The Publishing Layout View is useful, giving a guideline-based overview of elements in your document, enabling you to drag-and-drop bit and pieces into place easily. Combined with the Ribbon interface, this makes the business of laying out a document much easier than previously.
Excel benefits from the addition of a couple of favourites of ours from Office 2010 – PivotTables and SparkLines. These give you a number of powerful ways to easily represent the huge reams of data you’re likely to end up plugging into Excel. A new range of conditional formatting options also helps in that regard, with the option to add your own custom rules if the built-in pre-sets don’t suit your needs.
Possibly the most important addition to Excel Office for Mac 2011 isn’t really a new feature at all. As notably a re-addition as was its omission from Office for Mac 2008, Visual Basic for Application’s return will prove a huge boon for many. While Microsoft doesn’t guarantee complete compatibility between Office for Windows and Mac, in our testing we couldn’t find any functionality that didn’t work on both; you’ll have to be creating some seriously complicated macros to have them not work on both platforms.
PowerPoint is subject to a particularly Mac-like change in the form Dynamic Reordering. This view shows each object on the current page on its own ‘plane,’ which can then be dragged forwards or backwards, adjusting what sits in front of what. Think of it like Layers in Photoshop.
Also new to PowerPoint are the Presenter View and Broadcast Slideshow option. The former gives you an overview of your progress through a slideshow, including a timer, the current and next slides, and any notes you’ve added, while the later lets you publish a slideshow to anyone with an Internet connection, without needing to send them the slideshow itself. Not only does this mean you don’t have to hand out slides you want to keep hold of (although there’s still nothing stopping print screens), it also saves effort in ensuring everyone is on the same page as you throughout your presentation – both literally and, possibly, figuratively.