Inside Office 2007

In support of our Office 2007 beta 2 giveaway on this month's Windows CD-ROM, the Windows team talks you through what's new in Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint...

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By  Matthew Wade Published  October 3, 2006

Inside Word 2007|~|wORD-2007---m.jpg|~|Word includes a funky new transparent text formatting box, which conveniently appears when you hover the mouse cursor over highlighted text.|~|The Microsoft Office Button can be described as Word’s ‘Start’ button. It takes the form of circular Office 2007 logo and is found at the top left of the screen. Single-clicking this takes you to all manner of new (and recent) documents, Save, Save As, Print, Finish and Publish options; all of these nicely represented by the icon-based graphic style of Office 2007. Starting off While the traditional Ctrl+N shortcut still opens a new blank document, clicking File (or Alt+F) then Enter brings up a new visual option dialog box (as with all of Word’s menus, you’ll need to get used to this new graphics style). From here you can choose to start a new blank document, a blog entry, a blank template, or else head into My Templates (these must be downloaded from Microsoft Office Online), or Microsoft Office Online’s range of document themes (such as business fax cover pages, academic reports, letters, invoices and so forth. Writing and formatting The new ribbon interface in Word (which is also used in Excel and PowerPoint 2007) features great-looking, if arguably distracting thumbnail graphics. In terms of your text, ‘Styles’ is a useful new feature. Firstly, you can highlight a particular section of text - a headline say - and if you then hover the mouse cursor over any of the square Style icons at the top of the screen (with the horizontal menu ribbon in ‘Home’ setting, - a.k.a the ‘Write’ tab) this will give you an instant live preview of how the text would look in that style. You could for example choose Heading 1, 2 or 3. Sticking with these Styles, for your body copy you have the option of ‘Normal’ text (with or without between-line spacing), plus for secondary text there are styles such as ‘Subtle Reference’ or ‘Book Title’. You don’t only get just these ten text styles however, as this default set is only one of 11 total Style Sets (others include Classic, Elegant, Fancy, Format, Modern and so on). Should for any reason the style you want not appear in the Styles Gallery, press Ctrl+Shift+S to open the Apply Styles task pane and under Style Name, pick the style you want (from those you’ve already used). To create a new Quick Style, if for instance you want your company’s name to always appear in red italics, highlight the text in question and use the transparent text formatting box that appears next to it to do your formatting (see pic). In theory you should then be able to right-click your way to saving this selection as a New Quick Style, however we found this function lacking in this beta version, so instead head to the ‘Write’ tab and under Styles, click the ‘more styles’ down arrow. The option you’ll need is underneath all these additional styles. Should you need to use a particular font then Styles will likely be a bit non-specific for you, in which case head for the pull-down font menu in the Write tab which, along w ith font sizings and similar features, will preview each font live using the text of your current document. This is really handy, in that this saves you having to open and navigate the usual Font dialog box. Good looking In terms of page layout, Office 2007’s Page Layout tab is quite intuitive. In particular, the Margins, Orientation, Size and Columns options in the Page Setup section are quite easy to use - the page margin options are well considered and immediately effective - except that is when splitting text into Columns. This is a niggly feature at best, so put aside a little learning time as you learn this process using Word’s Help function. As far as proofing and spellchecking goes, we ran into the usual language bugbear, in that we headed for F7/Options/ Personalize/ Language Settings, changed the primary editing language to English (UK), but then kept receiving US English spelling suggestions. This is as frustrating as ever (if you have any thoughts on ways around this, do let us and the readers know - on On the plus side, the spell checking function does now include contextual spell checking, meaning you should never again have any excuse for mixing ‘there’ and ‘their’. Zooming in and out of your current document is simple, as a slider has been added at the foot of most document screens. To view the word count of your document, check out Word’s bottom-left taskbar. If you highlight text, this wordcount display will even figure out that selection. Saving When it comes to saving documents, 2007 includes two new options: save in PDF format (which means you don’t need Adobe’s Acrobat program installed on your PC) and save in XPS format. PDF files can both be saved at a normal file size or minimised for use online. XPS meanwhile refers to XML Paper Specification; an electronic file format that preserves document formatting and enables file sharing (for instance, when a file is viewed online or printed). Microsoft’s version of PDF if you like. Note: however, that both you and any reader of your document will need to have downloaded an XPS viewer from Microsoft Office Online. XPS format saves apply to Microsoft Excel 2007, PowerPoint and many more ‘Office System’ apps. ----------------- Also check out: Building Blocks These refer to predefined, customised ‘blocks’ of content, which you can insert easily you're your documents rather than having to find this content and paste it in each time. Tri-Pane Review Panel This feature makes it easy to compare two versions of a document, side by side, with simultaneous page scrolling (in order to easily find out where text has been added, deleted or moved for instance). Digital Signatures Apply your own digital signature to stop others editing your document in the future and assure readers that what they’re reading is what you wrote. Blog from Word Publish your ramblings direct from Word 2007. It now supports Blogger, Microsoft’s Spaces, SharePoint sharing and more. Head to File/New and double-click to open a new blog entry. Then just specify your blog service, enter your login details, and either create a new entry or download existing ones for editing. ----------------- ||**||Inside Excel 2007|~|Excel-screen---m.jpg|~|If you wish to create a personal budget but don’t have time to create one from scratch, simply click on the ‘Budget’ category under ‘Microsoft Office Online’ and double-click on the ‘Personal Budget’ template.