Office decor

The interface in Office 2007 has such a radical new look that it gets a lot of attention, but the upgrade is more than just a pretty face. Colouring in cells with bars and gradients, to show values graphically, will make spreadsheets clearer. But for daily use, the changes I like the most are simple things such as Excel not clearing the Undo list as soon as you hit save - in the current version, if you save a spreadsheet after a big change, you can't undo the change any more.

I also like the way in which the currency button has become a drop-down menu. This has the most useful currencies listed. The list changes depending on where you are in the world.

Changes to working with graphics and colours will make a big difference in Word and PowerPoint. Instead of a basic palette, the colour picker shows you various tints of the colours in your theme. Themes work across Word, PowerPoint and Excel.

The added features in Office 2007 left me no difficulty in answering this reader's question. MaryAnn Ellis wrote: "I'm trying to edit a document that came from Apple's pages software, saved in Word format. It has images styled to look as if they are photos with a white border and 3-D shadow. How can I change the photos in Word, because I have some better images? I tried the Picture button and Picture toolbar, but I keep getting a new image instead."

In Office 2007, this process will be simple - and obvious. You'll need only to right-click on an image in Word (see Figure 1) or PowerPoint and choose Change Picture. The Format Picture dialogue will have buttons to select a different file, choose a clip art image or paste in what's on the clipboard.

For now though, I'm afraid it takes hard work.

Word doesn't make it easy to change images without treating them as fields and changing the field properties. It's possible, though, but only if you placed the images as inline and linked them in the first place. Use <Alt>-<F9> to reveal the field codes for linked images and you can type in the file details instead.

When you're working with someone else's document this isn't an option, and inline images can't be rotated - one of the things that makes photo borders work. Think about whether you need the precise positioning of the existing images, or you just want a similar effect.

The easiest thing is to place an image near the one you want to replace - turn on the Drawing toolbar to give you quick access to the tools you'll need. Double-click on the image to open the Format Image dialogue and on the Layout tab change the Wrapping style from "In line with text" to "Square". Click OK in the dialogue box and you'll get the rotate handle so you can set the picture at an angle.

If you're going to work with a lot of images, it's worth changing the way Word inserts pictures. Choose Tools-Options-Edit and for "Insert/paste pictures as" pick "Square", "Tight" or anything except "In line with text".

Now double-click on the image and choose Colours and Lines, or select the Line Style button from the Drawing toolbar and choose More Lines. Set the Colour to white and the weight to 5pt - see Figure 2. Now choose the Shadow Style button on the Drawing toolbar and choose one of the shadow styles that puts shading along two edges. You can't choose the width of the shadow, but if it's too thick or thin, select Shadow Settings from the Show Style menu and use the Nudge buttons to move it around under the image - see Figure 3.

Now that your photo has a white border with a 3-D look, size it and drag it into place next to the existing picture, which you can now delete. Once you've formatted one image with the border and shadow, you can use the Format Painter to add the same effects to any other image - as long as the wrapping style is anything except inline.

Format Painter may apply the Layout settings from the original picture, so it's best to format the image and then drag it into position. Graphics may jump up and down the page as you add the border to each one if you don't.

You could use the Format Painter to copy the border style from the original images in the document - but now you know the line and shadow settings that produce the effect, you can tweak the look instead. If you have several overlapping images, right-click and choose Order to select the way in which the images should be arranged on top of each other.

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Mary Branscomb

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