Microsoft Excel is one of those applications which gets used for so many various tasks that it’s hard to overstate just how important learning some of it’s little tricks can be for improving your efficiency of this amazing application. In this our second part of a 3 part series on Microsoft excel we are sharing a little known secret for dealing with one of the most common frustrations that this application can present.
n the Microsoft Office suite of applications Excel is by far one of the most versatile of the bunch. Aside from just handling our day to day number crunching it is one of those programs we often jump in and out of for creating and viewing reports, calculating figures, and sometimes even just managing that office phone list. In this weeks ITech Insights we’re starting the first of a 3 part series of tips and tricks that can help to improve your efficiency in this amazing program.
One of the biggest drivers of a company’s success, regardless of the size, is collaboration. If your employees can’t work efficiently together or with external parties, chances of success are fairly slim. This is especially important for small businesses where employees may fill more than one role, often with only a basic understanding of that role, which leads to lower productivity. To make it easier for employees, you can use a program like Microsoft SharePoint.
SharePoint was launched by Microsoft in 2001 as a document and content management program for intranets – closed networks within a company. Over the past 11 years, SharePoint has added a ton of different capabilities and features that make it an integral part of many business’s infrastructure. One of the biggest advantages of SharePoint is that it integrates with Microsoft Office and Office 365. Here are five things you can do with SharePoint to help make your company and employees more productive.
- Centralize all essential documents. The problem many small businesses face is that files are spread out, normally kept locally on an employee’s computer which makes sharing difficult. SharePoint allows you to organize your files in a central location while allowing employees or other parties to access and share these documents.
- Collaboration. With centralized document management, your employees can collaborate easier. No more having to email another employee to get them to send a document then having to compile different versions into one document, as employees will have access to the same document with changes made clearly visible.
- Solidify goals and roles. Employees in small businesses often complain that they don’t know what their roles are and what exactly the company is doing. With SharePoint you can create lists and documents with your goals and expectations of employees, which they can access. Clearly defined goals and roles will go a long way in keeping employees productive because they will be able to see exactly what they should be doing.
- Project management. Project management can be one of the toughest things to keep on top of. One team may be using a separate calendar and documents that other teams don’t have access to causing productivity bottlenecks. With SharePoint you can create calendars and workflows that are shared on the network so you know exactly who is working on what, when it’s due and what’s left to be done.
- Stage-gate implementation. With the combination of calendars, workflow and shared documents you can establish a clearly defined stage-gates, a set point where document drafts, workflow process or any project needs to be approved to move on to the next step. This creates an element of control that keeps projects on track, and necessary parties informed at all times.
Through clever use of SharePoint and the different addons, you can reign in uncontrolled projects, keep track of projects and ensure your employees know what they should be doing. If you and your employees are organized and have easy access to data and collaboration tools, you will see an increase in productivity of both employees and the company. To learn more about how you can use SharePoint for your business, please contact us.
In business, a properly formatted document can go a long ways in showcasing how professional your company is, and often times, is the the main way to set your company apart from other competing entities. If you have a longer document, say a proposal, you’re going to need a Table of Contents (TOC). Instead of struggling to make your own, you can use stylized headings and have Word create one with two clicks of a mouse.
Here’s how you can add and modify headings to your document and have Word create a Table of Contents for you.
Many users will just bold titles and change the size of each heading to denote different levels of heading i.e., main headings are bold with a 16 point font, subheadings are bold with 14 point font and text is 12 point font. It’s recommended that you do this while writing the report so you can keep track of what’s what in your report.
When you’ve finished the report and have your headings and subheadings in place, it’s time to apply a heading style to them. First highlight your top level headings (not the main title of the report, but the headings for the main sections). On the Home tab, locate Styles and select Heading 1.
For second level headings, or subheadings, highlight and apply Heading 2. Subheadings thereafter follow the same structure. The reason for doing this is that it will help Word create a TOC that’s properly structured and has links that will take a user to the section when clicked.
If the headline styles Word applies don’t appeal to you, you can change it by going to the Styles group, pressing the grey arrow so the drop down menu opens. Right-click on the heading style you’d like to change and select Modify. You can also hit Ctrl-Shift-S. A window will open which allows you to customize the heading. Press Ok and Word will automatically change all headings that have that style. Note: changes made to a heading style will be saved.
Build a Table of Contents
Once you’ve assigned styles to headlines and modified them to meet your needs, you can get Word to insert/build a TOC. First select where you’d like it to go, and make a little space – one blank line above and below should be enough. Click References from the menu at the top of the window, and select Table of Contents. Pick the format you’d like and Word will create the TOC for you.
It’s generally a good idea to apply the heading styles and Table of Contents after you’ve finished the document. If you do need to make changes to the document, you’ll need to update the TOC by right-clicking anywhere on it and selecting Update.
