The Lit Maven

Ribbons, But No Bows – Microsoft Office 2010 Dilemna

Posted on: September 10, 2010

Recently, I became embroiled in a conversation about Microsoft Office 2010, Word in particular.  A very intelligent, multilingual IT Guy  could not figure out how to change the space between the bullets and text on his resume.  He had at least 1.5 inches — too much whitespace and, in someone else’s jargon, looked out-of-place.  "That’s the default," he said tearfully. "I can’t figure out where the custom menu is for bullets!"  Some in the room were speechless. An IT Guy who couldn’t find something on a computer?  Others shook their heads in agreement – the "normal" toolbar worked just fine in Word 2003 – if it ain’t broke, why upgrade?  Those of us who have gotten over the initial shock and dislike of the now-famous ribbon can identify a little.  I remember looking at this Fluent User interface thinking, "Great!  Another new thing I have to learn!"  But, learn I did – and quickly.  Aren’t we all accustomed to the rapid changes made on a seemingly daily basis in the computer industry?  The ribbon (or "tabbed toolbar") has been embraced by Microsoft and has been incorporated in the Office Suite as a staple since 2007.  A ribbon is an interface that places menu items side by side in tabs.  This technology did not originate with Microsoft.  Lotus and Macromedia, among others, pioneered this idea as early as 1999.  Microsoft is currently seeking a patent on the tabbed toolbar.   In 2007, an uproar over the ribbon began.  Some said that power users would take too long to master the ribbon.  If this is the case, these power users are working on minimum torque.  My cat, Todd, could learn how to use a ribbon with a little nudge to his furry side.  Okay, I get it.   You’re busy, no time to learn all the great features so that you can access all of the great features in Office products really quickly.  My advice:  Take The Time.   Flustered by the ribbon?  As always, Microsoft provides help online, offline, within the product and from your next door neighbor.  F1 still works!  Click on each tab and take a look at what is in there.  Click on the question mark on the upper right hand corner of your screen.  Take a look at the ribbon tutorials offered by Microsoft for Office 2007.  Some things have changed in 2010, so if you have the product or if you are planning to install it, visit the Getting Started with Office 2010 then choose your poison in the left hand frame.  You can also find some videos on this page.  For example, you can learn how to use the ribbon in PowerPoint in under 2 1/2 minutes!   Who knows?  You may even learn how to place your bullets properly!

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