Starting from blank: Design templates in the Word 2013

Today we welcome back Seth Fox, Word team Program Manager, to explain how you can easily start new documents that come with built-in personality.

Last month I introduced the Start screen in the Word 2013 and discussed how templates and built-in content can be used to quickly create great looking documents. Today I’m excited to introduce new starting documents that are featured on the Start screen.

We know that over half of all Word sessions start from a blank document. These documents can end up looking very different, but in previous versions of Word they all started with the same settings.
In the Word 2013, we have made it easier for you to create great looking documents, allowing you to focus on content instead of formatting. For example, if you know you’re writing a paper for class and your professor has instructed that the paper must be singled spaced, you can now get started with a single click of the “Single spaced (blank)” template. There are also specialized templates that let you create documents with very different personalities without any formatting tweaks on your part. For example, if you need a clean, modern document that has numbered headings, simply click on the “Report design (blank)” template.

As you apply heading styles to text, they will automatically be formatted with a number. Formatting the rest of your document is as easy as selecting your desired style in the Style gallery from the Home tab – see Caitlin’s post on changing your style in Word 2013 to learn more about the power of styles. Or if you want a clean looking document that’s different from the same-old default look, all it takes is a click on “Ion design (blank)” and you’re on your way.

Design templates open with text already formatted with frequently used styles. Simply replace the text with your own words to get started.

You can search for additional blank templates by clicking on the suggested search or searching for the term “blank”.  If  you find one you love, you can pin it to the Start screen to make sure it’s always at your fingertips.

Thanks for reading!  I hope you find it easier than ever to get started in Word 2013, whether it’s creating a new document, opening a recent one, or using a template.

Top 5 reasons developers will love Word 2013

Developers have long been able to leverage Word’s programmability model to extend the functionality of Word and deliver amazing results. Today we’re going to highlight 5 new features that makes the Word 2013 better than ever for developers.

1. Apps for Word – embracing the cloud

Apps for Office is an exciting new way to extend Office applications by using web technologies such as HTML5 and JavaScript, that enables Office developers new and better ways to deploy, promote, monetize, and enjoy using Office! Word supports task pane apps that let you extend the power of Word. Word apps support full fidelity import and export of content via Office Open XML, allowing you to add content like formatted tables, images with caption, and videos.

Apps can also read in your entire document for full fidelity printing, faxing, or other export scenarios. In addition, they can leverage the power of custom XML parts and data bindings to accomplish a variety of scenarios. For example, an XML file of recent expenses could be used to dynamically generate custom invoices. You can take a look at this sample app to learn more about how to use custom XML parts with Word apps.

To get started developing apps for Office check out Apps for Office and SharePoint blog and They are great resources that can help you learn more about the Office API and feature code samples to make it easy.

2. Content control improvements

For several releases, we’ve been working to make Word a great structured document editor.  We created content controls in Office 2007, and built on that foundation in Office 2010.  In Office 2013, we’ve again improved our existing content control support to make them easier to use.

As the types of Word documents containing content controls have increased, we recognized the need to make content controls more flexible.  We wanted to make sure that documents with several content controls (including many levels of nesting) could visually scale to what the author requires.

To that end, Word 2013 now supports improved content control visualizations – we give document authors the ability to:

  • Choose a visualization style for each control
  • Update the color of controls

For visualization styles, we now let users customize whether the controls appear in a bounding box (as they did in Office 2010), appear as start/end tags (useful when many controls are nested), or are invisible (useful for when users don’t need to know about underlying structure).  Here is a screenshot showing these options:

You can set both the visual style and the color of the content control UI in the content control properties dialog (accessible from the Properties button on the Developer tab).  The dialog for a rich text control is shown here:

3. Binding to rich text content controls

You asked, we delivered – we heard loud and clear that developers would like the ability to bind rich text controls to custom XML parts (leaf nodes or attributes).  You can bind these controls like you would bind other controls, or you can use the new XML mapping pane to create the binding (see below in this post).

When the mapping is active, the associated custom XML node contains a serialized XML representation of the content in the control.  This serialization is created as follows:

  • Word retrieves the flat XML representation of the content in the control (just as the .WordOpenXML property does in the object model today)
  • Word escapes the resulting string to remove reserved XML characters
  • Word stores the result as text in the mapped node

4. Repeating content controls

Another very common request for structured documents is the ability for document authors to allow users to map to tabular, structured data.  For example, in a structured expense report, allowing users to add expense line item rows to a table containing each expense.

To support these requests, we’ve created a new content control type: the repeating section content control.  This control can be added around a row (or rows) of a table, or around arbitrary paragraphs of content.  Once added, users can add new rows to the control, and if the control is bound the content in these rows will be stored appropriately in the document’s custom XML.

It’s also possible to bind a repeating section content control to the custom XML of a document.  The control itself can be mapped to a nodeset, and then each repeating item inside of the control will be mapped to a node in that set.  For example:

5. XML mapping pane

Finally, we also heard the feedback that it’s too hard to set up XML mappings to content controls in Word – to make this easier, Word 2013 includes a built-in XML Mapping task pane (available from the Developer tab) that allows you to add custom XML parts and map their contents to content controls in the document.

For example, if I have some XML like the following:

I can add it to a Word document and create XML mappings by simply:

  • Opening the task pane
  • Dropping the list of Custom XML Parts and choosing Add New Part…
  • Choosing the item I want to map, right-clicking, and selecting Insert Content Control, which gives me a list of valid content controls that this content can be mapped to:

Selecting it inserts a new content control and creates the XML mapping, setting everything up in a single step.

Putting it all together

We’re really excited about the new and existing scenarios these new features will help developers enable.  We also know that developers rely on classic extensibility models like VBA, VSTO solutions, and COM add-ins. Those continue to be supported in Word 2013! You’ll also find our new features like videos, expand/collapse, etc. are exposed in Word’s Object Model. This allows your existing solutions to continue to run in Word 2013 and allows you to incorporate new features if desired.

With the features described above, we give you the tools to deliver your customers excellent customized experiences.  And with Apps for Office, we’ve also allowed you to go one step further by choosing the business model that’s right for you to reach the broadest set of customers. Your app can be free, trial based, ad supported, etc. Once you’ve decided on how to reach customers you can publish your app using the office store. Customers can easily acquire your apps by searching directly from within Word or opening documents and templates that already contain your app. Don’t forget to check out to learn how you can win prizes by developing apps.

Thanks for reading. We hope you love the additional developer-oriented capabilities of Word 2013..

Top 10 reasons students will love Word 2013

The new Office is packed with features that students will love and Word is no exception!  Today, we present the Top 10 reasons we think students will be head over heels for Word 2013.  Download the Customer Preview today and tell us which of these is your favorite new feature!

10. Working with web content is simple

You already add pictures to your school reports to make them more interesting.  With Word 2013, this is easier than ever.  Whether you need a stock photo to help make the report more visually appealing or a picture you took of your lab results with your smartphone and uploaded to SkyDrive, you can use the Insert Online Pictures feature to quickly grab pictures from a variety of web locations and services.  For the times when a picture just isn’t enough, you can embed a video in your document.

