Microsoft Office 2013: New Features for Teachers

Adam Heckler is a twenty-something Cincinnati, Ohio local working in the education technology sector. Most of his time is spent at VARtek Services where he writes for the blog, manages social media, and advises K12 s

As you may have heard, a new version of Microsoft Office was released to the public last week: Microsoft Office 2013. This version has made a lot of improvements and added quite a few features since Office 2010, so I thought it would be worth it to go over some of the new stuff before your school or organization actually upgrades.

Overall, Office 2013 is pretty similar to 2010 in most respects. The familiar “ribbon” is still there and all the main applications work in the same ways. The one general trend in the office suite is that, like many things in the technology world, it’s becoming more “cloud-based”, in that it’s now possible for you to store and sync your documents in Microsoft’s SkyDrive.

Let’s take a look at some of the new features in Word and Powerpoint, since they’re the applications that educators tend to use most often.


Microsoft Office 2013

Look and Feel

Since Microsoft’s new Windows 8 operating system already adopted a whole new style (called “Metro”), this version of Office does the same thing. The startup screens and interface all look a little “flatter” and sparse. For example, Word used to open up straight to a blank document, but now opens to a special start-up screen shown below:

Word Main Screen

Once you’ve created a document, you’ll notice the ribbon (the area with all the tabs and buttons for changing text) looks a little different:

Word Ribbon

It can take a little getting used to, especially since there’s not as much color as Office 2010, but overall the look and feel is 80% the same.


New Word Features

Reading Mode is a new way of displaying Word documents that makes them much easier to read. It transforms your document into a book-like format as shown below:

Reading Mode

You can also insert online images and videos into your documents. Simply open up that button on the ribbon and you can search the Clip Art library or Bing (Microsoft’s search engine) for photos. If you’ve signed in with a Microsoft account, you can also search Flickr and other sites.

Online Images

Lastly, although Word had pre-styled headings before, they’ve improved them in Microsoft Office 2013. Now you can expand and collapse sections of your document using the headings. Check out my quick demo below:

Collapse Heading Expand Heading






See more new Word features here.


New PowerPoint Features

Like Word, PowerPoint starts up not to a blank presentation as it did before, but to a special screen where you can choose among several presentation templates.

Presentation View is a like a “cheat mode” for people giving presentation. It shows you the current slide of course, but also shows you the next slide as well as any notes you have for the slide you’re on at the moment. Even if you’re using a projector to give a presentation, Presentation Mode only shows up on your display.

Check out Presentation View here:

Presentation View

Theme Variations are handy for those of us, like me, who aren’t so good at creating the best-looking presentations. It used to be that, when you picked a theme for your PowerPoint, you were stuck with those colors and designs. Now when you pick a theme, Microsoft has added some variations that slightly change the design to keep it looking fresh.

Theme Variations

Finally, if you tend to put a lot of images or other objects in your presentations, you know how painful it can be to align everything so it looks orderly. Fortunately, in PowerPoint 2013 that problem has been solved. With the auto-align feature, PowerPoint will show you with a few tiny arrows that your images have been evenly spaced:


See more new PowerPoint features here.


Anyway, that’s a quick look at what is coming for Word and PowerPoint. Of course, Excel, OneNote, and all the other Microsoft Office 2013 apps have a lot more features we don’t have the time to go over here. Feel free to check them out on your own, and let us know your favorite features in the comments below!


Feature image courtesy of Flickr, comedy_nose.