Word is probably still the most widely-used word processing program in the world, and its amalgamation into Microsoft’s 21st century Office successor, Office 365, has seen it learn a lot of new tricks, in line with the age of cloud computing.
Where once, the only way to make Word do special things that you wanted in your word processing package was to a) write a lot of tedious macros, and b) remember they were there when you needed them, and what you had to press to make them run.
In our age of the commodification of extras, though, there are any number of smart packages, programs, add-ins, and extensions that can make your modern version of Word sit up and do all the tricks your business needs it to do, to make your daily life easier and your business more professional.
As in all “Best-Of” lists, your mileage may vary – you will probably have a distinct set of requirements from your version of Word, and your list of the best extensions may look unique to you and your business. But we’ve collected a handful that should be able to help any business, anywhere.
The Best 5 Word Extensions
Grammarly is an add-in proofreading tool that slots into both Word and Outlook in Office 365. It will catch and highlight your spelling errors, your typos, your grammatical errors, and your redundancies.
As such, there’s no doubt of two things. Firstly, it will make your documents and emails significantly more grammatically correct than they previously were. And secondly, you may just possibly want to throw it out of the nearest convenient window, or set it on fire, whichever is quicker.
Grammarly is, however, too useful to destroy once you’ve installed it, including as it does, elements like a plagiarism checker. You might think you’d know if you were plagiarizing anyone else’s work, but accidental plagiarism can be a real issue, so it’s a vital tool to have at your disposal.
It’s worth noting that Grammarly has been built along rigid lines of grammatical correctness and has yet to evolve any appreciation of style, so it will argue with you over the comma it demands should be there, even when you know you’re pushing the clause to the end for effect. And under absolutely no account should you let Grammarly have its own way entirely – choosing “Accept all” on the changes it wants to make to any document is almost guaranteed to garble the sense of something on the screen.
But in modern business, Grammarly is carving itself an essential niche, ridding the world of nonconformity, one typo at a time.
Most business in the world is still made official by a signature – more often than not, it’s the act that turns agreements into legally binding contracts. DocuSign is an easy-access add-in for both Word and Outlook on 365, that can turn electronic documents into binding contracts but turning the signature process into something that can be done electronically.
You can access DocuSign either with a DocuSign account or your 365 credentials, so it’s easy to use, and can become an iterative process, where several signatures are needed to confirm a project or a contract. In a world short on time and keen not to waste paper, DocuSign can make your day, your supply chain, your employment processes, and even your financing agreement, a lot more straightforward. That earns it a place in any business’ 365 add-in collection.
Office Tab is not, technically, a business essential add-in to Word and Office 365. But it is a way to stop your brain crashing as it shifts from one virtual environment to another – which has to be a good thing both for overall productivity and for individual mental health.
Our 2020s web experience is tab-based. Each web-based information source we use is on a separate tab, for ease of ordering and access, so we speed up our browsing experience, get the must-know details of the day under our belts, and move on to other tasks.
Office Tab simulates that environment within Word on 365. Rather than, as is normal, having a tray full of open documents along the bottom of the screen and having to guess which one you need each time you want to refer to something, Office Tab opens up new documents in tabs within Word, so you can easily find the details you need. That saves time and frustration on its own, but Office Tab includes some other features that help speed up your Word work, like the ability to save or close all documents with a single click, or save and close all but the current active document.
And while all this is useful most of the time, if you want to take a deep dive into one document particularly, a simple keyboard shortcut hides all your tabs until you need them, when they’re restored equally easily.
While not business-critical, Office Tab can lift the weight of frustration and messiness off your shoulders if you’re Word working on a project that needs a lot of information sources, and because we’ve learned to use tabs in our browser experiences, it feels intuitive to plug and play.
Qorus is a one-stop shop for many of the documents you’ll need regularly in business. It lets you easily build bespoke, personalized business documents like pitches, contracts, briefings, and even, where necessary, Non-Disclosure Agreements. With banks of re-usable content, you can build up a library of standard but business-personalized forms, and in the spirit of collaborative remote working, you can even work on form projects as teams to get them right for your business.
Before the likes of Office 365 and its add-ins, forms would frequently be bland, basic, and below-par. But with an add-in like Qorus, you can maintain branding, make sure you’re legally covered, and have standard forms with style that meet any eventuality you might encounter.
LucidChart Diagrams For Word
There was a time when to make your presentations pop, you would spend hours laboriously drawing charts, graphics and diagrams to boil down data into an easily digestible form.
This is the 2020s, no-one has time to waste doing that.
Which is why LucidChart Diagrams For Word makes it onto our list of best extensions for 365. Flowcharts, mind-maps, even business processes are easy to create once you have a dedicated library of shapes and lines at your disposal. Then you just choose the shapes and lines that best express your process, fill in any labeling you want, and you’re onto the next page or slide.
Making the process of diagram and chart-building as easy as paragraph-writing in Word, LucidChart Diagrams For Word makes presentations the work of an hour, rather than a painstaking weekend. And by using standardized shapes and lines, it helps get the point across with more clarity than it would be likely if you were building your own process shapes from scratch. That’s got to be an add-in worth having in your Word architecture.
While we’re confident these 5 Word extensions will speed up the work of most businesses, while removing heartache and hassle from their day, it’s worth taking a moment out to give a nod to two honorable mentions.
Dictation antensions d Read My Document
In a world that’s reaching its third and fourth generation of people whose daily work involves staring at screens, reading and writing, any add-in that can reduce the amount of eye-strain involved a given day has to be worth considering.
Dictation is not exactly an add-in, but a feature that’s exclusive to 365 subscribers (and so not available to those who use cheaper 365-alike packages). It does what it says it does – it allows you to click a microphone button and dictate your document, as live, on screen. You can use any one of nine languages with Dictation, and it will significantly ease your eyes. Combine it with Grammarly, and it will point out precisely what you said wrong.
Read My Document is probably better than Grammarly at making errors stand out because, as you’d expect, it’s an add-in that reads your document to you.
You might be initially amazed at what you’ve actually written – a discipline for would-be novelists when editing their work is to read the work out loud, because the ear picks up errors that the eye sometimes forgives or skips over. With Read My Document, you can spot errors while saving your eyes.
Word Extensions – Take Your Pick
This handful of Word extensions should make any day in the office easier, faster, and more productive. Any add-ins you choose of your own should do the same – focus always on things that serve a genuine daily purpose, and you shouldn’t go far wrong.