Once you have pictures, videos, charts or other graphic elements in your document, chances are good the next step you take is moving and resizing them – tweaking the placement until the document layout looks just the way you want.  In Word 2013, the Layout Options button will show up when you select the content and let you quickly choose a text wrapping option.

Once your content has text wrapping applied, just click and drag it to a new location.  Along the way, you’ll see the rest of the document contents updating in real time – no more guessing at what you’ll get when you let go!  When you see the green alignment guides light up, you’ll know you’re aligned with important areas like the center of the page or the top of a paragraph.

9. Use Apps for Word to get more things done, faster

You’ve always used Word to get things done, but Word 2013 can help you get more things done, even faster than before.  Need to quickly summarize your document?  How about look something up online?  Guess what?  Now there are apps that can help you do those things, and more, without leaving Word.  Click on the Apps for Office button on the Insert tab and check out the apps that are offered through the Office Store.

8. Formatting tables gets easier

Writing a lab report and need to include a table of data?  That process gets easier in Word 2013.  Now you can quickly insert a new column or row, just by hovering with mouse in the area where you want it and clicking on the insert widget. Once you have your table created, apply one of the new, updated table Styles to make it look great.  Prefer to copy the formatting of another table’s borders?  No problem – the new Border Sampler tool found on the Table Tools Design tab under Border Styles lets you copy the formatting from one table and quickly draw new borders with the same style.

Screenshot of table border menu

7.  Reviewing papers gets more manageable

Admit it, you hate reading documents that have track changes turned on.  Unfortunately, you really need to see what changed.  With Simplified Mark-up view, you don’t have to choose between seeing all the changes and knowing how the final document will read.  Instead, you see change bars in the left margin that show you where the changes happened.  One click flips between showing and hiding the changes. 

Comments are also easier to process, thanks to the ability to reply to a comment directly.  You can also use comments as a document’s to do list – when you are done dealing with a particular comment, just right click and Mark as Done.  It won’t be deleted, just greyed out so you know you’ve finished that work.

6. Your bibliography style stays up to date

In previous versions of Word, you could only get new or updated bibliography styles when we released an update or service pack. Obviously, your next assignment, which probably requires the latest APA style citations, can’t wait until the next service pack or version of Word. Since the new Office is connected to the cloud, all the citation styles can be stored in the cloud and updated as soon as a new format is available. Every time you start Word, it checks for updated citation styles and downloads those to your computer. Now, you don’t need to worry about your bibliography style being out of date!

5. Get focused on the right section of the document

Reports and papers for school can get long, fast.  Sometimes you want to focus on just one section at a time or send the paper to someone else and have them focus on just a few particular sections.  If you create your document using Styles to format your headings, you can collapse the sections by hovering over the heading and clicking the Expand / Collapse widget that appears just to the left of the heading.

You can also collapse or expand all sections at once by right clicking and using the Expand / Collapse options on the context menu.

When you collapse a heading, the contents are tucked away out of sight while you’re reading or editing the document.  You can set sections to be collapsed by default, so each time the document is opened, the reader will see the document exactly the way you intended.  To mark a section to collapse by default, right click on the heading and click Paragraph…, then check the Collapsed by default option.

For the times when you want to quickly find something in your document, whether it is a bit of text or a specific chart, the Navigation pane can help.  Click or tap on the page number in the lower left corner of the Word window to show the pane.  From there, you’ll be able to type a search term, look through the document’s headings or scan through page thumbnails to find what you need.

4. Make your document stand out from the crowd

You’ve worked hard to get all the right content into your report, but before you turn it in to your professor, you want to make sure it looks great.  Use the features on the new Design tab to find or create a Theme and a Style set that is uniquely yours.

You can also use the updated built-in content like coordinated cover pages, text boxes, headers and footers to add some extra polish or pizazz.   All of these will work with the Theme’s color & font sets and will update automatically if you decide to change your theme later.

3. PDF Reflow turns PDF files into editable Word documents

Have a paper that was saved as a PDF that you need to go back and edit, but don’t have the original document anymore?  With the PDF Reflow feature, Word can convert that PDF to an editable Word document.  Word will pull the content from the fixed format PDF and preserve as much of the layout and formatting as possible. You can make the changes you need and save again in any of Word’s formats, including PDF.

2. Reading is reimagined for a digital world

You definitely have to write papers as a student, but you inevitably need read them as well.  Word 2013 includes a reimagined reading mode that incorporates the goodness of traditional paper while embracing new technologies.  It was designed to be used on a touch-screen device (like that awesome Surface RT that you’ve got your eye on) but it also works great when using a mouse and keyboard.  It has a clutter free UI that helps you focus on the content, but puts the tools you need right at your fingertips: you can quickly add comments, highlight important information, lookup a definition or translate a phrase, all without leaving Word.

When you need to take a break, Word helps you remember where you left off – even if the next time you start reading, you’re on a different device.  When you are signed in to Office, your most recently used documents will be stored online, making it easy to find them the next time you open Word.  When you do open the document again, the Resume Reading feature acts like a bookmark that will take you back to the last page you were reading.

1. Collaborating on a document is a breeze with SkyDrive and Word 2013

Group assignments become so much easier when everyone can work on the same document at the same time.  The new Office is integrated with Microsoft SkyDrive, so you can easily save your work in progress to your free SkyDrive account and share the document with the rest of your group, all from within Word.  If they don’t have Office yet, no problem.  All they’ll need is a browser, where the document will open in the Word Web Application.  You don’t even need to mess with permissions. Anyone with the link can comment and edit.  Better yet, everyone with the link can work on the document at the same time, whether they want to use the browser or Word.  When you are ready to share your changes, and see everyone else’s, just click the Save button and the document will be refreshed.

Optimizing Word 2013 for Windows RT

This week’s post comes from Sean Azlin, the program manage on the Word team who has been working to make Word shine on Windows RT.

Like you, we here on the Word team are pumped about Windows 8 and Windows RT. We’re equally excited to be shipping Office Home & Student 2013 RT with Windows RT devices. Knowing this, one question you might have is: “How is Word being optimized for Windows RT?”

If you haven’t seen it already, definitely check out Josh and David’s blog post about our overall experience with Building Office for Windows RT. In that post, they highlight much of the work that teams in Office did to optimize our apps for Windows RT. In this post, I’ll further highlight some of the work that the Word team did to make Word 2013 on Windows RT great.

Respecting Battery Life

With the introduction of Windows RT, Office recognized that more PCs will be mobile than ever before. For that reason, the Office team deeply invested in minimizing the impact our apps have on a mobile PC’s battery life wherever possible. For Word 2013, we do our part in protecting your PC’s battery life by throttling down Word’s activity whenever the user stops interacting with the application for a certain amount of time (currently 30 seconds). We call this mode “deep idle”.

When in deep idle, Word is as throttled-down as it can be while still remaining responsive. This is when you might notice that Word’s cursor has stopped blinking, and that Word’s CPU usage is sitting at (or very near) zero indefinitely. You might see Word go into deep idle when you’re reading a document and haven’t needed to navigate for a while, when a friend or family member distracts you for a few minutes, when you’re doing some research in IE while Word sits in the background, or when you set your device down while you run outside to check the mail. In all such cases, Word will throttle down after 30 seconds to help protect your device’s battery life. And, when you interact with Word again, it’ll throttle up instantly to give you the great responsiveness that you crave.

