This month the big story has to be Microsoft Office 2007, the first full beta in the series to have been released free of charge to entice users to find out about its features. Our how-to focuses on the most commonly used Office application -- Microsoft Word. We'll show some of the latest features to be found in Word 2007, to help you decide whether it's worth a try.
New features in Word
1. Word 2007 introduces a context-sensitive ribbon that replaces the old toolbars and drop-down menus. This makes changing text styles simple. To alter a style, hover over the styles boxes on the right-hand side of the ribbon, you will then see in real-time how the style looks. Click on the style to apply it.
2. Tabs along the top of the ribbon allow access to functions. To insert elements click on the Insert tab. Hover over any element -- charts, in our picture -- and you will see a brief explanation of the feature. Once you have inserted an object, a toolbar will appear showing options for editing the inserted feature.
3. Access more functions via the other tabs along the ribbon. These take you to Page Layout, References -- where you can insert information such as footnotes -- Mailings, Review -- to compare edited documents -- View and Add-ins for additional software tools. The Office menu is accessed via the logo in the left-hand corner.
4. To access a list of your recent documents, click on the Office menu in the left-hand corner. The list that appears is no longer limited to the most recently edited nine documents. You can even 'pin' a document to ensure it stays on the list by clicking the pin icon next to it. It turns green to indicate that it is now a pinned document.
5. You can now create your own weblog from within Microsoft Word 2007. To do this, first go to the Office menu and then select Publish, followed by the Blog option. You will see that a new Blog Post tab will appear in the ribbon. From here you can both publish your Blog and manage your accounts.
6. Comparing documents is now easier thanks to the Review tab. From here you can track any changes made to the document, by clicking on the Reviewing Pane option, which will automatically flag any changes. You can view documents side-by-side to compare them by clicking the Compare button and selecting, er, Compare.
7. Word 2007 now features a live word count. This allows you to see how many words you have written -- as you type -- via the live word count in the lower left-hand corner of the screen. To see more details, such as character and line counts, click on the word count and these will be displayed in a separate window.
8. Microsoft has introduced a contextual spell check feature, which monitors whether words have been spelled correctly and used in the right context. To enable this feature, go to the Office menu, click on the Word Options button, then select Proofing from the list on the left-hand side and check 'Use contextual spelling.'
9. Document Inspector is a tool that allows you to strip a document of hidden extras. To use the Inspector, go to the Office menu, select Finish and Inspect document. You can then select which elements you want to check for. You will be presented with a report and can select which elements you want to remove.
10. Word has always included document templates, but now it's much easier to use them. When you select 'New document' you will be offered a whole range of options, including a blank document and blog, plus installed or downloadable templates. To access the range just click on the Office menu and select New.