Billing itself as "a great reference for academics, students, business professionals, authors--anyone who writes extensively in Word," one would expect Cathy Fero's latest book to be much more than just another computer manual. Unfortunately, that's all Fero's book is: a computer manual.
In terms of content, it fits in well with typical "for Dummies" books, but that was likely not one of the author's goals. Technically-sound explanations cover many of the basics such as using hidden text, formatting and document merging, and a few advanced skills such as document routing. However, Fero doesn't explain how to use features required in academic situations such as automatically numbered references or Word's language features.
Scholars in mixed computing environments may have difficulty using the book to its full potential as it is PC-centric with Windows-specific usage instructions. Applying the same attention to detail here as Fero does with instructions for previous versions of Word would greatly improve the work for academics. As well, students should be wary of document citation and other styles used in the book as they may not be consistent with those in course specifications or academic style manuals.
Despite some minor shortcomings, what distinguishes this book is its coil binding, something rarely found on computer books this thick. Although somewhat lacking in craftsmanship, the 260 coil-bound pages rest easily at any open page, and generous margins are provided for easy annotation. For a computer manual, the text and index are in remarkably clear English, although the latter lacks topic breadth for that reason.
One obvious flaw is the list of shortcut keys. While it is sufficiently comprehensive, repeating the shortcut keys on the inside covers or as the last page of the book would be a definite improvement, as would placing a greater visual emphasis on lists and instructions within the body of the text.
Although Fero makes a conscious effort to cross-reference related subjects, the results appear only minimally throughout the text. Similarly, the table of contents contains variable amounts of detail and would be much more useful if 20-page gaps in subject descriptions were filled in.
Most examples provided show actual uses for features--and not that they just exist. The author is proud that she both wrote and designed the book in Microsoft Word, a fact that is strikingly obvious in light of her distracting font choices and unnecessary visual elaborations on screen captures. Together with too many fonts, the low-resolution print and mediocre paper combine to produce something the opposite of being easy on the eyes.