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Originally published May 10, 2013 at 5:12 PM | Page modified May 10, 2013 at 6:16 PM

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Missing font could explain why documents look different

Special to The Seattle Times

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Q: I carefully designed a one-page document using Word on my Mac, but when I printed it from Word on a PC it came out looking different, and it was one and a half pages long. Are the Mac and PC versions of Word not compatible?

— John Kenner

A: Windows and Mac versions of Word are compatible. The reason you’re seeing differences is most likely that you don’t have the same fonts on both computers.

If you create a document on one computer with a specific font and that font isn’t on the other computer, an alternative font will be used. That can make a difference in the document’s appearance and in its length.

Also, if you’re using different print drivers, the printed document may look different.

One way around the issue is to save the document as a PDF file. The downside is that once you do that it won’t be readily editable.

Q: I’ve just come across an old column of yours. In it you recommend we archive digital data (like photos) on a “solid-state flash drive.” Would my Western Digital external hard drive be a solid-state flash drive?

— Brooke Rolston, Bothell

A. I don’t believe Western Digital makes commercial solid-state external drives (SSDs).

The reason I recommend archiving to a solid-state drive is that these drives have no moving parts and are, therefore, less likely to crash.

But it’s not as clear as it seemed even a year ago that the reliability of SSDs is significantly better than conventional hard drives.

So while I still recommend archiving to SSDs, especially since the price of SSDs has continued to fall — to about $1 per gigabyte today — I wouldn’t abandon your existing drive.

When it comes time to add an external drive or replace a failed drive, yes, I’d go for an SSD for archiving important data. And, of course, I’d also have a backup in another location.

Q: I purchased a Lenovo X1 Carbon, running Windows 7 Pro, in December. It runs great except for one annoying problem I haven’t been able to solve. The cursor jumps unpredictably when entering text. I’ve disabled the track pad but that does not help. I’ve used external keyboards, but the cursor still has a “mind of its own.”

Lenovo wants me to send the machine back, which I’d rather avoid. Any clue? Searches of “Lenovo” and “jumping cursor” turn up various driver issues, but the computers are different models with different drivers.

Perhaps there’s a driver conflict somewhere but I’ve checked using Lenovo’s driver utility and they appear to be up to date.

— Rob Toren, Seattle

A. This problem occurs far more often with laptops than with desktops for a simple reason: In a laptop, everything is more tightly packed, making it easier for interference from other devices or electrical sources to occur.

So I’d be sure to send it in to Lenovo before the warranty expires. But because you have a little time, I do have a couple of things you can try.

My first suggestion you’ve already done: Disable the touch pad to see if it makes a difference. You’ve also done the second thing I’d suggest: Making sure your drivers are up to date.

Next on the list is to have Windows hide the cursor while you’re typing. To do so, go to the Control Panel and Mouse. Next, click on the Pointer Options tab and make sure the box next to “Hide pointer while typing” is checked.

Next, I’d run a full virus scan.

Finally, yes, I’d send it in to Lenovo.

Questions for Patrick Marshall may be sent by email to pmarshall@seattletimes.com or pgmarshall@pgmarshall.net, or by mail at Q&A/Technology, The Seattle Times, P.O. Box 70, Seattle, WA 98111. More columns at www.seattletimes.com/columnists.

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