|~|When you first open Excel 2007 you’ll see the familiar worksheets you’re used to. You’ll also notice however that the old look of menus and buttons have been replaced by a new ribbon, which features tabs you must click on to get to features and popular Excel commands. Here are the three basic components of this ribbon: 1. Tabs Tabs sit across the top of the ribbon. They include ‘Home’, ‘Page Layout’, ‘Formula’ and more. 2. Groups Each tab features groups that gather related items together. Groups pull together all the commands you’re likely to need for a particular task. Throughout the task they then remain on display and are readily available (instead of being tucked away in menus as was the case in Excel 2003). For instance, to display text on multiple lines in a cell, you don’t have to click a command on a menu, click a tab in a dialog box, and then click an option. You just click the ‘Wrap Text’ button in the ‘Alignment’ group, under the ‘Home’ tab. 3. Commands The commands you see on the ribbon are the ones you use the most, however there are other commands that Excel displays only when you may need them, in response to a actions you take. For example, if you don’t have a chart in your worksheet, the commands to work with charts won’t show up in the ribbon. But once you have created a chart, the ribbon responds by displaying the Chart Tools (with three tabs: Design, Layout, and Format). When you complete the chart, click outside the chart area and the Chart tools will disappear. Using Excel As with Word, the new circular Microsoft Office button located on the top left corner of the Excel 2007 lets you open, print, save your spreadsheets. When you click ‘New’ on the new File Menu a ‘New Workbook’ window will appear. Here you can either choose to open a blank workbook or download one of the many new slick templates offered at Office’s online website. For instance, if you wish to create a personal budget but don’t have time to create one from scratch, simply click on the ‘Budget’ category under ‘Microsoft Office Online’ and double-click on the ‘Personal Budget’ template (see pic). The process of entering text and numbers hasn’t changed in Excel 2007, but the way in which you format these has. For instance if you wish to align text or a number, you’ll have to navigate to the ‘Alignment’ group in the ribbon to choose the alignment option you want. One great change Microsoft has made to Excel regards its formatting. In Excel 2003 you have to right-click on a cell, click ‘Format’ and then navigate through a list of different formats, however in Excel 2007 you simply have to click on the cell, navigate to the ‘Number’ group and pick the format you want from a drop-down list. (Note: the format drop-down list it set to ‘General’ by default.) This list includes the most commonly used formats, however if the format you want isn’t present, just click the ‘More...’ button at the end. Decorative sheets If you’ve finished entering data into your sheet but don’t have time to manually format it the data into a professional looking table, select all the relevant cells, navigate to the nifty ‘Styles’ group and click ‘Format as table’. Now click on one of the many table styles and click OK. The new style will be instantly applied. As in Excel 2003, cell styles are used to format selected cells, but you can now quickly apply a predefined cell style as this feature is readily available in the app’s ribbon. Most cell styles are not based on the theme that is applied to your workbook, plus you can easily create your own by clicking on Cell Style/New Cell Style. Conditional formatting You can also use conditional formatting to visually annotate your data for both analytical and presentation purposes. 2007 offers formatting rules that apply great visual formatting in the form of gradient colors, data bars, and icon sets (which include flags, traffic signal and arrows) to data that meets those rules. Let’s say you’ve created a budget sheet and wish to highlight any negative figures that appear in the ‘Savings’ field. In this case, select all the cells in the Savings row (or column). Now click on the ‘Conditional Formatting’ button located in the ‘Styles’ group under the ‘Home’ tab. Navigate to ‘Highlight cell rules’, followed by the ‘Less than’ option. A new window will now appear. Under the ‘Format cells that are less than’ field, type ‘0’ and choose your desired formatting option such as ‘Red fill with dark red text’. Click OK. Now if the result of the Saving’s cell is less than 0, it will special formattingwill be added. Microsoft has made a number of improvements to help make formula writing easier. For example, the formula bar can be resized to accommodate large formulas, which prevents a certain formula from covering other data in your worksheet. You can also write longer formulas with more levels of nesting than you could in earlier versions of Excel. To increase the length of the formula bar, simply place your cursor over the curved area of the bar and extend it as you wish. To increase the width, click on the bottom of the bar and move it downwards. A new ‘Function AutoComplete’ feature has also been added. Here’s how it works: whenever you type ‘=’ followed by a letter in the formula bar, Excel will provide you with a list of functions beginning with that particular letter. Just select your desired formula, enter the parameters and you’re good to go. Managing formulae When you click on the ‘Formulas’ tab, you’ll notice a new feature called ‘Name Manager’. This lets you assign names to cell ranges, formulae, values and refer to these names in other formulas. It