The Norman Transcript


March 29, 2014

MS Office for iPad is pretty and functional



But the iPad Air’s super-clear retina display probably helped. And it’s worth mentioning that I don’t wear glasses. People with impaired vision might have a tougher time. Either way, it’s still a big upgrade from looking at the same document on an iPhone screen.

Excel spreadsheets, especially the large ones I viewed, required a little more pinching and stretching to view, because of their larger size, but were still fairly easy to scroll through.

For people who want to take notes or presentation materials into a meeting without dragging along a stack of printouts or a laptop, this is going to be really handy. And if you use OneDrive, it’s nice to know you can always have access to your files on a relatively compact and lightweight device.

Unfortunately, other cloud-based services like Dropbox aren’t compatible.

But is it worth the effort to try to create or edit Office documents on an iPad?

Rather than stripping down Office to a super-basic version, like it did with the smartphone software, Microsoft created a version of Office that’s customized for the tablet user and includes many of the bells and whistles of the desktop version.

The app is relatively easy to use and its layout is clean and simple. Word’s toolbar at the top lets you do things like change the typeface of fonts and size, highlight text and customize margins and columns. You can also insert page breaks and pictures from your iPad’s camera roll or photo stream. There’s also a nice selection of compatible fonts to choose from — even Wingdings, if you like that sort of thing.

In order to cut and paste and make other changes to text in Word, you have to tap twice on the area you want to update, which brings up a set of scrolling bars, much like in other iOS applications. You can move the bars to select text, then cut copy or paste the selection. It’s a little cumbersome and slow, but pretty easy to figure out.

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