Did you know that the very first version of Microsoft Word was developed way back in 1981? True fact! Since its official launch in 1983, MS Word has pretty much been at the centre of office life the world over ever since.

Despite its dominance, Word has always remained a work in progress. It is not perfect, so therefore the developers have let other companies develop plug-ins for its added improvement. In fact there are so many Microsoft Word Add-Ins that the choice is now mind-boggling!

Benefits for a small business owner

The great benefit of having so many add-ins to choose from is that small business owners need not spend a fortune on creating fancy looking information to circulate to their customers or social media followers when producing newsletters, reports and free give-away’s.

For example, the Pickit Presentation Images add-in gives Word users access to an enormous number of free-to-use images that they can incorporate into their work. Through the app you browse themed collections of photos and other images via a task pane without actually having to come out of Word. The great thing is – it’s completely free, but there is also a monthly paid option if you really need it, but you probably wont.

There are lots (and I mean lots) of free graphic ad-ins to choose from, so there will be at least a handful that you could make good use of at no extra expense to your business.

Bricks and mortar business or special event?

There is a Maps for Office add-in that allows you to generate an interactive Google Map and insert it directly into your Word document, so if you are circulating some information and trying to encourage people into your shop or business premises, you can include a handy map of directions about how to find you. Being Google Maps, you can choose between road maps which would be great for directions, or various terrains or satellite views that can be used to create fun things like treasure maps and trails for special events and competitions. There is a small charge for this service, but you can take a free trial first to see if you like it.

Socially Connected

Word Facebook Integrator is a very nifty add-in for the busy small business owner who struggles for time to post regularly to Facebook. This tool is a great way to speed up your productivity because you could be busy writing in Word, but then be hit by a bit of inspiration or have an idea pop into your head about a good post for Facebook – but you would not need to break your concentration or leave Word to go and post in Facebook, because the Word Facebook Integrator can do the work for you!

This brilliant little tool allows you to post messages and inspirational quotes right from Word. You don’t even need to open a separate browser to do this. The integrator also allows you to view photographs on social media and insert them directly into your Word document. A potential time-saver right there I think you would agree?

Do you use MailChimp for your email newsletters or sales campaigns? Well another great add-in for you to use is MailChimp for Microsoft Word.

With this add-in you can design your HTML sales campaign, newsletter or email update within Word, then export your information directly to your MailChimp account. Don’t worry about how well this transfers over from one programme to another – the add-in features include native placeholders to help optimize your design as well as having the ability to merge tags.

Contextual for Word is a great add-in for bloggers on the look out for hot topics in your business niche to blog about. The add-in is basically a content discovery app that can help you to discover fresh and relevant content on your chosen subject from across the web without having to open a browser. The add-in can then insert your chosen pieces of content directly into your Word documents – another great time saver, and handy if you are writing about someone specific that you can draw quotes directly from to include in your blog post. There is a small charge for this tool, but there is a free trial you can take first before deciding to buy or not.

Worried about keeping up with Word?

Despite being around for so long, many small business owners may still struggle to get to grips with everything on offer from MS Word. If you are worried that you may not be making the most of what you have available at your fingertips, then look for the extra training offered by Microsoft to help you keep up to speed. Training for Word 2013, features an in-depth range of interactive tutorials to help users find solutions that aren’t covered in Word’s own built-in support tool. This is a charged-for service, but it is very reasonably priced.

This is just a very short handful of Word add-ins that are available online. The chances are there are many plugins that are ready and waiting for you to discover that are perfect for your business. It is worth taking a look – with new add-ins being released every day, you never know what you will find!