UgWord for the Unwary

Antonia J. Jones: 6 December 2002


General Project Guidelines

Your COMSC Project should emphasise design and evaluate a computer-based system using appropriate processes and tools. The final product should be of high quality, reliable, on time, and maintainable. The report of the project should include:


It is amazing, considering how many people use UgWord (it must run into millions) how few have any idea how to use it properly (or, come to that, any document preparation system properly). Yet if there is one thing that will stand you in good stead in the future, in almost any profession, it is the ability to painlessly produce good documents and presentations.

How many people who use UgWord can:

These are all necessary in a well presented report, which should be treated as essentially the production of camera-ready copy for a short book. At the end of this document there is a link to skeleton UgWord documents which illustrate all of the above features, including the use of sub-documents.

Although UgWord is a worthless piece of rubbish software, it is what most undergraduate and M.Sc. students use to prepare reports and dissertations. Personally, I insist that my Ph.D. students use Latex - but Latex has a learning curve which is a bit steep for the few months of a third year undergraduate project (Actually it is not so bad if you use a pre-defined style and stick to it - the worst part is installing the software, which is free incidentally, and getting it all running smoothly.) So to those of you who are more or less constrained by circumstances to dwell in the valley of the damned and use UgWord here are some tips which might prevent the worst of the frustrations or disasters.

1.The Save bugUgWord has a Save bug, which appears to be something to do with the Undo feature. The effect is that as you keep using Save the file gets longer and longer. With a file of any length eventually you will be making edits, do a Save, and then get an 'out-of-memory' error - even though you are not out of memory. There is then no way to retrieve your current edits - they are lost - and in the worst case so is the file you have been working on. This is made worse by the AutoSave feature. [Reflections on the save bug]

The solution is (before you start) to go to Tools/Options/Save and turn off everything except 'Always create backup copy' and 'Embed True type fonts'. Then you must regularly use SaveAs and change the filename each time (I put a hyphen followed by a number at the end of the filename and just increment the number each time). When you SaveAs a new filename UgWord loses the undo information and the file stays at a reasonable size. Although this strategy is potentially dangerous if you forget to use SaveAs regularly (I always use it after a complicated edit which I would not want to do again), it is surprising how quickly you get into the habit, and the extra hassle is almost unnoticeable. It also has the advantage that if you delete something you decide you want later it will still be present in an earlier version of the file. At the of a long session do not delete the old files (if you are tired there is a good chance you may delete something you want), wait until the next day when your brain is functioning better.

2. Sub-documents. Even so UgWord does not handle long files well and, when writing a report of several chapters with multiple graphics, it is best to use sub-documents - see below.

3. Graphics. When inserting graphics into a document do not use cut-and-paste. There are all sorts of reasons for this which I won't enumerate, but one is that graphics have a habit of becoming scrambled in a document so that they cannot be viewed or printed - essentially they are lost. Create a sub-directory (Folder) called Figures and put all graphics files for the document into this directory - this way a graphic can always be re-inserted if something goes wrong. If there are many figures in your document you might create a sub-directory for each chapter which just contains the figures for that chapter.

Bit-mapped graphics look awful when printed, especially when resized, but cannot be avoided if you want to show screen-dumps. Increasing the screen resolution may improve matters (but is a big hassle) but the file size of the graphics can then become very large, which can lead to instability of UgWord. Bit mapped graphics will look better when printed in colour. For all other graphics use Encapsulated Postscript (EPS) files which can be resized without loss of quality and always look much better when printed or viewed in a PDF file.

On a PC EPS files can be created using CorelDraw (which is itself not so easy to learn), or some other object-oriented (vector) graphics package, and then Exporting the file (save it as a CDR file as well of course). A tip here is to Select All objects in the graphics editor  and check the Selected Only check box  in the Export dialogue. You can also Export EPS files from Mathematica.

