Who still uses Wordperfect?

I had an odd question come up the other day: Who still uses Wordperfect? It’s a fair question. Wordperfect, as you may know, is still very much in production. Corel releases new versions every year or two. It’s the #2 word processor in the market, still. Someone is still using it, then.

Wordperfect is a software classic, especially the old version 5.1 that ran under DOS. For a time, Wordperfect 5.1 was one of the two most famous programs for IBM compatible PCs. The other was Lotus 1-2-3.

Who still uses Wordperfect? Lawyers.

Not all law offices use Wordperfect, but it’s more popular there than anywhere else. Wordperfect was a staple in law offices for decades and that momentum was hard for Microsoft Word to overcome. It doesn’t hurt that Wordperfect has bundled functionality for legal documents. The time this saves is worth a lot of money, especially to small law firms. That’s enough to justify still using Wordperfect.

Who still uses Wordperfect? Administrative assistants.

Administrative assistants who type and edit a lot of documents often prefer Wordperfect over Word. I can personally attest to Word doing strange things to document formatting sometimes. I was in charge of a huge documentation project, and the people who had final approval of the work didn’t understand a word of it, so instead they looked for formatting errors. If they found something, they rejected the document. Sometimes I would spend more hours fixing one or two formatting issues than I spent correcting the content or researching and writing entire new sections.

If I’d stayed in that role and had the option to use Wordperfect, I would have become a convert very quickly. I didn’t have the option and I didn’t stay in the role. I’ll bet whoever does my old job now can’t fix some of those old issues either.

Wordperfect’s advantages

With Word, to correct a formatting issue, you have to highlight the text, hit a button, and hope the formatting that’s messing you up goes away. Usually it does. It’s that one time out of 10, or 100, that it doesn’t that makes you want to throw a chair at your computer.

With Wordperfect, you don’t worry about it. You just turn on a feature called reveal codes, find the offending formatting code, delete it, and carry on. If you can’t find the offending code, delete all of them, then start over, reformat the word or phrase, and carry on. All hiccups are minor. Word has something similar, but it’s not quite the same, and to a Wordperfect diehard, not as good.

Wordperfect also does a better job of handling long documents. I’ve seen Word do strange and unpredictable things to really long documents. Not every time, mind you, but when it does, it can slow you down. Or force you to start over.

These advantages are reason enough for some people to still use Wordperfect.

The user interface

Who still uses Wordperfect? People who like this interface.
Wordperfect’s user interface still has old-style menus and a toolbar. You can customize the toolbar if you wish.

The other thing about Wordperfect is the user interface. Some people find it clunky and old fashioned, because it still uses the old-style interface with menus and a toolbar, like Microsoft Office did before Office 2007. For others, that’s a feature. The nice thing about the menu structure is that you learn keyboard shortcuts as you navigate the menus. Eventually you learn that CTRL-F is find and CTRL-P is print. Microsoft’s ribbon treats you like a beginner forever. The only way to learn those shortcuts anymore is to talk to dudes like me who’ve been using Microsoft Office since the early 90s, but I won’t know all of them. Just the ones I use frequently enough to not forget.

If you don’t want to learn the keyboard shortcuts, you can still customize the toolbar, taking out stuff you don’t use to make room for stuff you do. Personalizing the toolbar can increase productivity significantly.

It’s really difficult to become a Word power user these days. To become a Wordperfect power user, all you have to do is spend some time with it and pay attention to that text on the right-hand side of the menus.

Is Wordperfect obsolete?

No, Wordperfect is still being supported and new versions come out occasionally, every few years. If Wordperfect meets your needs, there’s no reason to switch to something else. I’d be committing security malpractice if I didn’t tell you to keep it up to date, install bugfixes as they come out, and to upgrade when your version falls out of support.

Why people still use Wordperfect, and why I sympathize

Back when I started doing desktop support in 1995, the non-IT staff wanted us to support Microsoft Powerpoint and Excel, Lotus 1-2-3, and Wordperfect. We didn’t have the budget to buy those software packages individually, so Microsoft Office won since people wanted 2/3 of its suite and only 1/3 of the two competing suites. I also didn’t want to have to master three office suites. Learning one suite was hard enough. Consider that “support” meant installing, troubleshooting, and teaching staff how to use it.

