10 things I can never find in Word 2007

If you're not a big fan of the Word 2007 interface, you've come to the right place. Jody Gilbert ferrets out some of the features that used to be at your fingertips.

Have you warmed up to the Office 2007 interface by now? Me neither. I've tried to embrace the changes. I have. But the Ribbon still seems like a trip to Bizarro World.

I rely heavily on the long-standing keyboard shortcuts, which are my lifeline to familiar dialog boxes. But I still spend a lot of time wandering around searching for the tools to perform what used to be instantaneous actions in earlier versions. If you're in that boat, too, maybe this list will save you a little time.

Note: This article is also available as a PDF cheat sheet.

1: Apply a different template to a document

I get tons of Word documents that people have created using their own custom templates. I have to apply our Normal template to those docs to make sure they include our in-house styles. And where do you suppose the necessary options are for this formatting task? The Developer tab... of course!

  1. Click the Document Template button in the Templates group of the Developer tab. This will open the Templates And Add-Ins dialog box.
  2. Click Attach to open the Attach Template dialog box, where you can locate and select the template you want.
  3. Click Open to return to the Templates And Add-Ins dialog box. Select Automatically Update Document Styles (optionally) and click OK.

2: Convert text to a table and vice versa

Once upon a time, table options were consolidated on the Table menu. Now, the option to convert text to a table is on one tab; the option to convert a table to text is on another.

To convert text to a table:

  1. Select the text and click the Insert tab.
  2. In the Tables group, click the Table button and choose Convert Text To Table from the drop-down list.
  3. In the Convert Text To Table dialog box, choose the desired options and click OK.

To convert all or part of a table to text:

  1. Select the table or table rows you want to convert.
  2. Click the Layout tab under Table Tools and click Convert To Text in the Data group (Figure A).
  3. In the Convert Table To Text dialog box, select the desired options and click OK.

Figure A

3: Set AutoFormat and AutoCorrect options

AutoFormat can be useful, whether you run it on a finished document to polish things up or you use it to fix things (such as fractions and hyperlinks) as you type them. But those are options you definitely want to configure yourself so there are no surprises. The same goes for AutoCorrect. Setting up these features the way you want requires a trip to the Word Options pane:

  1. Click the Office button and click Word Options.
  2. In the left pane of the Word Options window, click Proofing and then click AutoCorrect Options in the right pane.
  3. In the AutoCorrect dialog box (Figure B), click on the tab whose options you want to set -- AutoFormat, AutoFormat As You Type, or AutoCorrect. Then, select the desired check boxes and click OK.

Figure B

4: Insert a comment

If you've used Word's Ribbon for a while, you may have developed the habit of going to the Insert tab for its weirdly diverse assortment of insertable things -- cover pages, equations, hyperlinks, cross-references. So you might think there's an option there for inserting a comment. Nope. Different tab. Here's how to add a comment to a document:

  1. Click the Review tab.
  2. In the Comments group, click New Comment.

5: Insert a field

This might be the winner in the contest for the most insanely obscure and counterintuitive Word 2007 feature. Yes, you insert fields via the Insert tab. Whew. But you could spend an entire workday wandering among the groups trying to find some clue that points you to the Field dialog box. For some reason, fields are lumped in with Building Blocks:

Click the Quick Parts button in the Text group of the Insert tab.

At the bottom of the drop-down list, you'll see the Field command. Choose it to open the Field dialog box (Figure C). Now you can specify the desired field and its options just as you did in earlier versions.

Figure C

6: Draw a text box

When you want to insert a plain text box, there's no Drawing toolbar button to click and drag. The button lives in the Shapes palette and appears as an option on the Text Box drop-down list. First, you need to click the Insert tab. Then, you can use one of these approaches:

  1. Click Shapes in the Illustrations group to display the Shapes palette (Figure D). You may spot the Text Box button in your Recently Used Shape section. If not, it's the first item under Basic Shapes.
  2. You can also click the Text Box button in the Text group of the Insert tab and choose Draw Text Box from the drop-down list. Word will turn the mouse pointer into a drawing pointer.
  3. Another alternative exists if you select a text box that's already in your document. If you click Format under Text Box Tools, Word will display a Text Box button in the Text group, at left end of the Ribbon.

Figure D

7: Access document properties

Document properties are bits of metadata that can help you organize and find various documents. Adding details like a category, summary, and keywords can save you and your colleagues a lot of time down the road, but locating the Properties dialog box takes some digging:

  1. Click the Office button and choose Prepare (Figure E).
  2. Word will then display the Document Information Panel with fields for some basic properties, such as Title, Subject, Status, and Comments.
  3. Click the Document Properties drop-down arrow and choose Advanced Properties to open the familiar Document Properties dialog box with additional options.

