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Introduction to the Ribbon in Word 2007
Length: 07 Minutes 34 Seconds

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Hi, I'm Chris Grover, the author of Word 2007: The Missing Manual.

This screen cast introduces you to Word's new ribbon which is one of the big changes you'll find in the latest, greatest version of Microsoft Word.

While you learn about the ribbon you'll also learn how tabs and groups are used to organize commands. You'll see different buttons, drop down menus and dialogue boxes in action.

You'll get a tip on how to learn keyboard shortcuts for your favorite commands and you'll be introduced to Live Preview, Word's fancy new feature that shows formatting changes before you actually apply them.

Now in earlier versions of Word you used menus, commands and tool bars to get your work done. In Word 2007 those tools have been replaced with the ribbon. As you can see the ribbon is full of icons and words. In a way it sort of combines the features of menus and toolbars.

As part of this major remodeling project Microsoft completely reorganized the structure of Word's commands. Don't panic, it's all pretty logical and you're in the right place to learn all about it.

The first thing more Word veterans say when they see the ribbon is, "Where's my File menu?" Not to worry, it's there. It's just camouflaged a bit. It's under the big round Office button in the upper left corner. One click and you see all the commands you'd expect like New and Save and Close and there are a few others.

Down at the very bottom in the right corner, you find the Exit Word button and the Word Options button. You use Word Options to tweak all the settings in Word. Now there are lots of details about how to customize Word in The Missing Manual so you'll become familiar with the Word Options button.

When you want the menu to go away just click somewhere on your document and it goes away. Okay, now let's take a look at the way commands are organized on the ribbon. We've got tabs that run along the top of the window. Each tab represents a major task in Word. So you see tabs with names like Insert, Page Layout, Mailings. Click on a tab and the ribbon underneath changes to show a whole new set of buttons.

Right now you're looking at the Home tab but click on the Insert tab and you see new command buttons giving you a way to insert tables, pictures and clipart into your document. Now underneath each tab the command are organized into groups. It's just another way to keep related commands together. The name of the group is shown at the bottom of the ribbon. So you see on the Insert tab you see the Pages group, the Tables group, the Illustrations group and so forth.

The command buttons are easy to use and if you're not sure what a button does just pause with your mouse over the button and you'll get a description. But even if you've used earlier versions of Word you'll find some new twists with the buttons in the drop down menus. Some buttons are straight forward, for example, the Blank Page button. Click on it inserts a blank page into your document, just what you'd expect.

But look at the command above the cover page button. Notice the triangle at the end of the word? That's the sign that there's a menu under the button. Now these menus are much flashier than what you'd find in older programs. When you work with visual elements Word always gives you a very clear picture of what's going to happen.

Let's go back to the Home tab to look at a couple more features. If a command is grayed out that means you can't use it right now. So if nothing's selected the scissors button here that is the cut button is grayed out. But once you select something it comes to life. One click and you've removed the selection from your document.

Some buttons are actually two buttons in one. You hold your mouse over a button like the paste button; you'll see that it's highlighted in two shades. Click the top part of the button and it performs the most obvious command. In this case it pastes the text back into your document. Click the bottom half of the button and you see additional options related to the paste command. Keep your eye out for other double buttons and you'll find they work the same way.

There's another ribbon feature you should know about. Some of the groups have a button in the lower right-hand corner like there and there. It's a launcher button. When you click that button it opens up a panel or a dialogue box related to the groups commands. So when I clicked on the clipboard launcher button the clipboard opens. If I click on the font launcher button you see a font dialogue box appear.

Okay, here's another Word trick that comes in handy. Press and release the Alt key on your keyboard and you see these little badges pop up all over the ribbon. They have either a number or a letter on them but they're tool tips showing you the keys you press for keyboard shortcuts.

So, for example, if I press the Alt key and then the N key it moves me to the Insert tab. And then if I press the P key it opens up the dialogue box so that I can insert a picture into the document.

One of the great things about using this shortcut system is that before you know it you'll start to learn the keys that you use most frequently. You won't even be looking at the badges after a while.

Now if there's one issue that people have with the ribbon, especially if you're on a laptop or a computer with a smaller screen, is that the ribbon does take up more real estate than the old system with the menus and the smaller toolbars. But here's a tip that comes in handy. Double click on the tab and you can make it expand or contract. You can even work with the tab closed, go up and use a command and then it'll close again.

Last but not least let's take a look at Word's new Live Preview feature. It works great when you're making formatting choices. Okay, right now the cursor is on the first line of the document. What we want to do is to change the style of that first line. So we go to the home tab and then open up the Styles menu and we have several different choices.

When you point to one of the choices, the first line changes to match the choice. You can see - you get to see what things look like before you actually make the decision. Word 2007 uses Live Preview all over the place and it's a very handy tool and it'll save you a lot of time unless you feel compelled to check out each and every option before you finally make your decision.

Thanks so much for checking out this screen cast and feel free to take a look at some of the others. If you're still hungry for more details about Word I can highly recommend Word 2007: The Missing Manual.