Using Word, The Sensible Way

Do you use Microsoft Word for daily project work? Well, why shouldn’t you, Word is the most common word processor world-wide, easy to use and pre-installed on many workstations. But what about distributed work on the same document? How do you guarantee error-free copying & pasting, and how do you approach the versioning of your Word documents?

How Do I Use Word Sensibly?

How Do I Use Word Sensibly?


Focusing On Content Or Utilizing Strengths?

Using Word seems to hold a lot of advantages: individual layouts, a clear structure, graphics, and seamless integration of Office tools. Even printing circular letters is easy.

Now imagine varying contents. One single requirement is altered – what about your requirements specification? No problem, you implement the changes quickly. Always being thorough you also check for associated test cases. Changes are implemented here, too.  How do you find these test cases? I see, you included a note at the respective place in your document.  So far, so good. But what about possible consequences to realization? Are there technical aspects to be considered? And should you notify anyone about all these changes?

It is obvious: This active and shared work on documents is not one of Word’s strengths. Word is perfect for simple text work. Content work should be done with tools that can handle changed like these.

Working In Teams

How do you know whether contents in a document are up-to-date if more than one person is assigned to these contents? Of course, you can track changes. But do how do you know if the document you are looking at is the latest version of this document? Can you be sure that someone else does not have a copy of this document on his or her computer, making changes while you are making your’s?

Working in teams with Word does work to a certain degree, but there is always a risk involved. And how do you avoid this risk? Simple: by using a database-supported tool enabling you to work on individual elements concurrently with other users. All changes are versioned automatically. Even changes communicated via e-mail are managed with the affected element – centrally. This way, all information on elements is up-to-date, at all times, and traceable.

And if this tool generates all this information into Word documents at the push of a button your team work will be a lot smoother.

If You Need More Than One Document in Your Projects

That is probably the case. For example, you may document technical risks along with general project risks in the same document, but list these technical risks also in a different document. No problem, as long as you do not have to worry about consistency between these documents.

Ideally you use a solution capable of generating content in various documents and formats. The only thing you have to do is to define once which documents including what content in what  layout you need. Then, simply push the button and the tool does the work. Error-free. Secure. Traceable.


It is no sign of weakness that Word is often used for things it was not build for. Its easy handling and general availability makes it so popular. But Word just isn’t made for content work. Please, use Word, but sensibly, with specialized tools designed for work in teams, e.g. with requirements, changes, tests or risks. Tools that make all the advantages of Word shine even more. At the push of a button. Error-free. Traceable.

Do you have a different opinion? Are you  interested in finding a tool to work in teams, while you keep using Word? Let’s discuss it …

Michael Schenkel believes in useful tools, that support users in their work and that provide a common working environment for all types of roles in a project. He became a member of the microTOOL family more than fifteen years ago and took over the position of head of marketing for about half a decade. In October 2017, he moved on to a new adventure and we wish him all the best on this new path.

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