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May 24, 2010

Codes Revealed Part I

Filed under: Main — Tags: — admin @ 12:01 am

One of the features I miss the most from the old, original WordPerfect was called Reveal Codes. It was a nerd’s delight, but also a key to cleaning up your text.

The original DOS version of WordPerfect was a writer’s dream. It was a beautiful thing to see, a nearly blank screen — just like a sheet of paper waiting early in a typewriter.

A recreation of WordPerfect's main screen.

Even in text mode, the beauty of WordPerfect was that you saw only your words. Other word processors of the day distracted you with all sorts of fodder: Microsoft Word for DOS originally had the lower third of the screen gobbled up with a huge menu and other trivial information. WordPerfect was clean.

WordPerfect’s cleanliness led to some problems, however. When you formatted your text the codes would sometimes get lost. Worse, because the screen was plain text, you couldn’t really see when you’ve applied certain text effects or what they were.

The solution to the code clutter was to use the Reveal Codes command. It split the screen so that you could see what was happening in WordPerfect behind the scenes.

For example, below is a recreated screen shot from my WordPerfect For Dummies, first edition:

Reveal Codes in Action (Click for a larger version)

See the redundant bold codes in there? They bold nothing, and they could potentially cause a problem in the text. Yet by using Reveal Codes, you can discover where such problems are and easily fix them. After all, trying to delete invisible codes is a toughie — even for a nerd.

By the way, do you see a similarity between the WordPerfect codes and HTML tags? Very similar.

Even tough the formatting codes seem technical, a lot of WordPerfect users relied on seeing them to best-format their text. In fact, one of the biggest questions I would get from readers of my Word For Dummies books was, “How can I get Reveal Codes to work for Microsoft Word?” I’ll answer that question next blog post.


  1. I see that your joke writing style for the pictures you make for “(word processing product) For Dummies” hasn’t changed.
    Ah well, still funny 😛

    Comment by linuxlove — May 24, 2010 @ 6:08 am

  2. The early books had a far more edgy humor to them. After the publisher grew, and the requisite lawyer parasites attached, the humor was toned back. Sad.

    Comment by admin — May 24, 2010 @ 6:45 am

  3. Toned back a lot too. Recently I cracked open DOS For Dummies just for some laughs. My favorite thing is defiantly the trivial facts thrown in randomly during portions with a lot of bullet points. Haha, and that little story at the end, I wish IDG books was still in charge. Without the lawyers of course. Those were good times…

    Comment by gamerguy473 — May 24, 2010 @ 7:16 am

  4. Lawyers. For me it all began in my WordPerfect 6 book with my recipe for cooking a cat.

    Comment by admin — May 24, 2010 @ 8:14 am

  5. Who would be asinine enough to sue over something like that? And why would lawyers assume that people ARE asinine enough to sue. It kinda makes me mad.

    Comment by gamerguy473 — May 24, 2010 @ 8:18 am

  6. You had to ask: PETA. They complained. If I remember, it was a lady in New York City who claimed to live in her apartment with “many” cats. She was deeply offended and said that PETA would put up billboards denouncing the For Dummies series.

    Comment by admin — May 24, 2010 @ 8:30 am

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