Strange Arrangements in MS Word

I am a reluctant user of Word, but at times my hand is forced. Real pro uses of the Word probably understand its idiosyncrasies, but I sure don’t.

In Word (2007) “single document interface”, aka “SDI” is the default. In SDI each document opens in its own window, which you see represented as a task bar button. SDI never worked well for me since I frequently have many applications and many documents open at one time.

Luckily, for a few versions now MS has offered this nice option found under Advanced | Display | “Show All Windows in the Taskbar”, which effectively toggles off the “MDI” mode or “multiple document interface”. MDI is king for me because it reduces taskbar clutter and therefore the number of alt+tabs I have to do to find my way back to the right document when I have 10 applications open, some of which have 4 documents open.

Here’s the strange thing… Whether in SDI or MDI mode, for some reason Word cannot arrange multiple documents in a vertical (left-and-right) arrangement. Only horizontal (top-and-bottom). This is absurd. In a world where monitors are wider, not taller, why must I be forced to split my document views along the long axis? Adding insult to that injury, the vertical pixels the ribbon nearly uselessly commands detract from usability even further. And by the way, Excel 2007 can tile vertically, but Word 2007 can’t. What?

Stranger yet — and thank you if you followed me this far — in MDI mode, you can still work outside the Word box. I just discovered this Windows trick, maybe three months ago actually, after oh, maybe 13 years of using…

Ctrl+Click taskbar buttons and ask them to tile vertically. Just what I wanted! So why it that so hard to do in Word?

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