By Jen Sweeney
On my personal computer, I use the open source software suite NeoOffice; at work, I use Microsoft Office. When I open up a Microsoft Office application after using my Mac for a few days, it’s refreshing — kind of like coming home after staying at a spartan guest house for a week. It’s familiar, and has all the little extras that I have come to rely upon. (I’m not bashing open source. I just prefer Office, plain and simple.)
With Office 2013, Microsoft has added more of those little extras. Here are a few new Word features to take note of:
Insert online pictures and video. Add images and videos from online sources directly to your document — no need to save them to your computer first. Both options are located on the Insert tab.
Open and edit PDFs. The need for a third-party application to edit PDFs is no more (at least, not completely*); Word can now open and edit PDF documents. Go to File, Open, choose the location of the PDF, and click Open. Edit like any Word document.
*If you are looking to completely redesign or make more substantial changes, Word’s PDF editing capabilities may not suit your needs.
Easy reading. Microsoft has added a few new features to make reading documents easier. Turning on Read Mode re-flows the document into columns and hides the editing tools and other interface clutter, enabling you to read and scroll through a document like you would on a Surface, Kindle, iPad or other similar device. It also remembers where you left off, so you can pick up reading with ease. (This bookmarking feature, called Resume Reading, is also available in other modes.) Object Zoom enables you to get a quick close-up of a chart or image with a mouse-click or finger tap. One other improvement of note: Comments now have a reply button. Using track changes and comments can make for a messy document; with this new functionality, you can reply directly to specific comments and grey out the thread when the issue has been resolved.
Friendlier tables. Tables in Word are notoriously nightmarish. They just don’t behave. With 2013, Microsoft has begun whipping them into shape. Improvements include the ability to insert a row by hovering over the left side of a table and clicking the plus sign (insert a column by hovering over the top area); new table styles, which are organized more intuitively; and the ability to modify styles with customized borders.For more on Word and Office 2013, read TechRadar’s in-depth Feb. 4 review. For info about some of Word 2013’s hurdles, be sure to check out CIO’s 10 Microsoft Word Headaches and How to Cure Them.