Office For Mac

Dynamic Reorder, Order Up!

We’ve recently announced that Office for Mac 2011 is ready for pre-orders online and will soon be available at a store near you on October 26. We’re really excited to finally get the product in our users’ hands, our latest version packs plenty of new features and significant speed improvements that will help you be more productive.

Today, I’ll be talking about a new feature called Dynamic Reorder, which helps you instantly arrange commonly used objects in your Word document or PowerPoint presentation. Our latest feature video offered a glimpse of this new tool, which has generated quite a bit of excitement. So I’m pleased to talk about Dynamic Reorder in greater detail and provide a bit of background about “the making of this feature”.

First, a little bit of insight on Word for Mac. Today, the product is used to create a wide range of documents which tend to fall into two categories:

 • text-centric documents such as cover letters, resumes, dissertations, and reports
 • layout-rich documents such as newsletters, brochures, pamphlets, and posters

The latter category tends to have lots of pictures, textboxes, and lines and shapes since “visual pizazz” matters for such documents. Our users have come to expect powerful page-layout tools, so they can create these documents directly in Word. In response to these customer needs, in Word 2008 we introduced Publishing Layout View, a specialized workspace that turns Word into a freeform canvas. With this new view, we were able to elevate our desktop publishing-caliber tools, all without adversely impacting the standard Word environment. So, when we released Publishing Layout View in Word 2008, it was everything we had hoped for — with one exception. There was one feature that we left behind; and that was Dynamic Reorder. The reason was a simple one (and one that may sound familiar with other industries, such as movies!): the technology wasn’t mature enough to bring our vision to life.

We wanted a simple and elegant solution to arrange the ordering of overlapping objects (such as pictures, textboxes, shapes, etc) on the page. Prior to Dynamic Reorder, Word and PowerPoint users who have tried to reorder objects found the task to be tedious, time-consuming, and often led to imprecise layout (caused moving objects out of the way to see what’s underneath). Those who have used the familiar combination of “Bring to Front”, “Send to Back”, “Bring Forward”, and then “Send to Back” again, know what i’m talking about.

So this is what we envisioned: wouldn’t it be great if users could see each layer lift off the page, then dynamically interact with each layer, and when done see all the layers glide back onto the page, as if falling leaves were settling on the ground? And let’s make sure the experience is fluid and fun! Easier said than done. What we needed was a fast animation engine that could achieve this — but the technology just wasn’t mature enough to deliver the right user experience that we wanted.

Dynamic Reorder Han yi

Fast forward to Word 2011, things changed. The technology matured and we were able to deliver what we envisioned (including the layers settling on the page like falling leaves part :) ) and more. Seeing the feature in action enabled us to fine tune the fluid animations and the real world physics used in the feature.

• We further broadened its usage to cover not only objects on the page, but also those on Master Pages, another handy feature in Word Publishing Layout View
• We also provided transient number badges for each object so users can at-a-glance see how many objects are on the page and understand their relative positioning. This has been particularly handy with the introduction of Online Templates in our Word Document Gallery. With Online Templates, you can now access hundreds of customer-created documents. Dynamic Reorder lets you quickly inspect how the document was created by other users by seeing the complete layering structure in a single glance — and make adjustments as appropriate.
• And of course, we worked closely with the PowerPoint team to insure Dynamic Reorder is available in PowerPoint for Mac 2011.  All of the benefits you’ve just read are readily available in PowerPoint as well, including the ability to access online hundreds of customer-created slide templates.

In this past year we’ve seen many early ideas that started years ago as an idea and are now able to come to life through the new technology. I happen to be a movie buff and technology enthusiast — great movies like Avatar and Inception, handy features like multi-tasking on the iPhone, and last but not least features like Dynamic Reorder in Word 2011 Publishing Layout View and PowerPoint 2011 — were all ideas ahead of the technology, but are realities today— I think 2010 has been a great year so far. :)

Han-yi Shaw, User Experience Manager, MacBU

October 5th, 2010
Bookmark and Share
— @
  1. jeremy says:

    Speaking always need a man. New technology should not replace but only to help in the right moment. I especially do not write. And if they write something no one understands.

  2. Scot says:

    OFM2011 does not seem to be available on the Microsoft HUP store. Could you all get someone to resolve that ASAP?

  3. Joe says:

    I’ve noticed that common commands became “hidden” when I upgraded to Office 2008. I’ve seen the new office for windows that further “hides” common commands under that $#$@$% windows icon. Will office for mac 2011 do the same sort of thing or will it leave common commands where Apple and God intended them to be?

  4. Jonathan says:

    Just fired up PowerPoint 2011 and tried the reorder feature. Pretty cool! Nice work.

