Amelia has over 25 yrs of experience in the IT, Training and Education, and eLearning industry. She is also an author of over 14 books.
The following shortcuts and tips can be applied to most versions of Microsoft Office, up to and including Office 2016. First, I’ve listed general tips that you can apply to all Microsoft Office applications. Next, I have listed specific tips for Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. Many of them will save you lots of time. I hope you find these tips very helpful!
What kind of tips does this article contain? Here are some of the topics you will find.
- Office Templates and Wizards.
- Using the Format Painter.
- Picture cropping.
- Excel AutoFill Feature.
- Table Formatting and Repeat Header in Word.
- Keyboard and Mouse Shortcuts.
- Merging Documents in Word.
- Page Borders in Word.
- Splitting screen in Word.
- Changing text case in Word.
- Running a PowerPoint Slideshow from your desktop.
- Using a PowerPoint SlideMaster.
- PowerPoint Templates and Themes.
Templates and Wizards
You don’t always have to start with a blank Word document, Excel spreadsheet, or PowerPoint presentation. There are a variety of pre-formatted templates from you to choose from. Just click File, New (or in 2007, click on the circular Office Button, then click New), then choose a template from the list. Some versions of Office offer Wizards, which guide you through a series of steps to create your customized document.
Saving Office Documents to Different Versions of Office
If you share documents with other co-workers, family, or friends, and they are using older versions of Office, you can save your documents in the old Word default (*.doc) vs. new file format (.docx) so your files are backwards compatible. From the File, Save As dialog box, change “Save as type” to .doc vs. docx for Word, xls vs. xlsx for Excel, and ppt vs. pptx for PowerPoint.
Copy Formatting (Using the Format Painter)
To copy formatting in Word, Excel, or PowerPoint, including text font, size, color, and other attributes, click on the text which contains the formatting you wish to duplicate; click on the Format Painter icon (cursor will change to a paintbrush), then click in the destination area where you would like to apply formatting. If there are multiple areas you wish to copy formatting, double-click rather than single click the Format Painter icon; this allows you to click in as many areas as you like to apply button. Press ESC when finished.
Keeping Aspect Ratio When Resizing Images
In Microsoft Office, along with most other applications, you can resize pictures and images by selecting the picture and then use the mouse to drag it to a new size. However, it is important to retain the aspect ratio so your image will not be misshaped. To keep the vertical-to-horizontal ratio (the aspect ratio) the same, hold down the Ctrl key while you drag to the new size. In some applications, you can also use the SHIFT key while you drag to keep the aspect ratio. To crop an image in Microsoft Office, double-click the image, then select Crop from the toolbar.
The Undo command allows you to undo your most recent actions. To Undo the last command, press CTRL+Z. The Redo command lets you change your mind back and restore your original action for those moments when you're really unsure about what you're doing. To Redo a command, press Ctrl+Y. You can also find Undo and Redo either in the Edit menu is older versions of Office, or on the upper left quick access toolbar in Office 2007.
Here are some tricks and shortcuts to use in Excel.
You can enter data in one or more cells and then use the AutoFill handle to extend and fill the selection. Try it with text: type 'January' or 'Jan 01', press ENTER, then point to the bottom right of cell (until you see thin black cross rather than thick cross), then drag down and select area to fill. Excel will try to fill it in for you. For more options, search for AutoFill in Help.
To center text across many columns, such as a title, select the text, then use the Merge and Center icon along the formatting toolbar.
Editing a Cell
To select a cell and edit the contents, double-click on the cell, or press F2, then edit as needed; press ENTER when finished to accept your changes.
What Day Is It?
To have the day of the week displayed for one or more dates, first, enter the date(s) in cell(s). Then simply use a custom format to display the day of the week. Select the cell that contains the date(s) or the whole column if needed; then, choose Format, Cells (right click in 2007 to use shortcut menu) and, in the Category list box, select Custom. Now, enter dddd in the Type field, then click OK to return to your spreadsheet. Instead of displaying dates, Excel will display the days of the week which correspond to the dates entered.
