Using the New Document Task Pane

Word 2003 brings together your options for opening or creating files in the New Document task pane (see Figure 3.1). This task pane appears when you choose File, New. Depending on how your computer is configured, it may also appear automatically when you start Word. You can also display it like this: Choose View, Task Pane; click the down arrow at the upper right of the task pane; and choose New Document.

Figure 3.1. The New Document task pane.



To display the New Document task pane at startup, choose Tools, Options, View; then check the Startup Task Pane check box and click OK.

From the New Document task pane, you can

  • Choose a document you worked on recently, or another document on any drive accessible to you

  • Create a blank document, Web page, XML document, or email message

  • Browse to an existing document and create a new document based on it

  • Create a new document based on a template (see the following section for an overview of what templates can do)

  • Find and use additional templates at Microsoft Office Online

  • Find additional templates on your Web sites, including your MSN Communities Web site if you have one

Creating a Blank Document

Whenever you want to create a document from scratch, Word provides several ways to display a blank document for editing and formatting. You can

  • Click Blank Document on the New Document task pane

  • Click the New Blank Document button on the Standard toolbar

  • Press Ctrl+N

Although a blank document contains no text, it has access to all of Word's built-in styles and shortcuts, and draws on Word's default formatting settings (reflecting any changes you may have made to the defaults, of course).

Choosing a Template That Has Already Done the Work for You

Why start from scratch if you can get Word to do much of the work for you? For example, you might want to create a memo that follows a standard format, with a standard memo header and To, CC, From, Date, and Re lines already included and formatted. You don't have to enter all those lines; you can choose a built-in Word template that already contains them.

Templates are patterns Word can use to build new documents. You'll learn about them in detail in Chapter 11, "Templates, Wizards, and Add-Ins." The quickest way to access templates is from the New Document task pane.

If you've used a template recently, you can select it from the templates that appear in the Recently Used Templates section.

If you want to browse all the templates stored on your computer (as well as any workgroup templates stored on your network server), click On My Computer. The General tab of the Templates dialog box opens (see Figure 3.2). Click the tab corresponding to the type of template you are seeking, and double-click the template you want to use.

Figure 3.2. The Templates dialog box organizes all Word's built-in templates and any you create.


Word offers an extensive library of built-in templates for the following types of documents:

  • Agendas

  • Brochures

  • Directories

  • Letters & Faxes

  • Legal Pleadings

  • Mail Merges

  • Manuals

  • Memos

  • Reports

  • Resumes

  • Theses

Some of these templates, such as Memos, appear in their own tabs in the New dialog box. Several, such as Brochures and Directories, appear in the Publications tab. Several others, such as Agendas and Resumes, appear in the Other Documents tab.

For many categories of printed documents, Word offers three consistent approaches to document formatting: Contemporary, Elegant, and Professional. By choosing one of these approaches and using it in all your documents, you can have the benefits of consistent professional design without the expense.

If you don't want your documents to potentially look exactly the same as those of another Word user, you can change fonts and other aspects of the base styles on which these documents are built (see Chapter 10, "Streamlining Your Formatting with Styles"). If you're careful, you can establish a distinctive, high-quality set of design standards for your business with remarkably little effort and expense.

For more information about Word's wizards for building newsletters and other documents, see "Using Word Wizards," p. 380.

If the Templates dialog box does not contain a template appropriate for your task, click Templates on Office Online. Microsoft opens your Web browser, connects to the Internet (or uses your currently active Internet connection), and displays the Microsoft Office Online Templates Home Page.

This is your gateway to a large, well-organized, easy-to-search collection of Word and Office templates. You can browse among the categories of templates listed on the bottom of the page. Or you can choose Templates from the Web page's Search drop-down box, enter the type of template you're looking for, enter the topic you're looking for, and click the green right arrow to perform your search.

For more information on using these templates, see the "Using Templates from Microsoft Office Online" section of Chapter 11.

Creating a Web Page

As mentioned earlier, Microsoft expects users to often use Word 2003 to create Web and intranet pages. To create a blank Web page, display the New Document task pane and click Web Page.

While you are editing a Web page, you can create a new Web page by clicking the New Web Page button on the Standard toolbar, or by pressing Ctrl+N.

Creating a Blank Email Message

To create a blank email message, display the New Document task pane and click E-mail Message. A blank email message appears, containing tools for specifying recipients, adding subject lines, and inserting attachments.

For a detailed look at using Word to edit email, see Chapter 30, "Using Word As an Email Editor," p. 999.

Creating an XML Document

To create an empty XML document, display the New Document task pane and click XML Document. Word opens an empty XML document.

To add your own XML tags to your XML document, you first need to attach an XML schema to your document, through the Tools, Templates and Add-Ins dialog box. Working with XML schema and editing XML documents is covered in detail in Chapter 25, "Using Word to Develop XML Content and Use XML Applications."

You can add your own XML tags to a document only if you are using either Microsoft Office Professional 2003 or the standalone version of Microsoft Word 2003.

    Part I: Word Basics: Get Productive Fast
    Part II: Building Slicker Documents Faster
    Part III: The Visual Word: Making Documents Look Great
    Part IV: Industrial-Strength Document Production Techniques
    Part VI: The Corporate Word