Also, in case you’re wondering, deep idle is not just a feature of Word 2013 on Windows RT devices. It’s active as part of every install of Word 2013 on every platform, even if the device is plugged in. So, even your desktop PC will benefit from this new power-saving feature. Who doesn’t want to save money on their next power bill? And, throttling down Word has the added benefit of freeing up the CPU for other applications to use. It’s one more way that Word helps you get the most out of your Windows 8 PC.

Respecting Memory

Per Josh and David’s blog post, we’re expecting Windows RT devices to have about 2GB of RAM. That might seem like a lot, but we want to make sure that a user can really use Office on one of these devices. That means (for most of us) having multiple documents open in multiple Office applications at the same time. And let’s not forget the 10 IE tabs we keep open all the time, or that game of ARMED! that we’re picking at now and then. We want to make sure that Word is a good citizen even when you are really pushing your device.

There’s a constant balance that we have to strike when optimizing Word’s memory usage. On one hand, we want Word to use as little memory as possible. On the other hand, whatever resources we don’t cache in memory will be more expensive to access or generate in the future, and that expense could result in Word feeling sluggish or unresponsive. Every optimization has to be considered carefully and there’s no silver bullet.

For Word 2013, we’ve worked to make sure that Word holds on to the memory it needs to feel great during active use but releases larger resources like display objects and memory-backed graphics when it’s not in use. More specifically, Word releases 10% to 35% of its private memory usage whenever the user minimizes Word or fully obscures Word with another application. We call this “Low Resource Mode” (aka LRM), which is actually an Office-wide feature that is implemented for each Office application. Word and LRM are doing a great service here by preemptively releasing memory on our terms without sacrificing the user experience. Without LRM in play, the user is at greater risk for running low on memory and triggering expensive OS paging behaviors that can lead to indiscriminate user pain across multiple applications.

It can take Word about 30-60 seconds after it’s minimized or obscured before Word actually enters LRM. It’s worth pointing out that your results with LRM will vary depending on the type of content you have in your open documents. In most cases, LRM will help free up tens of megabytes of memory for other applications. In some extreme cases (for those of us who never close a document) it can free up as much as 100 megabytes or more.

Typing and Scrolling

The Word team firmly believes that typing and scrolling are core scenarios for Word. Almost any usage of Word will involve typing and scrolling to some extent. Because Windows RT devices are more resource constrained than typical desktops, we made it a goal to ensure that typing and scrolling in Word on these devices continues to look and feel great. It took some effort to make that happen, but in the end we’ve delivered well on our goal. Scrolling via touch in Word 2013 on a Windows RT slate looks and feels fluid and natural. Typing feels clean and responsive, and a smooth yet subtle cursor animation enhances every keystroke. The overall experience feels solid.


These are just a few of the important things that we’ve done to make Word 2013 great on Windows RT devices. In short, Word 2013 does what it can to preserve your device’s battery life, decrease its memory usage when not in use, and ensure that typing and scrolling are fast, fluid, and responsive.

The Performance and Power Management feature crew can’t wait to get their hands on Windows RT with Office Home and Student 2013.  We hope you’re excited too!


What’s new in Word Automation Services

This week’s post comes from Zeyad Rajabi, who helped create Word Automation Services in Office 2010 and has been driving improvements to the services in the new Office.

In Office 2010, we introduced a brand new SharePoint service called Word Automation Services. Word Automation Services allows developers to harness the capabilities of Word on the server. Word Automation Services allows developers to perform the following types of file operations:

  • Converting between document formats (ex. DOC to DOCX)
  • Converting to fixed formats (ex. PDF)
  • Updating the Table of Contents, the Table of Authorities, and index fields
  • Recalculating all field types
  • Importing “alternate format chunks”
  • Setting the compatibility mode of the document to the latest version or to previous versions of Word

We created this service because we wanted to help developers avoid the challenges of automating the Word client application as documented by this famous Knowledge Base article:

In Office 2013, we’ve made improvements to Word Automation Services, based on some great user feedback, which we think will make the service even easier to use and allows the service to accommodate additional scenarios.

Feedback from Office 2010 Developers

Word Automation Services was initially created to accommodate bulk file operation scenarios. The service was optimized to perform file operations on many files at a time. These file operations were performed asynchronously based on a SharePoint Timer Job, which means the service operations are only kicked off when the SharePoint Timer Job ran. This behavior means Word Automation Services could only be kicked off, at the very least, in one minute iterations. Developers who wanted the conversion operation to be kicked off synchronously were out of luck. The Timer Job-based design and behavior works well for bulk operation scenarios, but is not ideal for scenarios involving a small number of documents.

Additionally, we heard from customers that the requirement of having files exist physically on SharePoint in order to consume, create, or edit files via Word Automation Services was limiting. This requirement means a developer must always work within the context of SharePoint when taking advantage of the service; the only way to deal with files outside of SharePoint is to first get those files on SharePoint. In addition, there were several scenarios where the output of the service was not the final output of the solution. In these particular cases, a developer is forced to manually move the intermediate files created by the service. Developers didn’t want the extra performance hit by hitting the SharePoint content database more than necessary.

On demand file operations

As part of SharePoint 2013, you will now be able to create on demand file operation requests to Word Automation Services. These requests are processed immediately and have higher priority than traditional asynchronous Timer Job-based requests. These on demand file operation requests do not depend on the SharePoint Timer Job. Think of these on demand file operation requests as synchronous Word Automation Services requests. On demand file operation requests can only be made for one file at a time as opposed to the existing Timer Job-based requests, which can handle many files at a time.

Word Automation Services is able to handle both asynchronous and synchronous file operation requests at the same time. Word Automation Services maintains two separate queues, one for on demand (immediate) file operation requests and one queue for SharePoint Time Job-based requests. Word Automation Services will pause all Timer Job-based requests whenever there is at least one on demand request, and the Timer Job-based requests will restart once all on demand requests have been processed. This prioritization allows the service to accommodate on demand requests more quickly. Note we also ensure that we prevent the complete starvation of Timer Job-based requests by on demand requests by periodically letting those requests be processed ahead of on demand requests.

The following diagram represents the Word Automation Services 2013 architecture:

Stream support

In addition to on demand file operation requests, Word Automation Services now supports streams. You are no longer limited to working on files stored in SharePoint libraries. Using streams, you will be able to leverage Word Automation Services functionalities for files stored outside of SharePoint.

You will only be able to use streams with Word Automation Services when using on demand file operation requests. In other words, streams will not work with Timer Job-based requests.

Code comparison

We tried to make coding Word Automation Services solutions as easy as possible. With only a few lines of code, you’ll be able to integrate Word Automation Services into your solution. Here is some sample code of using the Timer Job-based request:

ConversionJob pdfJob = new ConversionJob(Word Automation Services);
pdfJob.UserToken = myWebsite.CurrentUser.UserToken;
pdfJob.AddFile(outputFilename, outputFilename.Replace(“.docx”, “.pdf”));

In the above code sample, the conversion request is triggered after the Start() method is invoked. At which point, the conversion request is added to the Timer Job queue to await for the SharePoint Timer Job to start the request.