Experience has shown that it is better to give the graphics file a name that reflects its contents, rather than a name like 'Figure 1-1.ESP', as figure numbers will change if you decide to insert a new figure somewhere, and this will rapidly become confusing.

4. Figure numbers. Unlike some word-processors (such as WordPerfect) in UgWord you cannot insert a figure into a Frame with an automatically generated caption (i.e. where you insert the description but the system generates the 'Figure X-X' automatically). Although UgWord 'kind-of' supports Frames their use is discouraged because of the Frame bug. The Frame bug is that after a few figures have been placed in the document the automatic updating of figure numbers cease to work. (This simple fact once ruined an entire Christmas for me when I was working to a deadline. I had to redo the whole job in WordPerfect.) This means that figure captions are not locked to figures (if anyone can tell me how to do this I will be happy to hear - although, as you will have gathered, I avoid UgWord, just as I would avoid bubonic plague, whenever possible) and so, as you edit text, you have to make sure that the figure and its caption do not get separated.

One must use automatically generated caption numbers if one wants to automatically generate a list of Figures after the list of contents.

Rather than trying to insert a new caption when the time comes, it is far easier to copy and paste an old one and then change the text description. The number will update automatically the next time you !UpDate fields.

5. Equations. Some reports will require equations. To the professional eye poorly entered equations are roughly analogous to a horrible smell at a dinner party ! In Latex both displayed equations and in-line mathematical text are easy to handle, but for those poor saps using UgWord the only half-way decent option is to use MathType, which is a relatively inexpensive add-on equation editor. It takes an afternoon of experimenting to learn how to use MathType effectively and, although the results are not as good as Latex, they are perfectly acceptable.

6. Equation numbers. Equation numbers should be vertically centered in-line with the equation and flushed to the right margin in round brackets, in plain text not bold or italic. Preferably equation numbers look like '(2.3)' - meaning equation 3 of chapter 2. Do not generate a list of equation numbers after the list of figures - it is unnecessary and looks silly.

7. Styles. Each type of text has an associated style. It is important to make sure that the text you are entering has the correct associated style. This is normally shown in a little window at the top-left and can easily be changed for the selected text. A typical style for text is 'Normal'. You can edit styles but you must have some idea what you are doing, otherwise the results can be semi-catastrophic (I say 'semi-catastrophic' because, again if you have some idea what you are doing, most things can be undone). The main thing to understand is that when you go Format/Style/Modify if the 'Automatically update style' box is checked then everything in the current document which is associated with that style will change both immediately and also anytime when you are editing and you change an attribute of text (such as font) associated with that style.

The best strategy is always to leave the 'Automatically update style' box unchecked except when you want everything in the document to change. The exception here is numbered items, such as captions or Headings - which need automatic updating enabled to work properly. For all other Styles, after updating the style go back to the Format/Style/Modify menu and un-check the 'Automatically update style' box.

Using Format/Style/Modify/Language it is possible to turn off spell and grammar checking for a particular style. This can be dangerous (but again it can be undone) if done with a style like 'Normal', but is useful if you are including things like programming code in an Appendix, and the wavy underlines are annoying you. Simply create a new style for that particular kind of text for which the language checking has been turned off.

8. Links to skeleton documents: Download these documents and put them all in the same directory. If you Open the Master document straight from the web then all the hyperlinks to subdocuments will be missing and generate an error message in the Master document. Whereas if you download them to the same directory and then open the Master document all should be well.



    Chapter 1. doc

    Chapter 2. doc

Load the Master document into UgWord. Select View/Outline. You need to get used to switching between View/Print Layout  and View/Outline. The toolbar which enables you to manipulate a Master document (unlock, expand, etc.)  is not visible except in View/Outline. On the other hand the document looks nothing like what it should except in View/Print Layout.

