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Barry MacDonnell's
Toolbox for WordPerfect

Macros, tips, and templates for Corel® WordPerfect® for Windows®
© Copyright 1996-2016 by Barry MacDonnell. All Rights Reserved.

Page updated Jul 2, 2017

WordPerfect Tips
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Migrating from Microsoft Word® to WordPerfect®

Basic differences between the two programs

Setting up WordPerfect to be more familiar to Microsoft Word users

Why some menu items, toolbar buttons, or shortcut keys might appear to be missing from your WordPerfect program

Tips on applying fonts and other formatting to a WordPerfect document

Related pages -

Converting files between DOC and WPD formats


Basic differences between the two programs

Probably the most useful difference to know about is the way the two programs deal with formatting

1. WordPerfect is "stream oriented".

From the Templates page on this site:

"... The main thing to keep in mind here is that, unlike some other word processors, WordPerfect is a "stream oriented" program, where format codes take effect until they are either discontinued (i.e., stopped or suppressed by user intervention) or replaced by another code of the same type (e.g., a new text color).

Hence, new formatting applied in the document is downstream from previous formatting and upstream from other (potential changes in) formatting.

It is the way we type (or dictate, or assemble) material into a document: There is a stream of information with a beginning and end. Occasionally we give the computer an instruction to change the appearance of something in the stream -- like hitting the Caps Lock key to emphasize letters as we type them.

Format codes (see Reveal Codes) do the same thing.
Note especially that single format codes can be inserted into the stream of text and they will affect subsequent, downstream text; or, if you select text first, they will bracket the selection with a pair of codes -- one to start the formatting and one to stop it -- and the formatting will apply to just that selection.

This simple "stream" metaphor can help you produce complex or creative formatting -- sometimes with things beyond what other word processors allow -- but it can also help solve many format problems, too."

2. Microsoft Word is "object oriented". 

All text and formatting instructions are grouped into internal "containers" (a.k.a. "objects") -- sections, paragraphs, words, and sometimes even individual characters. Formatting for each (and every!) one of these containers is typically governed by styles, which include one or more format insttructions. [Word also allows direct formatting with an attribute such as italics, which sometimes conflicts with similar format styles, but neither issue is important to the current discussion.]

An old web site, wpvsword.com (now archived at web.archive.org here), described it this way:

"... Word, on the other hand, is object-oriented. Every letter, word, sentence, and paragraph is an object. To help people grasp the concept of object-oriented programming, Microsoft uses a simple analogy: oranges. You can imagine that an orange has several attributes that can be changed: it has a color, a texture, etc. It can be changed by being painted or peeled. Therefore, once you understand that you need to select an object when you want to manipulate your Word document, you begin to understand how to work in Word. ...  objects need to be selected and changed as opposed to the document being amended 'From This Point Forward' [as happens in WordPerfect]."

Further, such objects are not open for inspection and modification -- and troubleshooting -- the way WordPerfect's Reveal Codes allows.


1. See The New York Review of Books blog article Escape from Microsoft Word (October 21, 2014) by Edward Mendelson which explains this difference brilliantly.

2. Is WordPerfect more cost-effective than Microsoft Word? A very experienced user of both programs compared certain features of both programs in a "production environment" in TechnoLawyer (2006); see this thread in WordPerfect Universe.]

Setting up WordPerfect to be more familiar to Microsoft Word users

There are a couple of ways to do this -- manually by choosing various settings, or automatically with the Workspace Manager (in WordPerfect 12 and later versions)

1. Manual method.

WordPerfect lets you manually enable a (basic) Microsoft Word menu, main toolbar, and keyboard shortcut layout with Tools, Settings, Customize. These and various other Settings can be enabled/disabled to enhance a simulation of Word's look and feel.

This was the traditional way to customize WordPerfect for new users who were familiar with Word. For example, in the Customize Settings dialog you can scroll down in the Toolbars tab to enable a Microsoft toolbar, or use another tab to choose a Microsoft menu or keyboard definition.

Starting with WordPerfect 12, Corel made things a little easier:

2. Automatic method.

You can use Tools, Workspace Manager (see Corel's article and screen shot here) to do these things with a single choice from the Manager's menu. You might also see this dialog appear whenever you launch the program.

However, the Workspace Manager feature is not without potential downsides, as the next section shows.

Why some menu items, toolbar buttons, or shortcut keys might appear to be missing from your WordPerfect program

[By way of example:]

Using Microsoft Word Mode versus WordPerfect Mode

If you are using a WordPerfect program that was set up with Microsoft Word compatible menus, toolbars, and/or keyboards (see previous section above) you might find some program tips or advice on this site (or on other sites) puzzling if they refer to menu selections, toolbar buttons, or keyboard shortcuts that seem to be absent from their referenced locations.

