Microsoft Word 2008

Microsoft Word 2008

It looks like Microsoft took a page out of Pages with Word 2008’s new galleries and templates.

 

Spreadsheets and presentations have their time and place, but text documents are essential to just about every profession. So if there’s any Office app you’re likely to use daily, it’s Word. Word 2008 gets many of the same updates as its suite companions do, but also retains more of its familiar look and feel. Once you scratch the surface on the new interface, its simplicity may surprise you.

 

Elemental Interface

Word 2008 is designed to make it easier to add graphical elements.

 

Like Excel and PowerPoint, Word sports the new Elements Gallery positioned just below the old, familiar toolbar. In standard Print Layout view, you can choose from a variety of common documents elements, such as cover pages, table of contents, and bibliographies. You also get some styled table templates, a quick way to import charts from Excel, and access to SmartArt graphics and WordArt (more on that in a minute).

 

Students (and anyone else who writes serious reports) will love the way the Elements Gallery lets them quickly pop in the building blocks of their documents. Click Document Elements, select Insert a Cover Page, and then pick a template you like. Table-of-contents pages almost write themselves while you focus on choosing a style you like. Bibliography templates make it easy to follow correct citation formatting with a pull-down menu that lets you select APA, Chicago, MLA, or Turabian styles.

 

Adding business graphics such as process diagrams and relationship charts to your document is now a simple, click-by-click process that’s so obvious even a CEO could do it. And plopping in splashy WordArt—a fancy Microsoft term for cartoony, stylized text—is as easy as clicking WordArt, choosing a style, and typing what you want it to say. If you like, you can take it a step further by clicking and dragging the little handles on the object box to resize and even reshape the text.

 

Dropping photos and other images into your Word documents just got easier with the new Object Palette. When you’re ready to insert a picture, just click the little picture icon in the Toolbox and you can choose from shapes, clip art, symbols, or even pictures from your iPhoto library.

 

Notebook Layout

Users of Circus Ponies’ Notebook will find the Notebook View familiar.

 

If you take a lot of notes, Word 2008’s new Notebook Layout view gives you a familiar college-ruled interface, complete with colored page tabs, that makes every day feel like the first day of ninth grade. You can change this look to one of several other styles, either right away or on the fly later on.

 

The Notebook Layout on Word 2008 for Mac serves as a single point of entry for text notes, images, digital handwriting from a stylus, and audio from your Mac’s microphone. As you enter notes, you can arrange the elements on the page or move them between tabbed sheets. And just as in Print Layout view, when you reach the bottom of a notebook page, Word instantly lengthens the page for you to let you keep tying (or scribbling) without breaking your train of thought.

 

For those who do their best thinking aloud, it’s easy to keep the Audio tool active in the toolbar and simply hit record whenever genius strikes. Add a quick text label to identify your recording on the page, and you can move it around to place it in context with the rest of your notes.

 

Publishing Layout

Word 2008 features more page layout tools than ever before.

 

Some of the most dramatic changes in Word 2008 can be found in the Publishing Layout view, which is a centralized interface for making newsletters, flyers, posters, brochures, and other graphically rich documents. In this view, you get access to a slightly modified Elements Gallery, which features a variety of publication templates. To get started with a newsletter, click Publication Templates, choose Newsletters, and pick one you like. Word then creates a new document with that template.

 

In addition to adding cool three-dimensional effects, soft edges, and other formatting to photos, Publishing Layout gives you a workspace border around your document, where you can drag and drop pictures and other objects that you’re working with. That way you can keep your images handy, even when you’re not quite ready to place them on the page.

 

Our Verdict

 

If you’re among the majority of Word users who just bang out text in Times New Roman and hit Print, you might not even notice a difference in Word 2008. That is, apart from the fact that it now saves files in DOCX format by default, which is causing a wave of inconvenience for just about anyone who shares files with friends and colleagues. The basic text editing features in the new Word simply haven’t changed enough to notice—much less to warrant buying an upgrade.

 

If graphical documents like newsletters, party invitations, and brochures are your thing, this new version absolutely demands your attention. While we wouldn’t go so far as to compare Word 2008 to any midrange desktop publishing app, we’re impressed with the new features, both for simplicity and ease of workflow.

 

The new Notebook Layout view is a cool addition for those who really do take notes digitally to structure their work, although we suspect this feature will serve a niche audience. Still, for students and other die-hard note-takers, it’s a solid tool. We’d like to see Microsoft take a second look at the way audio notes are represented in a note sheet (they’re hard to spot unless you’ve left a label near them), but overall this new feature manages to impress.

 

 

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Jon

I think overall Word 2008 is an improvement over the last, but I'm curious as to why it still takes so long to boot. It also seems to use up muuuch more resources than Pages 08. I have a MBP 2.2ghz with 2gb of memory, but it still seems a bit laggy.

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Anonymous

aren't you about 3 months too late?
office 2008 was released at macworld, mid Jan
seriously? posting 3 month old news?

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joe mama

wouldn't the mid-Jan release make the news about two and a half months old?

and surely you've heard that old saw about yesterday's newspaper: 'if you haven't read it, it's still news.'

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