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Office 2007 Basic Navigation Chart – Understanding the Office 2007 Interface

written by: •edited by: Heather Marie Kosur•updated: 10/13/2010

The first glance at Office 2007 gives a feeling that you will have hard time learning the features and options. However, on a closer look, the Office 2007 interface offers even easier navigation than its predecessors. This article helps you understand the Office 2007 interface and use it easily.

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    Office 2007 Basic Navigation Chart – An Introduction

    Fig 1 - Office 2007 - General Interface In the words of the Microsoft team, “the Office 2007 has seen the most significant update to the user interface in the more than a decade. The reason behind this is the progress in the hardware and software field that let the users use data even more extensively. The interface has been designed in a fashion to offer a streamlined and uncluttered interface to minimize distraction so as to achieve the results faster." And, indeed, they have been successful in creating a more enhanced user interface that offers more speed while working.

    Although there are plenty of features that you can explore in your spare time to get the most of out of each MS Office application, the common features across each application are the Microsoft Office 2007 Ribbon, the Microsoft Office Button, and the Contextual Tabs. Once you get good at using these, you do not need any book or tutor to learn Office 2007. In addition to the above, we will also discuss one of the most interesting features in the Office 2007—the Live Preview—at the end of this article.

    The following sections will help you get ahold of the Office 2007 interface very easily without any need for reference books or tutorials.

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    Office 2007 Basic Navigation – Office 2007 Interface Ribbon

    Fig 2 - The Office 2007 Ribbon The Microsoft team working on Office 2007 removed all the menu tabs, menus, and sub menus along with the toolbars from the previous versions of MS Office and placed them under a special (yet simple and easy to understand) section containing several tabs, each relevant to a specific area of functionality relevant to the application. This makes it easy for the user to locate the shortcuts for tasks they wish to get done. This section is called the Microsoft Office 2007 Ribbon. The ribbon, tabs, and commands therein are specific for each application of the MS Office. However, most of the tabs are common across the many MS Office 2007 applications.

    For instance, if you are using MS Word and want to insert a table of contents into your document, you need not search for the option through the different menus and sub-menus as in the previous versions. You just need to see what tabs are available and click on the one most relevant to the task you want done. In the case of a TOC (table of contents), you can check it out under the Office 2007 Ribbon tab “Review."

    Similarly, if you are using MS Excel and want to protect the document, all you have to do is to take a look at the different tabs on the Office 2007 Ribbon and click on the most relevant tab, which in this case is again “Review." Likewise, proofing and other tools also can be found under “Review" in the various MS Office 2007 applications.

    Another example is inserting an image in your file, be it Excel, Word, or PowerPoint. You need not go through a plethora of steps to insert an image into your file. A look at the Office 2007 Ribbon will show you the tab named "Insert." Clicking this tab will give you options to insert the image as you wish. If you wish to set the page layout, just click on the Office 2007 Ribbon tab named "Page Layout" and you get all the options related to page setup and much more.

    Adjusting to the Office 2007 Ribbon and its tabs does not take much time. Once you have any Office 2007 application open on the computer, you can check out the different options available under each tab of the Office 2007 Ribbon. Almost all of them are common across all the MS Office 2007 applications, especially across Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. Others, too, have easy to use Office 2007 Ribbon tabs that offer you easy access to different commands while saving you time and offering you a decent workspace.

    Fig 3 - Using Quick Access Toolbar TIP: The Ribbon also offers you the option to save the most frequently used commands to the MS Office 2007 Quick Access Bar located right at the top of the window to the left next to the big round button at uppermost top left. You can see a small strip containing some symbols. This is the MS Office 2007 Quick Access Bar. All you need to add a command to Quick Access Bar is to right click on the option, and, from the context menu, select the option "Add to Quick Access Bar." To remove an item from the Quick Access Bar, right click on the symbol and select the option to remove the icon.

    The next page will detail other important features that are common and are designed to help with MS Office 2007 navigation irrespective of the different applications in different MS Office Suites.

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    Please continue reading on page two for more on understanding the Office 2007 interface.

