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What Word 2007 brings to your workplace

Here's a glimpse at some of the significant new features of Word 2007

If your small business relies heavily on Microsoft Office Word, one of the mainstays of the Microsoft Office System, you may need to decide if the benefits of upgrading outweigh the cost of new software.

To help you sort out how Office Word 2007 can benefit your business and boost employee productivity, here's a glimpse at some of the significant new features.

1. The Ribbon

Word 2007 looks a lot different than earlier versions because the menus and toolbars have been replaced by a series of tabs that run - like a ribbon - across the top of a document. As shown below, the idea behind these tabs is to make formatting options easier to find and require fewer mouse clicks - definitely a productivity gain, but one that may take a little time to get used to for those very familiar with previous versions.

The Ribbon is dynamic, which means as you change tasks, the tabs shift. For example, if you've been authoring a document and decide to insert a picture, once you click on the picture a tab will appear that allows you to crop or otherwise adjust the picture. That particular tab wasn't there when you were writing, but appeared once you changed tasks.

Word 2007 has tabs for writing, inserting, page layout, working with references, doing mailings, and reviewing documents.

2. Charts and Diagrams

New charting and diagramming features that include 3-D shapes, transparency, drop shadows, and other effects help you quickly create professional-looking graphics for your documents.

Using Quick Styles and Document Themes, you can easily change the appearance of text, tables, and graphics throughout a document to match your preferred style or color scheme. Since these same Word 2007 options are also available in Microsoft Office PowerPoint 2007 and Microsoft Office Excel 2007, you can use the same charts and diagrams in all three applications and easily update them.

3. Building Blocks

Some information in your documents always remains the same, no matter what type of document you are creating. In the past, you might have spent a lot of time finding and re-entering repetitive information, such as company contact information, team biographies, legal disclaimers, or standard proposal text.

With the Building Blocks feature, shown below, you can save time and reduce errors by creating blocks of frequently used information that can be easily updated and shared. To insert this standard information, you simply select the content you want from the Building Blocks menu and insert it into your document.

4. Save-as-PDF or XML

Sometimes you may need to save your Word document in a "fixed" file format so that other people who may not have Word can view it. Word now supports saving your document as a Portable Document Format (PDF). That way you can post your documents on the Internet, or share them with others, knowing that they can view them regardless of the type of computer or applications they are using.

If you are creating documents for the Web or for printing, such as a newsletter or flyer, being able to convert them to PDF first helps ensure a more professional looking finished product. Many commercial printers also prefer to receive print jobs in PDF format.

The Microsoft Office Word XML Format offers a way to dramatically reduce file sizes and also improves the ability to recover damaged files. If you frequently work with large files, the new format represents a significant savings to storage and bandwidth requirements.

5. Comparing and sharing documents

When documents get passed around between co-workers, it can be difficult to know what has been changed and what hasn't been. The new Document Comparison feature makes it possible for you to conduct more thorough reviews by comparing two versions of a document, including moved text and changes within tables - even if you do not know who made the changes.

Meanwhile, the tri-pane review panel makes it easy to detect the smallest changes between two versions of a document when comparing or combining changes from two reviewers.

When you are ready to send your document to a customer or client, Document Inspector helps you detect and remove unwanted comments, personally identifiable information, hidden text, or other information from the document so that any private information stays that way.

Also, with Word 2007 you can protect your documents by applying a digital signature or by marking them as final, which prevents future changes.

With a new user experience designed to make features easier to find and professional-looking documents quicker to create, Word 2007 alone provides a compelling reason to upgrade to Microsoft Office Small Business Edition 2007.

What next?

Did you know that Microsoft Small Business+ offers free online software training? To get started, all you need to do is sign up now.

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