Word's document editor sports a single, simplified toolbar that has five tabs at the top: Home, Insert, Layout, Review, and View. Additional tabs appear depending on the types of elements you're working with. So, if you're working within a table, a tab appears containing tools for adding removing and formatting cells. Tapping a tab once reveals the tools available from that tab. Tapping it again hides the tools from view, giving you a little extra room for editing your document.
Word for iPad offers a complete set of text editing tools, including nearly 120 fonts and the usual tools for formatting those fonts. You'll also find paragraph alignment, list, spacing, and indentation tools, as well as a Style menu for quickly changing paragraph styles. The styles tool is a great feature, but you are limited to the styles that are already part of the document. There is no way to create new styles from changes you make to formatting within your document.
Documents you create with the app can be shared with others by tapping a Share button that appears at the upper left of the toolbar. Because these documents are being stored in your OneDrive, documents can be edited and updated simultaneously and you can track changes made to the document by users editing on other devices. In my testing, I found that simultaneous editing worked well enough, but because your documents need to be refreshed manually for you to see updates made by others while you're editing a document, both you and your co-editors may find, after a refresh, that where you were expecting your changes to be are in a slightly different location. That said, I did not see any lost data, just paragraphs below or above where I thought I'd typed them.
There are some minor limitations to Word on the iPad, particularly if you've created your original document using Word on your Mac or PC. While the app does a great job of handling document formatting, in some cases the fonts you've used on your Mac may not be available on the iPad. I also found that, when using templates, objects I was working with were not what I expected them to be. I initially spent about 5 minutes trying to resize what I thought was a colored text box in a document when it was actually a table with a colored cell. It was only when I saw the toolbar tab add the Table option that I realized my error. Otherwise, I had no complaints.
Word for iPad's required Office 365 subscription may make it a non-starter for some users, but, that aside, Word for iPad is an impressive app. While you won't find all the tools you're used to having in Word for Mac, that's not a bad thing. Word for iPad is streamlined, fast, and beautiful — exactly what I'd like to see on my Mac. If your business doesn't require access to Office apps, but you're still looking for a great Word processor for your iPad, there's no question that Word for iPad can punch that ticket, too.
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