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File Format
Name PC-Write
Extension(s) .doc, .txt
Released 1983

PC-Write was a word processor originally released in 1983 by a company (now defunct) called Quicksoft. It was released on a shareware basis, with a paid version available.

The files were basically plain text, with optional special functions causing control characters to be inserted. However, the default filename suggested when you started the program was "WORK.DOC", suggesting .doc as the default file extension to be used, which could be confusing given MS-Word's more well-known use of this extension. You could create or edit files with any extension, including .txt, however.

If you stick to characters found in the ASCII character encoding, and don't use any special PC-Write features, the resulting files will be completely ASCII, using the standard PC-DOS carriage return + linefeed for line breaks. If you use accented characters (you could type them by typing a letter, then the backtick (`), then another character representing the diacritical mark such as an apostrophe or tilde), those will use the active MS-DOS code page. Other features (accessed within PC-Write through Alt key combinations) will cause various control characters to be inserted into the file, but the rest of the content will remain plain text. The control characters have meanings that are specific to PC-Write, not generally resembling their "official" meaning in the ASCII set; for instance, a variety of special commands are done as "dot commands" (on a line by themselves, with a dot followed by a special command) which are preceded by a control character that is entered as Alt-G in PC-Write but stored as Ctrl-K, which is officially the Vertical Tab character in ASCII.

Control characters

These are the control characters as stored in PC-Write documents, and their meanings. Mode toggles (for various font and color effects) are reset at line breaks, so they need to be set on each line of a multi-line enhanced passage.

Hex Dec ASCII Char Ctrl Key PC-Write Key PC-Write meaning
00 0 NUL ^@ Not used (Null character)
01 1 SOH ^A Alt-S Toggles Second Strike mode
02 2 STX ^B Alt-B Toggles Bold mode
03 3 ETX ^C Alt-E Toggles Elite Fast mode
04 4 EOT ^D Alt-V Toggles Variable mode
05 5 ENQ ^E Alt-P Toggles Pica Quality mode
06 6 ACK ^F Alt-C Toggles Compressed mode
07 7 BEL ^G Alt-M Toggles Marine Blue mode
08 8 BS ^H Alt-J Toggles Jade Green mode
09 9 HT ^I Tab Move to next tab stop. In some configurations, gets replaced with proper number of space characters.
0A 10 LF ^J Enter Linefeed: follows Carriage Return for line break. (Enter inserts two-character sequence ^M^J)
0B 11 VT ^K Alt-G Signals that what follows is a dot command or guide line (commands should be on a line by themselves)
0C 12 FF ^L Shift-Alt-T Soft page break. (If followed by ^O (0F), it's a hard page break, entered in PC-Write with Alt-T.)
0D 13 CR ^M Enter Carriage Return: precedes Linefeed for line break. (Enter inserts two-character sequence ^M^J)
0E 14 SO ^N Alt-A Toggles font align mode
0F 15 SI ^O Alt-T Follows ^L (0C) to indicate hard page break (Alt-T inserts two-character sequence ^L^O)
10 16 DLE ^P Alt-D Toggles Double Wide mode
11 17 DC1 ^Q Alt-N Flags where an automatic number needs to be inserted; follow with digit or letter then a non-digit/letter symbol, e.g., ^Q1.
12 18 DC2 ^R Alt-W Toggles Double Underline mode
13 19 DC3 ^S Alt-O Toggles Overstrike mode
14 20 DC4 ^T Alt-K Keep Paragraph: used at end of paragraph to mark it not to be reformatted
15 21 NAK ^U Alt-I Toggles Italic mode
16 22 SYN ^V Alt-Q Toggles Quality Elite mode
17 23 ETB ^W Alt-U Toggles Underline mode
18 24 CAN ^X Alt-H Toggles Superscript mode
19 25 EM ^Y Alt-L Toggles Subscript mode
1A 26 SUB ^Z Not used (MS-DOS used it as end-of-file marker, but PC-Write didn't mark files this way)
1B 27 ESC ^[ Not used (Escape character)
1C 28 FS ^\ Alt-F Toggles Fast Pica mode
1D 29 GS ^] Shift-Ctrl-Hyphen Soft Hyphen
1E 30 RS ^^ Alt-R Toggles Red mode
1F 31 US ^_ Alt-Y Toggles Yellow mode
F6 246 Ctrl-Hyphen Hard Hyphen
FA 250 Ctrl-Space Hard Space
FF 255 Shift-Ctrl-Space Soft Space

Dot commands

These commands are intended to be on a line by themselves, beginning with the ^K (0B) control character (entered in PC-Write with Alt-G).

.. Comment line (followed by comment text; not printed)
.- Protect against reformatting (begin)
.+ End protection against reformatting
.D Mark beginning or end of footnote (can also use .DB and .DQ respectively)
.DB Begin footnote
.DD Begin footnote forced to bottom of page (starts a footnote in place of .DB, when footnotes are otherwise forced to end of text)
.DF:filename Load footnotes from external file (and force footnotes to be placed at end of text)
.DF: Turn off footnotes being forced to end of text
.DH:text Set footnote header to given text
.DM:n Footnote spacing (number of lines)
.DQ End footnote
.E:n Print n blank lines (n is a number, e.g., .E:2 to print 2 blank lines)
.E Marks beginning or end of block of text to keep on same page (can also use .EB and .EQ respectively)
.EA Turn on auto-page-breaks
.EB Marks beginning of block of text to keep on same page
.EL:n Makes page break in printout if n lines aren't available on current page
.EN Turn off auto-page-breaks
.EQ Marks end of block of text to keep on same page
.F:text Set 'text' as footer line in all pages
.F:$$$ Page number footer
.FL:text Set 'text' as footer line in left pages
.FQ Quit all footer lines
.FR:text Set 'text' as footer line in right pages
.H:text Set 'text' as header line in all pages
.H:$$$ Page number header
.HL:text Set 'text' as header line in left pages
.HR:text Set 'text' as header line in right pages
.HQ Quit all header lines
.I:text Add index entry 'text'
.IF:filename Index file name
.IW:n Index entry width n
.IX:n Index entry space n
.K:text Table of contents entry
.KF:filename Table of contents file
.KW:n Table of contents width
.KX:n Space for table of contents entry (number)
.L:n Set length of page to n lines
.LB:n Set length of text body to n lines
.M:n Set line spacing to n
.N:n Set this page's number to n
.O:filename Set output file
.PL:text Force text to left page
.PR:text Force text to right page
.Q:letter Quit (end) setting of regular font to given letter (started with .R:letter)
.QQ Quit all .R font settings (several might be in effect at once)
.R:letter Set regular font to setting coded by Alt and letter given in command (e.g., .R:B for bold)
.S:n Set line spacing per inch to n
.T:filename Insert file when printing
.TI:filename Insert unprocessed file (e.g., graphics)
.TL:n Insert file, adjust to length n
.TT:n,n Insert printer codes
.U Get keyboard input
.U:prompt Show 'prompt' and get keyboard input
.W:n Set width of header/footer to n characters
.X:n Set extra left margin of n
.XB:n Set bottom margin to n
.XF:n Set extra left margin of n characters for footers
.XH:n Extra left margin of n characters for headers
.XL:n Set extra left margin of n on left pages
.XR:n Set extra left margin of n on right pages
.XT:n Set top margin to n


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