Microsoft Word is a staple in any office environment and a major part of day-to-day life for secretarialstaff, but with a number of different versions circulating, you need to make sure you are being trained in the latest edition if you are about to enter the workplace.
Following the release of the 2007 version, 2003 was taken out of circulation so it is possible that it will eventually become obsolete as companies start to adopt the latest edition.
According to Microsoft, Word 2007 allows a user to spend less time formatting documents by setting up styles and themes which can be quickly applied to change the appearance of text, tables and graphics. In addition, its new feature, Building Blocks, means that secretarial staff who need to produce manuscripts in consistent style, for example using disclaimer text or cover pages, can do this without having to spend time recreating content or copying and pasting between documents.
Many companies have stuck to the Word 2003 version and Kerrie Fuller, membership manager of the Institute of Professional Administrators, suggests that the most likely reason for this is the costs involved with upgrading.
“The problem is that Microsoft tends to bring something out, it feels, every year, which is fine because they’re making the product better and the newest product is usually the best one to work with, but if you’re having to pay out for new licences every year, for most employers it gets really expensive,” she says.
Ms Fuller explains that many employers feel that there are not large differences between the 2003 and 2007 versions that help administrators to be more productive enough to justify the outlay involved with buying the newest edition.
“Obviously they use it a lot, its one of the packages they use on a day-to-day basis, but there aren’t huge differences in the 2007 version that administrators can’t live without,” she says.
Ms Fuller adds that secretarial staff have no choice as to what software they are going to be using and simply need to be competent in Word and able to adapt to a different version from the one they learned to use during secretarial training.
“What’s interesting is that when you actually do the ECDL [European Computer Driving Licence], they want to train you on how to use the newest version of that software,” she says.
“Obviously, if you’re coming out of a qualification you don’t want to be trained in something that’s going to be obsolete, you want to be at the cutting edge of the programme,” which may mean that Word 2007 courses are a good idea for people looking to enter the secretarial profession.
Ms Fuller says that people who are already working within the sector should not be worried about moving from Word 2003 to 2007. “They’re not going to find it so drastically different that they need vast amounts of re-training in it.
A lot of the changes are self-explanatory or if you went onto the help function you could find out what’s available,” she suggests.
Ms Fuller adds that there may be some more niche functions, such as those listed earlier, which may be more useful to some administrators, depending on the type of company they work for and the nature of their role.
“In theory, if you know the most up to date, you’re able to work on the older versions,” Ms Fuller explains.
“But if you only train on the older version and they present you with the newer ones, you might think ‘this isn’t what I trained for, this is completely unknown to me’, so it’s probably always best to start your training with the brand new version,” she advises.