February 27th, 2014

Office_Feb24_CMicrosoft Office might not be the program that is top of mind with users these days, but you cannot deny the legendary success it has seen over the past 20 years. Moreover, the platform is still one of the most sought-after enterprise software products in the market. It is deemed to be Microsoft’s main revenue generator, as it is used by almost all companies globally. That being said, there may come a time when you need help with an Office program.

When it comes to helping you with solutions for your Office issues, here are five of the most common go-to places:


Let’s assume you’ve already installed Microsoft Office Suite and an application is already up and running. However, the problem is you need to figure out how to do something. Finding a solution can sometimes be frustrating, so follow one of two options to get a quick answer to your questions.

The first is to press F1 to open the help database. You can then search for a solution to your problem. The second option is to press the question mark '?' located in the upper right corner of any Office program. This will open the same solution database.

MS Diagnostics

Microsoft Office failures, such as your program crashing or not launching, don’t necessarily mean that the software is corrupt or needs to be reinstalled. There might be another root cause. But there's no need to panic, as Microsoft offers an in-house physician for your Office problems called MS Diagnostics.

This tool runs a number of tests on Office programs, identifying existing and potential problems. Basically, the MS Diagnostic tool is like an MRI that thoroughly scans your Office software application, and which can usually provide repair options too.

Office Support

If the issues with your Office applications are not repaired using MS Diagnostics, then you possibly need the help of Office Support. This is one of the six main tabs on the Microsoft Office website.

Once you open Office Support, it welcomes you with an opening question: “What do you need help with?”. You can then select a specific application or product or select All products in that field. In the search box, you can also enter certain keywords that are relevant to the issue. A consolidated list of results will be generated that match any words you have entered. Many users are able to find a solution to their problems by visiting this page.

Community forums

Sometimes, the information on the Microsoft website is too general and doesn’t go far enough in helping you find the solution you need. One way to get a more thorough and updated fix for your Office application problems is to look at the various Office oriented forums on the Internet. Many of these forums tackle issues regarding Microsoft Office, with corresponding solutions that have already been tested. Joining forums can be helpful, especially when you want to learn new information, such as the latest software upgrades.

Tech support

There are some issues that cannot be resolved using MS Diagnostics, website support, and community forums. If all else fails, then you might need to get in touch with Microsoft’s technical support. You can directly air out your concerns with a person who is an expert with technical Office issues.

If you’ve tried to fix problems with MS Office and don't seem to be getting anywhere or issues keep recurring, then give us a call now and we will find the best solutions for you.

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January 30th, 2014

Office_Jan27_CPresentations are not easy to create and deliver, and many people struggle with at least one aspect of the process. Presentation experts often cite what you need to do in order to give a successful presentation, with one of the most popular being the use of lists. When you create your next presentation in Microsoft PowerPoint try using a list.

What are lists in PowerPoint?

A common element of many PowerPoint presentations is the list. These lists are usually presented either ordered or unordered. Ordered lists use numbers like 1,2,3, while unordered lists use icons like dots which are commonly called bullets.

If you have a list with numbers or points in it, you will likely be better able to capture and retain the attention of your audience while making your presentations easier to read and follow. In fact, there are some presentation experts out there who only use bullet point lists, preferring to use these as a guide or pointers to note what to talk about.

How to put a list into your presentation

If you want to add a list to your presentation slides:
  1. Open your presentation or start a new one.
  2. Add a new slide and click on the text box.
  3. Enter your content and after each list item press Enter.
  4. Select the content you want to make into a list and press either the Numbered list or the Bulleted list icons under the Paragraphs section. This will put your content into a list.

Formatting your list

Once you have added a list to your presentation you may want to format it to make it more visible or even change the type of icon e.g., from 1 to I. You can do this by:
  1. Selecting your list.
  2. Pressing the arrow beside either the bullet list or numbered list icon in the Paragraph section of the Home ribbon.
  3. Clicking on Bullets and Numbering from the drop down menu.
  4. Selecting the icon you like, as well as color and size, and pressing Ok.

