28 April 2015

Three Timesaving Add-Ons for Microsoft Word

Frustrated with Microsoft Word
As ubiquitous a platform as Microsoft Word is, there’s a number of functions missing from the platform. There’s nothing more frustrating than spending hours adding or stripping away hypertext links, images, or any other mundane element from a Word Doc. We’ve evaluated these tools over the last year, and they’ve proven to boost our productivity. These tools aren’t freebies, but they’ve saved us a ton of time preparing manuscripts for publication. (Also as full disclosure, we’ve not received any promotional consideration for any of these products.)


Don’t let the 80s rock band sounding title of this application fool you. Kutools offers over 100 of functions the folks at Microsoft should have put included in Word. The biggest timesavers in the package are the remove functions. If you’ve ever dreaded removing all the hypertext links, blank lines, images, or bookmarks from a Word Doc, Kutools can strip all instances of those elements out of a document with a few keystrokes. The package also includes enhanced tools for converting tables, field codes, and manual/paragraph breaks into more other formats. You can check out all the functions at the Extend Office website. They offer a free trial, and the Word package will run you $39.

Note Stripper

If you’re a non-fiction or technical writer, you’re well familiar with the boon and bane that is Word’s footnote and endnote function. The database functionality of cataloging sources is great for citing references thought-out the course of a manuscript. You're well aware of the problems you'll have when trying to turn your footnotes or endnotes into editable and/or static text. Dumping a document with Word’s references embedded into InDesign or other desktop publishers, can also be a nightmare. Note Stripper will automatically convert your references into static text with a laundry list of different options for style, placement, and editability. The package is $29, and you can find out more about Note Stripper’s functionality at the Editorium website.


You don’t always have the luxury of having a buddy to read over your copy before sending it out to someone or posting online. Grammarly is a multiple set grammar, style, and plagiarism checks that catches hundreds of items not covered by Word. Subscription to Grammarly is a yearly fee of $139.95. The subscription comes with the ability to check text via their website or an embedded add-on for Word. The strength of Grammarly is that the program’s flags will force you to take a closer look at elements of your writing. Grammarly is by no means a substitution for a professional editor, but it will help you clean up your “I think faster than I type” mistakes.

The weakness of Grammarly is that the checks are not all inclusive and the presets might not exactly fit your chosen style guide. A huge issue with the program is that while Grammarly is running within your Word Doc, the tack changes function cannot be activated. So if you're using Grammarly as part of a first run through a manuscript, Word will not record the changes you've made for someone else's review. Another problem we’ve had with the embedded Word program is it seems to connect to Grammarly's servers to run checks on your text. This process often hangs up or has  connectivity issues with manuscript sized documents. There’s also not a function to save the items you’ve ignored within a document. So every time you run a check on a document, those items that don’t apply to your manuscript will show up again and again. Finally, the plagiarism checker is a bit over zealous in identifying word strings that the program considers lifting copy. The unexpected benefit of the plagiarism check is catching instances you have simply forgotten to include a footnote or endnote. The package is pricey, but it does serve as an extra set of eyes that will save you from some embarrassing honest mistakes. Find out more about Grammarly at their website.

We live by the motto of economy with dignity here at Grave Distractions Publications and yes there are macros out there for free that will accommodate some of these functions. However, we’d rather be working on just about anything rather than tracking down macros that may or may not work. The net result is that if you’re pushing a lot of digital ink, these tools are worth the money and will save you the most precious commodity of all—time.

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