5 Tricks for Quickness and Comfort in Microsoft Word and Excel

  • 03-10-2019 |
  • Lucas Thompson|
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Did you ever wonder why Microsoft Office remains the corporate standard, despite so many cheaper or free alternative solutions? Yes, there are some discounts, but more and more users switch to Office365 even at home, to get the best experience. But why? LibreOffice or Polaris seem to handle texts and sheets equally well, and Macs come equipped with iWork already. They all can export documents into compatible files. What does MS Office offer that they can’t?

The answer is in some minor tricks that form a significant advantage. Experienced users know how to get the work done faster and with less hassle, using these tricks. And here come some of them you may need in your everyday work. All of them are present in both Windows and Mac versions.

Excel: Calculate Totals Quicker 

The best part of Excel is its support of formulas, letting you easily get derivatives of the data you enter into some cells. The total of a row or a column is usually calculated with a special formula too. It is one of the most popular operations Excel is ever used for. So the developers provided a little trick to save your time and effort.

In fact, you don’t have to enter the formula to calculate the total of a row or a column. It’s simpler, as the formula is already in the defaults, and there is a special hotkey combination for it.

When you have finished inputting data into a row or a column, select the cell next to the numbers in the same row or column. Then press Ctrl-Shift-T (T is, logically, for Total, and simpler combinations are already used in the system). Mac users need to press Shift-Cmd-T, logically for OS X.

This will automatically calculate the total in no time, and you’ll have it in the cell. By default, the function sums all the numbers in the row or column, but you can adjust it, only selecting some of them. You can select the cells by dragging or select all and deselect some with a Ctrl button. The formula will recalculate the total as you do the selection.

Operating with totals is quite important, so Microsoft eases things up for its users. 

Word: Write a Document Together

Microsoft Word screenshot

What is in Office365 subscription that many prefer it to purchasing the suite with one payment and forever? The answer necessarily includes collaboration. Instead of sending each other the same .docx as an email attachment may work, but it’s quite complicated and basic. Microsoft has a better option: cloud documents you can collaborate on in Word. It requires an Office365 subscription from all the collaborators, but it doesn’t require Word installed: an online editor is quite as functional.

For activating this feature, just save the document to your OneDrive. Don’t worry about storage: even the most basic Office365 plan gives you as much as 1TB in the cloud. When the document is saved, press Share and enter the emails of those you want to share it to.

The greatest feature it brings is simultaneous editing when all the users with access to the doc can edit it at the same time. When one user makes an edit or leaves a comment, the others are notified about it immediately. You can even have a real-time discussion in the comment section.

Another great thing is that OneDrive saves versions of the document after each editing. If you think something is lost or edited wrong, you can return to the previous version and check whether it’s so. It’s way better than keeping various versions on your local drive and getting lost in them.

Excel: Go between Columns and Rows

Sometimes you don’t know from the beginning how to organize your data in Excel. You start creating rows for various parameters, type or paste them, cell by cell, and then decide that it would be better reorganized. How to make columns into rows quickly? Excel can do it.

You can change the layout, rotating the entire document or just a selected area. There is a special menu line for it. Select the area you want to transpose. Then select the Home tab, and click the arrow next to Paste icon. The app will open another dropout menu. Select “Transpose” in it.

After you fulfill this operation, the entire selected area will be reverted. The columns will become rows, and vice versa. This operation will also impact the cells you have unintendedly selected outside the area. So be careful and only select the cells you really want to transpose.

Word: Use Themes for Nicer Looks

A well-designed document will be easier to read, and it’s more pleasure to share these. To avoid plain default view, you can use themes that Microsoft Office has in excess. You can select the theme for any document, from your CV to a newsletter (yes, Office is a page making tool as well now).

When you create a new document, you can opt for the blank one (most of us do). But instead, there are many themes available from the beginning. Launch Word and just scroll down for themes; there are dozens of them, for various purposes.

When you want to format the document you have already made, you can do it in a click. GO to the Design tab and select “Themes” in the Document Formatting group in the left upper corner.

All the default themes can be applied to any document you make, sometimes changing its appearance dramatically. They feature various fonts, color schemes, heading styles, and thus impact the overall impression. Just choose the one that fits the content the best.

The most exciting thing about themes in Microsoft Word is that they are customizable. There are many themes you can download right in Word, and there are tools for creating your own. Still, if this trick is new to you, you better stick to themes created by pros.

Excel: Freeze Column and Row Headers 

One of the pros of Excel is its ability to handle enormous documents of many pages or lists. Each of them has a header for quicker navigation, but this useful feature gets nulled when there are too many of them. The headers become unreadable, thus of no much help just when you need it the most.

The way out is in freezing headers. This feature is a real way out for handling large tables. Of course, you will have to scroll to navigate to those out of the screen. But they will be readable, and scrolling will take less effort than clicking them one by one.

If you use a fresh version of Excel, go to the “View” tab. In older ones, it’s done through the “Layout” tab. You’ll find there a “Freeze Panes” menu. Click it to call out the dropdown list. The option you need looks like a spreadsheet with crossed-out boxes and a blue cell. Click it.

The further depends on what exactly you want to freeze. If you are getting lost in column headers, select “Freeze Top Row”. If the problem concerns the rows, select “Freeze First Column”. You must be careful: the option impacts just the area you see, so scroll it left or up to freeze the actual top row or first column. Unfreezing the headers is available in the same section. Just enter the “Freeze Panes” and click the “Unfreeze” option. 

If you want to freeze both, select the B2 (usually) cell, the first one with data – below and to the right of the header row and column. Then go to “Freeze Panes” (the same way) and click the eponymous option. It will freeze both the first column and the top row. Thus the headers will remain readable, no matter how many rows or columns your spreadsheet contains.

Keep Up The Good Office Work!

These are but a few tricks that make your living with Microsoft Office better. There are many tricks like this that can be found on specialized sites. We have selected those we find helpful in most common situations. And when you have a five-minute break, you may opt for exploring Office menus instead of playing a mobile arcade; you’ll find lots of surprising options for better productivity