A consistently formatted document goes a long way in impressing external investors or parties, in fact, many now expect a readable document. If your company produces sloppily formatted documents that are hard to read, you could risk losing business. If you would like to learn more about Microsoft Word or other Microsoft Office products, please contact us.
Microsoft enjoys a monopoly on Office suites for desktop computers, although where it’s lacking presence is in the smartphone and tablet markets. Because of this, many businesses are stuck without an office suite that allows them to open, create and edit documents on their Android tablets. App developers have realized this and have answered the call.
Here are four apps that have stepped up as alternatives for Microsoft Office on your Android Tablet.
Kingsoft Office - FREE Kingsoft Office allows you to open and edit Word and Excel files. You can only view PowerPoint and PDF files though. This app will also allow you to create Word and Excel documents. There are three versions of the app on the Google Play store, an English only version, an international version with support for 13 languages and a simplified Chinese version called WPS. If you can read simplified Chinese, go for the WPS version, as it has a few extra features. If not, go for the normal version.
Quickoffice Pro HD - USD 14.99 This app is quick, hence the name. With it you can use your tablet to create, edit and share Microsoft Office documents, spreadsheets, presentations and PDF files. You can also access and upload documents to major cloud services like Dropbox and Google Drive. Beyond that, you can send files to other users via SMS, email, Bluetooth and social media. Note that there are two versions of this program on the Google Play store. The HD version is for tablets only.
Google Drive - FREE with 5GB storage Google Drive is Google’s cloud storage/collaboration tool. When it was released, Google Docs was rolled into this service. While this app can read Office documents, it does have problems with Office related formatting. If your company uses Google Apps, then Google Drive is the app you should be using. If you’re expecting a full featured document editor, it’s a better idea to look at the other options.
Documents To Go - FREE to USD 14.99 Documents To Go is a free app that allows you to view Word, Excel, PowerPoint, PDF and Google Doc/Drive files. If you download the Full Version, you can create and edit Office files and PDFs. You’ll also be able to download and save Google Drive documents. There are two features that set this app apart. The first is that you can sync files from and to your Windows PC, and the second is that it has a layout that’s simple to use.
These four apps each offer something different, and between them they should meet your needs. If you need help choosing one that’s a perfect fit for you, please get in touch with us.
There are very few software programs used by nearly every business. One of these programs is Microsoft Office which is available on nearly every major operating system, and has captured a large user base. Word is Office’s word processor and is an integral part of most knowleddge work, yet some struggle to master it. To make using Word even easier, you can use keyboard shortcuts.
Here are 20 handy keyboard shortcuts for Word that can help improve your productivity, or make navigating easier.
General These shortcuts will do the same thing in all Microsoft programs.
- Ctrl + P: prints the document, spreadsheet or presentation. If you have more than one window open, the item you’re currently looking at will be printed.
- Ctrl + W: closes the window you have open.
- Ctrl + O: brings up the Open document window.
- F12: opens the Save As window.
- Ctrl + S: will save the document.
- Ctrl + C: copies what you’ve selected.
- Ctrl + X: cuts what you’ve selected.
- Ctrl + V: pastes what you’ve copied or cut.
- Ctrl + A: selects everything.
- Ctrl + F: will allow you to search the document for a word or sentence. If you press Replace in the window that opens, you’ll be able to find and replace words.
- Ctrl + Up arrow: moves up one paragraph from where the cursor - black, blinking line - is.
- Ctrl + Down arrow: moves down one paragraph from where the cursor is.
- Ctrl + Page Up: switches to the top of the previous page.
- Ctrl + Page Down: switches to the top of the next page.
- Ctrl + Shift + E: turns on track changes which will show any changes made to the document, convenient for editing. Pressing it again will turn track changes off.
- Ctrl + Shift + C: will copy the format of the selected text.
- Ctrl + Shift + V: pastes the previously copied format. Note: you need to select text to apply the copied format to.
- Ctrl + B/I/U: applies bold, italic or underlined formatting to selected text. If no text is selected, the respective formatting will be enabled.
- Tab: will move to the next selection. If you have a list with numbers or bullets, pressing Tab will indent the number or bullet in once, and change it to a subheading under the previous point. i.e., 2. will be indented and changed to a. as a subheading under 1.
- Shift + Tab: moves back, or moves one indent back (to the right). For lists, this will move the point up the hierarchy i.e., a. will be moved back to 2.
Think about the worst presentation you’ve even seen. Chances are high the audience was either asleep or completely disinterested. What made it so bad? Was it the presenter or was it the slides the presenter used? More times than not, it’s poorly prepared slides that ruin a presentation. Don’t let this happen to you.
Here are nine tips on how to prepare a good Microsoft PowerPoint presentation.