Fitting One Worksheet on One Piece of Paper
To format a worksheet to fit on one piece of paper, select File, Page Setup (in 2007, click Page Layout from the Page Layout tab). In the Page Setup dialog box, select Landscape (assuming your worksheet is wide). Next, in the Scaling section click the Fit To option and then use the arrows to indicate the number of pages wide. Click the Print Preview button to check the results. If the print is too small, go back to Scaling and try the Adjust to option. Try 75% or 85% to manually shrink your page down so it will fit on one page.
Inserting Multiple Sheets and Renaming Sheet Tab Names
To insert a blank sheet into your workbook, just right click on the last sheet tab at the bottom of your worksheet and select Insert New Worksheet. In 2007, there is a new Insert Worksheet tab available that you can click on. In newer versions of Excel, click the plus sign in the circle next to your default sheet to insert a new sheet tab.
Need to change the tab name? Just double-click on the sheet tab name and type a new name.
Tips for Word
Here are some tricks and shortcuts for Word.
Quick Shortcut to Format Line Spacing
To change the line spacing for a paragraph quickly, position the cursor in the paragraph you would like to modify. Then, press Ctrl+1 to set the spacing at single space, Ctrl+2 to set double spacing, or Ctrl+5 to set the spacing at 1.5 lines. You can modify an entire document or parts of it by first selecting the text you would like to modify and then pressing one of these simple keyboard shortcuts. For more options, right click and select Paragraph, Spacing.
Keyboard and Mouse Shortcuts
- To go to the beginning or end of a line, press HOME or END key.
- To select a word, double click on the word.
- To select a paragraph, triple in the paragraph.
- To select all, click CTRL+A, or in Word, you can triple click in the left margin to select the whole document.
Click and Type
Say you're trying to make a sign that says Wet Paint and you want the text centered, about halfway down the page. The quick and dirty old-school method was to press Enter a dozen or so times until your cursor seemed to be about where you wanted. But haven't you always wanted to begin typing in the middle of a blank page without having to press Enter repeatedly? Beginning with Word 2000, there is a new Click and Type feature which makes this possible. In the new document, simply double-click at any point in the document and begin typing.
Inserting an Entire Document Into an Existing Document (Merging Documents)
To take all text and formatting from one document and insert it into another, you could select and copy from the original document, open the new document, and paste that text in. But there is an easier way. Position the cursor in your new document at the point where you want to insert the old document. Then, in Word, select Insert, Object, Text from File, select the document, and click Insert. In older versions of Word, select Insert, File, select the document; and click Insert.
In Word 2007, select Page Borders from the Page Layout menu (In older versions of Word: select Format, Borders and Shading and click the Page Border tab.) Select the kind of border you would like from the left column, and choose the style of line, color and width from the center column.
In newer versions of Word, click the Borders icon in the Paragraph group on the Home tab in the Ribbon. There's also a drop-down menu next to the Borders icon for more border options.
You can select a fancy border with graphics by clicking on the Art drop down menu.
Splitting the Screen/Viewing Two Parts of Document at Once
If you are working in a large document, you may need to be able to view two parts of it simultaneously. The split screen feature allows you to view the document in two separate windows at the same time. To split the screen, select View Split Window (or Window, Split in older versions). Position the this line where you want your document to split and click once. Your single window divides into two windows at this point, each with its own scroll bar. You can now scroll back on the top window to view the earlier portion of the document while viewing your latest edits in the bottom window. To remove the split, simply choose View, Remove Split (or Window, Remove Split), or just drag the line which is splitting your document up to the top of the document.
Changing Text Case
Have you ever forgotten to capitalize the words in a title? Select the word, sentence, or paragraph you want to modify. Then press SHIFT+F3 as many times as needed to scroll through the available cases, including all caps, initial caps or lower case.