also lets you organise, update and manage multiple named ranges in a central location, which helps anyone who needs to work on your worksheet interpret its formulas and data. To create a name for a certain range of cells, first select the range, click on the ‘Name a Range’ button located in the ‘Named Cells’ group under the ‘Formulas’ tab. Next, enter your desired name and document, what the name refers to, and what it should and should not be used for in the ‘Comment’ box, and then click OK. To use a named range in a formula, simply hit the ‘Use in Formula’ button. When worksheets cells are not visible, you can watch them and their respective formulas via a new ‘Watch Window’ toolbar. This window makes it convenient to inspect, audit, or confirm formula calculations and results in large worksheets. By using this, you don’t need to repeatedly scroll or go to different parts of your worksheet. Best of all, you can dock this window below the ribbon so that it doesn’t cover your sheet. To learn how to use this, simply click F1 to start Excel’s well-explained ‘Help’ guide and search for ‘Window Watch’. Like Excel 2003, 2007 lets you quickly arrange your worksheet data to find the answers that you need by using filtering and sorting. However with the new version you can now sort data by cell colour and up to whopping number of 64 levels. This is a very useful then for users who regularly work with very large spreadsheets. ------------- Cells galore To enable you to explore massive amounts of data in worksheets, Excel now supports up to one million rows and 16 thousand columns per worksheet. Specifically, the Office Excel 2007 grid is 1,048,576 rows by 16,384 columns, which provides you with 1,500% more rows and 6,300% more columns than are available in Excel 2003. ------------- ||**||Inside PowerPoint 2007|~|PowerPoint-Office---m.jpg|~|Design templates have been replaced by customisable ‘Themes’, which contain families of colours, fonts and other formatting options. |~|On opening PowerPoint 2007, you’ll noticed that the two-pane presentation of the app is similar to earlier versions, however the new ‘ribbon’ menu along the top of the interface sets it apart. Each category ribbon is divided into sections, with similar features grouped together. For example, the Illustrations section of the ‘Insert’ tab contains buttons for Picture, Clip Art, Photo Album, SmartArt and Chart. As with Word and Excel 2007, the new Office Logo located on the upper left corner of the app lets you open, save and print presentations. To make changes to PowerPoint's default settings, simply click the Microsoft Logo and hit ‘PowerPoint’ options, located at the bottom of the list. Here you can modify the way PowerPoint works and customise the Quick Access toolbar located next to the Office button. Face off On the whole, PowerPoint 2007’s user interface is logical and user-friendly. If you want to change a design element in your presentation you navigate to the ‘Design’ tab, and if you then want to animate a chart or you click on the ‘Animate’ tab. Like Excel, the interface also organises and presents PowerPoint contextual menus related to what you’re doing.The traditional F5 shortcut can be used to run a slide show and pressing ‘B’ and ‘W’ on your keyboard makes the screen turn black or white. Previewing In PowerPoint 2003 you have to apply a theme or colour first before you can preview it, however in 2007 you can ‘live preview’ a theme or transition by hovering your mouse over the design thumbnail. The app also lets you instantly preview colours and fonts, as in Word 2007. Themes Design templates have been replaced by customisable ‘Themes’, which contain families of colours, fonts and formatting. For instance, you can easily edit a theme by choosing a new colour family (see pic). This will change the background, fonts and template features to reflect this new colour grouping. Global effects, such as line types, can also be quickly applied to all objects. PowerPoint’s new SmartArt feature lets you create slick-looking diagrams, organisation charts and flow charts, in contrast to 2003’s somewhat dull organisation offerings. Let’s say you have a slide showing a list of bullet points that you’d like to convert into a SmartArt diagram. All you need to do is highlight the bullet points, navigate to the Home tab and click the SmartArt button located in the ‘Paragraph’ group. Once you’ve selected the SmartArt button a dynamic list of diagram choices will be displayed. Simply hover your mouse pointer over any of these diagrams to instantly preview how the finished product will look. To apply a particular diagram simply click on it. You’ll then be automatically taken to the SmartArt Design and Format section. Here you can change the colour of your diagram or its overall look and feel, by using the new Quick Styles feature. You also have the ability to add textures and shadows; not available with 2003. Additionally, you can add bullets points to and change the layout of your SmartArt graphic. If you decide that you don’t like the formatting changes you’ve made and want to go back to the original graphic produced by SmartArt, simply hit the ‘Reset Graphic’ button. Charting in 2007 Charts are now created in Microsoft Excel. When you insert a chart (or click a chart placeholder), Excel opens with a sheet containing dummy data and a sample chart appears on the slide. You now have access to all of Excel’s charting tools, which means you can design more detailed and professional charts and graphs than previously. PowerPoint now also lets you save your documents in PDF format, which is great for sharing your presentation via e-mail for editing purposes or fast printouts at a reduced file size. You can also save presentations to XPS format, which is Microsoft’s PDF equivalent. Compatibility Finally, Microsoft has introduced a new Compatibility Checker feature, which can be accessed by clicking the Office Logo, followed by the ‘Finish’ option. This basically checks your file to see what elements of your presentation will cause problems when run using earlier versions of PowerPoint - a great idea. ||**||

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