Tips for better lists in your presentation

  • Know the difference between bullets and numbers - For the most part, there is little difference between bullets and numbers. That being said, numbers usually indicate a ranking or steps. Bullets are often used for points that are all equal, or at least don't need to be ranked specifically.
  • Limit the number of list items - The best presentations limit the number of list items on each slide. It is a good idea to have no more than 4-6 points per slide. This helps ensure that your audience can read the slides and will pay attention longer, instead of reading the list and stopping listening.
  • Bold the main point - If you are going to have a list with text explaining the main point, bold the main point and put it first. Much like this list on this post. This will highlight the main point you are trying to make to your audience.
  • Keep text to a minimum - No one likes to read large amounts of text in a presentation. In fact, most people will stop listening to you to read the slides. Try to have no more than one to a maximum of two lines of text per list item.
  • Think about whether to animate - In most professional presentations, it is best to leave out the animations. These can take too much time to actually show or can even lead to mistakes that can be difficult to recover from while presenting e.g., clicking advance too early. On the other hand, some animations are useful, especially if you need to draw attention to an important fact.
If you are looking to learn more about using PowerPoint and the other programs included in Microsoft Office please contact us today.
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January 3rd, 2014

Office_Jan02_CThe spreadsheet is one of the most valuable tools available to business managers and owners, and Microsoft Excel is the most popular spreadsheet program. Excel has many features that make it popular. Among the most useful is the ability to create charts and graphs that allow users to visualize their data. Excel 2013 offers a new feature - Quick Analysis - that makes visualizing data even easier.

Below is an overview of the Quick Analysis tool in Microsoft Excel 2013.

What is Quick Analysis?

In older versions of Excel, if you wanted to visually analyze your data, you would have to first create a chart or graph and then format it. This could take some time and also lead to mistakes, not to mention the fact that it can be a challenge to pick the correct type of chart or graph for your data type.

To make it easier to visualize your data, the Quick Analysis tool was introduced with Excel 2013. This feature allows users to instantly create charts and graphs with the click of a button. It even suggests a visualization method that best fits your data, making picking the correct way to show the information far easier. You can even add miniature graphs to single cells - called Sparklines - that allow you to quickly spot trends without having to look at a full graph.

How to use Quick Analysis

Enter your data in a spreadsheet, and if need be include column headings.
  1. Select the data you would like to visualize.
  2. Press Ctrl + Q to open the Quick Analysis gallery. You can also select this by hovering your mouse over the bottom-right corner of the selected cells and clicking the icon that pops up.
  3. Select the tab you want e.g., Charts for suggested charts. Note: The options available to you will change based on the type of data you have selected.
  4. Hover your mouse over an option to see a preview of the selected visualization.
  5. Click on your choice to create the visualization in a new worksheet.

Which Quick Analysis is best?

When you open the Quick Analysis gallery you will notice that you have five different options:
  1. Formatting - Lets you adjust the data you have highlighted. You can set a color for the data to set it apart and quickly see both high and low values, or even remove formatting altogether.
  2. Charts - Lets you select different charts and graphs based on the data you have selected. This can include pie charts, bar graphs, line charts, etc. If you press More Charts you will be able to select from a larger list.
  3. Totals - Lets you calculate numbers in rows or columns. Some useful options include Running Total which keeps a total even when you add more data, and Sum which will total either a column, row or the total sheet. Be sure to pay attention to the colored dots in the icon as they indicate whether a row or column will be calculated.
  4. Tables - Allows you to create tables or sub-tables using just the selected data. You can also create a pivot table. You should also be able to select More if the type of table you need isn't there.
  5. Sparklines - Allows you to add small charts beside your data. These one to two cell visualizations are great for quickly identifying trends within your data.
If you are looking to learn more about Excel 2013 and how you can leverage it in your business, contact us today.
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January 3rd, 2014

Office365_Jan02_CThe office productivity suite is among the most important business tools. From the word processor to spreadsheets, Microsoft's cloud-based Office 365 has it all, and businesses are adopting it in greater numbers. In order to provide businesses with the software they need, Microsoft relies heavily on plans. While these plans are great, upgrading to a new one isn't always as easy as it could be - an issue Microsoft recently set out to fix.

