Microsoft Office 2021 Features Worth Checking Out

Although most of the recent news coming out of Redmond lately has focused on Windows 11, Microsoft has also released Office 2021.

The Office products are available with a Microsoft 365 subscription, but Microsoft is also making standalone versions available. Office Home and Student 2021 is selling for $149, while the Office Home and Business edition (which includes Outlook, whereas the Home and Student version does not) sells for $249. You can find more information about editions and pricing here.

Like every new version of Office that Microsoft has ever released, Microsoft Office 2021 comes with lots of new features. I don’t want to rehash all of those features because in all honesty, many of the new features are things that I would never use (such as Dark Mode or support for OpenDocument format 1.3). Even so, there is a lot to love about Office 2021, and I wanted to talk about some of the new features that caught my attention.


Line Focus
This might seem like an odd thing to lead with, but one of my favorite new features is something called Line Focus. Line Focus isn’t one of those things that I can see myself using on a daily basis, but I think that it will truly be helpful on days when I am doing marathon writing sessions. The idea behind the feature is that Word will display one line of text at a time (or multiple lines if you prefer) in order to make it easier to focus your attention on those lines. You can see what this looks like in Figure 1.

Sometimes at the end of a long day, the lines on a page all just seem to blur together as I try to reread what I have written. The Line Focus feature will inevitably make proofreading easier.


Another very welcome new feature is a translator for Outlook. This new capability, which is enabled by way of an add-on, can automatically translate messages that were written in a foreign language. As someone who regularly receives email messages from all over the world I have absolutely no doubt that this feature will be beneficial.

Another thing that I am super excited about with regard to Office 2021 is that Microsoft has finally brought inking capabilities to Outlook. This means that you can now use a Surface Pen or any other inking device (including your mouse or your finger) to annotate email messages.


I couldn’t even begin to tell you how many times I have wanted to highlight something within an email message or to add a note to myself (such as a due date, a phone number or something like that).

Speaking of inking, Microsoft has added a new pen toolbox to the Office applications. This pen toolbox makes it a little bit easier to select a pen, change a pen’s color, or choose a different drawing tool such as the eraser or the lasso (which has been around in PowerPoint for a while, but is now a part of Word).

Also, Microsoft has made it so that pen customizations no longer roam from one device to another. At first, this probably sounds like a bad thing, but it’s actually a welcome change. I use inking differently on my Surface Book than I do on my desktop, so the pen setup that I use on one device isn’t necessarily the best configuration for a device of another type.

One more ink-related capability is that Microsoft has added ink replay to the Office apps. In PowerPoint for example, this means that you could use prerecorded ink to annotate a live presentation.


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