Monday, August 17, 2009

Just a Little More on Office 2007

I have one last entry on some of the nice little touches found in Office 2007. Consider these:

Live Preview: This is a nifty little addition to the bag of tools Office provides. If you are in, for example, Word, you can see changes in your document without applying them for real. Here is how it works in action: select a paragraph of text from one of your Word documents, by highlighting the text. Then, go the font command (which will be listing the font you are currently using) and open the dropdown menu listing all the available fonts. Drag down onto any of the fonts in the menu, and you will then see that paragraph presented in that font. This can be done as well for the font size, and for the styles menu which appears to the right of the font command box. You can see how the material will appear before you decide if you wish to apply the changes.

Styles: With regard to styles, this command allows you to easily format a document without having to apply a series of many commands to lay out paragraph indents, heading weights, and so on. To begin, you should understand that when you open a new document in Word, what you are really doing is opening a template called Normal.dotx (or, if you have macros included, it would be Normal.dotm). This document has a set style in it, but most of us don’t realize that when we begin working on it. Now, if you look at the ribbon (the former toolbar, at the top of the screen), you will see (1) a set of styles already listed- these are known as Quick Styles; (2) a command to change styles, with a small down arrow in it, and (3) a bar at the bottom of the command entitles “Styles” with its own down arrow. If you move your cursor over the quick styles, you will see you document (if all is highlighted), or some part of it (usually the paragraph where your cursor is located), appear in that style, similar to Live Preview above. You will also see a small down arrow for this command as well, which if selected will simply provide your access to additional styles. I would suggest opening a document and playing with this for a while to see how the styles are applied, and then decide if you find one appealing. If you click on the “Change Styles” button, you will see a small screen appear. This will allow you to change a style(using “Style Set”), a color theme (using “Colors”) or change fonts (using “fonts” command). Finally, clinking on the Style bar will allow you to find the commands you are used to seeing , such as the “clear all” command.

Clearing Styles: This is a really useful command. Often I find that I cannot remove style commands that others have embedded in their documents; as a result, I cannot, for example, get bullet points to line up properly. In such cases, I can just use the “clear all” command to remove all style formatting. Once I do that, I can then use a Quick Style to reformat the entire document in a way that makes the information appear the way I wish it to.

These commands also appear in both Excel and PowerPoint, making switching between them all the easier. And it lowers the time necessary to make documents, spreadsheets and slides look professional. Since out students are pretty visually savvy, this can help them more easily understand the message our documents are designed to spread. This is all to the good.

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