Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Using MS Word 2007 for Fast and Easy Blogging

11/11/2008 04:05:00 AM |

Once, a focus group was asked about the features they wanted to see in a Microsoft Office Suite. It was found that of all the features they asked for, 9 out of 10 already existed.

Reading about it I also thought of a few features of my own. As a freelance writer, I wanted a better set of tools for myself. Of course, I had Live Writer, Flock and Scribefire to dally in but we internet junkies always want options we can play around with.

Then Microsoft Office 2007 rewarded most of us with a refurbished interface. I think everyone will agree that the new face with the ribbon menu makes it a lot easier to start the day.

Although Microsoft Office Suite is not ‘free’, it is an integral part of all who use Windows, and right at the beginning I discovered that I could use MS Word to blog too. A quick breeze through revealed that I could blog on most of the popular API’s like Blogger, WordPress, LiveSpaces, TypePad….just about any service using Metaweblog and Atom.

Using MS Word 2007 as a blog editor is as easy as any other Office task. Here’s how to go about it.

  • The first time you fire it up through - Office Button —> New —> Blog Post, MS Office asks you to setup an account. You can also get around to your account through the ‘Manage Account’ button on the menu ribbon. The Blog accounts box allows you to add, delete, and set passwords and picture options for your accounts.
  • If the blog API allows the direct upload of pictures, you can set the picture uploading options too or keep it at ‘none’.
  • With the account setup completed, writing and posting is a cinch. The intuitive Word interface gives you two tabs to work with your posts - Blog Post and Insert. These two tabs bring all the user friendliness of Office to structure your post. After finishing the post, one can either ‘Publish’ or ‘Publish as draft’.

Writing good content is the tough part…publishing it is standard stuff.

With Windows Live Writer already enjoying its limelight, why would anyone want anything to do with Microsoft Word as a blog tool?

  • Microsoft Word is the defacto writing tool for most users who use Windows. Using it just extends the same functionality and familiarity to our blog work too.
  • Microsoft Word as a standalone application is a powerful editor. The fidelity of the spellchecker and auto-correction are second to none.
  • Image editing features of MS Word are a strong subset feature.
  • The learning curve for a new blogger would be shallow given the omnipresence of Word.
  • Word unique features like clip art, word art, shapes, smart art, charts and tables can be easily incorporated into our posts. Word automatically generates & uploads PNGs for these Office graphics. Where API picture handling is not possible, the user can also cut-paste the graphics into his favorite graphic application and do a manual upload to any photo-hosting site.
  • Suddenly, what Word now spews out is ‘clean HTML’. A marked improvement from its hitherto bloated tag pollution in the source code.
  • Using Word also offers ease of integration with other Office suites.

If MS Word’s primary mission was to bring the blog world to MS Office, it does also have its share of drawbacks.

  • It does not handle categories.
  • There is no preview tab. So it is not strictly WYSIWYG as it does not download the theme of the blog.
  • MS Word 2007 cannot access the dashboard of the blog platform which a tool like Windows Live Writer does.
  • Optional add-ins for blog specific tasks are lacking.

So, should you use MS Word as a blog editor?

A newbie to blogging will find in MS Word a good tool to get his feet wet. Even though it lacks some features of the popular Live Writer, it is a good enough blogging software. Simply because it’s as close at hand as Windows itself.

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