Let’s be honest, when there’s a new version of Office, it always seems to be Excel that gets the lion's share of new features. You may think that Word tends to get overlooked, but Microsoft do in fact add in tweaks and new stuff!
With Office 365, you may get updates on a pretty regular basis. In most organisations it is probably a couple of times a year but could easily be more often. And those new features can easily be missed – some are quite subtle.
In this post I'll mention some of the new features that you’ll probably find the most useful.
1. Improved proofing tools
Some of the most common amendments we make to documents are around correcting errors. Recent versions of Word have brought us some nice improvements to the proofing tools.
We’ve been right-clicking marked words (usually with a red or green wavy underline, or more recently a double blue one) for almost 30 years, but now you can just left-click on the word. It takes some getting used to but does feel more natural.
The new Editor tool – over on the far-right of the Home tab on the Ribbon, or where Spelling & Grammar used to be on the Review tab – takes your proofing to a whole new level. Quickly check your document for errors, refinements, insights, and even how similar it is to online documents!
We are all guilty of using too many acronyms in our documents, meaning that people on the receiving end may not know what we mean! The new Acronyms tool on the References tab of the Ribbon will compare your document with other documents and emails you have access to and suggest meanings for any acronyms in your file.
Making our documents accessible is incredibly important for our readers, but something that many people shy away from, either due to not knowing how or because they feel they do not have enough time. Now, Word will suggest Alt Text for your images and screenshots automatically – just insert an image and let Word do its stuff. If you need to adjust it, click the proposed Alt Text.
4. Reusing content
Almost everyone needs to reuse existing content in their documents – Word now makes it easier than ever. Just click Reuse Files (it is on both the Home and Insert tabs of the Ribbon) to get access to any Office file you have been using recently, then insert links or even screenshots of anything graphical into your document without ever having left it!
5. Collapsible and stacked panels
Probably the biggest change in terms of impacting my workflow has been the ability to have multiple panels open at once. As someone who regularly works with the Editor, Styles and various formatting panels among many others, only being able to have one panel open on the right of the screen at a time was a real pain.
Now, however, just open multiple panels and watch them collapse to an icon in the right-hand bar, meaning you can get to them in a single click and do not have to go rummaging around in Word for that particularly obscure command you use a lot.
So there you have it: five new features that are coming to a Word 365 near you sometime soon – keep an eye out for them!
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Richard O'BrienRichard has been an instructor for over 25 years and has been working for QA for over a decade as our Principal Technical Learning Specialist for Adobe.