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March 4, 2013

The New Word 2013

Filed under: Main — admin @ 12:01 am

The latest edition of my bestseller Microsoft Word For Dummies has appeared, this one to cover Word 2013, a part of the Office 2013 suite. Here’s what’s new:

Overall, the main thrust of the update was to get Word ready for tablet computing. While I can’t fathom writing anything on a tablet (unless it had a detachable keyboard — a real one), Microsoft apparently believe that people will clamor for it in the future. What. Ever.

Word 2013 has a smattering of tablet-centric features, the most obvious of which is one that spaces out the buttons and tools on the Ribbon so that you can stab them with your stubby fingers instead of gracefully clicking them with the mouse.

Beyond that difference, everything else with the Word 2013 update is pretty subtle. As with the Word 2010 update before it, if you can use Word 2007 or Word 2010, then Word 2013 is cinchy. In fact, there’s no real reason to upgrade to this version of Word, unless it’s a leapfrog update from Word 2003 or older.

Overall, the interface seems more elegant and clean. That’s nice.

As someone who uses Word all the time, the biggest difference for me is the obfuscation of the Draft mode. I write primarily in that mode, mostly out of habit; in older versions of Word, Draft mode was faster than Print Layout. In Word 2013, Draft mode is no longer accessible via a tiny icon on the Status bar. You have to visit the View tab to pluck it out. So why bother? Just use Word 2013 in Print Layout mode instead, which is apparently how Microsoft wants you to do things.

Like Draft mode, Outline mode is also relegated to the sticks, and it’s no longer accessed from a Status Bar shortcut button. On the up side, a Document Navigation pane helps you view your document in Print Layout mode ala the old Outline Mode. Headers are collapsable, which means you can effectively outline and write in the same mode, although I’m not used to that yet.

Word 2013 has different customization options, so if you’re used to the old way of doing things you can tune and tweak the interface to make it behave how you like. For example, you can get the Save All command back on the Quick Access toolbar, which is covered on this web site (click here).

You can also remap the Ctrl+F key combination to the Find dialog box, which I like using better than that Find pane that appears. You’ll have to buy the book to learn that trick.

So is it a good update? Well, it’s not a necessary update, but I like it. I mean, Microsoft could have screwed things up, but they didn’t. If you wind up with Word 2013 you won’t find the experience overly painful. That’s always a good thing.

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