Rest assured, the underlying program features and functions activated by those "missing items" have not been removed from the program. They were merely hidden from view.

Typically, new WordPerfect users sometimes bump into this "missing item" issue when they use the Workspace Manager to enable Microsoft Word Mode.

This feature (introduced in WordPerfeect 12) presents itself as a small dialog which can appear during initial launches of the program, as well as by using the Workspace Manager choice on the program's Tools menu:

Workspace Manager dialog
[Image from WordPerfect X8. Other versions are similar.]

The Microsoft Word Mode option is a logical, often recommended choice for Word users who need to use WordPerfect but are unfamiliar with it. The rationale is that some WordPerfect features might be confusing to Microsoft Word users who are new to WordPerfect or to anyone who might expect typical program features or shortcuts to be found in their "usual" locations.

[Note that the other Workspace Manager choices can sometimes be similarly problematic for the casual user: WordPerfect Classic Mode (version 5.1) and Legal Mode (which activates the program's legal tools).]

Thus the Workspace Manager provides a more familiar environment for them by relocating, or even removing, these items from the current menu, toolbar, and/or default keyboard definition ("shortcut keys") when they choose Microsoft Word Mode (or one of the other modes).

Note: These missing items can also be hidden if users manually disable/enable various menus, toolbar, or keyboards with Tools, Settings, Customize.

But there can be a problem with this "hide-the-items" idea besides spending time trying to find them or assuming they are not included in the program

When users try to get help from WordPerfect experts or experienced users -- most of whom are primarily accustomed to WordPerfect -- these gurus generally expect to discuss program items as they are visible and available in WordPerfect Mode, not in Microsoft Word Mode.

Hence, be aware that menu choices, toolbar buttons, and shortcut keys discussed on this site (and other sites) almost always reference items found in the standard factory default WordPerfect environment (WordPerfect Mode), not in a Microsoft Word environment.

What if you have switched to (e.g.) Microsoft Mode and you now want to use the items that are available only in WordPerfect Mode?

You can get get access to WordPerfect's standard menus, toolbars, and keyboard shortcuts in two ways:

1. Click on Tools, Settings, Customize and choose a WordPerfect toolbar, menu, or keyboard from the tabs on the pop up dialog. [For more specific and step-by-step information on customizing these features see here.]

You can also right-click on the top menu bar and choose Settings to get to the Customize Settings dialog.

This manual method changes one item at a time, and might not change all Settings related to Microsoft Word. But it's an easy method to use when working on a document.

Tip: Take note of what you are doing so you can reverse things if needed!

Tip: You cannot permanently change the items on Microsoft Word toolbars as you can with WordPerfect toolbars (see here); they will be reset to their defaults on a program reboot. (See "Limitations" in Footnote 1.) But you can make both Word and WordPerfect toolbars visible at the same time using the Customize Settings check boxes.

2. Click on Tools, Workspace Manager to switch back to WordPerfect Mode.

As noted in the previous section, modern versions of WordPerfect (version 12 and later) have a Workspace Manager (located on the Tools menu in any Workspace Manager Mode) which allows users to quickly set up WordPerfect to simulate a Microsoft Word (or WPDOS 5.1 or Legal) environment with a mouse click. (As mentioned, you might also see the Manager appear whenever you launch the program.)

It is important to note that the Workspace Manager does not actually run Microsoft Word (and therefore you don't need Word installed).

Further, it does not change the internal file format of your document to Word's format until you save the file as a Microsoft Word file type. (There's a drop list at the bottom of the File, Save and File, Save As dialogs to do this.)

The Workspace Manager just tries to give MS Word users a familiar work environment when using WordPerfect for the first time. As WordPerfect's Help says, "The mode you choose changes the look of, and options found in, the WordPerfect workspace."

In any case it was designed to be used temporarily until users learn some of the differences between the two programs and become more familiar with WordPerfect.

To its credit, the Workspace Manager allows you quickly flip back and forth between various WordPerfect and MSWord environments to help you adjust to WordPerfect.
[See WordPerfect's Help (F1) feature's Search tab, and search for "Simulating the Microsoft Word workspace".]

But bear in mind that many of the very useful standard WordPerfect Mode items might make your daily work much easier, once you learn about them. As with training wheels on a bicycle -- which help you transition from a tricycle to a two-wheeler -- if you keep using them you will miss the power, control, and freedom of riding without them.

For more on the Workspace Manager, see Footnote 1.

