How to use Word Text Effects

Word 2010 includes a lot of features to make working with text more efficient and exact, but one particular feature is concerned primarily with its look. The new Text Effects button in the Font section of the home Tab opens up a whole new area of creative opportunity for improving the look of a document.

Although WordArt is still available for compatibility's sake and for when you need shaped text, the effects available via the Text Effects button have the advantages that they can be applied to any text in the document and that the text remains editable, in situ, without needing to re-enter the WordArt applet.

These effects only work with docx format files, so if the default file-type is set to doc, for compatibility, the Text Effects icon will be greyed out. You can convert your document by opening the File tab and clicking the Convert button.

In the same way you would apply other formatting effects to text, start by highlighting the words to work with. Click on the Text Effects icon and the fly-out shows 20 predefined effects, which can be applied simply by clicking on the appropriate 'A'.

If none of these effects appeal, they can be modified using the four categories at the bottom of the fly-out. Effects from these categories can also be applied independently, without having to choose any of the predefined effects. The four categories are Outline, Shadow, Reflection and Glow.

Outline controls the look of the character edges. You can change the colour, the weight of the line and whether it's solid or broken. Shadow adds a variety of internal and external shadows which can be used to raise text off the page. Perspective shadow enables text to appear to float.

Clicking on Shadow Options at the bottom of the Shadow menu opens up the Format Text Effects dialogue which gives separate control over transparency, size, blur, angle and distance, with enough variation to create a huge variety of shadow effects.

Reflection controls offer nine different presets to add a reflection of selected text, creating the illusion of a polished surface below it. Reflection Options offer similar controls to those for shadows.

Glow adds a fuzzy, coloured outline to your text and there are 24 presets available, in six different colours and four different intensities. If these aren't enough, Glow Options offers independent adjustment of size and transparency.

There are two other Text Effects not directly available from the button in the Home tab: Text Fill and 3-D Format. Text Fill provides not just solid colour fills for characters, but gradient fills which can be radial as well as linear and can be angled as well as vertical or horizontal.

3-D Format provides facilities to produce embossed text, with parameters to adjust its width and height and its type of material. Using these various text effects in combination provides great scope for writers and designers to produce more lively and striking documents. The ability to brighten up documents in subtle as well as eye-catching ways gives Word 2010 customers huge visual scope.