January 30, 2007
New Thing Ten: Creating PDF Files

As a free add-in from Microsoft, you will have the ability to save files in PDF format in Office 2007. This means that you can create a Word document and then save it to PDF format to send to people or put up on a web page. You will not need an additional program (for example, Adobe Acrobat) to create PDF files anymore. You will still need Adobe Acrobat if you want to edit PDF files or convert a file that's currently PDF to a Word document.

Some important notes:

--This feature is not available 'out of the box' in Office 2007. If you've just installed Office 2007, you will not see 'PDF or XPS' as an option under 'Save as.'
--The ability to save Office documents as PDF files is a free add-in from Microsoft.

To install the PDF add-in to Office 2007:

  1. Login as 'Administrator' (if you're still on Windows XP)
  2. Enter Word (or Excel or Powerpoint--you only need to add this feature once and it will be available in all Office applications).
  3. Click on the Office button and select 'Save As.'
  4. Select 'Find add-ins for other file formats' (If you already have the add-in installed, the menu will not contain this option but will have 'PDF or XPS' instead).
  5. Click on 'Install and use the Save as PDF or XPS add-in...'
  6. Click on 'Microsoft Save as PDF or XPS Add-in...'
  7. Follow the instructions at the Microsoft Download Center for installing the PDF or XPS add-in

You can also access the add-in by going to Office Help and typing 'add pdf' in the search box.

Posted by dcoates at 03:49 PM
New Thing Nine: Permission to View (Outlook)

If you've shared calendars with other people in your office in Outlook 2003, you know that it can be a complicated process. You have to change the permissions for your calendar, which involves finding the permissions tab, setting permissions to 'reviewer' status (if what you want is for them to be able to view, but not change, your calendar). You don't know whether you've done it correctly until they actually try to bring up your calendar in their Outlook and even then, you're only half-way done. Now they have to set permissions on their calendar so you can read it.

In Outlook 2007, the process is simpler, although it is still under your individual control whether you grant other people the right to view items in your calendar (remember: it's not necessary for others to have rights to view your calendar if all they want to do is see whether you are available for a meeting. Meetings can be scheduled by viewing Free/Busy times, which everyone on the system can see and use). To view an individual's calendar in Outlook 2007, select 'Open a Shared Calendar' and type in the person's name or Net-ID. If you have permission to view, their calendar will appear on the screen. If you do not have permission to view, you'll see the following:


...where 'Davenport, Floyd D [C EXT] would be replaced by the name of the person whose specific calendar you're requesting permission to view.

If you say 'Yes,' you will see the following:


Sharing request: Calendar (click to see larger image)

At this point you can also choose to click the box that gives the recipient permission to view your calendar as well. Before the message is sent, outlook confirms that you want to give the recipient 'Reviewer' rights (the ability to view but not to edit or delete) items on your calendar. When they receive your message, they can 'Accept' or 'Decline' or choose to send you a message back.

Their response to you will look like:


Allowed: Sharing request: Calendar response (click to see larger image)

Posted by dcoates at 03:27 PM
January 25, 2007
New Thing Eight: To Do Lists, Flags, and Categories

Okay, really, Office 2003 also had To Do Lists, Flags and Categories. But Office 2007 adds capabilities to each of these features making them (one hopes) more practical, efficient and useable for managing your email, tasks and appointments.


Flags in Outlook 2007

Office 2007 has enhanced the Flags feature. If you haven't been using Flags, they provide a way to indicate that a particular email or task or appointment is designated for followup. in Office 2003, the basic states for items was simply unflagged or flagged. In Office, 2007, you can flag something for followup today, tomorrow, this week, next week, or a customized date you choose.

Categories are also more flexible. You can change the names of categories. You can assign more than one category to a task, appointment or email. You can create category search folders so that it's easy to find all items in a particular category. you can change and rename categories and you have a wider range of color coding to choose from. The primary changes from categories on Office 2003 are the abilities to use more than one category for an item and the broader range of codings.


Categories List in Outlook 2007

In Outlook, when you're viewing your email, you can now also have a 'To Do Bar' open on the right-hand side of the screen. The To Do Bar can be open (you will see all contents), minimized (you will see only the most important current items), or closed (you won't see it at all). The To Do Bar, which can be customized, contains a monthly calendar, your next 'x' number of appointments (default is '3'). And your task list. You can also customize which of these items appears on your To Do Bar. In addition, it is now possible for your tasks to appear at the bottom of your calendar on the day they're due.