- Choose a relevant layout. When you choose the layout or template for your slides, pick something that’s simple and non-distracting. If you’re presenting yearly earnings, a background of flowers probably isn’t the best choice. Under no circumstances should you put your company’s logo as a background, this can make slides incredibly distracting. Put it in the header or footer instead.
- Colors. It’s important to pick a good colour scheme for your slides. The keyword here is, “contrast.” Pick colors that contrast and are easy on the eyes. A white background with black text is good, a red background with black text is bad. If you want to use your company’s colours and they don’t contrast well, pick one of your colors and another that’s a good contrast.
- Images. Pictures and graphics capture our attention, text puts us to sleep. The general rule of thumb is to have more visuals than text. Don’t have images for the sake of images, instead pick ones that convey what you want to say. Many good presenters will have a slide with nothing but an attention grabbing image, and use it to talk about their main idea.
- KISS your text. KISS stands for Keep It Stupidly Simple. Text should be kept to a minimum, at most five lines or bullet points per slide. The best presentations use only keywords or showcase the utmost important data and save explanations for the presentation.
- Eliminate animations. It can be tempting to have text or images pop up every few seconds. Resist the temptation, as it’s incredibly hard to match your presentation speed with that of the animations. Having to speed up or wait for animation will make you look unprofessional.
- Remain consistent. If there’s one key rule with presentations, it’s remain constant. This applies to everything in your presentation. Keep the font size, font, image type, colour scheme and layout the same throughout the presentation. If you put your logo in a header on one slide, it should be in the header on all the slides.
- Audience. When developing a presentation you should always keep in mind who your audience is. If you’re presenting to a marketing firm, they probably don’t need to see more than one or two slides with financial information. Beyond that, be sure to prepare a version of the slides for your audience. Any explanations and extra information should be put in here as well.
- Keep the file size down. If you’re presenting on another system or will be emailing the slides, it’s a good idea to ensure the file is as small as possible. The bigger it is, the slower it’ll load and the higher the chance it will stutter or crash.
- Practice. Go over the slides ahead of time and be sure you know the content inside and out. Another benefit to practicing is you will often catch mistakes and knowledge gaps that you can fix before you present.
“Microsoft PowerPoint”, “presentations” and “effective” are three common buzzwords used throughout all businesses. Heard separately, most employees are comfortable with each, but put all three together and a problem appears: Many presentations are simply not effective. Is this true for your organization?
It’s important that you, that as a manager, you ensure that your employees are creating PowerPoint presentations that are effective. Here are a few tips you can give to your employees to help them improve their presentations.
Simplify and minimize The best presentations are simple and minimal, often shifting focus from the presentation to the presenter. Minimal presentations follow the 6-6-6 rule. There should be no more than: 6 bullet points per slide, 6 words per bullet and 6 slides full of words in a row. Being visual creatures, you should encourage your employees to create slides with engaging and related visuals. A caveat: be sure that you have the rights to use the images.
A great rule taught in business schools across the country is: KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid). Refrain from using confusing words, jargon, uncommon acronyms and irrelevant information. Keep it short, sweet, and to the point. Following these rules will help engage the audience and hold their attention for a longer period of time.
Be consistent “Consistency is key” - a saying often used but rarely followed in the creation of PowerPoint presentations. You should ensure that grammar and spelling are all consistent, and errors are minimal, if existent at all. Have another employee or manager review it for errors and inconsistencies.
For the slides, use the same background and font throughout. The easiest way to ensure this is by using a template. A word of warning: don’t use templates that are heavily animated because they can cause significant distractions, and don’t choose backgrounds that are similar in color to your font. The best slides have a light color for a background with a darker font for your text.
Summarize The goal of most presentations is to build interest and inform or update the audience. In fact, the majority of audiences just want a short summary so they can develop their own questions to ask after the presentation, or at a later meeting.
When creating the presentation, be sure to keep the audience in mind. If a presentation is being made to IT managers, chances are it does not need to have advanced financial spreadsheets. If you are presenting on a topic that has lots of graphs, extra information, or appendices, put the most important information in the presentation and the rest in a handout. This will keep the audience’s attention on the presenter, not the slides.
Practice, preview, review Practice makes perfect. In an ideal world there would be hours and hours to practice and tweak a presentation. Normally, that’s not true. Schedule at least a comparable amount of time the day before a presentation for a dry run. Always review the presentation with your team and ask them for feedback. This will help encourage employees to keep improving and developing themselves.
For more tips and tricks on giving presentations using Microsoft PowerPoint and other Microsoft products, please contact us.
Microsoft word, excel, and powerpoint have all become a regular part of our day to day lives. But there is one more program in Microsofts suite of office applications that is often ignored and is by far one of the easiest to use and most useful of the bunch and in this weeks ITech Insights I’ll tell you all about it.