While writing the manual for Progress with Quest, I came across a really horrible quirk in Microsoft Word 2011 on the Mac.

PDFs exported from Word on the Mac don’t have active hyperlinks. This happens no matter which settings you use: Save As PDF, or Print to PDF, etc. Exporting PDFs with links actually used to work in older versions of Word on the Mac but was inexplicably dropped recently.

The lack of links in the finished document caused me quite a lot of pain: opening the document in Open Office destroyed the formatting, so I had no choice but to use Microsoft Word on a Windows machine to export the document. But then I had another problem. Word on Windows doesn’t work properly without a printer installed. It randomly removes spaces from your document, causing words to run together. It doesn’t highlight these words as spelling mistakes, so they are fiendishly hard to spot. When I opened my finished manual in Word for Windows, a fair few words were randomly shunted together: the last thing I needed for a manual for a dyslexia application. I didn’t know why this had happened at the time, so we had a lot of extra checking to do. Thankfully we got there in the end, and I have to say thanks to Cheron for helping with the proof-reading.

I’m now looking into using Scrivener for technical authoring. Have you tried it? Please let me know how you got on.

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Claire Broadley

Technical writer, blogger, and editor at Red Robot Media
Claire Broadley has been a technical author and web content writer at Red Robot since 2010. She contributes to dozens of websites, focusing on consumer technology, online privacy, digital marketing, and small business topics.
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