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COMPUTER FILE / Richard O'Reilly

Add-Ins Enhance New WordStar

February 04, 1988|RICHARD O'REILLY | Richard O'Reilly designs microcomputer applications for The Times

It is not enough anymore for a serious word processing program to simply let you write and check for spelling errors.

With the top-of-the-line programs these days, you can mix type sizes and even type styles on a single line, if you want. You also can choose words from a thesaurus, create tables of contents and indexes and perform a myriad of other tasks that were unheard of on a word processor a couple of years ago.

WordStar 2000 Plus, Release 3, is one of the new breed of word processing programs on the market. This third version of WordStar 2000 benefits from major programming improvements by MicroPro International Corp. of San Rafael, Calif.

This is a very different program from the old standard WordStar and such successors as WordStar Professional.

There are two versions of the new edition of WordStar 2000. Each has its own set of supplemental add-in programs licensed from other publishers and merged into the menu from which WordStar 2000 functions are selected.

WordStar 2000 Personal Edition, which lists for $495, is intended for the writer and typical office worker. The other version, Legal Edition, priced at $595, is designed for law offices. Each runs on IBM and compatible personal computers and work best with at least 512 kilobytes of random access memory and a hard disk.

Personal Edition comes with PC-Outline, a popular outlining program; ShowText, an easy way to create text charts for overhead projectors, and Fill-A-Form, which allows you to program your computer and printer to fill out preprinted forms.

Legal Edition has an enhanced spelling dictionary that contains legal terms. It also has CompareRite, a program that allows two versions of a document to be compared and a third to be created from portions of the other two.

The third add-in is CiteRite, which ensures that legal citations are presented in the proper format.

Beyond that, both versions are identical. They have the same basic text processing software and the ability to have up to three documents open at a time and to insert graphics into a page. The two versions also have page and graphic preview modes to show how printed pages will look, and you can divide text into up to three columns of type on the page.

Other features include the ability to sort blocks of text up to 150 lines long alphabetically or numerically and to perform mathematical computations for groups of numbers typed in columns or in sentences, such as "2 + 2 = 4."

You can make mailing lists and merge them with form letters to do automatic mailings. You also can create permanent links between documents and Lotus 1-2-3 or Symphony spreadsheets so that any change in the spreadsheet automatically changes numbers in WordStar 2000 documents copied from those spreadsheets.

In addition, there is a telecommunications program, TelMerge, that allows you to connect automatically with popular services such as MCI Mail or CompuServe.

Cruise Control, an add-in program with both versions, lets you control cursor speed, and FileLocator lets you search all of your documents for words or phrases in various combinations.

Another feature of WordStar 2000, particularly important to law offices, is an ability to number lines on a page accurately regardless of type styles or line spacing.

Getting started with the program is easy. There is an opening menu that clearly shows your choices. A "speed" mode gets you started typing instantly and you choose later whether to save the document. That's great for dashing off a short message or quickly taking notes when the phone rings.

When you operate in the normal editing mode, you attach a format to a document controlling how it will look--its margins, type styles and the like--when you begin your work. The formats have descriptive names and the choices are displayed in a list.

There are some features about WordStar 2000 I really like that grow out of and improve upon the old WordStar.

For instance, you easily can control how much of the screen you want devoted to help messages and how much to the text you are writing. There are help menus that you can have displayed permanently on the top half of your screen while you write in the lower half. And once you become familiar with the basic commands, you can make a switch to have menus displayed only after you start to type a command and pause for several seconds before completing it.

WordStar--the old WordStar--long has been notorious for hard-to-memorize commands; usually, you had to strike the Control key and then two letter keys to issue commands. The design was excellent for touch typists because your fingers never had to stray from the typewriter key portion of the keyboard. But the control codes were maddening for many because the letters didn't match the words that described what they did.

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