It’s a Bird, It’s a Plane, It’s….Microsoft Office 2007????

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Posted 12 Oct 2007 in Soulville, Technology

If you’re like me, you use Microsoft Office a lot in your daily life – writing papers, doing spreadsheets, checking email, yadda yadda yadda. So through all the different versions of Word, the layout has been basically the same so it was easy to adapt from one version to another. Until now. Office 2007 has a much different layout, much more graphical with a lot of bells and whistles. When I opened it the first thing I wanted to say was “What the ….” (but I was in my campus library!). Even for the accustomed Office user, it is a very hard transition – you can’t find usual tools and just typing a simple document takes more than a while if you try to do any formatting. But I’m here to help you make that transition and point out some sites that have helped me make it as well (including some awesome free video tutorials).

Ready? Let’s Go!!

I’ll start out assuming you have Office 2007. If you don’t, go get the free trial. Looking at the program is the best way to figure out this tutorial to see what I mean. I’ll only cover Word and Excel, but if you need more, the sites below are great help.


Microsoft Word is perhaps the harder of the three programs to re-accustom yourself to. First you’ll notice in the top left corner a Windows symbol button. This is the equivalent of what used to be File. If you see an arrow to the side of an item it gives you a menu for that. This is where you’ll find things such as Print Preview and Save As. Instead of just being able to change a file name with Save As you can now save a document as a different type with a simple click. If you have Office 2003 or before on another computer you use, I highly suggest to save your documents as 97-2003 Word Document. This way you will actually be able to open this file on that computer. Office 2007 introduced the .docx file format for the Word documents which computers without it cannot read. So bummer you if you try to open elsewhere without saving as 97-2003 (this saves it as a .doc file which is the norm for Office versions 1997-2003).

Just looking at the program face, you see several tabs. These tabs replace the different menu options that were up top before. You have the Home tab – this is basic formatting tools and your clipboard. Notice there is Clipboard, Font, Paragraph, Styles and Editing portions of the bar. The first four have a small downpointing arrow next to their names. The last one doesn’t. If you click on one of those arrows, you get further options about those areas. Editing doesn’t have one because all of the options related to Editing are already shown.

When I opened Office 2007 for the first time, I had to customize my screen back to the way I liked it – I always wanted the ruler shown and in print layout view. These options are available in the View tab along with other preferences such as tab widths, etc. Other options are under the Page Layout tab – spacing, margins, colors, etc. Kinda easy, huh?

The other tabs seemingly make a lot of straightforward sense – Mailings covers things like mail merge, Review covers things like comments and tracking changes, and Insert covers everything you can actually insert into a document – pictures, files, text boxes, etc. But here comes a few new additions – some of the icons you see in the toolbars, the mouseover within the text space and the Reference tab are all relatively new. The icons such as the one to check your word count has no text next to it and you wouldn’t figure it out if you just didn’t start clicking around (it’s the one to the right of “translate” in the proofing section of the Review toolbar by the way). If you have text in the text space and hold your mouse over any of it, a small formatting bar appears – if you mouse over this then you get a chance to change the formatting without having to go back to the Home tab if you’re working somewhere else. Supposedly quicker. Now I’m a die hard fan of EndNote as a reference tool. But Office 2007 has an integrated reference manager now. It works very well I must admit. There are some other features here but I have yet to use them.


A lot of the features of Excel are similar to Word. However a few things to note – have you ever been trying to figure out what formula to stick where and what each one did? Excel 2007 now has a feature under the Formulas tab that makes a very easy time of this – just click the category then click the option. If you mouse over any of the text in the toolbars or the icons, Office gives you a short explanation of what it is for. You can use this in any of the other Office programs as well (Word, etc).

In the Page Layout section, Excel has introduced some pretty nifty color combinations to make your table layouts pretty and such. Makes it easier for some of us to make a layout that gets the point across and is appealing to the eye. The Page Layout tab also makes it much easier to change the orientation of your spreadsheet. This will come in handy in Powerpoint as well. The Insert tab splits up the chart options that you previously found in versions 2003 and before. Now you can visually decide what type of graph you want. You even have more options than before! This means you can make some way cool charts that only you understand and make everyone go “oooh” and ahhhh” over (or is that just me??).

Sites That Help

If it weren’t for these sites, I would not have figured out where many of my favorite tools were. They don’t tell you everything, but give you a pretty good starting basis. Several use talking and video.

Microsoft’s Tutorial – Very Very Good

An Excel Tutorial

A Word Tutorial


I really hope you all get the transition soon. A few days after you begin using it will seem familiar but there is still much more to use. I’m still grabbing tutorials! I’ll be back next week with the much anticipated Bit Torrent tutorial. See you then!

HarriMac enjoys a well lived life with a large serving of soul. Her special feature, Welcome to Soulville, appears every Thursday. Subscribe to the Welcome to Soulville feed to get new installments in your feed reader.

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  1. I’ve transitioned to Office 2007 (word and excel mainly) and I totally agree with this article. The new ‘Ribbon Display’ is tricky at first as with most programs, once you learn where the tools you need are, the program becomes much easier to use, even easier than 2003. Remember, we’ve had almost 5 years with 2003, change is tough!

    I remember one night I struggled for an hour trying to figure out how to enable a scientific analysis tool pack that took two seconds to enable in 2003. Ugh.

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