Microsoft Word 2003
For personal use on a desktop PC, Microsoft Word 2003 has changed relatively little from Word 2002. Where it has changed, though, has been for the better. Much of what is new and different applies to Office as a whole—including shared workspaces, information rights management, and other features covered elsewhere in this story. But there are several new features specific to Word, such as the Reading Layout view.
The Reading Layout view ignores line and page breaks as they show in the Normal and Page Layout views. This ensures that you see as much text at once as possible. In full-screen mode, the view divides the text into two snaking columns; as you narrow the window, the columns narrow. Narrow the window too far and the view snaps to one wider column. We found that text is far easier to read with two narrow columns, as opposed to the single column you get in the other views.
Formatting Restrictions There are also some invaluable new Protect Document options. If you’ve ever spent time carefully creating styles for a document, only to receive versions back that are filled with manual formatting or unwanted styles, you’ll love the new ability to limit formatting to styles only, using a list of styles that you define. If you send the document to collaborators, be sure to tell them what you did, or they may be confused when they can’t bold, italicize, or make other formatting changes.
Another new Protect Document feature lets you select sections of a document to protect from editing, then create a list of people who can edit each section. The feature didn’t work on our tests, but Microsoft says that this is a known problem in the late beta version we looked at and that it will be fixed in the final release version.
Other small but welcome touches include the option to call up the pre–Word 2002 dialog box for reviewing tracked changes, which restores the ability to find the next item automatically when you accept or reject a change (an option sorely missed in Word 2002). Similarly, a new Compare Documents feature lets you open two versions of a file in side-by-side windows that both scroll when you scroll either one. There’s nothing here that you can’t do manually, but the synchronous scrolling makes the mechanics of comparing documents a lot easier.
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