Figure E

8: Insert a section break

You can insert a page break using the button in the Pages group of the Insert tab. But if you want a section break, you have to go to the Page Layout tab:

  1. In the Page Setup group of the Page Layout tab, click the Breaks button (Figure F).
  2. Choose the type of break you want from the list of options.

Figure F

9: Turn off Snap To Grid

When you need to move objects around in a document, Snap To Grid can be great for lining things up. But I'm generally happier positioning things where I want, without grid constraints. You can temporarily override Snap To Grid by holding down [Alt] while you drag an object into place. But that gets old if you do a lot of dragging.

Word still offers a Snap To Grid check box so you can toggle the behavior off if you want. But the option is now tucked away -- and it's not even available unless you have an object selected. Here's how to find it:

  1. Click on an object or shape in your document.
  2. Click the Format tab under Drawing Tools.
  3. In the Arrange Group, click Align and choose Grid Options from the drop-down list.
  4. Under Show Grid, deselect Snap Objects To Grid When The Gridlines Are Not Displayed (Figure G) and click OK.

Figure G

10: Change case

Word's Change Case feature has long been one of its handiest devices. It's not smart enough to apply true title case (where articles and prepositions are left uncapitalized), but it will still save you a significant amount of time. If you're a keyboard shortcut person, you can still use [Shift][F3] to toggle selected text from one style of capitalization to the next. But to select an option from a list, you'll need to locate the right button:

  1. In the Home tab, click the Change Case button in the Font group. Word will display what's billed as a Change Case "gallery" (Figure H), although it doesn't give you a live preview of your selection as other galleries do.
  2. The options are identical to the ones in earlier versions, except that we now have the more honest and accurate Capitalize Each Word instead of Title Case. Same thing. As soon as you choose an option, Word will apply the change.

Figure H

Additional resources

I would be remiss if I didn't point out that you can add some of this stuff to the Quick Access Toolbar. In addition, Microsoft and other vendors offer various tools to help make the Word 2007 interface more tolerable if you're attached to earlier versions.

I was somewhat awestruck when Microsoft Office Labs turned the process of learning to use the Office 2007/2010 Ribbon tools into a game. I'm inclined to think that if users need that kind of cajoling, the interface might be the Emperor's New Clothes. But maybe that's just me being cranky.

Here are some tools you or your users might find helpful:

What drives you crazy?

Are there certain features that routinely trip you up in Word 2007? Are you forever searching for options you used to know by heart in earlier versions? Share your biggest peeves below.


Jody Gilbert has been writing and editing technical articles for the past 25 years. She was part of the team that launched TechRepublic and is now senior editor for Tech Pro Research.


Every applications have their own specialities. In some points, maybe the function is same, but there are some additional features that make them different.


I can't believe that Microsoft would even consider making things more difficult instead of easier?  What was the whole point of that?  It does not even make sense.  Mostly I dislike the Multilevel Numbering!  Come on, how ridiculous is that!  Everything was just so much easier all around with Word 2003.  I am guessing they never hire anyone who has worked with very large formatted Word 2010 documents.  Just once, I would like to see one of Microsoft's own staff try to do this.  The worst is that now a lot of corrupted or "Char" styles come in whenever you change a styles and they are not easy to get rid of either.  Why create something to cause this?  It is like a never ending nightmare for users working with large, automatically numbered headings and paragraphs.  Unbelievable!  I don't think Microsoft could have made it the worst program in existence if they tried because Word 2010 is it!  So disappointing!


One good thing about 2012 is that you can do a lot of customizing. If I had the patience I had 20 years ago I could probably have this thing working almost the same as my beloved 2003.


I create a lot of diagrams in my work. It annoys me to no end that I have to pull up the drawing tools each time. Why is there no 'drawing' mode that would keep the tool box open?


When I create a bullet list (highlight the lines and then click on the bullet list button), every line in the document has a bullet point placed in front of it...even the document header. This also happens when I select a sentence to underline using the ctrl+l feature. Every sentence in the entire document becomes underlined. Does anyone know how to make this stop?


I was at a MS event and mentioned my and my users disgust at the ribbon. The MS rep response "Why we have not heard any complaints at all!"


Still it could be worse, you could be an IT Trainer teaching a Word 2003 course when half way through someone pipes up that they use 2007 is it much different? Trying to teach the two versions at once, (especially when trying to remember where AutoCorrect now resides) is my idea of hell!!!!


