Category Archives: Free Educational Opportunities

Formatting your Excel Workbook: Best Practices

Have you ever opened up a workbook that kind of looked like Christmas threw up all over it? If it’s not formatted appropriately, it can make it pretty difficult to make sense of the actual data that’s contained in it. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had students tell me that the number one goal is to “make their workbooks look pretty”. While there’s certainly nothing wrong with wanting to do that, it’s important to remember the most crucial aspect – the data. When you get caught up with fonts, shading, borders, and the like, it’s easy to lose sight of that. The workbook should be formatted to make it easier to read, establish a sense of professionalism, draw attention to specific points or elements within the workbook and provide continuity between the worksheets. If you have too much formatting, it can overwhelm the data, while too little can make it harder to understand. ALWAYS REMEMBER: when it comes to formatting, the end goal is not just to make the workbook “pretty”, but to accentuate the important trends and relationships in the data you’re working with. Here are some tips to help you along:

  • Use similar colours to differentiate types of cell content and to direct users where to enter data
  • Avoid garish colour combinations that could annoy the reader and be difficult to read
  • Ensure output is readable on both black-and-white and colour printers
  • Understand your printer’s limitations and features; colours that look great on your monitor may not print quite as well
  • Be sensitive to your audience: about 8% of all men and 0.5% of women have some type of colour blindness and may not be able to see text with certain colour combinations; red-green colour blindness is the most common, so try to avoid using red text on a green background or green text on a red background

Interested in learning more about formatting in Excel? Come and attend our FREE webcast! For more information, just send us an email with your name, phone number, and company name (if applicable). We’ll send you all the information you need to sign up. Please note: the webcast is based on Microsoft Excel 2010; however, the information you’ll learn in the session will be applicable to Microsoft 2007 and 2013 as well.

If you’ve got any Microsoft Office tips and tricks you want to share, let us know!


-Katie Caplan
Instructor & Office Manager
Sector Learning Solutions

New Time and Location for Victoria SharePoint Users Group in June 2013


The next Victoria SharePoint Users Group meeting is:
Thursday, June 13, 2013

with a NEW TIME of:
11:30 am – 2:00pm
and a NEW VENUE of:
Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre (Gate 3)
1925 Blanshard Street, Victoria, BC
and a NEW AGENDA format:

11:30 to 12:00 – Meet & Greet, and grab a snack.
12:00 to 1:00 – Speaker # 1 – REFRESHER SESSION: SharePoint 101 for the busy Project Manager, Sean Wallbridge (itgroove)
1:00 to 2:00 – Speaker #2 – REPEAT PRESENTATION: BC Ferries SharePoint Implementation – Il buono, il brutto, il cattivo, Rob Morrison (BC Ferries)

To understand the reasoning behind the new changes you can read vSharePoint host Sean Wallbridge explanation on the vSharePoint Meetup page. If you have any concerns with the changes, you can send your comments to Sean for review.

This month vSharePoint will be playing a game of heads or tails to see who goes home with a new, unlocked Nokia Lumia 800 Windows Phone.

Eight people have already reserved their seats – including Sector Learning Solutions’ Manny Mandrusiak. Reserve your spot today.

-Kelly Marshall,
Director of Communications,
Sector Learning Solutions

May 2013 vSharePoint Meetup Summary


Victoria SharePoint User Group –
summary of May 9, 2013 meetuP

Eighteen members attended this meetup and including Sector Learning Solutions’ new Collaboration Systems Business Analyst, Rebeca Saenz. Thank you to Rebeca for taking notes on the presentations to create this summary!

Rob Morrison’s BC Ferries SharePoint Implementation presentation offered insight into “the good, the bad, and the ugly” of their SharePoint implementation – placing emphasis on what worked for them and what they would do differently in the future.

After illustrating the key pain points that BC Ferries faced – including a lengthy and complicated document change request approval process in conjunction with 12,000 paper documents stored in a 26 foot wall of cumbersome binders that resulted in bottlenecks and difficulty finding information – he highlighted the ways that SharePoint optimized processes, created a culture of communication, and reduced use of paper.


Rob shared a brilliant tip for others seeking a smooth transition – the creation of a “Ten Commandments” document – containing a list of rules for staff to follow  – including best practices such as using standard SharePoint templates for root pages and assigning a “leader” to maintain each SharePoint site.


Sean Wallbridge’s The Book of 5’s presentation took a fun, interactive, approach – and solidified his preferred title of “SharePoint Jedi” by emphasizing the fact that although there are SharePoint MVPs (of which he is one), there are no experts, just those who continue to explore the ever evolving ways of the SharePoint force.


