of the document and change the font. Same with line spacing, default tab settings, etc.

    If you change a setting in the middle of the document (say a page-footer), that change takes effect from that page, onward; in other words, it is easy to change headers and footers and previous pages are unaffected. This is noticeably different than how Word works and you will find this is surprisingly handy.

  • If you choose to highlight a sentence, paragraph, page, and make a change, the change only happens for the highlighted text; everything else remains as it was -- this includes margin changes!  Make the change in the highlighted area, and all settings just after the highlight remain as they were.  Word never figured this out. 

  • If you highlight a block of text and change a font, margin or other settings, conflicting codes within the highlight are removed and replaced with the new values. This is exactly what you want to happen.

  • When you first load the program, make this one settings change: Tools, Settings, Display: Set mouse to be active in Text (I wish Corel would default this setting; trust me on this; it makes the program behave much more naturally)
  • If you insert graphics, there are probably 50 different options that don't exist in Word.

    For basic graphics, it works as you would expect. Unlike older versions of Word, you can move the graphics anywhere on the page; you are not restricted to Left, Right, Middle.

    Beyond that, how graphics are easily anchored to characters, paragraphs or pages, with complete control over wordwrapping, captions, borders, etc.  Vastly easier to manipulate than Word, and vastly more options.  
  • Numbered lists work properly.  No surprises.  And all is visible in Reveal Codes.

  • If you like indented and hanging paragraphs - everyone does - press F7 to indent.  It just works.

    Unlike Word, you can indent more than one tab-stop - making deeply-indented paragraphs. Once indented, word wrap will be just the way you like; no need to fiddle with the ruler-bar or margins.

    With a similar keystroke (Shift-Tab), you can have a hanging paragraph on the left-side of the margin -- all without using the mouse or ruler.

Changes from WPX3 to X15:

The look and feel is identical to the older versions; if you were expecting drastic changes, you won't find them. The menu structure and most of the options have barely changed in the last several versions - this means no re-learning.

However, I noticed it loads my larger documents with externally-linked graphics, faster than before. For example, a 100-page document with 40 illustrations, used to take about 10 seconds to load and roll to the bottom. This now happens in half that time. The first several pages load in micro-seconds. (Since this article, I upgraded to an SSD drive and now load times are instant.  Progress, indeed.)

As you would expect, it can read and edit Microsoft Office Documents, Open office and something like 40 other programs. It has full PDF features (writing to PDF is built in).

You can legally load it on your desktop and laptop at no additional charge (see license). I suppose it has other whiz-bang features and you can read about them on their site.

Final Thoughts:

If your new PC came with an expired trial version of Microsoft Office, consider paying $45 (Amazon) and buy the WordPerfect Office Suite.  I recommend using the Home/Student edition; you likely don't need the Standard, Professional or Legal versions.

Demo versions can be downloaded from

You will get a capable spreadsheet (not quite Excel, but not bad), and a fabulous word processor, along with other software and training materials.

Write one term paper or one long document with footnotes, graphics and font changes, and you will be hooked. Things like printing envelopes and mail-merges work easily and intuitively. I expect you will like this program.

Related Articles:
WordPerfect - Hanging Indents / Paragraph Headers
WordPerfect - Block Protect Text Across Page Breaks
WordPerfect - Using WP for School Papers - Page Numbering

1 comment:

  1. Agreed entirely. Reveal Codes is the best feature of WP. Also 1. macros very easy; I use them all the time. 2. numberlists are easy.

    Thanks for the set mouse to text tip.


Comments are moderated and published upon review.