To add a new subdocument to a Master Document :  First create the subdocument in the appropriate directory/folder. Next expand the Master document and find the location where you want to insert a subdocument. Select View/Outline. You should have a button which looks like an icon of a floppy disk and a document with an arrow pointing at the disk, this is the 'Insert Subdocument' button. If it is not there you have to go through the gruesome process of adding it. To do this go to Tools/Customize and then scroll down the list on the left until you find 'All Commands'. Then scroll down the list on the right, which mercifully is in alphabetical order, until you find 'InsertSubdocument'. Now drag and drop this icon onto the toolbar. If the button is there but is grayed out you are probably in the wrong view or haven't expanded the Master document, or something like that. Fiddle around until it becomes accessible. Click on the Insert/Subdocument button and then 'Browse' until you find the subdocument you created earlier. It should now appear in the master document as a section heading (when you  'Collapse' the Master document the path and file name will appear as a hyperlink). Look at the Section break before and after the subdocument. Are they 'Continuous' or 'Next Page'. You may have to add and delete sections breaks around the subdocument to get the desired effect. .  

Make sure the path and filename of each sub-document are correct for your situation, although since these are hyperlinks they should have updated relatively and be correct. You can find how to rename a sub-document using Troubleshoot master documents and subdocuments from the Help index (it is amazing, but 'subdocument' appears not to be indexed in the help file). Quote:

  1. Display the master document in outline view.
  2. Collapse the subdocuments. (should already be collapsed in our example).
  3. Click the hyperlink of the subdocument you want to rename.
  4. On the File menu, click Save As.

    Show Me

  5. Enter a new file name or location for the subdocument, and then click Save.
  6. To close the subdocument and return to the master document, click Close on the File menu.
  7. Save and close the master document.

Note   When you rename a subdocument from within a Master document, the previous version of the subdocument file remains in its original location. If you want, you can delete this subdocument file.

Once this is done for each file we can expand the Master document. There should be a button on the Outline View toolbar which looks roughly like a yellow square. (If it's not there go to the end of the toolbar, pull down the small arrow and then check the relevant box.) When you put the mouse pointer over it, the legend 'Master Document View' should appear. Clicking on this button enables the sub-docs prior to expanding or contacting the Master document. Once the little padlock icons on the left of the sub-doc filenames have disappeared we can expand the Master doc. To do this you click on the button whose icon looks a bit like two pages on top of one another, the top one having a down arrow. The mouse pointer over this button should reveal the legend 'Expand Subdocuments'.  If you now switch to View/Print Layout you should be able to see the whole expanded document, including the sample front cover page which I have borrowed from a previous student project.

Hopefully by now you have got the general idea of working with the Outline View and toolbar.

Once your Master doc skeleton is working correctly you work on each sub-doc individually, without having to work with the whole document. This is a big advantage especially when you have a large number of graphic files.

Note. You can't edit the contents of an expanded sub-doc from within a Master doc when the sub-doc is also open.


Before the final print run do a careful, full spell check and make sure all tables and cross- references have been updated. Examiners are much less tolerant of spelling errors these days, precisely because it is so easy to avoid them. Then generate a PDF file if you have the facilities (or make a preliminary printout if you can't do it in PDF) and take some time to read the document carefully. It is simply amazing how frequently students do not actually read what they have written (at least this seems the only plausible explanation of some of the outrageous things that find their way into final reports). A spell check won't find places where the word is spelled correctly but is actually the wrong word, grammar checkers are not yet good enough to be reliable, and no program written will reliably check semantics (meaning). Watch out for figure captions being separated from the figure (e.g. because we can't use Frames the figure can appear on one page and the caption on the next - bad news).

I am not an expert on UgWord, merely a traumatized and very reluctant occasional user, so please don't email me with all kinds of questions or problems, because I probably won't know the answers and my advice will be "don't use it in the first place". Of course, if there is anything in this document that is wrong, or if you have any useful tips of a similar type, then please let me know and I will update it.

Disclaimer. The software UgWord described in this document is (of course) entirely fictitious. Any resemblance to real software, living or dead, is entirely coincidental. If I happen to have a short-cut on my desktop called UgWord that is simply a personal idiosyncrasy.