You may have started to use one or more Office 2007 application or are considering doing so. Each version of Office promises more common features between the applications - so what's the state of play with Office 2007 you may wonder? This article summarises what's common between the applications.

The most striking common feature for the core applications Word 2007, Excel 2007, PowerPoint 2007 and Access 2007 is the new user screen, with its Office Button, Quick Launch Toolbar and Ribbon navigator - and you'll find lots of articles describing how to use these elsewhere in this collection. However Outlook's opening screen still uses the traditional menus and toolbars - the Ribbon and friends make their appearance when you create or edit an item such as a new email message or calendar appointment. The more specialised applications Publisher 2007 , Visio 2007 and Project 2007 do not have the Ribbon navigator yet, but will have in the next Office version.

All Office 2007 applications (except Project 2007) can now save to PDF format - that is, once you download and install the free add-in from Microsoft. This extremely useful feature lets you not only save to PDF format for Office 2007 files, but you can also open applications files from earlier Office versions and save these to PDF format.

Word 2007, Excel 2007 and Powerpoint 2007 can all remove hidden data such as file property comments or tracking details using the Document Inspector. Again, these applications can apply the Document Inspector to files created in earlier Office versions. So if you intend to, for example, send any version of Word, Excel or PowerPoint files to another organisation, run each file through the Document Inspector first to ensure the recipient does not receive any hidden surprises.

Office 2007 applications have a greatly improved help system which works exactly the same way in each application. So if you hover over a command on one of the Ribbon tabs a the help box appears with more descriptive text than before. Clicking on the small blue help icon at the top right within any of the applications using the Ribbon brings up the help panel with more user friendly and clearer help text.

Moving on to charts and graphs, in previous Office versions, creating a chart in Excel was a little different to how it was done in Word and PowerPoint. In Office 2007 you'll find that creating a chart in Word, Excel or PowerPoint is done in exactly the same way. So once you've got the hang of creating a chart in Excel, you will be able to do exactly the same in Word and PowerPoint. You can also copy the created chart and paste into another application.

SmartArt graphics are new in Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook. These build on the graphical diagrams and shapes you could create in earlier Office versions, but are greatly enhanced by added features such as shadow, glow, 3D effects and lots of colour formatting variations. SmartArt graphics are created in exactly the same way in all these applications.

Document themes are common to Word 2007, Excel 2007 and Powerpoint 2007. Whilst themes used, edited or created stay within the application, each has the same range of themes available. Themes cover page formatting, styles shapes and SmartArt, so selecting a particular theme changes the appearance of all these elements.

Spell checking is now common between Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook with shared custom dictionaries. So add a particular spelling to the dictionary in Word and Excel recognises it.

There are further features common to Office 2007 applications such as autocorrect options. Attending a structured training course would be a really good way to develop your skills further.