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thumbnail2Imagine the old world writers, ink pen in hand poring over a simple white sheet of paper. Nothing, but a flicker of an oil lamp to take their attention away from their work. Fast forward to the modern writer and his word processor. Keeping the eyeballs riveted on the screen is a tough task because the modern computer with its umpteen processes is a concentration damper.

Many writers prefer a simple text editor sans the frills 3 Microsoft Word Plugins To Boost Your MS Word Experience 3 Microsoft Word Plugins To Boost Your MS Word Experience Read More . Something like a Notepad or writing tools which are generically called “˜minimalist text editors’ Free Minimalist Text Editors Free Minimalist Text Editors Read More . I relate them to a horse’s blinker. They serve their utility in that they cut off all distraction between the writer’s eye and his words on the screen.

I wrote my first sentences on MS Word How To Use MS Word 2007 for Fast and Easy Blogging How To Use MS Word 2007 for Fast and Easy Blogging Read More and have always liked its power. Even with all its options, maybe one could make it ape a “˜minimalist text editor’.

The idea”¦


The idea then, is to simulate a minimalist text editor like Darkroom with a black background, a contrasting font color and an ‘easy on the eyes’ font face. To get the complete real estate for writing and to do away with the distractions, its full-screen view minus MS Word 2007’s ribbon and the Windows Taskbar. But, with the spellchecker and the mini-formatting toolbar remaining in action.

The hack”¦

  1. Start up MS Word 2007. Create a blank document from Office button – New – Blank Document.
  2. Change the layout of the page to Web Layout. This can be done from View – Web Layout. Alternatively, from the layout buttons located on the bottom right of Word’s status bar.2_web-layout
  3. Set the page color to black for one part of the high contrast effect. Click on Page Layout – Page Color.3_pagelayout
  4. The other part involves setting up a high contrast font. On the Home tab select the Normal style. Right click and choose Modify”¦ 4_modify
  5. In the Modify Style box, change the font face to Lucida Console and the font color to green (or any other cool color you are comfortable with). You can also set other options like spacing and indents.5_modify-style
  6. Save as a Word Template from the Office button – Save As – Word Template.6-word-template

To view our template in full screen now, we have to follow two steps:

  1. Click the Office Button – Word Options – Customize. Select Commands Not in the Ribbon from the drop-down on the left. Scroll down the alphabetical list to select Toggle Full Screen View, and click the Add button to include it in the Customize Quick Access Toolbar column on the right.7_word-optionsThe Quick Access Toolbar is the small set of icons you see just above the Office ribbon next to the Office Button.


  2. The Windows taskbar is now the only leftover against a full screen view. Right click on the Windows taskbar – click Properties – select Auto-hide the taskbar. The Windows taskbar remains offscreen unless we move the mouse near the bottom edge of the screen.9_taskbar

That’s it! When you want to write in your own “˜darkroom’, just click on the template, switch on the full screen view from the Quick Access toolbar and tap into your creativity. [To exit full screen view, press the Esc key on your keyboard.]

There are simple ways to do some things for which we often rely on additional downloads. I hope this is one of them. Put on your writer’s cap and try out your new writing canvas. And of course, type in your comments or suggestions.

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  1. David
    February 15, 2017 at 7:33 am

    Wow, that is amazing!

    I am wondering whether there is a second most minimalistic option where you have nothing more but one or two toolbars, ideally customizable ones?

    • Saikat Basu
      February 16, 2017 at 7:04 am

      Well, with one click and collapse the Ribbon. Disable the ruler. Then, customize your own toolbar. Quite easy. Or, instead of adding a custom toolbar, consider altering the built-in toolbar by adding the needed functionality.

  2. Arturka
    September 10, 2009 at 1:23 am

    The article pleased me, you had affected an interesting theme

  3. Red Gear
    July 3, 2009 at 5:03 am

    what's this? Dos-like Ms. Word? Nice....

  4. Hrisya
    June 12, 2009 at 2:49 am

    Cool. Thanks!

  5. J.Anandarajeshwaran
    June 11, 2009 at 12:47 pm

    why take all this pain when a solution is readily darkroom from
    with all these setting available by default. It is really a light weight text editor free of cost

  6. hubdog
    June 10, 2009 at 11:22 am

    I really liked article, and the "green screen" technique is really useful to eliminate distractions. For Word 2007 and soon for Word 2003 (I don't know why the former came out first) I use Writespace ( which at the touch of a button turns Word 2007 into a full screen basic editor. I really like new templates though, so thanks for the article.

  7. edwardthay
    June 9, 2009 at 9:49 pm

    This stuff really good for eyesight especially while reading e-book. Can I do this in PDF file?

  8. laptopxpert
    June 9, 2009 at 12:48 pm

    This article and the author) ought to be nominated for the igNobel....

    • Saikat
      June 9, 2009 at 4:20 pm

      I think you missed the point completely.If one can use software like Darkroom as a writing tool, then this also is not too way off the mark.
      Anyway, thanks for the IgNobel:)Did you know that they are given for achievements that 'first make people laugh, and then make them think.' That counts for something!

  9. Saikat
    June 9, 2009 at 11:41 am

    I cannot presume to know the comfort level with computers of everyone who reads our posts. Thus, it's always better to explain it with as many screenshots as possible. And weren't we all neophytes once :)

  10. Guillermo
    June 9, 2009 at 11:41 am

    Interesting... so we made all this way through Windows and GUI just to go back to DOS and the text editors from the 80s! History is cyclic!

    • Saikat
      June 9, 2009 at 11:58 am

      Yup, I read somewhere that Microsoft is even falling back on older, more energy efficient processors in some server designs as a green initiative! Think about that...:)

  11. MCSwan
    June 9, 2009 at 11:15 am

    Is it ironic or simply telling that you needed ~600 words and 10 images to show us how to make something "minimal"?