Working with on demand file operation requests is very similar. Instead of creating a ConversionJob object, you create a SyncConverter object. The SyncConverter object allows you to operate on one file at a time and is processed immediately. Here is some sample code of using the on demand request:

SyncConverter syncConv = new SyncConverter(“Word Automation Services”);
syncConv.Settings.OutputFormat = SaveFormat.PDF;
ConversionItemInfo convInfo = syncConv.Convert(inStream, outStream);

Get more out of Word Automation Services

Word Automation Services does not accomplish all file operation scenarios. Take for example, a scenario where a solution needs to merge and modify content within a document. The service was not created to be a replacement of the Word client object model.
Instead, the server is one half of a replacement for the existing object model – the other half being the Open XML SDK.

The Open XML SDK was designed to handle tasks that don’t require application logic and layout, such as inserting or deleting content (paragraph, tables, pictures), inserting data from other data sources, sanitizing content (removing content, accepting tracked changes), etc.
Word Automation Services was designed to handle file operations that do require application logic and layout, such as reading and laying out all Word document formats, converting to and from different file formats, recalculating dynamic fields, etc. These two pieces can be used together to enable rich, end-to-end solutions that never require automating Word client applications. Check out Brian Jones’ blog for more details and examples of using the Open XML SDK.

I hope the improvements mentioned in this post will make it even easier for you to use Word Automation Services in your solutions. Tell us what you think in the comments below the post.

The Word Automation Services feature crew, 2/3 of which is shown here, is excited to share these improvements with you.

Working with images gets simpler in the new Word

This week’s post comes from Theresa Estrada, the Word team program manager working on improvements to images.

How many times have you tried to move an image or a chart in Word and gotten frustrated when it unexpectedly landed somewhere other than where it was dropped?  Working with images is one of the top pain points that we hear about from customers, so in the new Word, we’ve simplified the experience with 3 great new features:

  • The Layout Options button gives you quick access to change how your image interacts with the rest of your document.
  • Live layout lets you see your document’s new layout in real time as you reposition, resize or rotate images
  • Alignment guides help you visually align your images with important areas of the document

Layout Options

Our first step in simplifying the way you work with images was to add the Layout Options button.  This button appears at the upper right of any image, video, shape, chart, SmartArt or textbox that you select and gives you quick access to the text wrapping options.

In prior versions of Word, images were inserted as “In line with text” by default.  Inline images are treated exactly like a character of text, which means their position is constrained to the lines of text on the page.  Great for predictability, but not so great if you want to place the image in a more interesting place on the page, like the top right corner, or if you want the image to look integrated with the text in the document.

For many versions of Word, we’ve offered the ability to wrap text around images in a variety of ways.  In the new Word, we’ve made it even easier to find those options and quickly switch between them.  Simply click the Layout Options button and choose one of the six choices in the call-out under “With text wrapping”


We’ve even made it simple to set your default wrapping style.  Just right click on one of the styles in the Layout Options call-out and click Set as default.  Next time you insert a picture, chart or SmartArt, it will use your default wrapping style.

Once you switch to one of the “With text wrapping” styles, you’ll notice two things:

  • An anchor icon shows up in the document
  • The options at the bottom of the Layout Options call-out are available

Visible anchors

Images that have one of the text wrapping styles applied are referred to as “floating”.  Other than the obvious visual distinction between inline and floating images, they are also treated differently under the covers.  As I mentioned above, inline images are just like oversized characters.  Floating images, however, are attached to the text by a hidden character that we refer to as the anchor.  In past versions of Word, you could go into Word’s Advanced Options dialog box and turn on the display of the anchor character.  To make this a little more obvious, we’ve turned it on by default in the new Word.

Knowing where the anchor is on the page can help put you in control of how your image behaves as you edit the document. The most important rule to remember about anchors is that an image and its anchor always have to be on the same page.  This explains why sometimes, when you add or remove text in a document, an image will suddenly jump to a different page.  What has happened is the text containing the anchor was moved to a different page and took the image along for the ride.

Move with text vs. Fix position on page

The floating text wrapping styles control the way that an image interacts with the text in your document – whether text can flow around all sides, only on the top and bottom of a figure, or if the image is above or below the text.  But there’s another piece to the puzzle of controlling image behavior: what happens to the image when text is added or removed from the document?  Sometimes, you want the picture to remain relative to the text – in other words, move up and down on the page along with the text where it is anchored.  In this case, you’ll want to choose the Move with Text option in the call-out.  Other times, you might want the image to be relative to the page – in other words, always stay in a certain spot on the page it’s anchored to, like the in the top right corner or in the center of the margins.  In these cases, you’ll want to choose the Fix Position on Page option.

Regardless of which option you pick, just remember that the text the image is anchored to always has to be on the same page as the image.  So if you move the text containing the anchor to a different page, the image is going to move as well.

Live layout

Without a doubt, my favorite feature in the new Word is Live Layout.  In the past, when you moved a floating image in a Word document you would see a semi-transparent “ghost” of the image moving around on top of the text:

When you dropped the ghost, the rest of the document content would update – which sometimes lead to unexpected results and meant it could take a couple of tries to position the image just right.

With the new Word, when you move a floating image, you’ll see the layout of the document changing in real time so you can position your image with confidence on the first try.  Live Layout also works for resize and rotation of both inline and floating images, as well as for resizing table rows and columns.  Give it a try and tell us what you think!


Alignment guides

Using Live Layout, floating images can be placed nearly anywhere on a page, but there are a handful of places where you’re more likely to want to place them: aligned to interesting areas like the margins or edge of the page, centered on the page or aligned with a paragraph of text.  You can use Live Layout to help accomplish this, but we’ve also added some handy alignment guides to help make sure you hit exactly the spot you’re aiming for.

As you move your image around the page and reach one of the alignment locations, you’ll see the green alignment guide lines appear.  Here, you can see that the image is aligned to the top of the first paragraph and the left margin.

If you are ever wondering if an image is actually aligned to something, just click on a hold for a second: any guides that it is aligned with will appear.

Learn more

I hope you’ll spend some time trying out our improvements in the Office Customer Preview and tell us what you think. If you’re interested in learning more about inline and floating images, take a few more minutes to read these posts:

Understanding images: The basics
Understanding images: Wrapping styles
Understanding images: Staying in position

The figures feature crew is excited to share all the improvements to working with images with you!

Starting off right: Templates and built-in content in the new Word

This week’s post comes from Seth Fox, the Word program manager who has been working closely with our design team to bring fresh new content to Word 2013. 

We know you put a lot of effort into making a document look great. At the end of the day, you want a polished document that invites people in. One that is professional looking, with obvious attention to the details, and that you can be proud to share with your friends, family, colleagues, coworkers, or the world. In this release, we wanted to make it easier than ever for you to create those documents.

In this post, I’ll talk about how new starting options, templates, and built-in content can make it easier to go from start to finish using the new Word in the Office Customer Preview.

