When you first open Word 2007 for the first time, you’ll probably be surprised by the changes that Microsoft made to the user interface. Instead of the usual icons and menu selections, you are presented with their new fluent interface, called The Ribbon. This is a totally new way to get things done in the Office 2007 suite of programs. Unfortunately this new interface can be intimidating.
The Ribbon is segregated into groups of commands called tabs, with each tab having it’s own sections and mini toolbars. Once you get used to the tabs, they become logical places to find similar commands.
After working with this new interface for some time, I found myself going back and forth constantly between the tabs to get things done. I wanted to find an easy way to modify the ribbon to create a tab that had all of my commonly used commands in one place.
Unfortunately Microsoft has not made this easy. You either have to be a Visual Basic programmer or know how to modify a large XML document, both of which are outside the scope of this article. In my research, I did find some workarounds that make Word 2007 more user friendly. Here are 5 quick tips for Word 2007 that you can implement in just a few minutes.
1. Create New and Open Icons
In figure one above you’ll notice that the commonly used icons New and Open do not appear on the ribbon interface. To get to them you have to click on the Office button and find them in the pull-down menu. When you do find the new button and click on it it opens a dialog box which requires you to choose a blank document. This is at least three clicks just to open a new document.
To easily re-create these icons like they appeared in earlier versions of Word, you just need to add them to the Quick Access Toolbar. Figure 2 shows you how easy this is.
- Click on the pull-down menu at the right of the Quick Access Toolbar
- Select the checkboxes next to Open and also next to New
- You’ll now have these handy icons available on this toolbar
Now you’ll have one click access to open a new or saved document.
2. Adding Additional Icons To The Quick Access Toolbar
To add additional icons to the Quick Access Toolbar, just open the pull-down menu and click on the More Commands Link (see Figure 2). This will open the customization dialog box (Figure 4).
- Choose the popular or all in the pull-down menu
- Highlight the icons you want to add
- Click on the add button to move them to the toolbar
- Click the OK dialog box when you are done
You can add many of the hard to find icons that are missing from the ribbon interface and put them in one convenient place.
3. Using Paste Special
If you routinely cut and paste from different documents, web sites, or PDF files into Word you might notice that when you paste the copied text it will bring along the formatting of the previous document. These may include..
- Different fonts, text sizes, or colors
- Hyperlinks, tables, or graphics
- Strange punctuation and line breaks
The best way to get rid of this extraneousness stuff is to use the Paste Special command. You can easily add it the the Quick Access Toolbar using the procedure used in Adding Additional Icons above (Figure 4).
Once you copy your text from the document source using the copy command or Control-C on the keyboard, use the paste special command to paste unformatted text into Word (Figure 5).
This can save you an enormous amount of time trying to reformat items. This also works well as a way to take text into other applications that do not have this command. Just paste special into Word and then cut and paste the resulting unformatted text into your other application.
4. Minimize The Ribbon
If you have a new wide-screen laptop or other wide-screen monitor, you may notice that the vertical space in Word 2007 is compromised by the wide ribbon interface.
You can easily minimize the ribbon by using the CONTROL-F1 command from the keyboard (CTRL key & F1 Key). This instantly minimizes the ribbon to just tab headings, but leaves your Quick Access Toolbar in view. This will save you at least an inch of vertical space which is really nice when typing longer documents. This command toggles, so hitting Control-F1 another time instantly brings back the ribbon.
5. I Still Can’t Find It!
With all the changes to the Word 2007 interface it’s a good chance you may not be able to find your favorite commands anymore. If you’re like me you’ll spend a lot of time clicking through the tabs hunting for familiar commands or icons.
There is a better way. Microsoft has published a Flash based Quick Reference Guide that features a Word 2003 interface that is clickable. You click on the old command and the program tells you where the command is in Word 2007. Cool!
While these five tips may save you some time, if you are faced with learning Word 2007 for your job or business, I would recommend that you pick up a quick-start guide. I have used these for years to get up to speed quickly when a new version comes out.
The step by step book is my favorite because you work through real world examples. In just a few hours you’ll be up to speed with the most popular commands and options. The Plain and Simple book is a feature packed reference guide that will help you implement the new Word 2007 features quickly and easily.
Take A Few Minutes…
And modify Word 2007 the way you like it. You’ll find that many of these tips work in Excel, Powerpoint and other Office 2007 applications. A few quick keystrokes and you’ll be more productive.