Drop Me A Line (Office 12 Coolness, Part 6)

Another in my series of posts on
personal favorite improvements in Office 12...

Did you know there are a variety of underline styles available in Word? 
Ever want to double underline some text?  Or put a dotted underline under
certain words?  Or a wavy underline?  All of these styles are
frequently used within certain types of specialized documents, yet most people
only ever found the simple Underline button on the toolbar.

The rest of the underline styles are hidden away in the Font dialog, accessible
through the Format menu.  But even if you found them, there wasn't really an efficient
way to apply these styles frequently.

In Word 12, we show a gallery of possible styles as part of the underline split
button on the Write tab.  You can click the big part of the button to apply
the default single underline style to the selected text, or click the arrow to
reveal a gallery of secondary styles.

This could be a big timesaver if you use these styles a lot--and hopefully a lot
more people will find them as well.

Comments (25)

  1. LarryOsterman says:

    Schweet! That means I don’t need do do [sic] any more 🙂

    It also means I can easily put a wavy red line under the spelling misteakes and a wavy green line under the grammar errors. Now I can REALLY piss off the people who edit my documents because they won’t be able to correct my mistakes 🙂 I LOVE IT 🙂

    @me removes his tongue from his cheek.

  2. Mal Ross says:

    Will the 8 styles offered in the gallery re-order themselves according to most recently used / frequency of use? I just imagine that the wavy underlines would be more popular than dot-dash-dot, for instance. Of course, I’ve got no data to back this up… 🙂

  3. That seems such an obvious change.

    Most of my Word work involves creating templates using styles to be used by authors. I happily use underlines daily.

    I suppose that once you get so used to using a feature, you don’t even notice that you’re making five or six clicks to use it – it’s just The Way You Do It.

  4. David van Leerdam says:

    Hi Jensen,

    Here is a line for you 😉 (just joking). Thinking about the often used arrow to allow a submenu to display for a specific toolbar button always minimizes the clickable space the user has.

    It also reduces the chance of the user seeing/identifying the arrow.

    Maybe an alternative for activating the submenu could be a long-click (pressing the mouse button for 1 second for example) or a right-click (the customize menu could be displayed by a right click on empty toolbar space).

    I definitely think something can be improved here.

    For the rest I like the concepts of Office 12 a lot, and very much like reading your blog! Keep up the good work!

    Kind regards,

    David van Leerdam

  5. Like it. I think it could be improved by putting a snippet of the currently selected text in the preview, or "Abc abc" if there is no selection.

    This would emphasise that it’s for underlines, not strikethrough.

    And, as someone else, is this gallery fixed, or does it remember ones you’ve used recently (like different colours)?

  6. "Like it. I think it could be improved by putting a snippet of the currently selected text in the preview, or "Abc abc" if there is no selection."

    Correct me if I am wrong, but if you have text selected in your document, won’t hovering over the options live preview the result in your document?

  7. Abigail says:

    Oh no, I fully intend to confuse people by permanently red-wavy-underlining stuff… Hehehe…

    BTW, Jensen, I just finally connected you with Bugger when it updated itself this morning. Rock on! I love Bugger.

  8. Al says:

    Bugger totally rules. Jensen, can you blog about it? I envision an "Inter-Office 12 Coolness" series coming up 😉

  9. drew says:

    "This could be a big timesaver if you use these styles a lot"

    That sounds like a tautology. Any UI optimization would be a timesaver if you used that control a lot. Were unconventional underlines determined to be an often-used feature? Did someone just notice that this button could become a button-menu and not surprise or confuse anyone?

  10. LeoPetr says:

    Folks, the more interesting bit in the screenshot is that they’ve combined the Styles and Fonts dropdowns into one. If they’ve done it well, then perhaps Styles will become a lot more discoverable and we’ll see brain-damaged crappy Word documents.:)

  11. Dan McCarty says:

    I appreciate the different underline styles for doing brochures and quick flyers, but does anyone really use those underline styles in an office environment?

    With the exception of the double underline, I can’t say that I’ve seen anything other than a standard underline on a business document.

  12. Sherrod Segraves says:

    Is the Japanese dots-above-characters emphasis available through underline styles, or is that a separate feature?

    I’d been hoping underlining would be less prominent. While people in some specialties need it, I’ve seen too many users make their documents look unintentionally amateurish with underlining.

  13. Hanford says:

    Jensen, Were split buttons effective in user testing? Did users discover the features they contained?

    In general, the click area for dropdowns in split buttons are so small that my blood pressure goes up whenever I have to use one. This makes them less explorable, and as a result, I kind of feel the options that get banished to the dropdown are burried and hidden.

    The ones in your screenshot look incredibly small and frustrating to target.

  14. hotbot says:

    Bill Hill [MSFT] – There is only one space after a period


    "I don’t know any typographer who does a double space after a period the same way no typographer or nobody who knows anything about type would ever use underlining as a way of emphasizing because you break the word shape."

  15. Matthew Pass says:

    Our hardware engineers here are constantly moaning because there’s no way of doing an ‘overline,’ which is frequently required by them when they’re refering to labels on circuit diagrams, and other such things that I don’t quite understand. 🙂

    Is Office ’12’ going to support this, or is this in fact yet another one of those features that’s always been there but has been too hidden away…

  16. Phylyp says:

    I second Roger’s comment about putting in actual or ‘Lorem ipsum’ text for the dropdown (maybe in a gray shade).

    When I quickly glanced at your screenshot, I thought it was a demonstration of new border styles.

  17. Thomas Tallyce says:

    *Please* could you say something about Styles (as in, Styles, not manual formatting). I’m eager to know whether it’s going to be even harder in Office 12 to get users to use structural rather than visual formatting. So far, visual seems to be what’s highlighted, sadly.

  18. Centaur says:

    Styles, styles, styles, styles! As long as ad-hoc formatting buttons are more visible than styles, we will continue to have to battle ad-hoc formatting.

  19. Guido says:

    >I second Roger’s comment about putting in

    >actual or ‘Lorem ipsum’ text for the dropdown

    >(maybe in a gray shade).

    >When I quickly glanced at your screenshot, I

    >thought it was a demonstration of new border


    Same here; agree with Roger and Phylyp.

  20. Mario Goebbels says:

    Strange, I’ve always been told that using underlines is a no-no in graphic design (creating great looking documents is kinda such type of design). 😛

    Also, my beta 1 build doesn’t have a dropdown button on the underline knob. When are we getting the new build?

  21. I am with Mario, my beta doesn’t have the dropdown button either. But I think that this is a very useful add.

    To the people that don’t use underline, the button doesn’t disturb, and for the people that use it often, it will be a great time-saver.

    Jansen, I really like your blog, I am discovering thing that I never know existed, like the =rand() function in word, very useful.

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