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Word 2007 Cheat Sheet

April 3, 2007 12:00 PM ET

Learn to Love the Ribbon

At first, the Ribbon may be offputting, but the truth is, once you learn to use it, you'll find that it's far easier to use than the old Word interface. It does take some getting used to, though.

default Ribbon
The default Ribbon. Click to view larger image.

The Ribbon, by default, is divided into seven tabs, with an optional eighth one (Developer) that you can display by clicking the Office Button and choosing Word Options > Popular > Show Developer tab in the Ribbon. Here's a rundown of the tabs and what each one does:

Home: This contains the most-used Word features, such as changing fonts and font attributes, customizing paragraphs, using styles, and finding and replacing text.

Insert: As you might guess, this one handles anything you might want to insert into a document, such as tables, pictures, charts, hyperlinks, bookmarks, headers and footers, WordArt ... well, you get the idea.

Page Layout: Here's where you'll change margins, page size and orientation, set up columns, align objects, add effects and so on. There are some gray areas between this tab and the Home tab. For example, on the Page Layout tab you set paragraph spacing and indents, while on the Home tab you set paragraph alignment and can also set spacing between lines.

References: This tab handles tables of contents, footnotes, bibliographies, indexes and similar material. It also lets you insert a "Table of Authorities," which sounds like something straight out of a Soviet bureaucracy but in fact is a list of references in a legal document.

Mailings: As the name says, this is where you'll go for anything to do with mailings, from something as simple as creating labels to the more daunting task of mail merges.

Review: Need to check spelling and grammar, look up a word in a thesaurus, work in markup mode, review other people's markups or compare documents? This is the tab for you.

View: Here's where to go when you want to change the view in any way, including displaying a ruler and gridlines, zooming in and out, splitting a window and so on.

Developer: If you write code or create forms and applications for Word, this is your tab. It also includes macro handling, so power users might also want to visit here every once in a while.

Each tab along the Ribbon is organized to make it easy to get your work done. As you can see below, each tab is organized into a series of groups that contain related commands for getting something done -- in our example, handling fonts. Inside each group is a set of what Microsoft calls command buttons, which carry out commands, display menus and so on -- in the example, the featured command button changes the font size.

There's also a small diagonal arrow in the bottom right corner of some groups that Microsoft calls a dialog box launcher. Click it to display more options related to the group.

Ribbon organization
Ribbon organization.

All that seems simple enough ... so it's time to throw a curveball at you. The Ribbon is context-sensitive, changing according to what you're doing. Depending on the task you're engaged in, it sometimes adds more tabs and subtabs.

Picture Tools - Format tab
The Picture Tools - Format tab appears only when you need it.
Click to view larger image.

For example, when you insert and highlight a picture, an entirely new tab appears -- the Format tab, with a "Picture Tools" supertitle on top, as you can see here.

Other "now you see them, now you don't" tabs include Blog Post, Chart Tools, Table Tools and SmartArt Tools -- all of which appear in response to various actions you take in Word.



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