Starting off right

When you start Word you don’t always want to start from a blank page. You might want to read or review a document, continue writing a document you’ve already started, or start something new from an existing document or template. The new Start experience in Word is designed with that in mind. It allows you to start from recent documents, templates, or from a blank document in just a few clicks.

You can pin the documents and templates that matter most so that they’re only a click away when starting Word. Clicking on a template will show you a larger thumbnail and provide a brief description about the template.

Pinned templates will never show a preview.  You can simply double click a pinned template’s thumbnail to quickly open the template.

If you have custom templates you can view them on the Start screen in a separate tab. Just go to Options and under Save add the path of your templates folder where it says “Default personal templates location”.

You can easily dismiss the Start screen and get started writing by pressing the escape key or double clicking on “blank document”. If you want to skip straight to a blank document each time you start Word, you can uncheck “Show the Start screen when the application starts” in the Word Options dialog.

To learn more about the Start screen across Office stay tuned for an upcoming post on the Office Next blog.

Starting from templates

Trying to create a document from scratch can be tough. If you have a specific task or document look in mind, searching for the right template can save you time and help you create a great final product. You might need to write your resume, print a birthday card, or create a report. We offer a variety of templates to make it quick and easy. Need to work on your resume for that next big opportunity, but aren’t sure what content will impress your interviewer? We have templates that can help you out.

To find the right template, simply launch the new Word and search for the type of document you’d like to create.

We know templates aren’t a one-size-fits-all deal. In addition to offering a variety of templates to start with, we’ve designed our templates to be customizable – Check out Caitlin’s post to learn more about the power of styles and the new Design tab. You can change your color palette, style set, or theme and the template will update to match. Some templates also feature extra cover pages and textboxes, which can be easily swapped to give your document a new look. For example, if you know you’re going to print out this student report, but don’t want to print out a large colorful picture, you can swap out the cover page with the text only version by going to Insert, selecting Cover Page, and clicking on Text Cover.

Built in content

Whether you’re working on a document you created from scratch or started from a template, to make a document look its best, you typically want more than just text. You may insert a cover page to give a good first impression or add a pull quote to draw your readers’ focus to a key point.  When you do, you want it all to have a cohesive, well-designed look. We offer built-in content to save you time and help make your document look great. Check out the Insert tab to find headers, footers, textbox, page numbers, and more to make it quick and easy to add content to your document.

We’ve designed this content to not only make your document look great, but to also work well together. For example, you can insert the Facet cover page, header, and footer to have a coordinated document that all matches the Facet look.

This lets you create a polished and visually consistent document.

Once you add your content, simply add in your personal details. If you change your mind after insertion, it’s no problem. You can easily swap out content. If they share the same info, such as document title, it will be automatically entered for you so you don’t have to retype it. For example, I inserted the Ion cover page, filled out the info about my paper, and then swapped it out for one I liked better by clicking Insert, Cover Page, and selecting Semaphore.

Thanks for reading! We hope you find it easier than ever to end up with documents you’re proud to share with the world.

The Word content and building blocks feature team is proud to show off the great new content you can use in Word 2013.

Present a Word document online

You want to meet real time to write or refine a Word document but often times the people you need to meet with cannot be at the same place at the same time. With the growing usage of messaging and audio/video conferencing software, people are collaborating from multiple locations. Whether you’re a student who needs to finish a class project with your peers, a small business owner who wants to share a contract with clients, or a family member writing a holiday letter with someone in another location, we know it’s important for any Word user to be able to easily share and work together on their documents.

We set out to create a simple, rich sharing experience that gives the presenter confidence their attendees are able to follow along, wherever they are in the document. By adding an interactive communication channel, such as IM or voice/video applications, you can create a complete real time collaboration experience. The Office Presentation Service is free for all Office 2013 customers to use; all you need is a Microsoft account and Microsoft Office 2013.

Presenting a Word document

We wanted to create a natural experience from working on your document to sharing with others for comments, review, or collaboration. While working on your document, begin sharing by clicking File > Share > Present Online. From here, select Office Presentation Service and click Present Online.

To send your meeting invitation to attendees, select Copy Link to copy and paste the meeting hyperlink so others can access it, such as in a Skype chat window. Alternatively, you can select Send in Email to email the hyperlink using your email client or select Send in IM to send using your existing IM chat client.

When you are ready to start, click Start Presentation. When your attendees click the hyperlink, a browser window will open and the document will be displayed. They do not need to have Word or any other product installed on their computer.

Word 2013 presentation features

Allowing you to focus on the content presented and be in control of your view were two goals we kept in mind while building our product. We kept the experience as simple and natural as possible, so you can easily view and share your information with others. Here are a few new features we think you’ll enjoy.

Attendee independent navigation

Sometimes the presenter moves on before everyone else has had a chance to read all the content presented. We’ve heard that feedback and have enabled everyone to independently read through the document using their mouse, keyboard, or touch input. Doing this does not interrupt the Presenter or change anyone else’s view.

When attendees are viewing the document independently, we have built three ways to alert them they are viewing the content independently. A temporary alert informs attendees they are no longer following the presenter. The status bar at the bottom of the word file also informs attendees they are no longer following the presenter, and this text remains as long as attendees are viewing content independently. Finally, the Follow Presenter button in the top tool bar is enabled, and clicking this button allows attendees to easily go back to the same place the presenter is presenting.

Presenter edits

While meeting participants are viewing a document together, sometimes minor edits or typos are found, such as correcting the spelling of someone’s name, or modifying a sentence for better comprehension. To help with these simple editing scenarios, we have included an edit feature that allows presenters to quickly make changes and update the document for attendees.

Download and distribute

Sometimes presenters want to distribute their document with meeting attendees, like when classmates are working together on a research paper. In the final Office 2013 release, you’ll notice it’s easy for you to share the document with everyone, or not. It’s up to you. To enable attendees to download the document, you will simply select the Enable remote viewers to download the document check box when starting the presentation.

Thanks for reading, and have fun trying out the new features when sharing a Word document!

Learn more

  • Read about Sharing Meeting Notes
  • Coming soon! Presenting a Word document into a Lync Meeting
  • Coming soon! Presenting a PowerPoint file


The team

 Here’s the group that built the capabilities for presenters to share a Word document online, attendees to participate using only a browser and the service that powers the experience.

Changing your style in the new Word

Today’s post comes from Caitlin Ashley-Rollman, the program manager who has brought a whole new style to Word.

For as much time as people spend writing documents in Word, we know that users also spend lots of time formatting their documents to get them to look exactly as they want.  There are lots of reasons to spend time styling your document – you may be trying to follow a publishing requirement, to make your document stand out, or just make it easier to read. In Word 2013, we’ve made it easier than ever for you to quickly change the look of your entire document until you have it just right.

Using styles

While the styles gallery has been available on the Word home tab since Word 2007, some people just assume styles are meant for people who want big blue text.

Screenshot of the Styles Gallery

As it turns out, that’s not true. I’m here to tell you that Styles are handy, and if you use them to format your text as you write your document, you’ll be able to take full advantage of the improvements in Word 2013 that we’ve outlined below.

