Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary and Thesaurus on CD-ROM

If you haven’t yet read the New York Times editorial by Mark Goldblatt on the bowdlerization of Microsoft Word’s thesaurus, you owe it to yourself to do so. You can read the piece here:

http://www.nytimes.com/2001/10/23/opinion/23GOLD.html

(You may need to register in order to read the article. But it’s free!)

Goldblatt chronicles his discovery that Microsoft has, astonishingly, removed “offensive” terms from Microsoft Word 2000’s thesaurus–including such words as “fool,” “idiot,” and “nitwit.” So can this milquetoast collection still be called a thesaurus? Nah.

But I don’t care, because even before I found out about this idiotic (oops!) turn of events, I bought Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary and Thesaurus on CD-ROM. You can learn more about the program here:

http://www.m-w.com/book/elecprod/elecc10.htm

The Merriam-Webster Web site describes this little marvel as “the complete Collegiate Dictionary, Tenth Edition, and Collegiate Thesaurus in a fully searchable electronic format [that] delivers accurate, up-to-date language information.” The price? Just $14.95. (I’m not making any money from this, by the way. I just like the product.) The program can be used “while word processing, composing e-mail, preparing presentations, surfing the Web, browsing CD-ROMs, or designing spreadsheets.” But to me the most important thing is that it can be used from *inside* Microsoft Word. It comes with a Word macro that you can assign to a menu or key combination. Then you can put your cursor on a word you want to look up and run the macro. The Merriam-Webster dictionary (or thesaurus) will open for your use.

While I was buying the dictionary and thesaurus, I also bought Merriam-Webster’s Spell Checker, which is basically a spell-checker dictionary (based on Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate) that you can use to replace the one that comes with Word. The price is only $12.95. You can learn more about it here:

http://www.m-w.com/book/elecprod/spell.htm

Amazing! Astonishing! Astounding! Marvelous! Miraculous! Staggering! Stupendous! And not bowdlerized.

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READERS WRITE

Last week, Ned Humphrey asked for a way to disable Word’s “automatic titling” feature in the Properties dialog. You can read Ned’s comments in the Readers Write column here:

http://www.topica.com/lists/editorium/read/message.html?mid=1708956278

Steve Hudson responded:

Looks like Ned is doomed. There’s no way to turn that feature off. About the best bet would be to assign the following mini macro to a key or toolbar:

ActiveDocument.BuiltInDocumentProperties(wdPropertyTitle)=””

as well as intercept the ‘send to’ command and do likewise before actually doing the send.

Of course, a dangerous way around it is to include it in the autoopen event–but that means ALL documents will be untitled next save . . .

Thanks to Steve for this possible solution to Ned’s problem.

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RESOURCES

Jean Hollis Weber’s Technical Editors’ Eyrie is a Web site where technical editors can:

* Share knowledge, experiences and resources

* Demonstrate to writers, managers, and others the wide range of knowledge and skills technical editors have to offer

The site offers links to other editing resources and an archive of Jean’s free newsletter on the ins and outs of technical editing. Why not sign up while you’re there?

You can also download (and purchase) Jean’s helpful books:

* Taming Microsoft Word

* Editing Online Help

* Electronic Editing

You can visit the site here:

http://www.jeanweber.com/index.htm

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