Introduction to Word 2013
Word 2013 doesn’t concern itself with adding many new lavish features. It’s too old, too mature for that. Instead it concentrates on a cleaner, smoother interface for the user, and more tools to make documents look attractive, organised and – most interestingly – interactive.
It begins with creating a new document. The range of templates on offer from the Office website is up into the thousands, and you can search, view, download and use any one of them without ever leaving Word 2013. The Start screen also gives you a list of recently opened documents, so you can get back to work each morning without delay.
New file types
The types of file that Word can handle have expanded to include some you may not expect. It can now open and convert PDF documents, and – at least for mostly textual documents – lay out paragraphs, lists and tables to closely match how they were in the original, ready for editing.
If you want to insert images or video into your Word document, you can now effortlessly include online content alongside local files. You can insert an online picture from the Office.com clipart library, from your personal SkyDrive locker, or by searching Bing from within Word. It even supports photos from Flickr, and the image itself doesn’t need to be stored locally at any point.
The same applies to online video, and you can add content from a quick Bing Video or YouTube search, or simply by pasting in the embed code from any online video service. As long as the reader has an internet connection, the video will play as if it were stored locally, complete with all of your chosen video service’s quality and sizing options. It’s a great way to keep quality up and file size down.
A cleaner view
A series of changes will make your documents cleaner and easier to read. First up is the new live layout and alignment guides, which make it easy to line up images and other objects with the relevant pieces of text. Every change you make is reflected in the entire document as you go, so you can see the effect a resized image will have before you let go of the mouse button.
Make judicious use of Word’s heading styles to simplify your document. If you have a section that’s complicated and not entirely necessary to the reader’s understanding, you can include a short summary in the heading and collapse the whole section. If the reader chooses to see more details, the section can be expanded again with one click. You can also expand and collapse the whole document in one go to suit the reader’s needs.
And then there’s the new Read Mode, which takes a long document and converts it into shorter, more readable pages that perfectly fit your screen or window. If there are objects within the document that aren’t clear enough in Read Mode, just double-click them or double-tap with a finger and they’ll zoom to fill the window. Tap or click outside again to carry on reading.
On the subject of carrying on, Word will also remember where you were when you closed a document, and offer to take you straight to that point the next time you open the file – with online documents it even works on different computers. This is a great tool for anyone who needs to deal with a long report, say, over a period of days or even weeks.
Office 365 is all about connecting and collaborating, and Word 2013 has all of the necessary tools. Documents save by default to your SkyDrive, ready for access from any PC around the world, but there are other options too: you can share any file using SharePoint, so co-workers can edit your copy without creating a duplicate; or you can post your document to SharePoint or SkyDrive and let everyone work on it at the same time using the Word Web App.
You’ll be able to see where in the document others are working, and every time you click Save your edits will filter through to everyone else. To prevent clashes it works on a first-come, first-served basis, so once one person begins to edit a section, it locks for everyone else.
Whether it’s you or someone else making edits, Word 2013 has a much clearer revision view called Simple Markup, which provides a clean view of the text but with red indicators where relevant tracked changes have been made. And comments on your work can now turn into conversations, as Microsoft has added a reply button. Conversations still sit near the relevant part of the document, but will grey out when marked as done.
Word 2013 isn’t a dramatic revamp, more a case of fine-tuning an already very capable piece of software. But the new additions and the online focus of Office 365 will quickly make it essential to the way your team works together.