I was thinking about upgrading to a wide-screen display, but then I realized that the programs I use most often are up-and-down, not side-to-side.
So instead of shelling out a couple hundred dollars for a new monitor, I maximized my available screen space by tweaking the full-screen views in Word, Excel, and other Office apps.
Access menu options in full-screen view
To get the big-picture view of your documents, worksheets, and other Office files, there's no substitute for the full screen. You may think Office's full-screen option is an all-or-nothing affair: Either you see no menus or toolbars, or you see all of them.
In fact you can access just the standard menus (File, Edit, View, etc.) in Office 2003's full-screen mode by pressing F10 or Alt, and then pressing the underlined letters to access that menu's options or simply moving the mouse pointer to the top of the screen. The menu disappears once you've selected an option, or you can remove it manually by pressing F10 or Alt again, or Esc.
You can access other toolbars from full-screen view in Office 2003 apps by right-clicking the Close Full Screen button and choosing the one you want from the pop-up menu. Then press the Alt key to toggle between the toolbar you selected and the standard menu. Close the toolbar by right-clicking the Close Full Screen button again and unchecking it. Press Esc to exit full-screen view.
There's no reason to leave the toolbar you need at the top of the screen. Move it to either side of the screen, the bottom of the window, or float it anywhere by dragging the "handle" on the left edge to your desired location.
If no single toolbar has the options you use most often, create your own by right-clicking any toolbar and choosing Customize > Toolbars > New. Give the toolbar a name, select a template (choosing Normal.dot makes it available to all documents), and click OK. Fill your new toolbar by clicking the Commands tab, selecting an entry in the Categories window, and dragging the desired command to the toolbar. When all your options are in place, click Close.
Bonus tip: Access items on Windows' Start menu from full-screen view by pressing the Windows key, or Ctrl-Esc if your keyboard lacks such a key.
Keyboard shortcuts for moving around big Excel worksheets
Most of the worksheets you create in Excel will be deeper and wider than you can view in full-screen mode. The fastest way to navigate a monster worksheet is to use keyboard shortcuts: Ctrl-right arrow moves you to the last cell containing data in the selected row; Ctrl-left arrow to the first such cell in the row; Ctrl-down arrow to the last cell with data in the selected column; Ctrl-up arrow to the first such cell in the column; Ctrl-Home to the top-left cell of the worksheet; Ctrl-End to the bottom-right cell; Ctrl-Page Up moves you to the next worksheet; Ctrl-Page Down to the previous one; Alt-Page Up moves you one screen to the left; and Alt-Page Down one screen to the right. Microsoft provides a complete list of Excel keyboard shortcuts.
What about Office 2007?
While Word 2007 and Excel 2007 retain the Full Screen views of their predecessors (press Alt-V, U), you can't access the main menus (File, Edit, etc.) the way you can in Office 2003 apps, nor is the mini-Full Screen toolbar visible for accessing other toolbars, though you can view standard formatting options by right-clicking anywhere in the document or worksheet. Word 2007 adds the Full Screen Reading view, which preserves your Quick Access toolbar and View Options at the top of the screen, while also showing two pages of the document side by side. You can scroll to other pages two at a time by clicking the hand icon that appears in the bottom-right corner of the window, and the bottom-left and -right corners of subsequent pages of the document. You also get a jump menu at the top of the window for moving to specific sections or pages of the file.
Unfortunately, while you can add comments to the document in this mode, you can't make changes to the file itself. That's why I'm glad you can still work in full-screen mode, though you lose easy access to toolbars. Perhaps there's a way to return toolbar access in this mode in Office 2007's ribbon apps that I don't know about. Or maybe somebody has written an add-on that returns this functionality. I'll keep looking and let you know what I find.
Tomorrow: take a look under Windows' hood with Process Explorer and Event Viewer/Windows Event Log.