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Friday, September 3, 2010

The complete guide to Office 2010: Word

Text Effects, revamped document maps and intelligent spellchecking are among the new features of Word 2010

Although at first glance Word 2010 looks like an elaborate spot-the-difference competition from its predecessor, a number of subtle differences begin to emerge after a few hours’ use. These can be broken down into two categories: presentation and productivity.


Microsoft definitely doesn’t want you knocking out documents in Times New Roman. Building on the improved styles and themes that arrived in Office 2007, the latest attempt to beautify your documents arrives in the shape of Text Effects.

These allow you to add graphical effects to text – such as reflections, glows and shadows – which help lift the copy and give a professional sheen to headings and title pages (provided the effects are used in moderation, of course). Unlike WordArt, copy typed using Text Effects isn’t inserted as a graphic, so can be cut, pasted, edited and rendered at will.

Fonts have been given extra sparkle, with OpenType fonts offering elegant typographical features such as ligatures, number forms and number spacing.

Word also benefits from the same photo-editing functions and screenshot features that are found in Outlook (hardly surprising given that Word is Outlook’s default text editor). Additionally, there’s a wider portfolio of shapes and SmartArt to throw into documents, which again help make pages look attractive.


Document mapThose who spend their professional lives knee-deep in lengthy Word documents will appreciate the new productivity features. The revamped Document Map (now retitled Navigation Pane) allows you to browse long documents using thumbnail images of each page. Cleverly, it allows you to drag and drop sections or chapters of your document into a new position. So, if you’ve belatedly decided you want to move the chairman’s letter behind the financial results in the company’s annual report, you drag the section’s title bar into the relevant position and all the page numbers are automatically updated.

This feature relies on documents being created with headings that are properly marked up – Word isn’t smart enough to guess where sections start and finish by itself.

The Navigation Pane also houses the revamped Find menu. Searches for words or phrases are now delivered in a search-engine-like list, including snippets of the text surrounding your keywords. It’s a far less painful way of finding the passage of text you’re looking for, compared to the previous system of trawling through every keyword match.

Spellchecking has been made more intelligent, in a bid to Hoover up errors where the word itself is spelt correctly but has been used in the wrong context. Type the phrase “bare in mind”, for example, and Word will put a little blue squiggle under “bare” and suggest you replace it with “bear” when you run the full spellcheck.

Finally, Word 2010 promises to put an end to those moments when you’ve spent hours battering away at a document without saving it, and then blithely clicked “No” on the dialog box that prompts you to save before closing. Now Word automatically saves versions of all documents by default, and allows you to retrieve unsaved work.

This feature is hidden away in the new Backstage view, however. Click File | Recent, and at the foot of the document list you’ll see an option to Recover Unsaved Documents. The Info tab of the File Menu allows you to recover previous versions of the document you’re currently working on.


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