Microsoft claim that Insert Picture is the fourth most common command on the Insert tab and is used by nearly one-third of their customers. And recognising just how much users like to crop and apply effects to their images, was the inspiration that lead them to create a new set of image manipulation tools for Office 2010.

Included in the new image-processing tools is a colour correction tool, and effects such as watercolour, sponge, chalk, rain etc. And the background removal tool brings photo editing techniques previously only available in a professional photo editing program.

Other improvements to the Office 2010 suite include easier and more precise commands for fine-tuning picture cropping in Word, PowerPoint, Excel and Outlook. Cropping is overwhelmingly the most-used aspect of editing pictures across the programs, and Cropping was one of the first tools Microsoft streamlined, making it easier to use. In previous versions of Office, when you moved the crop handles anything outside of the crop rectangle became invisible, which made it difficult to find the best cropping ratios for a picture. Now, in Office 2010, when you move crop handles on a picture the full picture is shown with the portions outside of the crop area greyed out.

Even positioning the crop area is easier. Once you have clicked on your image, it's simple to "slide" it around behind the crop frame or grab the crop frame and move it around over the picture. This makes fine-tuning what you want to be visible much easier. Previously, in the cropping mode, the cropping rectangle was the same size as the original picture; however it's now easier to trim a picture to a specific ratio, with a drop-down menu allowing you to choose the initial proportions of the crop frame. Choosing a size makes the original crop rectangle start out at that proportion, fitted to the bounds of the picture. Now there's a 16:9 and 16:10 in the Landscape section, in order to make formatting pictures to fit widescreen easier. Once you've chosen an aspect ratio, the crop rectangle can be resized freely or you can press Shift while you resize from the corners to retain the aspect ratio. In previous versions of Office you could apply a shape to a picture using Picture Shape, however, when you did, getting the shape oriented the way you wanted it relative to the picture was usually a matter of editing numbers by trial and error in the crop section of the Size dialog. Office 2010 has the shapes gallery linked to the Crop button, and making an image fit in a shape can done very easily visually by choosing Crop to Shape.

Another previous cause of frustration was what happened when trying to fill shape with a picture. Normally, when the picture is filled in the shape, it gets compressed down to fit inside. This has been preserved as the default, but fitting pictures in shapes is now easier using the crop mode on filled shapes. By going into crop mode you can manually resize the image to the proportions you want. And there are added options to automatically Fill or Fit pictures into the shape. Simply click on one of these options and Fill will scale the picture to completely fill the shape while retaining the proportions of the original picture; and Fit will scale the picture so that it fits entirely within the shape.

While the camera phone is rapidly evolving into a tool for artistic expression, Word 2010 provides an array of new and improved tools that would be the envy of any professional designer. Impressive formatting effects such as gradient fills and reflections can be added to text in your document. You can now apply many of the same effects to text and shapes that you might already use for pictures, charts, and SmartArt graphics.

So all that's left for you to worry about is capturing that illusive image on camera - or phone. Happy snapping!