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Thread: MS Word can die

  1. #1
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    MS Word can die

    trying to get my MS thesis written. MS Word has crashed on me a couple of times already and I have not only lost edits that I have made since my last save, but the WHOLE DOCUMENT I've been working on is disappearing.

    My only saving grace is that my workflow for this involves saving as a new document every day I change something. this has resulted in a mess of extra files but I'm not losing THAT much work. still, this is driving me insane.

    my computer is no slouch. 2+TB of HDD space, quad core CPU, 8GB of RAM. I think it's gotta be some kind of limit for MS Word. It seems to be centering around a document I'm using to contain a bunch of figures. I'm watching said document get up to about 180MB and when I exceed that, MS Word flips out.

    looks like I've gotta start over, split the document into 2 or more pieces, and move on.

    I already have my document split into the pre-document pages (title page, abstract, TOC, etc), a separate document for each of 4 chapter texts, separate documents for the figures for each chapter, and separate documents for the tables of each chapter. so for one paper, I've had to break it up into 11 different documents and it looks like I'm about to break a dozen.

    this is going to be a mess when I try to merge all of these together later. hmmmm...convert each document to pdf first, then merge the pdf documents? that might be what I have to do.

  2. #2
    Nightriding rules SuperModerator
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    The learning curve is steep, but totally worth to use LaTeX for real docs like a thesis

  3. #3
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    Looks nice. Too bad it's too late for me to use it now. I'm committed at this point.

    That, and I'm curious how it'd work with the university's universe. They HATE open source software. I got railed at once for requesting the IT folks install some GIS analysis tools in the labs that use R. It actually says in the guidelines to use MS Word 2002 and NOT 07 (or newer), though everybody I know winds up putting their thesis in pdf, anyway (and my college has put Office 2010 on all the machines, anyway).

    I'm still running lowly Office XP at home, but for some things I think it's better than 2010.

    Things are functioning now that I've got my Chapter 3 figures split into different parts. I think part of the problem is that one of my committee members wanted me to boost the resolution of the maps I produced. The exported files went from about 1MB each to something like 15MB each, and I had to insert a dozen or more plus graphs. The .doc file with the maps is 222MB and the one with the rest of the tables so far is 68KB. My adviser did want me to condense a bunch of the figures later in that chapter, which ballooned the original figures document to 58 pages.

    I've gotta figure out how to condense 31 pages into less than half a dozen. Then I'm going to have to fix the chapter text, which I think is going to be a pain. I did manage to salvage the text by copying it from the crippled Word into OpenOffice for saving, but it lost ALL of the formatting.

  4. #4
    Nightriding rules SuperModerator
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    Well LaTeX is very popular in academic circles for writing papers (especially if you have lots of formulas in them).

    I learned to use it during my masters and continued during my PhD. Personally, I wouldn't go back to word for anything longer than 15 pages

  5. #5
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    WTF voluntarily using anything MS if they're even the slightest bit computer literate? For paid for software, Corel office suit works great and is cheap and I like, for free software, can't beat Open Office.
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    thats why i stick to notepad for all my technical docs

  7. #7
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    Run Word in safe mode.....it's probably an add-in that's making it crash.
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  8. #8
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    It's the file size. I split the major offending document and I haven't had any problems since. 200+MB per file with all the damn embedded figures.

    Open Office has long been my preference, but this university tries its hardest to get students using MS products. I got dragged in hard years ago and it was not worth converting everything.

  9. #9
    I build my own.
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    It is a file size problem. You'll probably be OK now that you've split the file.

    +1 for Open Office, but be ready for some weird formatting changes if you try to convert *.docx files.

    Edit: Our posts crossed. (Eerily similar, wouldn't you say?)
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  10. #10
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    I ran into similar problems when I wrote my thesis. As it turns out Word hates figures and Endnote so what I did was write a complete document of text only and inserted refs and figs at the very end. Word sucks...

    But congrats on your thesis

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by nwbikur View Post
    I ran into similar problems when I wrote my thesis. As it turns out Word hates figures and Endnote so what I did was write a complete document of text only and inserted refs and figs at the very end. Word sucks...

    But congrats on your thesis
    I had issues when using the endnote plugin for the standalone program, but I am currently using endnote web instead and it seems to work better.

    A friend who graduated awhile ago from the same program reminded me that she had the same issues. Then I recalled that I had already broken my document up into multiples at her advice. Everything was going fine until one of my committee members told me to re export all of my maps at higher resolution. I guess I needed to hit the file size limit myself so I could know what it was. It's a shame none of the FAQ's I dug up on the error message straight up said it was a file size problem.

    They all had me digging through program settings, registry keys, and all that BS ultimately saying to reinstall Office if none of that worked. I could not accept that had to be the solution. It was the occasional error message about insufficient disk space that got me wondering (i have four drives: two internal 500GB drives with more than 300GB free each, a 250GB drive with over 50GB free, and a 1TB drive with over 600GB free and I was working on the 1TB drive so I knew that was an impossibility).

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    I think you're right about the images in your document. Word has never handled graphics very well. If you've ever used a professional page layout pogrom, you find they have an option to load low resolution placeholders of the images when you are editing the document. This is to avoid the very problem you are having. Not that this helps you out much at this point.

