Create and Edit Documents with Office Web Apps

November 4, 2010, By Christian Cawley

With Microsoft Office Web Apps, you can create and edit document live in your browser, saver them and share them with friends and colleagues. The possibilities this offers are considerable, and makes Microsoft Office Web Apps particularly appropriate for use on a netbook or suitably equipped mobile devices.

Following our initial look at MS Office Web Apps, we’re going to move on and look at each of the constituent applications in turn, beginning with Microsoft Word. Online word processors are quite common – you might think initially of Google documents, but don’t forget that many content management systems for websites and blogs use very similar tools – so it is a bit of a surprise that it has taken Microsoft so long to develop a working browser-based version of Word.

Getting Started with Microsoft Word Online

To begin using Word in your browser, use this link: office.microsoft.com/en-us/web-apps.  Click on the Get started free link if you are an individual (organisations must pay a subscription for this service). If you don’t already have a Windows Live or Hotmail account, you will need to sign up to proceed – this is so that you can save your document on the free Skydrive cloud storage system provided by Microsoft.

Once you have signed up and signed in, you will see the option on the right to Create a new online document. We’re creating a Microsoft Word online document here, so select the Word icon.

Next, give the document a name – something relevant to its intended contents is most appropriate – and click Save. You will notice that naming the document attaches a default file extension of .DOCX – this can only be changed in the desktop version of Word or by using some form of document conversion utility.

Creating and Formatting your Document

Next, it’s time to start creating your document – text can be entered straightaway and formatted using the usual Bold/Italics/Underline tools, you can highlight text and change the colours of your font, and paragraph justification, indents and bullets can be set, just as with the desktop version of Word.

Your Microsoft Word online document is even equipped with a spellcheck tool, which allows you to check your spelling with a variety of proofing languages, from US English to Welsh, and everything in between. If you’re writing in a language that uses right-to-left text direction, the online version of Word even includes this feature making it a truly international option.

All of the above tools are available via the Home tab – but there are yet more features available in the Insert and View tabs.

Inserting Tables and Images

As well as a good selection of basic formatting options, Microsoft’s Word online browser app also has a good selection of options on the Insert tab. Here you can insert a Table and format it using the Table Tools Layout tab that appears when a table is inserted, which gives you some excellent possibilities for creating Word documents that might include structured formatting, for example.

Along with the Table too, you can insert Pictures and Clip Art in order to enhance your document – the Picture option lets you browse your PC for an image to upload, while Clip Art connects you to Microsoft Office Online’s selection of clip art for you to browse and Upload to your document!

Changing View in Microsoft Office Web Apps

The default view in Microsoft Office Web Apps Word online tool uses the full width of your browser; here you can enter text and apply formatting this might not be entirely appropriate for your purpose, however, and you might wish to view the document in a soft of “print view”. This can be done via the View tab – simply save your document (via the disk icon) and choose View > Reading View. You will then see the document in a different display format, and this can be closed by choosing Open in Word or Edit in Browser. By choosing Open in Word (also available in the File menu), if you have the full application installed on your computer you will be able edit it in more detail. Alternatively, Edit in Browser will take you back to the previous Microsoft Office Web Apps view.

Saving and Sharing Microsoft Word Online Documents

Once you have finished working on your document, you can access the File menu to select from a variety of options:

Open in Word – use your desktop application to edit the document

Save – save the document to your Skydrive. You can then download the document to any computer

Print – print the document to any connected printer

Share – invite others to open and edit the document

Properties – this allows you to add a description of the document, as well as checking information such as the name of the author (Added by), date of creation (Date added) and so on.

Close – if you’re done editing, just choose this option to exit the document!

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