Microsoft recently introduced the Switch Plans feature has to the business versions of Office 365, which makes it easier for some users to upgrade.

What is Switch Plans?

As you can probably guess from the name, the idea of the Switch Plans feature is to allow business users the ability to change plans. While this has always been an option, many businesses let Microsoft know that it was tougher than it should be to actually upgrade their plans.

To make switching easier, Microsoft introduced the ability of plan administrators to switch plans directly in the admin center of Office 365, using the Switch Plans Wizard.

Can every business user Switch Plans?

This feature only applies to companies who currently use the business versions of Office 365 e.g., Office 365 Small Business Premium. In other words, this should apply to almost all companies using the suite.

There is one caveat you should be aware of before considering using this feature to upgrade: You can only upgrade using the Switch Plans Wizard. If you want to downgrade, say from Mid-Size Business to Small Business Premium, you will have to make the change manually. Your current plan also needs to be eligible for an upgrade. For example Office 365 Midsize Business users can only upgrade to:

  • Office 365 Enterprise E1
  • Office 365 Enterprise E3
  • Office 365 Enterprise E4
Office 365 Small Business users can upgrade to:
  • Office 365 Small Business Premium
  • Office 365 Midsize Business
  • Office 365 Enterprise E1
  • Office 365 Enterprise E3
  • Office 365 Enterprise E4
If you would like to upgrade to another plan that isn't on the list above, or the full list located here, you will have to upgrade manually.

How do I switch plans?

If you are an admin and would like to upgrade the plan your company is currently subscribed to, and the upgrade is on the list in the link above, you can do so by:
  1. Logging into your Office 365 account. You should be able to do so directly from your main Office 365 portal e.g.,, or
  2. Pressing on Admin, which is located in the top menu bar if you are an admin, followed by Licensing or Manage and purchase licenses.
  3. Click on Switch plans under the Plan Options field for the account you would like to upgrade.
  4. Select the plan you would like to upgrade to in the window that opens.
  5. Click Next and follow the on-screen prompts for checkout.
  6. Select Status on the Order Completed page to finalize the upgrade.
Your accounts should be upgraded to the new plan within 10 minutes, but may take longer if there are any issues to resolve. Before you do anything, or if you have any questions, it would be a good idea to contact us. We can help ensure that your change of plans goes smoothly.
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November 7th, 2013

Office_Nov05_COne of the more important keys to creating professional looking documents is efficient use of white space. There are many ways to go about this and one of the easiest is to modify the layout, or use different page margins. If you use Microsoft Word, this is actually quite easy to achieve, and can be a great way to make your reports and documents look even better.

Below is an overview of how to adjust the margins of your Microsoft Word documents.

Why should I worry about margins? If you are trying to create a document that will be printed, or are looking to make a document look as professional as possible, you will need to know about margins. In general, they are often the key to creating clean and readable content, due to the fact that they set how much white space surrounds each page and document.

The seven different margins In Word 2010 and 2013, you have seven different styles of margin to choose from:

