Reviews

Microsoft Office 2011 for Mac - Word 2011 review

Almost every Mac user needs a word processing program, but should they choose Microsoft Word 2011? Read our review to find out.

Price
£162

One would be forgiven for thinking that there's little that can be done to improve a word processor that's been around since 1985, but Word 2011 has been markedly improved over previous versions.

The most noticeable change is the new interface. Like the other Office applications as well as Office 2007 and 2010 on Windows, Word 2011 has the new Ribbon interface. This tabbed toolbar makes Word's numerous commands and options easier to discover, compared to the numerous individual toolbars and palettes of previous versions. It automatically switches to the tab with the most relevant commands depending on what you're doing. For example, inserting an Excel chart or a photo automatically switches to the Charts tab or the Format Picture tab respectively.

The Ribbon takes some getting used to as it's unlike the interface of any other Mac program, but it's worth bearing with as it generally is easier to use than the interfaces of previous versions of Word. Veterans of Office 2007 and 2010 for Windows will feel most comfortable with it, but unlike those versions of Office the traditional Mac menus are still available as an alternative. Their presence makes it easier to discover and learn keyboard shortcuts than in the almost menuless Windows versions.

For determined Ribbon-haters there's also a Formatting toolbar containing the most frequently used text formatting buttons. The previously all-encompassing Formatting palette is still present and has been renamed but still contains the buttons and controls of important functions such as Styles.

Styles are a handy way of saving combinations of text size, alignment, font choice and other formatting options so they can be applied to single sentences or large blocks of text with a single click. It's invaluable for ensuring lengthy documents are consistently formatted.

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