The new design tab

In the past, document level formatting features in Word were scattered in the UI – from the Change Styles menu on the Home tab to the Themes gallery on the Page Layout tab, our first task in Word 2013 was to bring commands together into a unified Design tab – your first stop for adjusting the look of your whole document:

Screenshot of the new design tab in Word

On this tab are all the features that change the look of your entire document (without you needing to select it). It’s perfect for those times when you realize you’ve written your entire document in Calibri but you really want it in Garamond, or for those of you who’d prefer to have no spacing between lines or paragraphs of text. You can even change all the colors in your document at once.

Use the tab before you create your document if you want to write it in your final font & color combination, or use it after you’re done to watch your document transform before your eyes.

Style Sets gallery

One of my favorite new design features is the visual gallery for Word’s Style Sets. (For those of you who are new to Style Sets, I’ll explain them in more detail further down.)

Screenshot of the Style Sets gallery in Word

Our goal here was to give you a sense for each choice by showing you a pictures of the Title, Heading 1 and some body text. By making them a large gallery, you can quickly experiment with them to find which one you want – in just one click you can go from a casual multicolored document to a professional looking black and white document with numbered headings.  As a bonus, you can hover over the ones you’re curious about to see how they’ll change your document before you apply the formatting.

New Style Sets

Once we had created the Design tab and style sets gallery, we decided to refresh the sets themselves to ensure the various options provided in Word 2013 be both modern and varied. To do this, we worked to come up with a group of designs that are perfect for common scenarios (essays, lab reports, books, legal documents, etc.). We focused on designs that were clean and simple with a few bits of flair. We wanted enough variety so you could find something that fit whatever document you were creating, but not so much variety that you’d never even consider half of them.  And don’t worry – if you love the default look in previous versions of Word, those are still there too.

Getting it “Just right”

We know there will be times when none of the default style sets are quite right. Perhaps you’ll want the headings a little smaller or you need them centered.

For example, if you want to make your own Style Set where Heading 1 is centered, you can apply Heading 1 to some text, center it, then right-click on Heading 1 and choose “Update Heading 1 to match selection.”

Screenshot of the heading style being updated to match selection

Once you have the look you want, you can return to the Design tab and open the Style Sets gallery to find the “Save as new style set button.” This will let you save your custom design for future documents.

Screenshot of a new style added to a document

What do these settings actually do?

While these features aren’t new to Office 2013, we are making them more visible, so it seems like a good time to explain how each of the buttons in the Document Formatting chunk will affect your document.


Screenshot of the Design Tab with Themes button highlighted

The Themes button is a big switch that changes Colors, Fonts and Effects at once.

Themes include colors, fonts and effects

This makes it easy to change many attributes at the same time or to match your Word document to your PowerPoint deck. Keep reading to learn how each of these options changes your document.

Style Sets

Screenshot of Design tab with Style Sets gallery highlighted

Similar to Themes, Style Sets act as a big switch and have a large effect on the look of your document. The way I like to think of them is that they change the Font & Paragraph properties of the text in your document. Essentially, anything in these sections:

Screenshot of the home tab with the font and paragraph settings highlighted

That said, we like to preserve the benefit of the Theme buttons described above, so we generally don’t change the font in Style Sets and when we change the color, we stay within the Theme Colors section of the color palette. For example, in this document I switched to a Style Set with a large red title and a line under Heading 1 to create a completely different look:

Screenshot of a document before and after a theme color change

Theme colors

Screenshot of the Design tab with the Theme colors button highlighted

Theme colors (also described as your color scheme) set the colors used in your document. A few places where you’ll notice this change are:

  1. The Theme Colors available in the color dropdown
    Screenshot of the Theme colors drop down before and after changing the theme
  2. Anything that uses Theme Colors including shapes, SmartArt, charts and text.
  3. Any tables that are formatted using a colored table style

For example, if you really like Red, you may choose to change your color scheme from Office to the “Red” scheme:

Screenshot of the Theme colors drop down on the Design tab

which changes your document like this:

Screenshot of a document before and after a theme color change

Theme fonts

Screenshot of the Design tab with the Fonts button highlighted

Theme fonts (similarly, sometimes described as your font scheme) set the font used by all the text in your document. It will change any text that is formatted using the fonts that have “(Heading)” or “(Body)” next to their name:

Screenshot of the font drop down on the home tab showing the theme fonts

While you can use the font dropdown on the Home Tab to achieve the same result, here are a few good reasons to change your font using the Theme Fonts gallery:

  1. You don’t have to worry about selecting all your text. (Have you ever ended up with you text in one font but when you start typing your next paragraph it’s wrong again? Ugh.)
  2. You don’t have to worry about avoiding text that you want in a different font (ex. Headings, a quote or perhaps a piece of code).
  3. You don’t have to make sure other people who are working in your document use the correct font. It’ll just happen naturally.
  4. If you have a favorite font set, you can create your own font scheme so you don’t have to remember it every time. (Just click the Customize Fonts button and select your favorite fonts.)
    Screenshot of the theme fonts drop down on the design tab
  5. Last but not least, you can change your default font so it’s the font for all new documents you create. (See the “Set as Default” section below)

For example, if you really want a serif font with a san-serif heading, you may choose to change the Theme Font from Office to Century Gothic – Palatino Linotype,

Screenshot of user choosing a new set of theme fonts

which changes your document like this:

Screenshot of a document before and after a theme font change

Paragraph spacing

Screenshot of the design tab with the paragraph spacing button highlighted

The Paragraph Spacing gallery is perfect for changing the spacing between lines of text or paragraphs. It will update the spacing in your entire document (unless you have applied direct formatting using the Paragraph settings on the Home tab). For example, if you want to remove all the spacing that Word adds by default, you can do that by selecting the “No Spacing” option.

Theme effects

Screenshot of the design tab with the theme effects button highlighted

Theme Effects change the look of Shapes, Charts and SmartArt in your document by adding shadows, outlines, gradients and other interesting visual effects. The amount that they change will depend on the styles of the object and the Theme Effect applied. Some are more subtle then others.

Set as default

Screenshot of the design tab with the Set as default button highlighted

Last but not least, the Set as Default button is there so you can make these settings your default settings for all new blank documents. It will save your current:

  • Theme Colors
  • Theme Fonts
  • Theme Effects
  • Style Set
  • Paragraph Spacing

If you want to make sure you don’t accidentally save the wrong settings, I recommend you start with a blank document and only change the settings you care about before saving them as your default.


In short, you can give your document an entirely new personality.  Just make sure to format with Styles as you write then play with the options on the Design Tab until your document shines.
This is my before and after comparison:

Screenshot of a doc before and after all style changes applied in this post

What’s yours?

The Design Tab feature crew is so excited to bring you an easier way to make your documents look great!


Lights.. Camera.. Action! Adding videos to your Word documents

 Today’s post comes from Seth Fox, the program manager on the Word team responsible for adding web videos to Word documents.

Videos are a great way to engage a reader, tell a story, invoke emotion, and communicate effectively. They are found all over the web (news articles, blogs, websites, etc.) and are a great way to enhance documents you send digitally. In the new Word, we added the ability to insert web video directly into your documents, allowing you to create rich, interactive output that pairs your words with video whenever appropriate.