  1. Normal - The default setting for Word 2010. Margins are set at 1 inch (1") at the top, bottom, left, and right. This is adequate for most printing and online needs, and can be especially useful for stapled or double-sided documents.
  2. Narrow - Has margins that are half that of the Normal setting (0.5" of white space at the top, bottom, left and right of the document). This can be ideal for content-heavy documents that need to be fitted onto one page, or internal documents that don't need a letterhead, headers and footers.
  3. Moderate - Has the same 1" top and bottom margins as the Normal style, but the left and right margins are 0.75 inches. This looks good for almost any internal reports that are not being bound, and is best used for documents that won't be printed.
  4. Wide - With the same top and bottom margins as the Normal layout, this style has wider left and right margins at 2 inches. A good use for this margin is if you are printing a report or document that will be bound.
  5. Mirrored - This margin setting is ideal for documents that will be published in the style of a book, or will be folded vertically. Margins are 1 inch at the top and bottom; 1.25 inches on the inside seam and 1 inch on the outside.
  6. Office 2003 Default - Because many older printers were limited by the length of their ribbon and couldn't print documents with narrow margins, Office 2003 had default margins of 1 inch at the top and bottom and 1.25 inches on the left and right. If you use older printers in your office, this is a good setting to use for your Word Documents.
  7. Custom Margins - You can also set your own margins. If you have a printer that can only print specific margins, then you can click this to create your own settings. Note: If you set a margin that is too narrow for the majority of printers, Word will flash a warning message to remind you.
Applying margins You can apply or change the margins to Word 2010 and 2013 documents by:
  1. Opening the document you wish to modify.
  2. Clicking on Page Layout, located in the toolbar at the top of the screen.
  3. Clicking on the arrow beside Page Margins which is located in the Page Setup section.
  4. Selecting one of the pre-existing margins or customizing your own.
  5. Selecting OK.
Viewing margins There are a couple of different ways to view the margins you have set. The first is to look at the top and sides of your document. You should see a ruler below the options buttons, but above the actual document. The white area of the ruler is where the content will be and the grey area is the margin. If you don't see the ruler press on the View menu bar and select Ruler. Try this when in print layout view as this will give you an accurate picture of what your document will look like when printed.

If you would like Word to display dotted lines indicating the page margins, you can display these by:

  1. Clicking File followed by Options.
  2. Selecting Advanced.
  3. Ticking the box beside Show text boundaries under the Show document content section.
You should be aware that the dotted margin lines will not show up on printed documents, and may not show up in all views.

Looking to learn more about Word, or any of the other Microsoft Office products? Please contact us today to see how we can help.

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October 9th, 2013

Office_Oct07_CWhen it comes to saving documents that will be viewed by clients or people online, the PDF (Portable Document Format) is the go-to file type. It allows users to save documents and files with the layout and formatting intact, and can be viewed as-is by users on nearly all systems. Because of this, it can be a good idea to save final versions of Microsoft Word documents as PDFs.

Here's how you can save Microsoft Word 2010 and 2013 documents as PDFs.

Saving a Word 2010 document as a PDF

  1. Create and format the document as you would like the reader to see it if it were to be printed.
  2. Click File followed by Save As.
  3. Enter a name for the file in the Filename box. Be sure the name is easy to read and understandable. A bunch of numbers and unintelligible words will likely decrease the chances of the file being opened, or passing spam filters if emailed.
  4. Click on Save as type and select PDF.
  5. Select either Standard (for print and publishing online) or Minimum (for publishing online).
  6. Click Save.
Saving a Word 2013 document as a PDF
  1. Create and format the document as you would like the reader to see it if it were to be printed.
  2. Click File followed by Export.
  3. Select Create PDF/XPS from the menu that opens.
  4. Click Publish.
Word will create a PDF copy of the Word document and by default, save it to the same file the document is in.

Things to remember when creating PDFs Here are three important things to remember when creating PDFs in Word:

  • They are not meant to be edited. Because PDFs capture the formatting and layout of a document, they are often seen to be the final versions. As such, they are fairly hard to edit. It is better to ensure that the document is exactly what you want and error free before creating a PDF.
  • The simplest way to edit. The easiest way to edit a PDF is to actually edit the original Word document and then re-save it as a PDF. You can even use the same name, just confirm that you would like to replace the existing file. If this file has been uploaded to a website, you may want to re-upload it to ensure the correct version is online.
  • You can open PDFs and convert them to Word documents. To do this in Word 2013 select File, Open and select the PDF you would like to open. This should convert the document and open it with all images and content. Beware that formatting may be off or inconsistent and will likely need some work to make it readable or presentable.
  • Be sure to open and check the PDF before sending. Take a look for any formatting issues or problems with spacing and layout. The file should look exactly the same as the Word document.
If you are looking to learn more about using Microsoft Office in your company, please contact us today to see how we can help, or if we have a solution for you.
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July 18th, 2013

Office_July15_CNavigation and interaction with a computer is typically done through a keyboard and a mouse. In some programs, worksheets for instance, many users will rely on the keyboard simply because it's quicker. This is one of the reasons why programmers have implemented keyboard shortcuts into programs like Microsoft Excel.