Today, I sympathize. I’m not a Wordperfect user myself. I’m just a sympathizer. I know the binds it can get you out of. I don’t answer questions about word processors anymore, at least not for a living. But I also figure if someone wants to use Wordperfect in 2019, I’m not going to have to answer any questions for that person either.

Some people know how to make Wordperfect really sing, and accomplish complex tasks in a short period of time with it. Not everyone, but some people. We call them power users. So that’s who still uses Wordperfect.

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9 thoughts on “Who still uses Wordperfect?

  • July 7, 2017 at 4:12 pm

    Yes indeed, WordPerfect all the way. For all the reasons you listed, plus MS software was my only source of blue screens in NT4 so I still avoid it when possible. I still haven’t forgiven Novel for delaying WordPerfect for Windows more than a year, loosing the momentum to MS Office.

  • September 11, 2017 at 9:45 pm

    Right here! I was raised on WordPerfect in the 80’s when I worked for law firms both as a temp and permanent legal secretary/paralegal. All of the law firms had it. I became intimate with Reveal Codes when I would diligently study documents that IT departments would create just to see how they worked their tech magic with templates, macros, etc. I learned so much on one temp job when I worked on a Supreme Court brief. Talk about Advanced Quantum Macros! I started my own business 25 years ago and took WordPerfect (and that magic) with me since I knew it like the back of my hand. But I felt kind of alone on this word processor island until I started reading articles like yours. I’m glad that you clarified some of the nuances and advantages because my time trying to figure out Word was short. I’m glad I didn’t waste anymore of it. For me, it was like night and day. I’ll continue to be a loyal power user to the very end!

  • January 13, 2018 at 7:35 am

    I’ve been using WP ever since version 4.2, will never go back…I also have MS Word, I find WP to be much more user friendly. Just selecting something as simple as a weird paper size in MS Word is almost impossible, try selecting a 6 inch by 4 inch for example. Rows and columns are easy. MS Word is an inferior product marketed extremely well. Mr. Gates is a marketing genius can’t fault him there.

  • January 14, 2018 at 6:06 pm

    Long-time WP user, from legal background. Yes, it’s the reveal codes. You can actually get into the document and see what’s going on and make it do what you want. You can get under the hood. Word, and MS in general, never trusts you to do that. You’re always just knocking around in the dark. It’s sad that the the inferior program has largely won out.

  • March 16, 2019 at 1:53 pm

    I used wordperfect for years and years, and loved it for all the reasons you outline above. But finally had to move over to Word while working on a book manuscript, because WP won’t support unicode, and publishers want manuscripts using unicode fonts. Too bad. I’d go back to WP in a heartbeat if they’d support unicode.

  • April 15, 2019 at 2:00 pm

    Nice to see this article. I’ve been using WordPerfect because Word was even invented. I have both programs in my computer but I hate Word. But I avoid Word and use it only when forced to. WordPerfect is so much easier to use.

  • May 29, 2019 at 7:21 pm

    I have used Wordperfect since its inception. What I like are the code screen to find how to correct a typo or other wrong editing. Find the code and erase it just like a letter and type in the correction. Same amount of effort. When I have had to use Word, I put Wordperfect on my computer as well mainly to find the codes surrounding errors. Document can be saved back to Word format. Editing errors is actually fun in WordPerfect….especially because it takes longer in Word to find and correct errors in large and small documents.

  • May 29, 2019 at 7:24 pm

    I forgot to mention above the ability to program macros for corrections for a whole document completely adding “save” at the end and other little whims your heart makes up….can all be done with the macros even jumping from one document to another to continue corrections. This is something to create from one’s need and imagination.

  • July 7, 2019 at 1:39 am

    I started using WP 4.1 (DOS 3.3). You just started typing. You could edit, make changes to segments of the document or the whole thing. You didn’t have to get into “EDIT” mode like in Word. I hate that you have to get into a special mode of working even in Word 97 and beyond (you type the document raw, finish, then edit, and hope to #$@!!! that Word doesn’t decide you changed styles, and changes stuff you want it to leave the $#(%! alone.) I fancy myself a writer (no one else does), and with WP, I get to concentrate on that. Oh, and the auto-backup has saved me SO MUCH grief.

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