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Operating Systems

Use Office 2007's ink feature to add impact to Word doc markups

Inking lets you take the stylus approach to file annotations, or give your Outlook 2007 e-mail the personal touch.

I'm a stylus user from way back, so I was really looking forward to using Vista's Tablet PC features to control apps on my touchscreen notebook. What I didn't realize was how much fun it is to mark up documents in Word 2007, and to send handwritten notes in Outlook 2007.

You can use Vista's pen features on a touchscreen laptop or tablet-equipped PC to do much more than simply mark up Word documents or write e-mail as handwritten graphics, but after many attempts I remain unconvinced of the usefulness of the OS's handwriting recognition. Even after hours of training the system made too many mistakes to be a suitable replacement for a keyboard. Still, there are times when a keyboard simply won't do, and that's where the stylus comes in handy.

The inking feature in Microsoft Word 2007
Make your mark on Word 2007 documents using the program's inking feature.

It's not uncommon for someone to send you a Word file and ask you to comment on it, suggest changes in the formatting, or otherwise edit it. To make your changes stand out, click the Review tab in Word 2007 and choose Start Inking at the far right. This opens the Pens ribbon that lets you choose a pen, felt tip, or highlighter as your markup implement, and to change the markup color or thickness. You can also use the ribbon's options to select or delete some or all of your annotations.

The inking feature for handwriting e-mail in Outlook 2007
Give your Outlook 2007 the personal touch by handwriting your notes using Office 2007's inking feature.

You may be a fan of smiley faces and other emoticons in e-mail, but they don't do anything for me except get in the way of the message. (I know, I'm no fun at all.) If I want to send a message with a personal touch, I crack out the stylus in Outlook 2007 and write it in longhand. To activate it, click in the message body, and choose Start Inking at the far right to open the Pens ribbon, which is identical to its counterpart in Word 2007.

Apart from some less-than-complimentary responses regarding my penmanship, no recipients have complained yet. You won't save any time by handwriting e-mails rather than typing them, but your messages will certainly stand out from the crowd.

Tomorrow: the only Internet Explorer 7 add-on you'll ever need.