Making Word 2007 a Little More Familiar

Moving from Word 2003’s toolbars and menus to Word 2007’s ribbon can be a bit of a shock to many users of earlier versions of Word. Some of this shock can be eased, however, by making your most-used tools from Word 2003 as visible as possible in Word 2007.

Contrast the interfaces for Word 2003 and Word 2007. Here, I’ve told Word 2003 to show the Standard and Formatting toolbars on two rows:

Notice that right above the ruler, you see the style name, the font name, and the point size. For the most part, no matter what you’re doing in Word, this information is always there where you can see it.

Now, take a look at the default view for Word 2007:

Here, too, you see the style, font, and point size, at least initially. However, there is room for only a limited number of styles in the gallery. There is no guarantee that the style of currently-selected text is visible in the horizontal list of styles.  Moreover, if you move out of the Home tab, style, font, and point size are no longer knowable at a glance.

I’m guessing that the programmers at Microsoft aren’t writers. I can tell this because no veteran Word writer would put up with not knowing at all times the current style, font, and point size. These are vital pieces of information. Well, perhaps you don’t agree. If you don’t, then this post isn’t meant for you. It’s meant instead for users who want to know at all times what’s in their document.

A solution is at hand, however, in the form of the Quick Access Toolbar, or QAT as it’s more affectionately known. First, look at where the Quick Access Toolbar is. It’s up there in the stratosphere, thousands of miles above where you’re working. This means that to see it, you’re going to have to look way above where you’re accustomed to looking. It also means that you’re going to have to move the mouse quite a bit more than you did when accessing the Formatting toolbar in Word 2003 and earlier.

So, let’s move it. Right click the QAT and choose Show Quick Access Toolbar Below the Ribbon, as shown here.

Great. Now the QAT is closer to the battlefield, even if the selection of tools is somewhat lacking. Let’s address that problem right now.

First, let’s add a style tool to the QAT so you can see what you’re wearing, so to speak. Right click the QAT and choose Customize Quick Access Toolbar. Set Choose commands from: to Commands Not in the Ribbon. Click in the list of commands and tap the T key to accelerate to just below the last command that starts with “S”. Scroll up a few commands and look for one that says Style. When you hover the mouse pointer over it, you see this:

The word Classic is the clue that you’re in the right place. With Style selected, click Add to move the command into the right-hand panel. Click the up arrow to the right of the right panel until Style is at the top:

Click OK. Let’s see what it looks like now:

Great! Now we can always tell what style is applied at the insertion point. Not so great, however, is that unless the Home tab is displayed, you can’t necessarily tell what font and point size are selected. Let’s fix that.

In the Home tab, right click the font tool’s dropdown arrow, and choose Add to Quick Access Toolbar. Next, right click the point size tool’s dropdown arrow and choose Add to Quick Access Toolbar.

This done, you’re almost there:

But, there’s a visual problem. If you came here from Word 2003, you’re used to the three tools–style, font, and point size–being side by side. In the list of commands currently on the QAT, click on Font, then click the Move Up arrow to move it to just below Style. Move Font Size the same way.

Once that’s done, the three new formatting tools you added will now be side by side and where you’re used to seeing them.

If you like, you can set up the newly positioned Quick Access Toolbar as a combination of Formatting and Standard toolbar tools so that the tools you need most often are right in front of you:

From left to right, we now have: Style, Font, Point size, New, Open, Save, Bold, Italic, and so on. But, notice which ribbon tab is selected: Review.

Now, no matter which ribbon tab is displayed, you’ll always have those tools at the ready. But, most important, if the style, font, or point size in the current document ever look a little strange to you, you’ll be able to tell at a glance what’s what.

This entry was posted in Word 2007. Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Making Word 2007 a Little More Familiar

  1. rigtenzin says:

    This is very helpful. I wish the Word 2007 Style pane automatically scrolled to the current style. I like the dockability of the Style pane, but since it does not automatically scroll to the style I select, I can’t use it.

    However, your workarounds listed in this post are good enough for me.

  2. Brenda says:

    EXTREMELY helpful!! I was getting very frustrated trying to find the formatting commands following my recent move from Word 2003 to 2007. My QAT is now set up just the way I like it and I’ll be able to put the speed back in my projects!!

    Many thanks!

  3. Cheesestraw says:

    Thanks for this great post! I’ve been struggling with the missing current style and also the giant style buttons on the ribbon (as these are styles I never use & don’t want taking up prime ribbon real estate!). I think you’re exactly right about the Word developers – they obviously are not writers.

    Thanks for taking the time to share these workaraounds!

  4. WriterOfRealDocuments says:

    Many, many thanks for a clear write-up.
    I had this for 2007 but lost it on my new machine.
    But I am so glad someone else will say the Word lot aren’t writers. This is a classic – it filled the net for 2007 and it’s still wrong in 2010 – but their handling of footnotes is another clue!

  5. James Briggs says:

    Thanks for your guidance.

    I’ve just spent three years writing a novel and have cursed Word 2007 many, many times – and not just for the toolbar problems.

    I now work with the 2003 version exclusively – as do many of my associates.

  6. herbt3 says:

    Good luck with the new novel! It took a good while, but I’ve actually come to like Word 2010. It’s nowhere nearly as fast and efficient as XyWrite–the word processor I started out with many years ago–but my needs are a lot more complicated than they used to be, and Word 2010 manages to fill those needs (now).

  7. Grover says:

    You are right the techs developing these thing clearly know nothing about usability. Style pollution is the bane of my existence. Is there a way to force the style pane to show only approved styles [a less clunky way than fiddling with Recommend, Restrict and Hide settings over and over again] and, at the same time highlight in the document itself any style that doesn’t conform. And I mean conform: not allow any tweaked variations to slip by. Now that would be a really useful topic. A VBA solution perhaps? As it is, the only known workaround is 2 parts steely grit and 1 part caffeine.

  8. herbt3 says:

    Someone more gifted in VBA and policies than I am could probably come up with something. I’ve never been sufficiently aggravated to try. Aggravated, yes. But, not enough to do something about it.

Leave a Reply