Repeating a Header Row
To have the top row appear on every page on table, when in a table, from the Design menu, click the Header Row checkbox. In older versions of Office: first, select the rows you want to appear as a header row. Then, choose Table, Table Properties and click the Row tab. Make sure Repeat As Header Row At Top Of Each Page is checked and click OK. Your selected header row will appear at the top of each page of your table.
Inserting Date and Time
You can automatically insert the date and time, in any number of formats. First, select Insert, Date and Time, and you will see a list of formats. Select a date format and click OK. If you check the Update Automatically box, Word will insert a date field and update it automatically.
Using Cents Sign and Other Symbols
There’s no cents sign on the keyboard, but to create that symbol in Word, press Ctrl+/ (slash) and then press C. To use other symbols, click Insert, Symbol and select from the list.
Keeping Names Together In Word (Hard Space)
If you need to keep words together, just as a hyphenated word or a proper name, so that they are not separated on another line, you can use Word's non-breaking space. Type your first word, then press Ctrl+Shift+Spacebar, then type then second word. For example, type: John Ctrl+Shift+Spacebar Smith to keep “John Smith” together. Using the non-breaking space will ensure that John Smith always stay on the same line.
Tips for PowerPoint
Here are some tricks and shortcuts for PowerPoint.
Running a Slide Show From Your Desktop
To run a slide show from your desktop, simply save the presentation to your desktop and save it with a PPS file extension. Select File, Save As. Click the Save As Type drop-down arrow and select PowerPoint Show (*.ppsx) from the list. When you double-click a file with a .ppsx extension, which stands for PowerPoint Show, the file opens in Slide Show view. When the slide show finishes, you're returned to the desktop. You can open a .ppsx file for editing by launching PowerPoint, choosing the File menu's Open command, and selecting the .ppsx file.
Using Slide Master
When you need to put an object on every slide in a slide show, don't waste time trying to make sure all of the objects are perfectly aligned on each slide - use the Slide Master instead. Let's say you want your company logo on the same place on each slide. Open a new slide and choose View, Master, Slide Master. Next, Insert, Picture and locate the file. To get back to your slide show, choose View, Slides (or View, Normal in 2007). At this point, you'll see the logo just where you placed it. You'll also see the logo on any additional slides. If you need to resize or change the logo, return back to you master slide to make the change.
Templates and Themes
PowerPoint templates offers a variety of templates and themes to choose from. This includes business templates, calendars, flyers, presentations, and even greeting cards.
The newer versions of the PowerPoint offer a bit more templates than the older versions. Select File, New, then select a template from the list. Some are blank with placeholder text boxes for you to fill in, while others have sample content and graphics. The possibilities are endless, so give it a try!
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
© 2010 Amelia Griggs
Amelia Griggs (author) from U.S. on July 16, 2017:
I just updated this hub with a link to new video series for Microsoft Word that I'm working on. All the instructional computer videos are free (on youtube). I'm also happy to announce a new computer how-to book series that I'm developing. The first book in the series is available on Amazon. I posted link and info above for the book and video series.
Thank you! :-)
All the best to you!
Amelia Griggs (author) from U.S. on August 01, 2016:
Hi again tonymead60,
Thanks for letting me know about the other software tool. So far, Scrivener seems pretty easy to use, but I know what you mean. We want to be writing and not figuring out all the software functions. I guess it's a catch 22. I feel like I need Scrivener at this point to help me organize content.
Good luck to us both!
Tony Mead from Yorkshire on August 01, 2016:
Scriver looks similar to a programme I use call 'Write your own Novel. I find this useful because it has lots of back up in the form of timelines and character information. The only trouble with this sort of thing is that I find it distracting and I spend more time fiddling about instead of working.
Tony Mead from Yorkshire on July 31, 2016:
thanks for the tip about scrivener. I've not heard of it, but it looks like a good buy.
