Microsoft Office 2010 Favorite New Features


Coauthored By: Heather Ackmann

It’s been about a year since the public beta release of Office 2010, and since then we (Heather and Bill) have had the opportunity to become very acquainted with the new features of the core Office 2010 applications: Access, Excel, Outlook, PowerPoint and Word, while working on our Office 2010 training.

In that time, we’ve noticed that several of the new features have quickly become our favorites. So today we’d like to share our favorite new Office 2010 features with you. Enjoy!

Interface Improvements in Office 2010

The ribbon first appeared in Office 2007 which frustrated many users and drew many complaints. New to 2010, however, is the ability to customize the ribbon easily through your Options Pane and even add personalized tabs with the commands and features. The old office orb has also been replaced by the Backstage View which is a kind of enhanced file tab containing all commands related to your file as a whole.

Office 2010 Favorite New Features

Yes, it looks different. Yes, it will take some getting used to and a bit of training. But once that initial hurdle is overcome, finding and using commands in all of the Office applications is much faster overall.

Favorite New Features in Microsoft Access 2010

Access 2010 has quite a few new and redesigned features overall. One of the biggest boosts to productivity involves the incorporation of Intellisense to the Expression and Query Builders in Access. Intellisense works by helping users complete field names and expressions as they type, which saves a lot of time when writing expressions, not to mention reduces the margin of error when referencing objects.

There are also quite a few new form options and tools, one of which is the option to create a Web Browser Control which can link data stored in your database to data available on the web.

Office 2010 Favorite New Features: Access 2010

For example, in the above picture we have a database that lists different stocks by their symbol and in a form, we have a Web Browser control linking to Bing Finance where navigating to a new database record will update the stock displayed in the form’s browser control.

But a major change to Access 2010 lies in the macro designer. What was once a confusing table is now a more intuitive and fluid entry sheet:

Office 2010 Favorite New Features: Access 2010

Adding commands is easier and finding commands is faster, not to mention selecting a particular command highlights and displays additional controls for editing the command’s properties. Personally, this took a little time to get used to, but now we can’t imagine going back to old designer.

Learn more about new Access 2010 tools and features in our Access 2010 Training.

Favorite New Features in Microsoft Excel 2010

Excel has a few new features worth mentioning for those number crunchers out there who would like to display their data visually. Sparklines allow you to create a graphical representation of datasets in one easy-to-see cell.

Office 2010 Favorite New Features: Excel 2010

In the above screenshot we have rows of data and off to the right of those rows is a Sparkline that represents the data to the left. And there are three different Sparklines that you can create: line, column, and win/loss.

Office 2010 Favorite New Features: Excel 2010

If you’d like to see how these Sparklines were created, check out our demo on Excel Data Analysis: Visualize Data with Sparklines located at Train Signal’s Office YouTube channel.

Another great feature for PivotTable fans is a tool called Slicers. Slicers are a quick and easy way to filter by a specific PivotTable field. Slicers add additional filtering capabilities allowing you to quickly switch between different filter criteria.

Office 2010 Favorite New Features: Excel 2010

So, rather than rearranging your PivotTable filter fields, you can simply click a button to adjust how your PivotTable is filtered.

Learn more about new Excel 2010 tools and features in our Excel 2010 Training.

Favorite New Features in Microsoft Outlook 2010

By far our favorite features in Outlook 2010 are:

  1. the ability to group and view conversations together, no matter where the message is stored or filed
  2. the enhanced Scheduling Assistant

The Conversations View is like most other views in Outlook. You can turn it on or off depending on your preference. When turning it on, however, you have additional options for how you’d like to view conversations. For example, you can choose to view messages stored from other folders, such as your sent folder, allowing you to keep Outlook’s folder structure intact while viewing all messages following one subject together.

Office 2010 Favorite New Features: Outlook 2010

Another great new feature, although it is not an entirely new feature, is the Room Finder and Suggested Times pane within the Scheduling Assistant.

Office 2010 Favorite New Features: Outlook 2010

Working in conjunction with Exchange 2010, this feature assists the meeting organizer in choosing a time when all participants are free or locating an available room.

Learn more about new Outlook 2010 tools and features in our Outlook 2010 Training.

Favorite New Features in Microsoft PowerPoint 2010

With 60+ new and enhanced features in PowerPoint 2010, it is really hard to pick our favorites to showcase here. Maybe this will have to be another blog all by itself. But two features do stand out from the rest: the new Background Removal Tool for pictures (which is also available in Word 2010 and Excel as well), and the Create a Video feature.

The Background Removal Tool allows users to click points or areas of a picture to remove and PowerPoint figures out which portions of the photograph to remove. It’s really that simple.

Office 2010 Favorite New Features: PowerPoint 2010

If you’d like to see the tool in action, just visit Train Signal’s Office YouTube Channel, and watch the video titled Remove Photo Backgrounds with PowerPoint 2010.

And if you think that is simple, creating a video is even easier. With previous version of PowerPoint, we had to rely on third-party PowerPoint-to-movie software to convert a PowerPoint presentation to a video file. The problem though was that many of this third party software couldn’t handle or properly render embed music or more advanced animations. Now with PowerPoint 2010, the ability to convert a presentation to a WMV file is native to the application.

Office 2010 Favorite New Features: PowerPoint 2010

Just jump to your File Tab, click Save & Send, click Create a video, and then Create Video. PowerPoint will then save your presentation as a WMV file, maintaining any timings and narrations you have set within the presentation. Alternatively, you can override those settings and choose how many seconds to spend on each slide. You even have the option to adjust the video quality, saving your presentation in HD, DVD, or Portable Device compatible resolutions.

And those are just some of highlights of PowerPoint 2010. If you’re interested in learning more about the new PowerPoint 2010 features and tools then take a look at our PowerPoint 2010 Training.

Favorite New Features in Microsoft Word 2010

And finally one great (and not often recognized) new addition to Word 2010 is the Navigation Pane (not to be confused with the former version’s Task Pane). The Navigation Pane is a window that you can use to jump to various sections of a Word document, search for keywords, or even navigate long documents by viewing page thumbnails (much like you can do in Adobe Reader).

Office 2010 Favorite New Features: Word 2010

The first tabbed area of the Navigation Pane creates a clickable outline based on your document’s heading styles. This allows you to jump to various sections of long documents easily. The second tab, as you can see from the above screenshot, gives you a birds-eye view of your document pages.

And finally, the last tab gives you a search bar where you can enter a word or phrase to search by. Then, Word displays every sentence in your document that uses that word or phrase, allowing you to click and jump to that particular area of your document.

Learn more about new Word 2010 tools and features in our Word 2010 Training.

What Are Your Favorite New Features in Office 2010?

Tell us what your favorite features in Office 2010 are. What do you like most in Office 2010? What has been a big time saver for you? What cool new feature would you show off to your friends?

Share your favorite Office 2010 features in the comments section below.


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