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Publisher 2010 Ribbon Interface

Publisher was one of the applications within Microsoft's Office suite, which didn't benefit from the Ribbon interface in its 2007 release. In Office 2010, though, Publisher has joined its stable mates and has had a revamp, so the new screen furniture now controls Microsoft's desktop publisher, too.

The Ribbon makes a bit more of a change to Publisher than some other Office apps, as being a graphically-based application, it traditionally used a toolbox on the left-hand side of the screen to present many of its key design tools. Also, the little page sorter flags, which used to sit along the bottom of the Publisher screen have been replaced by a slide-sorter style palette down the left-hand side, which will feel more comfortable to PowerPoint devotees.

Publisher 2010 uses a Ribbon instead of both conventional menu bars and its main toolbox. The tools in the toolbar are now distributed along the Ribbon, mostly in the Home and Insert tabs. Some of the tools, like freehand, line, arrow, rectangle and oval, are available in several places. You can get at them from the Shapes icon in the Objects group of the Home tab, the Shapes icon of the Illustrations group in the Insert tab and from the Change Shape icon in the Shape Styles group of the Drawing Tools Format tab.

The Ribbon makes it much quicker to access regularly used controls, where before you'd have to dive into the menu system. Although a single ribbon tab doesn't display as many control icons as the old-style menu bars and toolbox, the other tabs are only a single click away, so there's a considerable gain in overall productivity. Some tasks still need to refer to separate dialogs, though, and the small, diagonal arrows at the bottom of some groups, such as the Paragraph group, lead to familiar dialogs, where more specific settings and changes can be made.

The text box tool, probably the most well used in Publisher's arsenal, is available from both Home and Insert tabs and when you click on it, to create a new place to type or import text, two context-sensitive tabs appear in the ribbon: Drawing Tools and Text Box Tools. Drawing Tools cover things like fills, outlines and shadows for the box itself, while Text Box Tools duplicate font tools from the Home tab, but also offer text fit and direction, alignment, text effects and typography. Inserting text, however, is still covered from the Insert File Icon on the Insert tab.

An interesting offering on the Insert Tab is Page Parts. Click the icon and a dropdown menu shows a wide variety of pre-designed page furniture, such as headings, pull-quotes and sidebars. These can be added to a page from the drop-down by clicking on them, their contents can then be changed by highlighting the placeholder text and typing replacement copy. The colour schemes of Page Parts as well as items from page templates can be quickly adjusted from the Page Design tab, by clicking on any of the swatches in the Schemes group. The new interface in Publisher 2010 quickly becomes familiar and offers fast access to a much wider range of design functions.