Microsoft Word Problems

The only thing harder than maths is maths about real life. These Microsoft Word problems from our friends at McSweeney's are impossible.

1. Helen’s bibliography contains 27 web sites, two-thirds of which Microsoft Word annoyingly converts into hyperlinks. If selecting “remove hyper link” requires two clicks of the mouse, how many clicks will Helen expend in this awful, time-consuming task?

2. Phil’s report on Dwight Eisenhower must be five pages long. He’s currently at four and a half pages and couldn’t write another word even if you made him. Using the distributive property, what are the margin dimensions (in inches) and font size Phil should use to reach his required length without writing anymore?

3. Helen, Phil, Caroline and Miguel are typing up their group lab for Organic Chemistry. While Helen and Phil (HP) are growing increasingly frustrated with Word’s autocratic auto-indent tool, Caroline and Miguel (CM) can’t take their eyes off one another. If HP collectively curse once every four mistaken auto-indents and CM make one flirtatious remark for every three, what’s the ratio of curse words to flirtatious remarks after 65 mistaken auto-indents? And after how many mistaken auto-indents does Miguel ask for Caroline’s number? (Hint: Follow your heart for this one!)

4. Miguel is pulling an all-nighter at the library to finish a history paper. If Miguel’s computer is operating on Microsoft Word 2003, how many useful suggestions does Clippy have between the hours of 8 pm and 3 am?

5. While waiting for her boyfriend to get back from the library, Caroline is editing her analysis of e.e. cummings’ poetry. Unfortunately, Word flags seventeen words as being misspelled and eight phrases as being run-on sentences. Caroline is doubtful that this is accurate. What is the percentage of these “errors” being complete and utter bullshit?

6. A college student, Mary, spends 307 hours writing her 35-page thesis paper, “Kafka on the Shore: An Existential Look at the Battle of Normandy.” But instead of choosing “save as,” she clicks “save,” filing her document in a mysterious temporary folder. To the nearest whole number, for how many seconds will Mary scream before beginning to cry?

7. Startled, Miguel wakes up from his nap and sees the girl next to him, Mary, in tears. After explaining how her thesis disappeared, Miguel successfully recovers an auto-saved version from the “temp” folder. To celebrate, they decide to go for a drink. And another. And another. Given that Word auto-saves every 10 minutes, Mary types 40 words-per-minute (WPM) and her final lost document was 8,873 words long — how many words are missing from the recovered document?

8. At an empty computer in the lab, Caroline notices an open Word document for Miguel’s Intro to Microeconomics class and decides to change every fourth instance of the phrase “supply and demand” to “ruined my fucking life you whore and I hope that bitch Mary gives you warts.” Please draw a graph reflecting the opportunity cost of this exchange.

9. Caroline’s ex-boyfriend Miguel inserted the word “penis” 20 times throughout the body of her 65-page grant proposal to the Clinton Health Access Initiative. If the grant contains 5 separate documents of equal length, how many times must Caroline hit ctrl + f?

Extra credit: How many sexual double entendres are there in the above problem?

10. Miguel sends an email to Caroline with the .docx file “Sorry” attached. Unfortunately, her version of Word can only read .doc files, not .docx files, causing Miguel’s message to appear corrupted. Caroline wonders if she should give him a second chance. Miguel wonders if she’ll ever forgive him. Solve for x.

Jonathan San lives in New York City and writes for television. He tweets, but not frequently enough for you to follow him @sanjonathan.

This post was republished with permission from McSweeney's.<

Picture: Roger Jegg -

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