Very good information. Thank you


Google changed its user interface. Wikipedia moved the search field from middle-left to top-right. Autodesk implemented the ribbon for AutoCAD. In consumer electronics, the examples are numerous, photo cameras being on the first place IMO - each new model comes with a different user interface. I believe that a new generation of crackpots/user interface designers emerged from idiotic schools - where they study statistical generalization of human behavior applied to individuals (something like the Marxism was applied by Lenin and Stalin), with the only scope to kill every single neural cell in the users' brains. I am looking forward for replacing the wheel with levers, and for having to take a deep search for the pedals before driving. Should an idiot from MS read this post, I WANT MY OLD USER EXPERIENCE AS IT WAS IN 2000/2003 LINE OF PRODUCTS - OFFICE, WINDOWS, WHATSOEVER.


Someone at Microsoft needs to be sacked, or held under water for twenty minutes.


Of course, Office 2007 developers implementing the preferred workflow of perhaps 1 user (?) and forcing it upon all users, failed in the worst possible way. Many (or most?) users are "coping" with workarounds, such as the quick access toolbar. Alternatives are now very attractive, while Office has stopped making any sense.


A more accurate title would e "10 things I CAN find". Word2007 is just another miserable product from the Ballmer era (error). When will the board finally find the much-needeed axe?


Keyboard shortcuts that have been the SAME since Office 97 - suddenly many are gone, or sure as h*** have changed, and some I haven't found YET.


The menus make sense (with the exception of MS' inscrutable siting of the Page formatting options under the file menu). My question for MS about the ribbon: Why can't I turn it off and choose traditional menus? Honest answer, no marketing-speak about "productivity." If you actually cared about the productivity of experienced Office users, [u]you would have left the damn interface alone[/u]! [i]I was somewhat awestruck when Microsoft Office Labs turned the process of learning to use the Office 2007/2010 Ribbon tools into a game. I?m inclined to think that if users need that kind of cajoling, the interface might be the Emperor?s New Clothes. But maybe that?s just me being cranky.[/i] It's not just you, Jody. But there is precedent for the game. I remember reading that Minesweeper and Solitare were included in Win95 so new users could practice point, click, drag-and-drop, and right-click. Games to teach.


Surprisingly, after some use, I now find the ribbon menu very comfortable to use. There was a very steep learning curve at first though, and as the article shows, some features ARE difficult to access,I've often had to do a Google search to find some features, notably convert tables to text, which I do a lot of, from content in tables on web pages copied into Word then converted to text. Surely MS must know or realise that many people use this option regularly, ie very often. Then they dropped the most useful blue from the font standard colours. And Save As .rtf is hidden amongst the drop down list of other formats. Hey, this is the real world and I want to be able to save a document as .rtf whenever I email EASILY! Having said this, there are still many features entirely missing from what is supposed to be the top Word Processor. Surely it can't be that difficult to set title text automatically. Then there's the mad default template with 10 point after, and multiple line spacing. Hey, I want to be able to write a letter or paragraphs of text without having to devise a template or set up a new normal template, which is anything but straightforward. The A-Z sort doesn't work at all on some lists UGH! I quite often use spaces using Replace, but there's no symbols to show how many spaces I'm using. Setting up custom indented or spaced bulletted or numbered lists is a nightmare if you want anything other than Word's default spacing. And these aren't humdrum annoyances. Some are MAJOR problems in using what is a very expensive word processor. - And -Why can't dialogue boxes be placed to minimise mouse movements and thus limit wriststrain?


In 2003, it's simple. Insert>Picture>'From Scanner or Camera'. Now in 2007, I first have to scan the picture into my clip-art collection and THEN insert it into my document. There's a solid step backwards for you. At least they haven't decided to disable the Alt+I,P,S option yet.


I can't find the "Save As" button! Some of my documents need to be filed in separate folders. Help, anyone? (I've been having to alt-copy-new-view-save.)


Thanks to the Quick Access Toolbar I have single click access to my most common (hard to find) commands. - Save - Save as Other Format - Print Preview - Undo/Redo - Go to TOC (table of contents) - Insert Page Break - Insert Caption - Sort Ascending - Sort Descending - Change Case - Subscript - Superscript - Properties


Hopefully these nitwits are reading these blogs, and in Office 2010 or whatever "new & improved" flavor Microsoft decides to befuddle the user with next, they will go back to something tried and true. Apparently they never heard the phrase "if it ain't broke, DON'T fix it"... sheeesh.


get a picture from a scanner


I *FINALLY* got to thinking of the Ribbon as a horizontal version of the old vertical drop-downs. That helped greatly. But what really has me perplexed is that the Quick Access Toolbar is a separate entity to itself. Why didn't MSLabs create a "Custom" tab right on the ribbon so my truly oft-used functions (Open, Close, Print, etc.) could display like all of the others?

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