Classic Computer Magazine Archive COMPUTE! ISSUE 123 / NOVEMBER 1990 / PAGE 89




Sharp, professional-looking documents are every professional's goal. Clients expect it. You should deliver it. To meet these high expectations and achieve just the right shine, word processing manufacturers are including more desktop publishing features, such as multiple typefaces, the ability to integrate graphics with text, and support for laser printers. Total Word, from the makers of Volkswriter, blends word processing and desktop publishing into one impressive package.

Total Word has many of the features of the best word processors, including mail merge, a spelling checker, a thesaurus, word counting, math functions, automatic hyphenation, macros, and so on. Unlike other word processors, however, Total Word has graphics and formatting capabilities that may well win you over if you're really interested in a polished, professional look for your documents.

Powerful formatting features are available through Total Word's easy-to-use style sheets, which simplify document layout. You select a paragraph or a blank line and type F9. The section layouts menu lets you change line spacing, margins, tabs, columns, and other options. If you need a previously saved section layout, you select it from this menu also.

All of the different section layouts can be scrolled through and then used, edited, or copied. The program ties style sheets to the documents by filename extension so the same style sheet can be used with other documents. If, for example, you create a style sheet for a proposal in the file BILL.PRO, you can use the same style sheet when you write another proposal simply by using the same extension. Call your new proposal TOM.PRO, and you're in business. Now you can concentrate on the content of this winning proposal rather than on its format.

Like macros in other word processors, Total Word's macros speed you right along. However, this program offers a distinct advantage: simplicity. Anyone can use its macros. Anyone can appreciate their power.

The only graphics Total Word can use in its documents are those captured from the screen with the Snapshot program provided in the package. Using the graphics menu, you can insert, reduce, enlarge, lighten, darken, or reverse images.

Choose from a variety of typefaces.

Before you print, you have the option to view the page with Total Word's preview function. The page is displayed on the screen as it would appear when printed. Although it's too rough a display to proof more than the general layout, it is useful for checking margins, headers, and columns. There's also a zoom feature to give you a closer look at the text and layout. You can move around the page in the zoom view, but no editing is possible. Since graphics are not displayed in the editing mode, the preview function is useful for the placement of graphics.

When you're ready to print your document, all of your printer's capabilities can be used. Total Word supports a large number of printers including the HP LaserJet family and PostScript laser printers. If you have the standard Hewlett-Packard soft fonts or cartridge fonts, Total Word has the drivers to support them. Soft fonts from programs such as Bit-stream Fontware and Digi-Fonts or the standard PostScript fonts can also be used. The program uses only a limited range of point sizes even in Post-Script, but it is an adequate number for most word processing needs.

Although Total Word is marketed as a word processor with desktop publishing power, its real strength is scientific and technical word processing. With an extremely large extended character set, you have the capability to use complex mathematical formulas and organic chemistry symbols. However, you do need a laser printer to print these characters.

Total Word offers nine alternate keyboard layouts that let you take advantage of the extended characters. Using simple keystroke combinations, you select an alternate keyboard from the menu that corresponds to the character set you wish to use. A display appears at the top of the screen with the alternate characters mapped to each key on the keyboard. You then type the necessary characters or switch to another alternate keyboard to insert an entirely different set of characters. Choose from keyboards with special symbols for business, the Greek alphabet, math symbols, and many others.

An impressive feature of Total Word is its manual. Written with the beginner in mind, the first section of the manual includes the basics of computer word processing. The second section uses specific sample files such as a business letter or a newsletter to explain advanced commands. The final section is for reference. Advanced users can locate information quickly since the manual is well indexed. After you've gleaned the basics from the manual, an onscreen tutorial allows you to practice many of the major features of Total Word.

A major weakness of Total Word is the absence of mouse support. When it comes to editing text, moving blocks of text, or just moving the cursor to other parts of the document, a mouse is much faster than the keyboard. Even with its powerful capabilities, Total Word just doesn't feel quite right without mouse support in the rapidly growing world of graphical user interfaces and pull-down menus.

All in all, Total Word is a worthy competitor in the arena of high-powered word processing. If you have to write math equations or use scientific notation, Total Word may, in fact, be your best choice.


Ease of Use ***
Documentation *****
Features ****
Innovation ***

IBM PC and compatibles; DOS 2.0 or higher (DOS 3.0 or higher recommended); 410K of RAM (after loading DOS) minimum; EGA, MCGA, VGA, or Hercules Graphics Plus with RamFont adapter; PostScript, LaserJet, or compatible printer (to print extended character set); one floppy drive and a hard disk with 2MB of available disk space—$495 Upgrade for registered Volkswriter users—$149

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Monterey, CA 93940
(408) 373-4718