Quiet but significant changes in Microsoft Word 2013

We have found some surprising changes in Word 2013 compared to earlier versions. These are unlikely to be an issue for the home user but for companies the problems can become very intrusive if they run more than one version of Word.

1. Tables – positioning on the page

Microsoft have changed the way they position a table on the page. Up to Word 2010 the text in a new table aligns with the left page margin whilst the left hand border extends into the margin. In Word 2013 the default setting has changed to align the left hand border of the table with the left page margin. The text in the table is now indented relative to the page margin.

The result is that when a Word 2010 (or earlier) document is saved as a 2013 file the table shifts to the right by width of the cell padding in the left hand column (the default cell padding is 0.19 cm). In reverse, Word documents created in Word 2013 and saved down to Word 2010 format will move by a corresponding amount to the left.

2. Tables – floating tables

Up to Word 2010 floating tables can be positioned anywhere on the page. However in Word 2013 they cannot be  placed above the top margin or below the bottom margin.

Whilst unlikely to affect many users we find it helpful when we want to mask the footer or header. A typical example is where we want to create a back page in a document with no footer and without having to resort to a section break.

3. Tab setting after the right indent

Tabs – right/left/centred – cannot be inserted after the right indent using the ruler. However they can be set using the Tabs dialog in the Paragraph settings. Also if any tab is set beyond the right hand margin it is ignored.

This might be an issue for a Minutes documents that uses tab setting rather than tables for formatting the ‘Action’ column and you want to wrap the primary text column before the tab.

4. Displaying text boundaries

Not a real issue but a real annoyance. We have always found it useful to change Word settings to show text boundaries (File/Options/Advanced/Show document content) to help us see the underlying structure of the page setup, especially when using multiple columns on pages. With Word 2013 the boundaries are displayed around every paragraph making it much more difficult to take in the document structure.

5. Copying and pasting between 2010 and 2013 documents

We have noticed a number of issues when clients are copying and pasting from 2010 into 2013. It seems to freeze Word and force a restart. This may be associated with the repositioning of tables etc. in the line with the updates described above.

If you do need to copy and paste text between Word  2010 and Word 2013 we suggest you re-save the 2010 document in the 2013 format and then copy and paste as before.

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