If you have upgraded to Office 2013, you may not know of some of the useful keyboard shortcuts you can use in Excel. Here are 18.

Ctrl combinations

  • Ctrl+PgDwn/PgUp - Switches in between worksheets. Pressing PgDown will move to the worksheet to the left, and PgUp will move to the worksheet to the right.
  • Ctrl+Shift+$ - When a cell or cells are highlighted, this will apply currency formatting with two decimal places and negative numbers in parentheses ().
  • Ctrl+Shift+% - When a cell or cells are highlighted, this will apply percentage formatting with no decimal places.
  • Ctrl+Shift+# - When a cell or cells are highlighted, this will apply the date format with day, month and year.
  • Ctrl+A - With no columns or rows selected will select every cell in the workbook.
  • Ctrl+C - With a cell(s) selected will copy the information in the cells.
  • Ctrl+V - With a cell(s) selected will paste the copied information in the cells.
  • Ctrl+Z - Will undo the last action.
Function combinations
  • Alt+Shift+F1 - Will insert a new worksheet.
  • Shift+F2 - When a cell or cells are selected will allow you to insert a comment, or edit an existing comment.
  • F4 - Repeats the last command or action if possible.
  • F6 - Will switch between the worksheet, Ribbon, Task pane and Zoom controls.
  • F7 - Will run the spell check on the currently open worksheet.
  • F11 - If you press this when you have cells selected, this will create a chart with the data in a new chart sheet.
Other useful keys
  • Arrow keys - Will move one cell up, down, left or right in the current worksheet you are looking at.
  • Delete - Will clear the currently selected cells of all information while keeping any formatting and comments.
  • Page Down/Up - Pressing Page Down will move one screen down in the worksheet you are currently looking at, while Page Up will move one screen up.
  • Tab - Will move one call to the right in the worksheet and will confirm and enter information if you already have it in one cell.
There are many other keyboard shortcuts and combinations you can use in Excel, these are the common ones that many users will use on a regular basis. If you would like to learn more about Excel or any of the other Office programs, please contact us today to see how we can help.
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July 3rd, 2013

Office365_July2_COne of the most important business tools used by businesses and employees in nearly every position, is the mobile phone. One reason smartphones are so popular is that the apps enable users to do pretty much everything. iPhone users have multiple document related apps, but an official Microsoft Office app has always been lacking. Until now that is.

On 14 June, 2013, Microsoft launched Microsoft Office Mobile for the iPhone, on Apple's App Store. For Office, and Office 365 users, this app has been a long time coming. The question is, does it live up to expectations?

About Microsoft Office Mobile app First off the good news: The app is free for iPhone users. The main aspect to be aware of with this app is that it's not meant to replace Microsoft Office on your desktop. It's more of a companion app which extends where and how you can use or interact with Office.

You can open, edit and create Word, PowerPoint, and Excel documents, which are shown in their original format and automatically resized to fit the device's screen size. From the documentation we've seen, the app has support for charts, animations and shapes, which means that documents created on your computer should be the same as on your iPhone. This certainly makes the app enticing to Office users, especially those with Office 2013.

As with all companion apps however, there are some caveats that make this app less than perfect.

Caveat 1: The app requires an Office 365 subscription In order for this app to work, you will have to have an Office 365 subscription to either: Office 365 Home Premium, ProPlus, or one of the business offerings that incorporates the Office desktop suite e.g., Office 365 Midsize Business. How this works is that the app is tied into a SkyDrive or SkyDrive Pro account, which is the same account used for your Office 365 subscription.

If you or your company has an Office 365 subscription and the Office 2013 desktop software, this app will be useful to you, as you will also be able to open and save files to the cloud (SkyDrive) and share them through Mail. If you don't have an Office 365 subscription, you will have to upgrade your plan, which will involve making some changes if you don't have Office 365.

Caveat 2: It's only for the iPhone The app is currently only available in the iPhone format. It will run on the iPad, but the app will only show in the iPhone's screen size, making it harder to use on the tablet. This may be a problem if you want to use the iPad for presentations, or work on other Office documents while on the go.