To Do Bar

Posted by dcoates at 10:06 AM
January 23, 2007
New Thing Seven: Overlay Calendars

In Office 2007, as was also true in Office 2003, you can view another user's calendar (provided that they have given you permission to view it). In Office 2003, however, you can only view another user's calendar in relation to yours or other calendars in side by side mode. In Office 2007, you can choose to view calendars either side by side or in a new format called overlay mode.


Side by Side calendar views (click image to see larger view)


Overlay calendar views (click image to see larger view)

You can view multiple calendars in either side by side or overlay mode (or a combination of the two). To switch between modes, you can either click on the arrow beside a user's name or, from the View menu, select, "View in Overlay Mode" or "View in Side-by-Side Mode."

Posted by dcoates at 10:20 AM
January 18, 2007
New Thing Six: New Default Margins and Font

Several default settings have changed in Office 2007. The two most noticeable are the default font and the default margins.

The new default font is a brand-new font called Calibri. The default size is now 11, rather than 12. Times New Roman (the old default font in Office 2003) is still available, but no longer the default.


New default font in Word (click on image to see larger)

Default margins have also changed. In Word, for example, the default margins are one inch all around (top, bottom, and sides) instead of 1.25 inches:


Posted by dcoates at 03:49 PM
January 17, 2007
New Thing Five: Live Preview and Styles

Live Preview means that you can see how something is going to look in Word, Excel, or Powerpoint before you actually commit to changing a paragraph, cell or slide. To see what a style or theme or other change looks like all you need to do in Office 2007 is float your cursor over the style or theme in question and you'll see that change temporarily reflected on the section of the document you've selected or the current active line if you haven't selected anything specifically.


In addition, Office 2007 has added a whole slew of styles and themes organized into galleries that make it simpler to format documents and presentations. Each of these styles can be viewed through Live Preview, only becoming a permanent change when you click on the style or theme rather than simply floating your cursor over it (as always, 'undo' undoes any 'permanent' change even after you've clicked on a selection).

Styles and themes can be found on the ribbon with a small box illustrating what the specific style will look like:

word styles.jpg

Word Styles


Powerpoint Themes


Excel Themes

Here's an interactive demonstration of Live Preview as well as other features of the new Office interface including Ribbons, tabs, and the Office button

Posted by dcoates at 09:51 AM
January 16, 2007
New Thing Four: Automatic Configuration in Outlook 2007

Today's new thing is brief because it's so easy there isn't much to say about it.

The instructions for setting up Outlook in Office 2003 looked like this:

outlook 2003 instructions.jpg

Four pages, several screens, a number of questions to answer.

The new instructions look like this:

both screens.jpg

That's right just two simple questions:

  1. Do you want to set up e-mail?
  2. Is this your name?

Since all your current email is stored on the server, Outlook automatically loads that for you. You will still need to copy over your archive files if you're switching from an old computer to a new one, but at this point you're ready to receive, read, and reply to your email. For new staff (once they've received their Net-ID and Exchange accounts) these are the only steps they'll need to complete.

Posted by dcoates at 09:25 AM
January 12, 2007
New Thing Three: File Formats

Word, Excel, and Powerpoint save files in new XML-based formats in Office 2007. One advantage--any application that supports XML can access and work with the information stored in the new file formats, whether that application is part of MS Office or not. In addition, the new file formats are more robust (less susceptible to corruption), more efficient (smaller file sizes), and secure (you can easily remove personally identifiable or business-sensitive information like user names, comments and file paths).

The new files also have new extensions. Instead of .doc, Word files are saved as .docx. Instead of .ppt, Powerpoint files are saved as .pptx. Excel workbook files are saved as .xlsx rather than .xls.

These new file formats in Office 2007 are backwards-compatible with older Windows versions of Office (specifically Office 2000, XP, and 2003). If your machine has been kept up to date with Microsoft Update (which should include any machine in the IASTATE domain), you should already have the ability to open 2007 file formats in Office 2003. What this means is that if one person in your office upgrades, everyone else in your office can still open, read, and edit those files. Some features that are strictly available in Office 2007 won't be available; however, the basic information and layout will be intact.

When you try to open an Office 2007 document in Office 2003 for the first time, you will see a prompt that says, in effect--this is a new file format, do you want to download a plug-in to enable Office to read it? Once you've downloaded and installed the plug-in, you will be able to open Office 2007 XML files.

Finally, it is always possible to save files in Office 2007 as Word 97-2003 documents rather than save them in the newer format. You can either do this with individual documents or you can change the default so that you always save in Word 97-2003 file formats. The disadvantage of this solution is that you lose some of the new features of Office 2007 when saving to older file formats.

