Word 2007 for Writers: Part 1 – Introduction
No tool is as central to the modern writer’s toolkit as Microsoft’s Word. It is the word processor of choice for most writers — and of necessity for most of the rest. Even when we escape Word itself, we are forced by publisher’s specifications to save our final output in Word’s .doc format.
And, to be honest, it deserves it. Despite its quirks, despite the bully tactics of Microsoft, despite its proprietary format and top-secret inner workings, Word is pretty much the golden standard of word processors. You might have been happy with WordPerfect under DOS, or even WordStar, but they’re gone and Word’s still around.
The newest version, Word 2007, even manages to rise above Word’s utilitarian roots. It’s actually fun to use — or it can be, once you figure out how everything works. Most of the old functions are still there, behind the more flashy “ribbon” interface — and Microsoft has taken pains to put some of the under-used but useful features front and center in the newest iteration of Word. (As always, I can really only speak about the Windows version; from what I understand, Word 2008 on the Mac is something of a travesty.)
This week, we’ll be looking at some of those useful features. We’ll start by exploring Word’s “Styles”, which make formatting easy. Then we’ll look at some of the features that help manage all the pieces of long works (like that novel you’re planning). Finally, we’ll look at some of the ways Word can help you move from first to final draft.
Of course, Word has tons more features — a built in (but not quite ready for prime time) reference manager, the same old dreaded footnoting function, and version tracking for collaboration. Maybe I’ll come back to those in a follow-up post.