Screenshot of document with a video inserted

When designing this feature we had a few key goals:

  1. Allow you to easily find and insert online video from a variety of sources
  2. Ensure that videos are easy to move, resize, and position
  3. Allow videos to be played right from within Word, so you don’t have to switch context.

Easy to find and insert videos directly from Word

We wanted to make it easy for users to find and insert online videos from a variety of sources right within Word. You can use Bing to search for videos (similar to inserting online pictures), and you can add specific video providers like YouTube to search for and insert videos.

Screenshot of the Insert Video dialog box

This allows you to quickly find the video you want, insert it, and go right back to writing your document (we’ve all been there when a simple search for content online has led to a 2 hour visit to Facebook or a marathon session of clicking through cat videos). When you search for a video, each result is shown by a thumbnail preview. Selecting or hovering over the thumbnail will show the title of the video, the provider (ex. YouTube, Dailymotion, etc.), and its length. Click the icon on the bottom right of the thumbnail to preview the video so you can make sure it’s the one you want before inserting. If you’ve already found a video online you can copy the video’s embed code (typically found by a share link) and paste it into the embed code slab to directly insert the video.

Screenshot of video on the YouTube website

Videos insert with a thumbnail automatically, making it easy to recognize the video at glance and invites your readers to press play. When you insert a web video into a document, Word actually saves a link to the online source hosting the video. This allows you to watch the video anytime you’re online without bloating the file size of the document.

Videos are easy to work with in your document

Once the video is inserted it behaves like a picture. You can resize it and position it exactly where you want in your document. You’ll even get alignment guides to help you position it in exactly the right spot. If the thumbnail of the video isn’t what you want, simply right click and select change picture to replace it with any picture on your PC. Videos also support most image features like cropping and effects so you can touch up the thumbnail to make it look just right. Videos in your document feature a large play button to make it easy to play with a single click. However, we know that sometime you’ll need to print out these documents or export them to PDFs. Whenever videos end up in a static format we removed the play button to make sure it’s out of the way of the thumbnail.

Playing videos inside Word is a great experience

We wanted to ensure that consuming videos in Word was a simple and compelling experience. We support the latest web standards like Flash, Silverlight, and HTML5. This makes it easy to play most videos you find online. With a click or tap of the play button the reader is instantly immersed in the video.

Screenshot of video being played in a Word document

We chose this approach over playing the videos inline because videos are typically 640 x 360 pixels or larger which takes up about 85% of the width of a typical document. Allowing the thumbnail of the video to be independent from the playback size provides the flexibility to place the video where you want while still being able to play the video at its original size.

Note that if you share a document containing a video with others and they open it in a previous version of Word, or in the Word Web App, they’ll still be able to watch the video because the thumbnail is linked to the original video source (which will play in in their browser).

Try it out

We hope you like using videos in Word as much as we do. Please sound off in the comments, we’d love to hear your thoughts.

Picture of the Web Video feature crew

The web video feature crew is excited to share their work on this feature with you!

Updating layout in Word 2013 while maintaining compatibility

This week’s post comes from Theresa Estrada, the program manager responsible for layout in Word.

Since the Office Customer Preview was announced a few weeks ago, we’ve talked quite bit about the vision for the product and the new features that you’ll be able to take advantage of when you try it out.  One area that we invested heavily in this release, but has remained under the radar, is our work on the layout engine that Word uses.  When I say “layout” I’m referring to the way that Word places everything onto the page.  The position of everything from a single character of text to a complex table is calculated during layout and then the results are displayed on the screen. This technology really forms the core of our product.

We know from talking to you that layout is absolutely critical.  So critical, in fact, that the tiniest change to the layout of a document between versions can be a big issue.  With this in mind, we have always been incredibly focused on trying to maintain compatibility between versions of Word.  Unfortunately, this has constrained our ability to both tweak layout in complex cases and to offer new, more sophisticated document layout features – two things that folks regularly request. 

In past releases, we introduced Compatibility Mode to help ensure layout fidelity between versions.  With this release, we went a step further.  While we still have Compatibility Mode, files upgraded to Word 2013 mode use a new and much improved layout engine.

A little background

There are two components that make up the new layout engine in Word: Line Services and Page & Table Services. 

Line Services, or LS, is a component that is used in products across Microsoft to control line layout.  This was originally included in Word 2000.  Since that time, LS has handled everything from individual characters, like basic Latin characters, to math equations and special East Asian phonetic objects.  It also includes how text is broken at the end of a line.   

screenshot of an equation in Word

Page and Table Services, or PTS, was first introduced in Word 2007.  This component is used to handle the layout of everything outside the control of Line Services.  For example, it handles the layout of objects like tables and figures (pictures, charts, SmartArt, etc), as well as their interactions with the paragraphs of text on the page.

You might be thinking “Wait, she said this was a new layout engine but these were already included in Word.  What gives?”  Yes, LS and PTS have both shipped in Word before, but they were never fully integrated into Word – we were able to use just a fraction of their goodness because we were working hard to maintain compatibility with the prior version. 

What’s new

With the new layout engine we had three goals:

  1. More accurate, predictable layouts
  2. Start introducing new, more sophisticated layouts
  3. Improved performance

More accurate, predictable layouts

The existing layout engine in Word evolved over many releases.  As such, the original design didn’t account for many of the features that were later added to Word.  This meant that we didn’t always handle layout efficiently or in an intuitive way – which could leave you scratching your head and wondering why Word was behaving so strangely.  Even though we used LS and PTS, we had to carry forward existing behaviors (even the strange ones) to help ensure compatibility.

The first order of business in fully integrating LS and PTS into Word was to break the pattern of carrying forward undesirable behavior.  The newer, cleaner code of LS and PTS didn’t include many of these issues and by fully integrating with the components, we were able to address many of these behaviors.  The end results are often subtle: text can be more evenly balanced across multiple columns, table cells can be more accurately auto-fit to their contents and figures’ positioning properties are applied more faithfully.

Sophisticated new layouts

We often hear from customers about layouts you wish you could achieve in Word.  In many cases,  customers are using tools such as LaTEX to produce perfectly typeset documents and wish they could do the same in Word.  While we don’t claim to have reached that level of professional typesetting, LS and PTS have opened the door to start introducing new layout features. 

For starters, we’ve taken further strides forward with LS, by introducing a new algorithm to handle line breaking.  This algorithm considers several aspects of the line, such as word length, spacing between words and possible hyphenation points, to break each individual line at a point which provides the best fit for the line.  This allows us to be smarter about line breaks and produce text that is easier for readers to consume.

Going beyond this, in Word 2013, you will be able to:

  • Create footnotes using a different number of columns than what is used in the main document

.Screenshot of a page with 2 columns, but footnotes in a single column


  • Insert pictures that are taller than 22” in web layout, which is now a truly “bottomless” page


  • Wrap text around a figure in a header

Screenshot of a figure with text wrapped around it in the header


Improved performance

There are two areas where the move to the new layout engine has helped us to improve performance.  First, because the code is cleaner and more efficient, we can simply calculate layout faster than we could before.  In many cases, this has allowed us to make other improvements in the product, such as the new Live Layout feature which continually updates layout as figures are moved around the page.  While this feature will still work in compatibility mode, for complex documents it will be faster in Word 2013 mode.  In addition, the speedier layout calculations allow us to be more accurate when determining layouts that require some recursive calculations.  For example, in a document with two columns, we may need to do multiple passes of layout to account for complex situations like figures that overlap both columns.  In this case, we can quickly repeat the layout calculations to get to the best result.