More help for Microsoft Word users

Later versions of WordPerfect have help available for Microsoft Word users who are using WordPerfect: Click Help, Microsoft Word Help. You can search for "Simulating the Microsoft Word workspace".

For  more detail about specific features in each program, you can click on Help, Reference Center, User Guide and view the chapters "Compatibility with Microsoft Word" and "WordPerfect compatibility FAQ".

Tips on applying fonts and other formatting to a WordPerfect document

The following references to particular menu choices assumes you are using a <WordPerfect> menu, not a <MS Word> menu. However, the information about formatting documents applies to either menu.

How WordPerfect formats your document

When applying new fonts or other formatting to a WordPerfect document, problems can appear that might seem mysterious because users often have trouble seeing how WordPerfect structures a document and how it applies formatting.

Basically, formatting is carried out in WordPerfect by special format codes, which are visible in the Reveal Codes window, along with your text. (Click on View, Reveal Codes to open the Reveal Codes window pane.)

Font types, font sizes, margins, bold text, italics, styles, symbols, headers, columns, footnotes -- and many more items -- are all applied with format codes. The program does these things for you when you use a menu, toolbar, or keyboard shortcut to modify a document. [But you can also copy, modify, or delete format codes yourself -- which topic makes up a large part of the Toolbox for WordPerfect site.]

Core concept: If you visualize all the things you can type (or otherwise insert) into a WordPerfect document -- including WordPerfect symbols using <Ctrl+W> and standard format codes like tabs and margin settings -- as existing in a sort of stream, where any particular item can be "downstream" from some things while simultaneously being "upstream" from others, then you understand the core of the stream formatting idea.

Following the codes

Steam formatting is similar to the way we type (or dictate, or assemble) material into a document: There is a stream of information with a beginning and end, where occasionally we give the computer an "in-line" instruction to change the appearance of something in the stream -- like hitting the Caps Lock key to emphasize letters as we type them. Format codes do the same thing.

Some format codes are single codes, which simply switch on the desired formatting at that point in the document, while others are paired codes where one code turns the formatting on and the other turns it off.

Let's briefly follow the stream from its beginnings.

In WordPerfect all documents are based on a template, a special file with a .WPT filename extension. With respect to formatting, the template is effectively upstream from the document, and it is used to create (or "spawn") an unlimited number of duplicates of itself when you use File, New (or New from Project).

The new, open document is now (effectively) downstream from the template, but it carries with it ("inherits") the formatting that exists in the parent template.

A special code WordPerfect puts in your documents

Essentially, the template's fonts and other formatting are carried into the new document by means of a special container-like code at the very top of all WordPerfect documents. If you open Reveal Codes you will see this code as [Open Style: DocumentStyle]. The document retains this initial style code and its contents when you save it. (But it is easily edited, if desired, as we shall see.)

"Open" style here means that this special style code -- or more precisely, the settings inside the code -- stays in effect for the rest of the document, unless the settings inside it are removed or changed or unless they are superseded by other settings (e.g., new fonts or format codes, such as a new page margin) that are farther downstream from it.

The [Open Style: DocumentStyle] code can be edited by double-clicking directly on it in Reveal Codes, or by using File, Document, Current Document Style.

Either of these methods opens the Styles Editor dialog for the current document's initial style. Sometimes you might want to remove, change, or add new format codes inside this document code. To do this you typically would use the menu and/or toolbar you will see inside the Styles Editor dialog. (You can even copy and paste things from a document into the Styles Editor's Contents pane, but that's another story.) 

The important point is this: If you edit the Open Style code, your changes will take effect in the document and all its substructures -- headers, footers, footnotes, endnotes, text boxes, etc. -- unless and until some other similar code is inserted farther downstream in the document itself (or inside a particular substructure), in which case the newer code will supersede the older, upstream one.

Note that these changes are just for the current document. However, you can save the changes to the template itself with the checkbox, "Use as default," at the bottom of the dialog. (Be sure to reset the box so that future changes are not automatically added to the template.) The changes then will become part of the template and they will be active in each new document based on that template. [Tip: For more on editing this code to set your preferred default formatting for documents, see here.]

You can, of course, return to the document and select the entire document with your mouse (or the Edit menu), and then apply new formatting globally to the document using the main WordPerfect menu or perhaps a property bar (if visible). The new format codes will replace any existing codes of the same type (e.g., a new [Font]) that might be in the document. This is an easy way to change the format for the entire document's body text area. (To change a substructure's font, such as a footnote, you will need to modify either the font in each footnote, or edit the [Open Style] code and apply the new font there so that it is inherited by all substructures in the document.)

