I write this in Word 2010, and I am thankful for most of the "step-by-step" practice that Ms. Cox and Ms. Lambert have assembled in this book. I am also grateful for the sometimes cookbook style of presentation, with, first click this, then click that approach to taking one through the book's lessons. It is obvious that the authors have seen the bloated tech-writer speak of most software how-to manuals and found them wanting; and, they have written a book to teach, not as a reference. That is a refreshing change.
With that said, I have some cavils. First, I am an experienced user of Word, having made a tough transition from Word Perfect 15 or so years ago, abandoning the still prevalent use of that program in the legal industry in favor of integration with other Office programs promised "convergence" often touted then as the future of technology. Convergence has yet to occur, and the integration of the Microsoft Office suite is still a disappointment. Each program has its positives and negatives, found usually by trial and error. But that is not to say that I am a word processor by trade. It is a program I use daily, and I was transitioning from Word 2003, with which I was happy, to the strange world of ribbons, backgrounds, and hopefully easier utility.
"Step by Step" satisfied most of my goals.
I wanted to abandon trial and error and learn the program thoroughly. Over a month, each morning before I went to my office, I used it as a lesson plan to decrypt the new and unknown 2010 in terms of what I knew from 2003. I believe to make the transition from earlier programs, this kind of lesson plan approach, with planned and diligent study is necessary. The early chapters emphasize basics, and keyboard shortcuts, and only press the outside of the envelope gently for an experienced user. Frankly, I was surprised how much I already knew, for I found, like many other programs, Word 2010 is an improvement in the sense that it is cosmetically prettier, but the guts of the program are the same as 2003. The "Ribbon," which seems to morph before the eyes, making things like inserting dates from an expected place a task forcing a time consuming hunting expedition, not entirely explained by the authors, is a frustrating thing. The authors try to illuminate that peculiarity, but they cannot tell you everything, and you will find yourself screwing things up regularly. One way this might be overcome is to anticipate that a practiced user of earlier versions will make predictable mistakes, as I did with creating new outline style, repeatedly making the same mistakes of not associating the correct heading style or not inserting what will follow an outlined paragraph if you hit "enter." Lots of little things like that plagued me during my month.
I leave my most grievous complaint for last. Every resource on every version of Word emphasizes that the best and most efficient way to use the program is by becoming a master of styles and templates. Anyone who has dabbled in this area, looking to move beyond on the fly formatting, for example, preparing pleadings, or long documents such as contracts or trusts, knows that Word has a mind of its own. Some of that was cleared up for me, proving that user error is indeed the cause of most evil, when I went through the torture of relearning indexes, mail merge, and styles, but a lot was not. While the book showed how to create styles, and to employ them, the very brief last chapter 16, was scant and apparently an afterthought. My holy grail for use of Word is to be able to format text, paragraphs, and not have to go back and manhandle the document to correct a lot of junk that appears for no good reason.
Maybe the authors have another book in them that will trespass this tender topic.