Understanding the Task Pane

A major change to the previous version of Office, Office XP, was the introduction of task panes. Office 2003 also uses task panes, which have replaced many of the dialog boxes that were a common feature in Office 97 and Office 2000. Office 2003 has also added new task panes such as the Research task pane (which we discuss later in this lesson).

A task pane is a multipurpose window pane that appears on the right side of the window of an Office application. The list that follows describes the global task panes that you will find in all the Office applications:

  • New File Task Pane Enables you to start a new file in a particular application (for example, in Word it is called the New Document task pane; in Excel it is called the New Workbook task pane). It also provides access to various document templates and the capability to open recently used files.

  • Office Clipboard Task Pane Enables you to view items that you copy and cut to the Office Clipboard. You can manage up to 24 items on the Clipboard and paste them within an application or between applications.

  • Clip Art Task Pane Enables you to search the Office Clip Gallery and insert clip art into your Office application documents.

  • Search Task Pane Enables you to search for files from any of the Office applications.

  • Research Task Pane This new task pane allows you to take advantage of a number of research and reference services. A number of these references are accessed via online services such as Microsoft Encarta.

You look at the Research, Search, Clip Art, and Clipboard task panes in more detail later in the lesson.

Task panes also house features that handle specific purposes in each of the Office applications. For example, in PowerPoint, the Slide Layout task pane (shown in Figure 3.1) is used to select a design format for a new or existing PowerPoint presentation slide. You learn about the different task panes in the Office applications as you use them in the different parts of this book.

Figure 3.1. The task pane provides specific features in the different Office applications.


When you are working in an Office application, such as Word or Excel, you can open a task pane and switch between the different task pane features offered in that particular application. To open a task pane, follow these steps:

  1. In the Office application window, select the View menu and select Task Pane . The New File task pane appears on the right side of the application window (the New File task pane is the default task pane for the Office applications).

  2. To switch to a particular task pane that is available in the current Office application, click the task pane's drop-down arrow (see Figure 3.2).

    Figure 3.2. Use the task pane's menu to switch to a particular task pane in an application.


  3. Click the item on the task pane menu that you want to use.

You will find that the task pane also pops up when you select specific features in an application. For example, in Word, when you select Format and then Styles and Formatting , the Styles and Formatting task pane appears in the Word window.


Help Is Now a Task Pane Office Help is now accessed through a task pane. Getting help in Office is discussed in Lesson 5, "Getting Help in Microsoft Office."

Microsoft Office 2003 All-in-One
Microsoft Office 2003 All-in-One
Year: 2002
Pages: 660
Authors: Joe Habraken

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