The 2007 Microsoft Office system looks so different from earlier versions. Why would you want to take the time to relearn features that you already know and use daily?
Well, you might be amazed at how easy it is to get up to speed with the new user interface that you see in several of the 2007 release programs, including Microsoft Office Word 2007, Microsoft Office Excel 2007, and Microsoft Office PowerPoint 2007. The purpose of the new interface is to make the features you need more accessible, and to make it easier to find useful features that you might not already know.
But, the big story of this release isn't just about a new look and organization. It's about taking full advantage of what technology today has to offer to help you get more done, more easily, with better results. When it comes to working with documents, this means a wide range of new features, from incredible formatting tools that work across Word 2007, Excel 2007, and PowerPoint 2007, to beautiful graphics that might amaze you.
This article introduces some of my favorite new features that can help you create exactly the document you need with less work and better results than you might imagine.
In the 2007 release, several new formatting capabilities are available across Word, Excel, and PowerPoint to help you get professional, consistent results with no extra effort, regardless of which program you need. Take a brief look at what the new formatting tools can simplify for you.
Themes are sets of colors, fonts, and graphic effects that you can apply to an entire document with just one click. Once you apply a theme, its formatting is saved with your document, so that you can continue to apply theme formatting as needed when you add or edit content. You can use any of the 20 built-in themes, or customize and create your own. You can even apply a theme from one document to another, or share your custom themes across your group or your entire organization. The same themes are available in Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, so that you can effortlessly coordinate all of your document content.
Find themes on the Page Layout tab in Word and Excel, and on the Design tab in PowerPoint. When used in PowerPoint, themes can also provide slide master formatting and slide background options.
If you're familiar with styles in Word, you know that a style is a collection of formatting attributes that has a name. You can select just that name to apply all included attributes to your content at once. In the 2007 release, the concept of styles has been greatly expanded to the new Quick Styles functionality. Quick Styles are galleries of style options available to a wide range of features across Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, ranging from text to tables and graphics.
For example, you can click a Picture Style from the gallery in the image below to apply a border, shadow, 3-D rotation, and other effects to selected images all at once. You'll find Quick Styles available on many contextual tabs (Ribbon tabs that appear only when you select a given feature, such as a table or a graphic object).
Additionally, most Quick Styles coordinate with themes. Content formatted with Quick Styles automatically updates when you change the active theme in a document. In fact, the previews that you see in many Quick Style galleries adjust, as applicable, when you apply a new theme.
Point to a theme in the themes gallery, or to a style in most Quick Styles galleries, but don't click. You no longer have to apply formatting to see exactly how it will look in your document.
One of the coolest, simplest, and most practical advances for document production in the 2007 release is the new Live Preview capability. Just point to an option in a formatting gallery to preview that formatting in your document, and only click to apply the formatting once you find an option you like.
Convert a bulleted list into a flawless diagram. Create charts that look like you hired a professional designer. And, get it all done in about the time it takes to pour yourself a cup of coffee.
It's not too good to be true—this is what the new technology is all about. Check out some of the things you can do with the new graphics engine in the 2007 release.
The new SmartArt graphics tool replaces the Diagram and Organization Chart tool that you may know from earlier versions. But, don't look for a simple upgrade here. SmartArt graphics provide an entirely new approach to business graphics. Just take a look at a couple of examples.
SmartArt graphics are available from the Insert tab in Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. However, when you create SmartArt graphics in PowerPoint you get additional tools, such as the ability to convert a bulleted list to a diagram. Learn more about creating SmartArt graphics.
Excel charts have been redesigned to use the new graphics engine. What does that mean for you? It means more beautiful, visually effective charts because you can now format Excel charts as simply as shapes, with just as much formatting flexibility. Additionally, the new charting tools make it easy to customize your chart, with three contextual tabs that expose almost all charting functionality.
Find Chart Styles and Chart Layouts (two types of Quick Styles) on the Design tab under Chart Tools. Or, use the Format tab under Chart Tools to format chart elements just as you do shapes. Take a look at a few examples of what you can do in the image that follows.
The 2007 Office system offers far too many new and interesting document production features to address them all in any one article. So, following are just a few examples of the types of changes available in the 2007 release that can make a real, practical difference in the way you work with documents every day.
Word: Building blocks
The new building blocks capability in Word is the evolution of AutoText. Insert complete, formatted document elements—such as cover pages, headers, footers, or tables of contents—in one step. No fuss, no muss, no wasted time.
For example, insert a Cover Page from the gallery shown here. You can select from the many built-in cover page options or create and save your own.
Cover pages become the first page of the document by default, or you can right-click an option in the gallery to select another location. Once inserted, you can add or edit content on the cover page, such as adding a document name, your name, contact information, and so on. If you then decide to change the cover page design, you can simply select another option from the gallery and your cover page will swap, retaining the text you added to the original page.
Building blocks use another new feature, called content controls, to enable you to add content to the document that provides easy, dynamic solutions such as the ability to retain your content when you change design and layout.
PowerPoint: Custom layouts
PowerPoint users just might feel like shouting this one from the rooftops. Finally, you can customize every individual layout in a slide presentation and even create your own layouts. When you open the slide master in a presentation, you now see the master with several layouts attached. These are the same slide layouts available from the Layout gallery.
You can still use the master to customize formatting and content across all layouts, or you can select an individual layout and customize it as you choose. You can even add additional content placeholders to existing layouts or design your own, entirely custom layouts. Learn more about working with layouts.
Excel: Excel tables
Managing and analyzing data is easier than ever with the new Excel tables feature. You can convert any worksheet range to a table for new formatting options (table styles), automatic calculation features such as calculated columns and total rows, and several enhanced data features ranging from new sort and filter options (such as sorting by cell or font color) to structured references that simplify complex data analysis.