Myths and fears, and the disappearance of the toolbars

Word 2003 users are resisting upgrading to 2007 because they fear loss of functionality and most importantly, loss of workplace efficiency. There is a pretty hefty body of misinformation and myth perpetuating and supporting these fears, but they are groundless with a single proviso.
  • If you upgrade and do not take the time to learn some functions and to customise your system, your productivity WILL DECLINE.
  • If you take that time out to set your system up properly, your level of productivity WILL INCREASE.
The really critical and perhaps major complaint of new users is the disappearance of the toolbars. This is the only potentially big issue as far as I can see for converting from 2003 to 2007. To someone who has not yet worked logically through 2007, that would seem like a terrible loss, but it is not as bad as it seems initially. It will consume some time, if you are a big toolbar user, to re-think your use of toolbars and to re-configure, but not as much as you think.

Where are my toolbars?

If you open your 2003 documents in 2007, your toolbars are still there but one layer deeper. If you have toolbars, you will see an Add-ins tab.
  1. From the Ribbon, click the Add-ins tab. Your toolbars will be displayed.
  2. Select the command you want from the toolbar.

The Quick Access Toolbar

The toolbars have been partially replaced by a single, mostly user-defined Quick Access Toolbar.

You can place any command and any macro on the QAT. I have 44 buttons on my QAT, and there is room for more. I do have a wide screen, so part 1 of your upgrade solution is:
  • Get a wide screen monitor if you do not already have one – there are two reasons you need a wide screen as you will see later.
Then you must:
  • Learn how to use your QAT and start setting it up to suit your personal needs. It is so easy to add and remove buttons that you do not need to get it right first time; you can let it evolve. You can also set up QAT components that are document, add-in or template specific. For instructions for how to set up your Quick Access Toolbar click here.


The one thing you cannot put on the QAT is styles - which is perhaps the most common thing we do put on toolbars. If you remove styles from all your toolbars, you will probably find you have more than enough space on the QAT for the rest. To get round the issue of no styles on the QAT I work with my Styles pane open, and I rank my styles so that the most commonly used 30 or so (defined by the height of my screen) are ranked number one and so always show. As these are template dependent, my ranking can change from template to template.
  • Learn how to use set up your Styles. For instructions for how to set up your Styles click here.
This is the second reason I like a wide screen. It makes it much easier to leave the Styles pane open.

This combination of QAT and the Styles pane has effectively replaced toolbars for me. Perhaps there are some users with such complex needs that they cannot be satisfied by 40+ commands on the QAT and 30+ styles, but for most of us, we have more than enough commands that are visible on the screen at all times and that can be accessed with one click.

But what about the keyboard shortcuts?

There is a vast amount of misinformation about keyboard shortcuts.

There are now TWO systems for keyboard entry, the 2003 system that uses the Ctrl key and a new one that is ribbon and command based and uses the Alt key. If you can't find a command in one system, you certainly will find it in the other. I am told that a very few of the old keyboard shortcuts have changed, however, you are still able to assign your own keyboard shortcuts, so if you are unhappy with the given shortcut you can change it.
  • If you are a shortcut user, check out both systems, and redefine any shortcuts you can't accommodate. For instructions for how to re-define shortcuts click here.


  1. Anonymous26/10/09

    You are so wrong. MAYBE if Microsoft provided DETAILED information about all of its changes and all of the "features" in an even remotely accessible manner, Word 2007 might have some redeeming value. However, the idea that removing the ability to cusomize toolbears freely with the Ribbon and the QAT is laughable. Maybe I don't like the way Microsoft chose to organize commands. Sorry! You're stuck with someboby at Microsoft decided was how they should be organized. Maybe I want to access more commands through a button that fit on the QAT. Buy a wider monitor is the answer! Does Microsoft get a cut of monitor sales? Maybe I used Autotext ALL the time. Now I have to find my way to Autocorrect, but that forces the chnage which, if I don't want it I have to take the extra step of hitting control z. And why for God's sake did they make it impossible to resize the window via the keyboard? I could go on (and on). It is plain to me that whoever wrote this version (a) doesn't use it and (b) likes Vista.

  2. Easy to say "get a wider monitor" but some of us travel and use laptops and smaller. The newer ribbons end up taking as much of my screen as the little box still remaining for my actual work!

  3. Well, I also work on a laptop when away from my desk, and as long as it is a good modern laptop with good screen resolution, there is no problem. If your laptop has poor screen resolution, just use the little arrows at the side of the ribbon to hide and reveal the ribbon as required, and put all your most used commands on the Quick Access Toolbar. There are solutions for everything if you have the mindset to solve problems.

  4. Anonymous9/5/12

    Ya like not buying microsoft products in the first place.

    1. Ya, you might have that luxury, but as the vast majority of the corporate, business, industrial and government world uses it, not many of us have any choice. So we may as well bite the bullet and make the most of it.