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    The Office 2007 Interface is pretty easy to learn. In fact, you need not learn anything regarding Office 2007 Navigation. Once you understand the common elements of the Office 2007 Interface, such as the Office 2007 Ribbon, Office 2007 Contextual Tabs, and Office Button, you can work on any application provided you know the basics of the MS Office 2007 application. To make your work further easier, you have the facility of Office 2007 Live Preview that allows you to checkout the format of your selection by just hovering your mouse pointer over the different options. Once you decide on which option to select, you click on the option to format the selection. In short, the Office 2007 Interface offers easier navigation than any of the previous MS Office versions.
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    Office 2007 Navigation Basics - The Office Button

    Fig 4 - The Office 2007 Button In the previous versions of MS Office, several important commands were located, or rather, spread across the application under different menus and sub-menus. These commands are special shortcuts that help in jobs related to the overall file rather than the contents of the file. Some of such commands include collaboration, sharing of the file, emailing the file, uploading the file for review by peers, and publishing the file to a server or a blog, among many other important jobs.

    The new interface of Office 2007 brings all important shortcuts into a single section of the MS Office Application. This section collects all the commands of the above mentioned nature. The section is called the Office Button located at the top-left of any MS Office 2007 Application. When clicked, the button expands into a menu displaying several distinct categories that can be identified by their name. Each category contains a sub-menu that contains more of such commands allowing important tasks to be performed on the file.

    In short, the Office Button collects the valuable commands at a single, or rather, isolated place instead of spreading them out among a maze of menus and sub-menus as in the previous MS Office versions. The menu corresponding to the Office Button also contains a list of recently opened documents. Finally, the option for customizing the Office 2007 Application is also present in the Office Button.

    The Office Button and the corresponding menu entries are almost the same across all the different Applications of the MS Office 2007 Suite with nominal changes in some Applications (to reflect the needs of users for that particular MS Office 2007 Application).

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    Office 2007 Interface Basics – Working with Contextual Tabs

    Fig 5 - Contextual Tab for Image Formatting in MS Office 2007 PowerPoint The earlier versions of MS Office contained several options even though they were not required thereby confusing the user. For example, even if you are working on an Excel sheet (in Office 2003) that does not contain any image or chart, the options for editing the objects are still present in the menus and toolbars. Similarly, the table menu in previous Office versions is full of several unrelated options even if you are just doing simple writing work. These menus often confuse the user and create distractions when she/he looks at the entire window.

    This led the Office 2007 developers to create modules that present contextual tabs. This means that there are certain features that appear only when you need them. This keeps your workspace clean and you can focus more on your work instead of wondering about the unnecessary tools. The contextual tabs are loaded and presented to you as soon as you select an object. These tabs contain a number of editing options for the object type.

    For instance, if you insert an image and click on the image to select it, a contextual tab will appear containing several options regarding editing, re-coloring, placement, and other adjustments that can be applied to the image. Similarly, if you create a table in any application of Office 2007, a corresponding tab will appear offering you several options including to set the size of columns and rows, to set the borders and shadings, and to select the text wrapping style, just to name a few.

    Thus, it becomes very easy for you to handle your work more efficiently. Once the focus is removed from the object (when the object is unselected), the contextual tab disappears. To get it back, all you need to do is to select the object that you want to change or edit.

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    Utilizing the MS Office 2007 Live Preview to Speed Up Your Work

    Fig 6 - Preview your Work by Hovering the Cursor over Available Options Now that you have a complete picture of how to navigate through the Office 2007 Applications, you are all set to work on any of your familiar Applications such as Word and Excel. To further aid you in your work, MS Office Applications bring in the MS Office 2007 Live Preview. Many times you might wonder how a portion of your work will look when you select a particular option. In the previous MS Office versions, you had to select the option and click OK. If you liked the look, you continued. Otherwise, you had to undo the changes and select another option. This process wasted a considerable amount of your time.

    With the Office 2007 Live Preview, you need not go through this entire ordeal. Office 2007 Applications allow you to preview the look of the selected portion of your work just by placing your mouse pointer over an option. If you like the look, you can select the optionm or you can continue searching for better options using the Office 2007 Live Preview (by placing the mouse cursor over other options). This saves you further time, speeding up your work while removing frustrations as in the previous MS Office versions.

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    The Office 2007 Interface Benefits at a Glance

    While you may get confused the first time you open any MS Office 2007 application, it becomes easier for you to navigate through the easily accessible options using the Ribbon, Ribbon-tabs, and the options relevant to each tab. Other features such as the Quick Access bar and Contextual tabs offer you further convenience while working on any MS Office 2007 applications. While this article serves as textual Office 2007 basic navigation chart, you can also watch a video demonstration (available on the Microsoft 2007 website) to understand the 101 Office 2007 interface.

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