There is no word on when, or if, there will be an iPad app, or an Android app for that matter. If you would like to learn more about how Office 365 can help make your business more efficient, or what you can do with it, please contact us today.

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Topic iPhone
June 20th, 2013

Office_June18_CThere are many tools that business owners and managers have at their disposal that enable them to do their jobs more effectively. One of the most important is the word processor, with the most popular being Microsoft Word. Word is favored because of the multitude of features available for users. There are many features that often go unused however, one being the ability to protect documents and set who can access and edit your documents.

Here's how you can protect your Word documents.

You will see a new window pane open with three options:

  1. Formatting restrictions - Allows you to set restrictions based on styles used in your document. Hitting the radio beside this option will enable this. You can click on Settings to select which styles can be edited. Pressing OK will input the changes.

  2. Editing restrictions - Allows you to select how users will be able to edit the document. If you press the radio button beside this option, you will be able to select from four options:

    1. Tracked Changes - Users can make changes which are automatically tracked.

    2. Comments - Users can only comment, not make changes.

    3. Filling in forms - Only forms may be filled in.

    4. No changes - No alteration can be made to the document.

  3. Start Enforcing - Clicking Yes, Start Enforcing Protection will implement the protection you have picked in one of the options above.

You should see a new option in the window pane: Exceptions. This is where you can make exceptions to the level of document protection you have established. If you have set up User Groups in your network, you will see them in this option. Clicking the button beside a specific group will give them full permission to edit documents. You can also click More users... and add users by their name or email address who will become an exception to these rules.

When you have the settings established, click the Yes, Start Enforcing Protection button. If you need to make changes, or remove protection, open up the Protect Document window pane again and untick the box beside the protection option you choose. This will remove document protection.

Protecting your documents is a good idea, especially if you are going to send these out to clients or a third party who you don't want to be able to make changes, or edit. Some practical examples of this in action include a contract you send out to potential clients or employees, or sending out marketing materials with price lists.

If you would like to learn more about how you can leverage Word's vast features to improve documents, please contact us today to see how we can help.

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May 23rd, 2013

Office_May21_CWhen someone mentions 'breaking' something, most will think of the physical action. Writers will think of something different. A break in writing means an extended space. You see breaks at the end of chapters in novels and reports that shift to another section. These breaks are an integral part of document formatting, and yet many Microsoft Word users still use them incorrectly, if at all. If you've ever had trouble formatting a document, why not try breaking your text?

There are numerous types of text breaks you can use in Word:

  • Page break - Will insert a break where the cursor is and move the next line of text to the following page. This break is good for formatting reports and other longer documents, especially if you have headings with multiple subheadings; a page break between each main heading will make a report easier to read.
  • Column break - If you have a document with more than one column, inserting a column break will move the cursor or text to the next column on the right. If you don't have columns, this will function as a page break.
  • Section break - There are four different types of section breaks that can be used when you want to divide a document into different sections. For example, if you have a report where 3 pages need to be in a column, you can insert a section break around these pages and format them separately from the rest of the document.
  • Line break - These breaks will move text to the next line. This can be useful if your document has an extra line between paragraphs, or when you are writing a list and need to add another paragraph without a new list point. You can insert a line break by hitting Shift+Return.

How to break your documents If you need to insert a break in your document, we first recommend that you turn on Show/Hide. This can be done by:

  1. Clicking on Tools from the menu bar at the top of the window.
  2. Selecting Options followed by the View tab in the window that pops up.
  3. Ticking All under the Formatting Marks section.
  4. Clicking Ok.

This will show all formatting marks on the document, making it easier for you to see what breaks and changes to formatting you have made. You can then insert breaks by:

  1. Clicking where you would like to insert the break in the document (The break will be inserted where the blinking cursor is located, so be sure it's in the right spot.)
  2. Clicking Insert from the menu bar at the top of the screen followed by Break.
  3. Ticking the type of break you want to insert.
  4. Clicking Ok.

Breaks are a great way to create documents that not only look more professional but are easier to read. If you are looking to learn more about using Word to its full potential, please contact us today.

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