    But, I am extremely disappointed that there has been no functional improvement in the background selection process. The ability to quickly import a file/picture to a background is still not there. It takes at least 7 clicks to set a background. Right-click > Format Background > Click Picture or Texture > Click Choose Picture > Navigate away from the Clipart folder > Click Insert > Click Apply.

    Instead, there should be an area that I can just drag a file to and it replaces the background. Whether it’s in the Ribbon or a special area on the working area, just please add this. Apple’s Keynote has had this feature from the beginning and it makes for quick work.

    Another complaint about selecting backgrounds: whenever I select the “Choose Picture” button, it automatically defaults to the “Clipart” folder. Why can’t this remember where my last selection was made from and automatically start from that folder?

  5. David Black says:

    I hate the new cut-n-paste feature that puts an underlined OLE link instead of the actual text. Doesn’t appear to be any way to turn it off, so I end up retyping the text I want to paste, or take it to another tool, convert to unformatted text, copy into buffer, come back, paste and then reapply formatting. Horrid feature!

  6. Joshua Johnson says:

    I don’t know if this is the place for this but I can’t get to a customer service/support rep. I’ve just downloaded Office:Mac 2011 and it’s says my computer is too old (“This requires an intel-based computer.) How can I remedy this situation? Get my money back, downgrade the software, etc.? Any insight on what to do, where to go, whom to talk to would be very appreciated. Thank you so much.

  7. Mac Mojo Team says:

    @Scot Office for Mac 2011 is expected to be available through the Home Use Program in December. Stay tuned and thanks for your patience! We’re glad you’re excited :)

  8. Mac Mojo Team says:

    @Joe -What commands do you use the most, what do you find is missing in the ribbon?

  9. Jim says:

    I build templates and special quickstyles, for an international standards group. I have made these for WORD 2003, 2007 and 2010. I had hoped that our Mac users could finally contribute with 2011 BUT:
    I don’t find support for the new 2010 form tools in the “Developer Tab”…
    like drop down selections and calendars.
    When can we expect an update to fix this?

  10. Jeff Chapman says:


    >It takes at least 7 clicks to set a background. Right-click > Format Background > Click Picture or Texture > Click Choose Picture > Navigate away from the Clipart folder > Click Insert > Click Apply.
    >Instead, there should be an area that I can just drag a file to >and it replaces the background

    There is a way to add a picture to your slideshow background in two clicks and one keystroke.

    - Type Option+Cmd+1 to display the Master slide.
    - Click and drag a selected photo from an open Finder window onto the slide.
    - Click “Close Master” in PowerPoint.


  11. Graham Ellsmore says:

    Does the new 2011 version of Word allow for browsing of online clipart as the windows versions 2003 and onwards do?

  12. Carman says:

    Can anyone tell me how to create more than one envelope in word, same return, different recipient? I have 40 to print and seems there should be a better way. Can I Just use my contacts info addresses and do it that way? Please help?

  13. Office for Mac Team says:

    @Graham Ellsmore Yes! You can choose clipart from the gallery provided with Word 2011, or browse the online website for more options:

  14. Office for Mac Team says:

    @Carman You can create multiple envelopes using data from a recipient’s list using Mail Merge. Learn more from our how-to and let us know if you have questions:

  15. Bob Kuhn says:

    Having upgraded to Office 2008 I am wondering if anyone can tell me if it is possible to create a merge document (sales contract) from an excel database like I did in Office 2004? Or in Office 2011 for that matter?

  16. Office for Mac Team says:

    @Bob Kuhn Do you mind elaborating a little? If you can provide some more detail we’ll be happy to help out.

  17. James Berty says:

    When I tupe using Word 2011, the response is so slow. The letters appear on the screen approximately 3 seconds later. The program freezes frequently when I try to select a column in a table. I’ve repaired permissions and deleted Office 2008 all to no effect on the problem. The program is essentially unusable. Seemed to occur after the latest upgrade. Anyone having the same issue? Anyone have a suggestion?

  18. Roy Gomez says:

    As a writer, I can’t stress enough how much I miss the readability statistics feature that ‘used’ to be available in Word’s spelling grammar functions. What is up? Can’t hardly stand it! When can we expect this feature’s return?

  19. Office for Mac Team says:

    @Roy That feature is still available in Word 2011! Check here for instructions: and let us know if you have questions.

  20. William LeGro says:

    Forum told me “sorry, we can’t publish your question at this time” so I thought I’d try here:

    I can’t choose a font color. When I click on the button, a blank window opens – no colors. Other functions work, like bold, effects, point size, etc. What’s up with that?

    Also, bold is undistinguishable from regular – but if you click on a word you’ve bolded, the B lights up – you just can’t see it on the screen.