Posted by dcoates at 10:17 AM
January 11, 2007
New Thing Two: The Office Button

One of the big changes in Office 2007 is the disappearance of the File menu. In the past, this menu has consistently contained New, Open, Save, Save as..., Print, Page Setup and other important commands for manipulating your document. Outlook 2007 does retain a traditional File menu. However, in Word, Excel, and Powerpoint, this menu has been replaced with the Office button.


The Office button is consistent between applications and contains New, Open, Save, Save as, Print, Prepare, Send, Publish, and Close. It also contains your list of most recently opened documents and separate buttons for Options (which include things like formatting and display options).


Office Button Drop-down Menu

Save as not only allows you to save to another file name, but to older Word formats, to a PDF file, to a template, etc. Print gives you the option to set options, then print, to send directly to the printer, and to preview before printing. Prepare, Send, and Publish provide options for finalizing and distributing your document, spreadsheet, or presentation.

Posted by dcoates at 11:59 AM
January 09, 2007
New Thing One: Ribbons in Office 2007

For Word, Excel, and Powerpoint (but not Outlook), those familiar File, Edit, Help menus are gone as are the toolbars, replaced by something called Ribbons. Items on the Ribbon are organized into groups, accessed via tabs, which vary by application, including Home, Insert, View, Page Layout (Word and Excel), Design (Powerpoint), and others.

All the basic functions are still present. Many of them, like changing font types and size are much easier to access. However, if you knew the old menus by heart...the new ribbons may take some getting used to.


Powerpoint 2007 Home Ribbon (click on image to see larger)

word ribbonsmall.jpg

Word 2007 Home Ribbon (click on image to see larger)

Excel ribbonsmall.jpg

Excel 2007 Home Ribbon (click on image to see larger)

For more information, visit: Basic Training for the Ribbon and Use the Ribbon at Microsoft's Office Online site.

Posted by dcoates at 03:33 PM
January 08, 2007
Ten New Things in Office 2007

In a series of ten posts, I'll be talking in more detail about ten things that have been added to/changed in Office 2007. We expect to have new Office 2007 CDs ready to send to field offices in early to mid February. if you're on campus, you'll be able to get Office 2007 through your departmental support or through ITS.

Features of Office 2007 that I'll be discussing in more detail over the next week or two include:

  1. Ribbons
  2. Office button
  3. File Formats
  4. Automatic configuration (Outlook)
  5. Live Preview/Styles
  6. New defaults (margins/fonts)
  7. Overlay calendars
  8. To do lists, Flags, and calendars
  9. Permission to view (calendar)
  10. Creating PDFs

Office 2007 will run on Windows XP. At this point there is no requirement for you to move from Office 2003 to Office 2007, but as always with new programs, we will eventually be dropping support for the older version(s). Also, some of these new features make Office 2007 better and easier to use, particularly in Outlook when using calendars. We're hoping that you'll want to take advantage of some of these new features.

A reminder: We'll be offering a look at both Office 2007 and Windows Vista (which replaces Windows XP) via Breeze on Monday, January 22nd at 1:30 PM. If you haven't registered and are interested, go to: http://www.extension.iastate.edu/Comp/training/online for details.

Posted by dcoates at 10:37 AM
January 03, 2007
Some Things to Know About Spam

Things to Know:

  • We all get it
  • We all hate it
  • We all wish it would go away

Additional Things:

  • More than 55 billion emails a day are spam
  • 90% of all email is spam

If three-fourths of the email in your inbox is not spam then thank your local mail handlers and your email program because they are stopping a huge number of useless junk emails from filling your mailbox to overflowing.

Because ISU is a research and academic institution, it is considered more important that all legitimate mail gets through than that all spam is stopped. ISU has opted to emphasize filtering over removal (if you've ever tried to reach someone whose ISP overzealously dumps spam before it gets to the user, you have some idea why ISU takes the approach it does). There are no ideal solutions merely solutions that fail in different ways.

Things done in your name to stop the torrent of spam to your mailbox:

Things you can do to stop what does make it through:

Additional information: http://www.it.iastate.edu/spam/faq.html

Both Outlook's Junk folder and the Perlmx rating system may label email that isn't spam as spam so you need to check your Junk folder periodically to make sure that a legitimate email isn't getting caught. If you're expecting email from someone or if a message does get caught in the Junk folder, you can add that address to your address book to prevent it getting caught again.

Spam filtering is a war with escalating tactics and our side is primarily battling defensively. That means everything we do will eventually be countered. It also means that you may go several months and see no spam whatsoever then--boom!--ten pieces of spam show up in your mailbox in one day.

Posted by dcoates at 10:11 AM