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.

The new Show Style Guides option uses a coloured legend to show which Styles have been applied to which blocks of text in your document. It works well as long as you've only used a modest number of styles. In more complex documents with lots of Styles, it can look quite cluttered and complicated. Apple's Pages uses a more elegant system. A contextual balloon shows which Style has been selected to the block of text currently under your I-beam cursor.

The Find and Replace interface has been revamped. There's now a web browser-like Find box in the upper right hand corner of each window. Pressing the familiar Command-F keyboard shortcut shifts the cursor to this box. More advanced Find and Replace options are accessible from a toolbar or from the traditional dialog box hidden away in a menu. Average users will like this change, but it may irritate veteran users who regularly access the more advanced options.

Given today's multicore processor-equipped computers, performance shouldn't be an issue for a word processor. However, Word 2008 was notoriously slow to launch and we even encountered occasions where that program failed to keep up with our typing, especially on a laptop running on battery power. Word 2010 is much faster to launch than its predecessor. It also has far fewer incidences of laggy typing, although these did still occur, albeit rarely, which is inexcusable.

One of our favourite new features in Word is the full screen view which is designed to remove distractions and help you concentrate on your writing. This hides your desktop, all other open programs and all but the document you're currently working on behind a darkened background. Only a single Formatting toolbar is visible. If you're reading and don't need these editing tools, a Reading view hides this toolbar too. It's all very similar to the new full screen views in Apple's own iLife '11 applications.