You can also select (with your mouse or keyboard) smaller document sections and apply formatting to just those sections. Notice there will now be one or more beginning and ending codes -- a code pair -- surrounding the previously selected material. Again, these paired "on" and "off" codes are downstream from any codes inside the initial [Open Style] code, and will take precedence over them if they are the same type of codes (e.g., a [Font] or [Font Size] code).

Finally, should you need to do so, these codes can be found and replaced with Edit, Find and Replace (but see Footnote 2). In the F&R dialog, use the menu to Match Font or Match Codes. More simply, you can use a macro to replace or augment the codes, such as Ron Hirsch's Replace Codes macros.

Related tips

  • See the main Tips page and the Tips List page.
  • Delete all  codes: If you want to strip out all format codes from the current document or from a current selection of material to produce "pure text," first copy the selected text to the Windows clipboard (Ctrl+C), then immediately paste the copied text back in place with Edit, Paste Special, Unformatted text. [Be aware this can change some format codes you might wish to retain, such as (in WP11 and later versions) hard spaces, regular hyphens and soft hyphens. (See http://wptoolbox.com/tips/PSpecial.html for more.) Still, this can be a useful technique, especially to convert outlines and numbered or bulleted lists to plain-text versions.]
  • Delete just some codes: See the DelCodes macros.
  • Change format codes into plain text markers (e.g., <B>...</B>): See the Code2Txt macro.
  • Replace or augment format codes with other codes: See Replace Codes - Plus by Ron Hirsch.
  • Replace one [Style] code with another: See the ReplStyle macro.

Footnote 1

WordPerfect's Workspace Manager

[Continued from above ...]

As noted, the Workspace Manager (Tools, Workspace Manager) lets you quickly flip back and forth between various WordPerfect and MSWord environments to help you adjust to WordPerfect.

It's not the only way. From the WordPerfect X6 User Guide:

"If you prefer to work in the WordPerfect workspace, but you want to access the most common WordPerfect features using Microsoft Word buttons and icons, you can display the Microsoft Word toolbar [via View, Toolbars on the program menu]. In addition, you can display the Microsoft Word Compatibility toolbar, which gives you immediate access to features, such as saving documents to Microsoft Word and publishing to PDF...."

[Tip: You can add more features, functions, or macros to a WordPerfect menu, toolbar, or keyboard definition. See here. But note the Limitations below about doing this with the other Workspace modes.]

See also WordPerfect's Help (F1) feature, Search tab, and search for "Simulating the Microsoft Word workspace".

For  more detail about specific features in each program, click on Help, Reference Center, User Guide, and view the chapters "Compatibility with Microsoft Word" and "WordPerfect compatibility FAQ".

Also see the Corel article here as well as the following paragraphs.

[From "000003692 - What is the WordPerfect® workspace manager?" on the Corel support database:]

"With the advent of WordPerfect® 12, Corel has included a new workspace manager which allows the application to switch between common environments. This is useful for users who are not familiar with WordPerfect or prefer to use a working environment from an older version.

The workspace manager includes environments for Microsoft Word, WordPerfect v5.1 and WordPerfect legal mode. It's important to know that WordPerfect does not actually run these applications (e.g. Microsoft Word ) but rather simulates them by re-arranging existing Menu, toolbars and shortcut keys to look similar.

WordPerfect Office mode - displays the default WordPerfect workspace.

Microsoft Word mode - simulates the Microsoft Word workspace by positioning the WordPerfect features, including toolbars, keyboards, and menu items, where you would find the equivalent features in Microsoft Word.

WordPerfect Legal mode - exposes the WordPerfect legal features, such as tools that let you create specialized legal documents such as cases and pleadings.

WordPerfect Classic mode - lets you work in the familiar visual environment of Corel WordPerfect 5.1 and use its keystrokes. [This also produces a classic blue screen background with white text.]


With the exception of the WordPerfect workspace, Microsoft Word, WordPerfect 5.1 and WordPerfect legal mode workspaces cannot be modified and are hard coded into the application. While it may appear that a toolbar within Microsoft Word mode can be modified, its settings will revert to factory defaults as soon as the application is restarted.


To access the Workspace Manager, go up to the Tools menu and select 'Workspace Manager'." [755826]

Footnote 2

There is an exception to this: Find and Replace (or the macro equivalent commands) cannot find a code within another code -- such as inside [Style] or [Delay] codes. (This includes the initial [Open Style: DocumentStyle] code at the very top of a document., created by the template that spawned the document] These codes act like little containers, and you will need to edit them manually (double click on the code in Reveal Codes) to see if a code you are looking for exists in them.