Amelia Griggs (author) from U.S. on July 30, 2016:
Hi Huge update, glad you found the hub helpful, thanks for stopping by and for your comment. :-)
Amelia Griggs (author) from U.S. on July 30, 2016:
Hi tonymead60, I agree that MS Office is still the best on the market. I have used it forever since its onset. Thanks for comment and glad you found the hub helpful. :-)
P.S. When writing, I use Word a lot but recently I started using Scrivener to organize the content from Word. You might like the software too as an author.
Tony Mead from Yorkshire on July 30, 2016:
nice hub, useful and informative.
I'm an author and use MSword everyday, I've used it since 97 and although it has had a few tweeks in that time, it is still probably the best on the market.
Amelia Griggs (author) from U.S. on May 07, 2015:
Hi poetryman6969, I think you're right. MS Office, especially Word is so widely used and it's important for job seekers to know all the in's and out's of the software. They say most of us only use a small percentage of all capabilities of a software program. Hopefully my hubs covers some bells and whistles to help others.
Thanks for your comment, glad you found it helpful!
poetryman6969 on May 06, 2015:
A lot of useful information. I think that young people who are having trouble finding a job need to brush up on skills like these so that they can show employers they have skills that can be useful in an office.
Amelia Griggs (author) from U.S. on May 06, 2015:
Glad you found my hub very helpful. I appreciate your comments and voting it up and sharing, thanks!
torrilynn on May 05, 2015:
this is a very useful hub indeed. especially, if i wanted to apply for a job or to simply cut the amount of time i spend on a document. voted up and shared.
Amelia Griggs (author) from U.S. on May 14, 2013:
Glad you found the hub helpful, vibhusatpaul! Thanks for stopping by. :-)
Vibhu Satpaul from New Delhi on May 13, 2013:
although I knew a few, I learnt a few as well. Thanks easylearningweb for this useful hub.
Amelia Griggs (author) from U.S. on March 08, 2012:
Thanks for you comment, anonymous.
anonymous on March 08, 2012:
very informative post
Amelia Griggs (author) from U.S. on February 18, 2012:
Thanks, Birdslover, glad you found the hub helpful!
birdslover from New Delhi, India on February 16, 2012:
Its always better to use keyboard than Mouse, it increases the speed, thanks for sharing shortcut keys, I really didn't know some of them.
Amelia Griggs (author) from U.S. on August 01, 2011:
Thanks for your comment, sunbeams. Glad you found it helpful! :-)
sunbeams from Cairns , Australia on July 25, 2011:
Was just browsing and came across this article.Very nicely written and easy to understand.
Amelia Griggs (author) from U.S. on December 16, 2010:
Always glad to helpful, De Greek. I have lots more tips for Word and other MS Office applications, so stay tuned for more hub pages coming soon!
De Greek from UK on December 16, 2010:
You cannot imagine how useful this is to an ignoramus like me :-))
Amelia Griggs (author) from U.S. on October 29, 2010:
Your welcome, sherrylou57. Glad you found this hub helpful!
sherrylou57 from Riverside on October 29, 2010:
Thank you, easyleaningweb for the great tips!
Amelia Griggs (author) from U.S. on September 30, 2010:
Yep, the good ole autofill..can be very handy! Glad you found it helpful!
Amelia Griggs (author) from U.S. on September 30, 2010:
Glad it will be a help and thanks for bookmarking the hub!
Amelia Griggs (author) from U.S. on September 30, 2010:
Hi Rebecca E.,
Thanks for your comment and glad you found the hub helpful. Thanks for sharing this as well! :-)
cheapnetbooks on September 29, 2010:
Aha, so THAT's how you autofill the months in Excel. This tip alone will save me some typing when setting up spreadsheets. Nice!
Neil Sperling from Port Dover Ontario Canada on September 03, 2010:
WoW - nice tips - I bookmarked this one - voted up and useful!
Rebecca E. from Canada on September 03, 2010:
this is very useful in fact I finally now undstand the undo and redo option a lot better. Thanks for this hub, I'll send a few people this way!