An American Editor

October 12, 2010

From Sense to Sensibility: Transitioning from Word 2003 to Word 2010

As you are aware from previous articles (see, e.g., Transitioning in a Microsoft World: Toolbar Toggle, Why, Microsoft, Do You Insist On Torturing Me?, and Different Approaches for Different Folks: The Mechanics of Editing), I am trying to transition from Office 2003 (primarily Word and Excel) to Office 2010 for my business. (I am also transitioning from Windows 7 32-bit to Windows 7 64-bit, which is much easier than than the Office transition :).) I am pleased to announce that the transition is going better than I feared, even though it hasn’t been as problem- and fustration-free as I would have liked. I guess I have been spoiled by past Office transitions that have gone very smoothly.

As previous articles noted, helping me to make the transition was Toolbar Toggle, a very inexpensive add-in for Office/Word 2007 and 2010 that allowed me to continue to use Office 2003-style menus in Office 2010. But also helping were Microsoft articles created to help smooth the transition.

Three important links to Microsoft help make the transition from Office/Word 2003, which is menu driven, to Office/Word 2010, which is ribbon driven are these:

I stumbled upon the Learn Where document and from it found the other sources. As a menu-centric person, these have become invaluable. (For those of you using or transitioning to Office 2007 rather than Office 2010, see Guides to the Ribbon: Use Office 2003 Menus to Learn the Office 2007 User Interface.)

The combined help of Toolbar Toggle and the Microsoft documents has made my transition much smoother and easier, to the point that I am now using Office 2010 without Toolbar Toggle, and am doing so without angst. Yet, I have discovered some other anomalies that frustrate me with Office 2010, primarily Word 2010, which is my workhorse program.

My goal is to automate as much of the editorial process as I can. It makes no sense, for example, to have to replace about with approximately or which with that by selecting the word to be replaced and typing the replacement each time. Yet, I cannot do a Find & Replace because F&R is dumb and will either require me to evaluate each instance and manually choose replace or it will willy-nilly make all replacements, whether appropriate or not. Consequently, I prefer the Toggle macro in EditTools (see The 3 Stages of Copyediting: II — The Copyediting Stage), which allows me to have my cursor in the word and press a single key to make the change as I encounter the problem during the editing process.

Along these lines, I also use a supplementary macro program called MacroExpress (I use the Pro version). This lets me easily combine various independent keyboard commands into a single macro to accomplish certain tasks. For example, when I reach a figure callout in the main body of a chapter, I want to go to the figure legend to edit it and make sure it exists (you’d be surprised at how many figure callouts I come across that do not have corresponding figure legends). So my process is to insert a bookmark where I am in the text and then go to where the bookmark for the figure legends is located. I do this (and the reverse of adding a new figure legend bookmark in the next figure legend and returning to where I was in the main text) using a MacroExpress macro, which requires a single keypress to run, that runs a series of keyboard key commands in Word to accomplish these tasks. Worked simply and easily in Word 2003; failed to work in Word 2010.

The failure of this simple macro in Word 2010 led me to yet another discovery and source of frustration in Word 2010: Contrary to Microsoft’s assertions and my expectations, many of the keyboard commands of Word 2003 do not work in Word 2010 — they simply do not exist in Word 2010. In Word 2003 Alt+k brought up the Bookmark dialog; in Word 2010, the Bookmark dialog doesn’t have a keyboard key command and it doesn’t seem like I can assign one to it either.

Yet there is a workaround. By assigning the Bookmark dialog to the Quick Access Toolbar (QAT), it suddenly does have a keyboard command. But here is the gotcha!: The QAT items are assigned numbers for use with the Alt key (you find them by pressing and releasing the Alt key to display the letters and numbers assigned to the particular ribbon entries). In my case the Bookmark dialog is assigned the number 9 because it is the ninth item, counting from left to right, on my QAT. So Alt+9 will raise the Bookmark dialog. However, should I rearrange my QAT and shift the Bookmark dialog to position 6, the key combination will change to Alt+6. Gotcha! If I want to use the key combination as part of a MacroExpress macro, I can’t move the Bookmark dialog’s position on the QAT without modifying all of the MacroExpress macros that use it. Of course, there are other ways to solve the problem, including writing a VBA macro that calls the dialog box and simply assigning that macro to a keyboard key combination, which is something I will probably do, but what about all of the users who are unable to write VBA macros? The users who at best can record a keystroke macro?

As if that were not enough, in Word 2003, when the Bookmark dialog was open, I could type a bookmark name and press Alt+a to add it to the document or Alt+g to go to it if it already existed. In Word 2010, that doesn’t work and there is nothing to indicate what will work. Ultimately, I discovered via trial and error that in Word 2010 you need to press Alt+Shift+a (or g) to accomplish the same task.

Office 2010 has other “peculiarities,”  not least of which is “Compatibility Mode” and its constantly telling me when I want to save a document that the document has track changes and comments in it. Although I already own a couple of books on Word 2010, it is clear that I need to find yet another one — one that is more complete in explaining all of the changes instituted. The problem, I fear, is that the explanations I seek may appear in books on Word 2007 rather than 2010 because authors view 2010 as an upgrade to 2007 rather than as an upgrade to 2003.

I’m finding that overall the upgrade from 2003 to 2010 is worthwhile. I found that using Toolbar Toggle in the first weeks of my transition allowed me to acclimate to 2010 yet get work accomplished while doing so. Now it is time to walk without holding a hand for support.

One final note: It is being reported that Office 2011 for the Mac will give users the option of using a menu-driven system and deleting/suppressing the ribbons completely or of using the ribbon system. If true, which we should know for certain in a few weeks as Office 2011 is due for release this month, why didn’t Microsoft give the vast majority of its market — the PC side of the equation — the same option? Or will this be the excuse for Office 2012 for Windows? Stay tuned for further updates and speculation.

3 Comments »

  1. Though it may sound a bit silly, there’s also Ribbon Hero (http://www.officelabs.com/ribbonhero) an interactive plugin that turns learning one’s way around the new interface into a game, with challenges that illustrate how to accomplish many different tasks.

    I was hesitant to try it, but after fumbling around on my own with various references and still feeling lost, I decided to give it a shot. Much to my surprise I finally began to feel comfortable in Word 2010 within an evening.

    Comment by Michael — October 12, 2010 @ 3:29 pm | Reply

    • I never heard of it before your message, but I took a look and it seems a neat idea. Definitely a good thing to try, especially for those who like games. But it does make me wonder what Microsoft was thinking by not offering a choice between the menu-driven and the ribbon-driven systems. If you have to create a game to get people to assimilate the ribbon, perhaps the ribbon wasn’t such a hot idea.

      Comment by americaneditor — October 12, 2010 @ 5:49 pm | Reply

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