The second area where performance was improved was in the web layout view.  For those who aren’t familiar with this view, it was introduced to help author digital content.  Its big advantage for this type of content is that it isn’t constrained by pages.  Instead, it is a single “bottomless” page.  In order to make this work in prior versions of Word, a behind the scenes limit of around 22” was actually enforced, which made working with very large figures and tables difficult. 
In Word 2013, this limit of 22” was removed.  What made this possible was the ability to incrementally layout and redraw only the portion of the page that is being changed.  By not having to update the entire document on every change, we were able dramatically improve performance in this situation.

Maintaining compatibility

When you launch Word 2013, you won’t notice any big changes related to this layout investment right away.  If you start a new document, you will automatically be using the new layout engine and able to take advantage of all its goodness.  Documents created this way will use the same file format, so they will open in prior versions of Word as expected.  Because the layout engine has changed, however, documents created in Word 2013 mode may lay out differently when opened in the prior version.  If you work in an enterprise where sharing documents across versions of Word is common, a group policy exists to force all new documents to be created in compatibility mode.

For existing documents, we recognize the need to maintain layout fidelity across versions.  These documents will always open in compatibility mode, which is indicated in the title bar of the Word window.

Screenshot of Word's title bar showing a document in compatibility mode

You have the option of converting these to the Word 2013 mode to take advantage of the new features.  To do this, click the File button, then click the Convert button on the Info tab. 

Screenshot of the convert button in Word

If maintaining layout compatibility is critical to you, we don’t recommend converting.  For many simple documents however, converting will not result in any noticeable changes.

Setting the stage for the future

We are definitely excited about the changes we’ve enabled in Word 2013 by embracing the new layout engine.  What we’re even more excited about is what this enables us to do in the future.  Line Services and Page & Table Services open the door to a world of new features that would not have been possible in the past. 
Picture of the PTLS Feature Crew

The layout changes in Word were brought to you by the PTLS feature crew, most of whom are shown here.  If you want to learn even more about the history of the team and the components, check out Murray Sargent’s MSDN blog about Line Services.


Getting hands-on with Word 2013

Today’s post is all about touch, and is written by Michelle Lisse, the Word team’s touch Program Manager.

Screenshot of Word in touch mode

These days there is a lot of excitement about touch computing. In the past we have had limited touch support in Word, but this time we went deeper and made some touch specific improvements to make Word shine on Windows 8.

This post focuses on the changes we made to improve touch authoring in Word this release. To learn more about the Office wide investments for touch, like our special touch mode ribbon and contextual menu, take a few minutes to read Clint Covington’s blog post about touch across Office. Or, if you want to learn more about consuming on touch, you can head over to our post on the new reading mode, which was designed from the ground up with touch in mind.

When it comes to writing, though, we faced some unique and difficult challenges. Word is a powerful application that has spent the last few decades being fine-tuned for mouse and keyboard interaction. This release, our goal was to enable the scenarios that are most common on touch devices without disrupting the productivity of mouse and keyboard users. So, although we couldn’t rewrite every feature to be touch first, we were able to cover the basics — sorry, Mail Merge!

Creating a Selection Model

One of the first things we had to do was reinvent our selection model for touch. The mouse model has been carefully optimized over the years, and just doesn’t translate to touch. Overlooking the absence of hover states in touch, we also have a fundamental metaphor mismatch to address.

Allow me to get nerdy for a moment… Let’s imagine you have a pointing device of some kind. It reports a pointer down message, then a drag, and finally a pointer up message. What do you expect to happen? If your pointing device is the left button on a mouse, you expect to create a selection over the range of that drag. But when that pointing device is your finger, you expect the document to scroll.

As you can see, this meant we couldn’t just take Word’s existing mouse code and reuse it for touch. We had to take decades of carefully thought out interactions, pick out the most important ones, and rethink them under an entirely new model. Everything had to be investigated anew for this project – from the basics of document navigation down to the gritty details of selection on a mixed-media canvas.

In the end, we built a navigation model using pinch to zoom and drag to pan. For some views in Word, we have a more advanced layout that actually adjust the content to best fit your windw. For these views we couldn’t just have a pinch action do a direct scaling of the content. Instead, we created a new zoom overlay that let’s you preview the new text size before committing to the change.
Screenshot of Word in web view with text zoom overlay

 We also built all new text selection handles to create and refine text selections on the canvas. Working in conjunction with the Excel team, we extended the selection handles to support selection of table cells, rows and columns.

Screenshot of the text selection handles in Word

 For figures, we added in live layout and the ability to drill into complex figures such as charts and SmartArt. We also made the handles larger on figures, so you can more easily grab them to resize or rotate.

Screenshot of the difference between the mouse and touch selection handles on objects

Even our on-canvas UI widgets received updates to ensure appropriate visibility and usability on a touch device. For example, we have a new feature that lets you expand and collapse sections. With a mouse and keyboard, we only show the button when your cursor hovers over a heading. Touch doesn’t have a way to hover, so if we detect you’re on a touch device the button will always be visible for you to use.

There was a lot to detangle here, and each of these issues was a table stake to working with touch. If we didn’t get the basics right, there would be no point in doing anything else for touch. But doing it right makes the interactions feel fast, fluid and natural – and completing these tasks feels just as transparent to the touch user as they do in the mouse experience.

Keyboarding improvements

Another area where we made some improvements is in the soft keyboard experience. When using Office 2010 on Windows 7 the soft keyboard comes up and floats in front of the document. That model was great for revising a sentence, but wasn’t optimized for typing anything longer.

Now on Windows 8, we have more interaction available with the keyboard. Word can now communicate with the keyboard to make the experience better during long typing tasks. Now, Word can figure out exactly where the keyboard is and automatically adjust the content to stay above the keyboard. This allows you to type a lengthier memo without needing to manually scroll the document.


Eliminating roadblocks

As I mentioned before, Word has a lot of tools that are really designed with mouse in mind. Some of these tools actually change your mouse cursor into another tool, and end up being deeply intertwined with hover state and mouse-specific code.

These mouse specific tools work great when you have a mouse and keyboard, but they actually became dead ends on a touch device. You’d hit the button and there was no way to escape the tool! A few examples include insert shape, view split, draw table, highlighter and format painter.

We looked closely at each of these tools and made sure to go through and eliminate all the dead ends. Now, inserting a shape via touch places the shape directly on to the page. Or, hitting format painter allows you to tap a word to paste formatting. This way you can confidently use Word on your slate device without falling into a mouse-only trap.

 Wrapping up

 So that’s a summary of the improvements we made to help author documents on a touch device. We focused on really perfecting the document surface in order to enable basic authoring scenarios for today and deliver a solid foundation for the future.

 Picture of the touch feature crew

The touch feature crew, most of whom are shown here, worked hard to make Word fast and fluid when using touch.