The Microsoft vision is one of continuous improvement, which means that on a regular basis you get updates on your favorite Microsoft products. Especially in the weeks after a big event, like the Microsoft Ignite conference that was held in October, we see large amounts of updates trickling into our Microsoft products and it is a perfect opportunity to do a review on the things we enjoy on a daily basis and see if we can spot any nice new abilities. We do this in our series “Nine Nice Things” in which we highlight nine aspects we like about a certain Microsoft products in their latest state.
Disclaimer: as a Microsoft Gold Partner we at Rapid Circle are usually spoiled with the latest and greatest from Microsoft and might get our hands on things before you do. So, if you do not have the same functionality available when you open Word, it can be that it is still on its way. If you want to find out when things are coming your way, we gladly offer our help to find that out for you.
#1 Dictate Button
The dictate button is one of my favorite things in Word. It is there in the Microsoft Word desktop App and the thing I'm currently using to write this blog. Or maybe write is not the right word since I am just rambling on and Word is doing to heavy lifting trying to put my voice into words. For me, and I imagine most of us, this button opens a world of opportunity. I talk faster then I type, so dictating should get me to finish documents faster. I spend a couple of hours per week in my car and through dictating can use that time to still produce written content. And on the longer term, dictating to a machine is a skill we will need more and more, so getting some practice is not a bad thing. Currently, dictating is possible for English, Spanish and Chinese. And French, German, Italian and Portuguese are in preview, so expect more languages to be added over time.
A given for Office 365 veterans, but a benefit of having your document in the cloud is that multiple people can update the same document at the same time. Microsoft provides nice insight in who is editing the document as well and you can even see them type in real life on your own screen. The Co-Authoring experience is added to many Microsoft productivity tools, like PowerPoint, Excel and OneNote, but especially for writing document it is really powerful since that is often a scenario where multiple editors will contribute on different parts of the document. So, with Co-Authoring everyone can write the chapter they are responsible for simultaneously and the document is done when the slowest person is done with their chapter. This can cut document creation times in half, if not more.
#3 Review Tab
Microsoft Word uses pretty good machine learning algorithms to check if your sentences and phrases make any sense, are constructed properly according to the grammar rules and all your words contain correct spelling. It’s even going a step beyond to recognize phrases and sayings in order to help you right consistently with regards to style. I find the algorithm highlighting many of my outdated word use (mostly when writing in dutch) or giving me advice on writing less wordy and lengthy. Once you get over the bump of accepting feedback from a machine it can be helpful to improve your writing style. Next to that the review tab also holds features like “read aloud”, “translate”, “compare” and “check accessibility”. Features that can help you now and show enormous potential to get really effective over the coming years.
#4 References Tab
The references tab in Microsoft Word includes a whole system of including references, foot notes, end notes, citations and all the things that you would want to have in your document triggering the reader to do some extra exploring or further reading but not necessarily want to mix in with the main text. These are great and helpful tools to make sure that you are main text is concise but there is loads and loads of resources the user could delve into when they really want to do in depth study on this topic. These references and these tools are not only for the academic writer. In business as well it's great if a lot of sidetracks are not in the main text but just as a footnote for further reading. It really helps focus your main message.
#5 The table of contents
Maybe so much of a straight forward element of a document that you might not even consider it value, but it's really helpful and should be part of every document that you write. It's a great tool for your reader too to jump to the part of document there are most interested in. Next to that, it is a handy way to see if your styling is applied consistently in the document. Because if not, your table of contents will not look like it supposed to look.
#6 Welcome to Word page
Microsoft Word Online now also features a welcome page like the one we have seen for years already in the Desktop App. A small change but a big improvement. Before, you would jump straight into editing mode into Microsoft Word Online whenever you hit the word button in the app launcher. Instantly creating a document on your OneDrive and putting it in edit mode. Now you first navigate to the Welcome to Word page that allows you to pick a save location which can be different from your OneDrive. Allowing you to save directly into one of your Groups, Teams or SharePoint sites. And it allows you also in the online experience to pick a template for a new document or find your way quickly to an existing document and continue editing that one.
#7 Ink to math
For all you academic writers, technical writers or people to just love to put an equation into a document this is your best friend. Get your hands on a touch screen laptop or tablet with a pen and use the ink to math button to get equations properly in your document. Perhaps you have to write a little bit nicer for the computer to understand but you get an friendly pop up where you can write your formula and get instant feedback on what the algorithm think your equation should be. You can correct it straight away, before putting it in your document. In my experience this is way easier than trying to compose and compile those functions with the different elements that the equation formatter provides.
#8 Quick parts
I realize that bringing up Quick parts Word is like saying that you should clean your desk, follow quality procedure or always be nice to people. We all know we should do it and that in the end it helps us, but the whole thing feels like a drag. However, proper use of quick parts will allow you to minimize the probability that you're ever sending out a document with inconsistent properties. Making sure the value of Document Title, Author, Date, etc. are consistent throughout your documents helps to convey professionalism. And certainly, when you mix in your own properties like Customer Name, Publishing Status, etc. you want to make sure that those values are consistent. Sending out a document to a customer with another customer name on page 3 is just one of those things that can ruin your day, and in extreme cases render a contract useless.
#9 The CV Assistant
As you may know Microsoft has purchased the career website LinkedIn and integrations between the LinkedIn platform and the Microsoft platform are slowly popping up around the Office 365 environment. One of those integrations is the CV Assistant button in Microsoft Word which opens up a side panel and helps you craft your CV by entering in the role and industry that you're interested in. The CV assistant digs up a set of examples for work experience, skills, articles that can help you write your CV and even current job openings from the LinkedIn platform.
Note this is not in the courage meant for everybody to start using asifi assistance in finding another job but it might work as a consultant we do find ourselves from time to time at emailing CVS to customers who would really want to know which consultants will be joining the project team and walking around the buildings for a couple of months and when updating your CV it's never a bad thing to take a look at what your peers in the industry use to present themselves well on paper.
# Bonus item
it is not so much a feature of Microsoft Word but more an experience that we probably have all gone through and can share with each other: namely getting upset about formatting your document. To give all of you a little comfort in the fact that you're not alone whenever you're fighting with Microsoft Word and the formatting is not agreeing with you, I love to point you in the direction of a nice satirical blog: https://speld.nl/2018/11/19/5-tips-voor-als-de-word-opmaak-niet-meewerkt/. I'm sorry for the English-speaking readers but throwing it into Google Translate will probably get you a good idea of the gist of it.
If you have questions about the features mentioned in this list or have other elements in PowerPoint that you think deserve to be in this list more, than feel free to comment or get in touch with us. We love to talk shop about PowerPoint and everything Office 365. We can also help you get access to all these great features if you are currently still working on a old version of PowerPoint and want to move over to the latest and greatest that Office has to offer.