    I do have the 64 bit version of word 2010 loaded on my home computer. There are a lot of warnings about using the 64-bit versions of Office, but it may be the solution you are looking for since it allows use of more memory. If you want me to test your document, PM me. Obviously you would need to also be running 64-bit windows (I'm running Win 7 64-bit).
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    I am running 64 bit Win 7 Ultimate...but I'm not gonna buy another version of MS Office. If I'm gonna spend good money on an office suite, it will be something better than anything MS offers and something better than the freeware/open source options out there.

  14. #14
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    Your university hasn't moved past Word? There is so much better software out there. Good luck though.

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    Quote Originally Posted by NateHawk View Post
    I am running 64 bit Win 7 Ultimate...but I'm not gonna buy another version of MS Office. If I'm gonna spend good money on an office suite, it will be something better than anything MS offers and something better than the freeware/open source options out there.
    Well I'm not sure such an animal exists.
    There are better programs for your specific needs right now though, but I'm not sure you want to buy something like Adobe Indesign, learn how to use it, and redo your thesis. Plus, you'll probably find far more reasons to hate Adobe than Microsoft (I know I have).
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  16. #16
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    Latex would be ideal, but it might be too much to learn at this point. Scientific Workplace is a good middle of the road alternative. Essentially, you want to disassociate the text from the figures. You then compile the document into a single document when you are ready to distribute.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bethany1 View Post
    Your university hasn't moved past Word? There is so much better software out there. Good luck though.
    No...saddening, isn't it? I can't believe how much money they waste on software licenses. Switch from MS Office to Open Office and SAS to R alone would save a boatload of money...maybe some of which could be used for better hardware. I don't know of a single hot rod computer that can do heavy lifting on campus.

    My college maintains the GIS labs and we don't have a single machine with more than 4GB of RAM. That isn't even enough to load a county's worth of the highest quality imagery available for free (6in resolution) in the area, let alone actually do anything with it.

    I downloaded that free typesetting program linked above. I won't use it for this, but I will work with it so I can apply it in the future when I need better control of my docs than open office offers.

    I was MS Office-free at home for awhile even. I only loaded this old version of office because I needed to use some Office specific tools for this university that is scared of open source software.

    I dunno, it seems to me like open source software should be the preferred choice for public universities unless commercial options really do offer things you can't get from open source

    Being that I am so close to finishing, changing programs would be wildly impractical now.

  18. #18
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    Regardless of software, here's a little trick I found for reducing image size. Open the image in a window that is full size and then take a screenshot in .png and crop the image. It generally works well, but every once in a while I get problems on the printed copies. Also be careful with graphs generated by a spreadsheet program. Generally if you imbed the graph (rather take an image of the graph) it will have all of the spreadsheet data attached to the image so the file will be huge. Again just take a screen shot or export the graph as an image.

    MS sucks. LaTex is amazing. Both of the universities I have attended have a LaTex compiler installed on the general network as it is (almost) exclusively used for mathematical based papers. It's a typesetting language that needs to be compiled with a class file to get the format correct. My current university (Oregon State) has a class file written already for the MS/PhD. format. It's really nice. It would probably take 2-4 days to learn the syntax you need provided you had a class file already and a user-friendly compiler (Kile is awesome). If you had to modify a class file to mathc your universities format then you'd probably need another week or some help. Also, anyone who is going to edit the document would need to know how to do it. The Beamertex class for creating presentations is so much better than power point I won't even do it the injustice of a descriptive comparison..
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  19. #19
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    My latex suggestion is

    Editor:
    WinEdt

    Latex compiler:
    Home - MiKTeX Project Page

  20. #20
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    I am almost finished with what I set out to complete before Word crashed on me the other night and I needed to make a run to my office to pick up some reference material I have in hard copy. I wanted to dig up a pdf on a particular source I couldn't get from home (forgot my password to access the library's proxy server so my account got locked and I probably won't be able to get back in until Monday).

    yowza...I hadn't been using my home computer for a long time because I've been in my office but crap, my office computer is a boat anchor. I have been here for more than half an hour and still haven't finished loading the pdf document I intend to e-mail to myself at home.

    Oh, and this talk of LaTex got me wondering...is LaTex associated with BibTex that I see as a citation manager file format option on journal websites?

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by NateHawk View Post
    Oh, and this talk of LaTex got me wondering...is LaTex associated with BibTex that I see as a citation manager file format option on journal websites?
    Yeah it's the LaTex "equivalent" of Endnote.
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  22. #22
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    How can or will they when there's so much "kick back" for them in pushing MS products? They get such a killer pricing on this stuff, probably nearly free as this is how MS gets to "sucker" users into using their products, because once most learn to use one thing they really don't want to have to learn to use another and stick to that product they spent so much time learning.
    Quote Originally Posted by Bethany1 View Post
    Your university hasn't moved past Word? There is so much better software out there. Good luck though.
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  23. #23
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    Bibtex does manage citations, but a tool to manage the bibtex file is useful. Take a look at jabref.

    http://jabref.sourceforge.net/

  24. #24
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    man, I love a good printer. high speed color laser - zoom!

    Thanks for the links about this LaTex and BibTex stuff. Too bad it's too late for me to apply it now. I should have begun using better software when I started back up after I finished chemo.

    I hadn't written anything but my proposal yet back then.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by LyNx View Post
    How can or will they when there's so much "kick back" for them in pushing MS products? They get such a killer pricing on this stuff, probably nearly free as this is how MS gets to "sucker" users into using their products, because once most learn to use one thing they really don't want to have to learn to use another and stick to that product they spent so much time learning.
    plus, you gotta think for the vast amount of students any ms program is enough. im probably in the most writing intensive undergrad program at my school and office is working fine.

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