This question was posted on January 17, 2005, at OBA-Net, the Oklahoma lawyers website, as follows:


I have left my firm and am opening up my own office this week.


I have gone from WP8 or 9 to WP12 in this move. I didn't ever use WP to its full advantage and I would like some recommendations on where I can find the best information on how to set up WP12 to make it hum? I've looked on amazon.com and there are several books out there but when I go to our local book stores to see if they are helpful, the pickins are pretty slim. I hate to spend $20-40 for a book from Amazon only to find it isn't very helpful.

My response to that message, but more elaborately stated here than there, is this:


The main differences between Wp 8 or 9 and 12 are features, but it does depend on whether you're using Wp8 or 9.


1st, you inquired about a book. Though I've not seen it, Laura Acklen's, "Absolute Beginner's Guide To WordPerfect 12", has gotten good reviews. She has also co-authored a more comprehensive (and more expensive) book, “Using WordPerfect 12”. Both can be purchased at a discount by using WordPerfect Universe as your Amazon conduit: http://www.wpuniverse.com/shop/. You can read more about the books at Laura’s website. Here are links to the table of contents for each of Laura’s books, both published by QUE: “Beginners Guide” (notice that the table of contents is not too shabby), and the more comprehensive “Using WordPerfect 12”.


But, do you need a "book" at all? That depends on your level of understanding as to what makes WordPerfect tick, as well as the level of features you might want to use, i.e., the “hum” level you want – you said that you want to "make it hum". I assume that means you want to learn at least a few of WordPerfect’s advanced features. For example, any version of WordPerfect lets you create self-calculating tables which virtually emulate what a spreadsheet program would do but within the WordPerfect document. My Grande Macros program uses those features in making exhibits for client budgets, marital estate exhibits, the self-calculating child support table (which utilizes spreadsheet-like “lookup” table formulas), to name a few. I’d suppose, for lawyers, getting a command over how to use WordPerfect’s outstanding Tables features would be on the short list of what you’d want to learn. Other standard features that lawyer’s would use also take a little learning, such as creating a table of authorities. If you want to master some of the available features so to “make it hum”, I’d recommend that you get a comprehensive book, such as Laura’s “Using WordPerfect 12".


But, if you're just interested in the "general" and not much caring about learning how to “make WordPerfect hum”, you probably don’t need a book. Some of the MAIN differences between Wp8 or Wp9 and Wp 12 are these:


1) Round-tripping MS Word Files. WordPerfect 12 deals with MS Word files better than any previous WordPerfect version ... either importing from or saving to MS Word files. Since non-lawyers (hence, clients) mostly use MS Word, and since you do not apparently want to become “body-snatched” like they are to become “just” a MS Word user, this WordPerfect feature is important to you. With WordPerfect 12, you will be able to "read" or "write" MS Word files better than earlier WordPerfect versions could do. That fact, alone, may well make Wp12 worthwhile, regardless of other features.


2) PDF Files. WordPerfect 8 didn't have a "publish to PDF" feature, that being introduced in WordPerfect 9. WordPerfect 9’s 's publish to PDF features were, as you'd suppose, not that great (being the 1st release of Wp that did that – and I’m not are that any version of MS Word does that to this day). The publish to PDF features progressed in later WordPerfect versions, and the publish to PDF features in WordPerfect 12 are much better than the predecessors (Wp 9 - 11). I'd suppose that one major improvement in WordPerfect 12 (after Service Pack 1) is that it allows you to export to the "smallest size", which is a significant improvement and results in a very small PDF file. If you do federal court work (or have other reasons to create PDF files), this is a significant improvement. So, if you have a need to create PDF files and don’t have the commercial version of Adobe Acrobat, these and other PDF reasons make WordPerfect 12 a good choice.


3) HTML Files. Unless you use WordPerfect (or any program) to make html (web) files (like this one), this concern is irrelevant. But, if you do, Wp10-12's (they are not different) publish to HTML features are much better than similar features in WordPerfect 8 or 9. Beginning with WordPerfect 10, the “publish to HTML” feature started using the “Cascading Style Sheet” (CSS) format/approach, which is to say, a more “contemporary” approach to creating html (web) documents. If the creation of such files is important to you, WordPerfect 12 does the job much better than WordPerfect 8 or 9.


4) STABILITY. WordPerfect 12 is the 1st WP release for quite a long time to be "stable" out of the box ... WordPerfect 8 had several service packs before I'd say that about Wp8, Wp9 had 3, and I've forgotten about the others. Bottom line: The initial release of WordPerfect 12 was exceptionally stable ... its Service Pack 1 just make a few fixes (including the “smallest file” publish to PDF option mentioned above) but as to matters which are likely unimportant to you. The initial release of WordPerfect 12 ( was rock solid and the improvements in Service Pack 1 ( only enhanced the program.

5) LEGAL TOOLS. WordPerfect 12 also ships with a small group of “Legal Tools”, as well as a “Legal” icon toolbar, which may or may not be significant to you. Frankly, I haven’t used the legal tools much yet, but some nice features do exist. They include Pleading Paper (using line numbering, a double-line border on the left and a single line border on the right – but you can change the default settings), Pleading Expert Designer (sets up case caption format and other document features), and Pleading Expert Filler (shown at the right). Data entered about a case (or lawyer or firm) is saved for later use so that data repetition is not necessary. Saved data includes the name of the court, the judge, the parties, the case number, and the lawyer and his/her client. Click on the image if you'd like a closer look at WordPerfect 12's Legal Tools.


6) OTHER. Lots of other changes were made after Wp8 that I'll not particularly mention, but which make the program easier to use and which MS Word still does not employ. One is the ability to "preview" formatting changes (font, etc.) changes before you decide to execute such changes. Of course, the old "stand by", Reveal Codes, is still present which gives you precise control over anything you might want to do. By the way, with Reveal Codes open, do you know that you can double-click ON THE CODE in the Reveal Codes window and that the associated dialog opens, speeding up your changing of any code shown? The later releases of Word purport to have a similar feature, but, trust me, they are not at all the same. That’s to be expected since WordPerfect and Word have radically different approaches to a document’s creation – WordPerfect uses a “lineal” approach so that codes (formatting, etc.) are turned on or off as you go, whereas Word uses a “style” approach which treats paragraphs and documents in a more “stereotype” approach. Plus, in Word, you get “Clippy”! (Sorry, I just had to say that!)


There's more, but that's all I'll say here. If you are an existing WordPerfect user, or if you want to get a glimpse of feature comparisons between WordPerfect 12 and MS Word, you can get a comparison at http://www.wpvsword.com/ which will give you more information. Even if you're not interested in the comparison, the list of the particular features will give a good idea of what they are.