Sean shared a series of top five lists he has compiled on all things SharePoint then asked the audience to share their recommendations of what they would include on said lists.


The list of  Top Five Websites to Follow for SharePoint-related Content included,, and Twitter (#SharePoint) – and was bolstered by the following audience contributions –, and (because who doesn’t love witty comics!).

To access the PowerPoint slides from this and past vSharePoint meetup presentations delivered by Sean and other itgroove staff – check out their SlideShare account –

Some feedback on the event from attendees:

“This was a great meetup.  Very informative presentations, and looking forward to continuing Sean’s Top 5!” – Tammy Ruffolo

“A good combination, each presentation so different
and therefore stimulating in different ways…” – Tom Benjamin

When’s the Next Meetup?

The June vSharePoint meetup is scheduled for: Thursday, June 13, 2013.

I have some insider information – vSharePoint organizer and event host, Sean Wallbridge, is planning on mixing things up – with a NEW location and NEW meetup time.

Want to be ‘in the know’? Make sure you’re a member of the vSharePoint Meetup group to receive email announcements of any changes – as well as the speakers and topics for June.

-Kelly Marshall,
Director of Communications,
Sector Learning Solutions

Speakers for vSharePoint Users Group on May 9, 2013


The May 2013 vSharePoint Users Group Meetup on:
Thursday, May 9, 2013 at regular start time of: 6:30 pm – 8:00pm

14 spots already taken – reserve your spot today! (free event, free pizza)

Keith Tuomi of itgroove will be hosting the May meetup.

Who Will Presenting at the MAY meetup?

Speaker #1:

Rob Morrison (IT Manager – Maintenance, BI, SharePoint, BC Ferries)
Presentation Title: BC Ferries SharePoint Implementation – Il buono, il
brutto, il cattivo

Overview: BC Ferries went live with SharePoint 2010 in January
2011. Rob will share his experiences and challenges with not only getting a
government organization using current technology, but also moving from a “need to know” to a collaborative culture. Some of the challenges should be fairly
common so it would be good to hear from you on how you overcame them at your company as well.

About Rob: Rob recently moved to Victoria and joined BC Ferries in
April 2010 after spending 10 years with Teekay Shipping. While with Teekay (one of the largest crude oil, LNG, “super tanker” companies), Rob was fortunate to work out of Glasgow, Scotland for the last 5 years looking after IT Operations
for the region. Rob has had brief stints with; Electronic Arts looking after IT
studio support and playing video games, IBM rolling out a GSM network in Saudi Arabia while getting a suntan, and 360networks where he still has the “R” from the company sign after they went bankrupt.

Speaker #2:

Sean Wallbridge (SharePoint MVP, itgroove)
Presentation Title: The book of 5’s

Overview: I’ve been compiling various “Top 5 lists” as I get asked often what I use most, what I think about most, etc. when approaching various SharePoint customers. So I thought I’d share some of these and solicit feedback as we go as I’m sure others will have their own to share. Some examples include: 5 reasons to upgrade to SharePoint 2013, 5 reasons to go to the cloud, 5 reasons to avoid the cloud, my 5 Favourite 3rd party components, 5 tips to get SharePoint user      buy in, 5 roles to hire for to build a solid SharePoint corporate support team, my 5 Favourite muppets – the list goes on 😉

About Sean: Sean is the President and Principal Consultant of itgroove and is a 5 Time SharePoint MVP and Evangelist. Sean likes to characterize himself as a “SharePoint Jedi” (there are no experts, just those who continue to explore the enormous ways of the SharePoint force) and there is no better way to describe Sean’s enthusiasm for SharePoint!

Sean and itgroove ( specialize in bringing an informed, professional SharePoint experience to the small and mid-size companies that form the backbone of business in British Columbia and Canada. In addition to being a SharePoint MVP, Sean has a rich background in the Windows world and carries many certifications including CISSP, MCSE, MCT and MCSA. Sean has lived and worked internationally (Bermuda) and still carries on an international consulting practice from his base at itgroove in Victoria.

-Kelly Marshall,
Director of Communications,
Sector Learning Solutions

April 2013 vSharePoint Meetup Summary


Victoria SharePoint User Group –
summary of April 11, 2013 meetup

Fourteen members attended this meetup and were rewarded by a (accidental)double order of pizza – Hot House Pizza trumped Dominos as the clear favourite.

Keith Tuomi’s Document Sets 101 presentation included a live demo  in the Office 365 test site – an excellent resource for those wanting a fully populated test site to show off the new features in 2013 to colleagues.

(Sidenote: Office 365 allowed us to see a new feature available in SharePoint 2013 – the ability to drag-and-drop files into the main page of the library using IE, Chrome or Firefox!)

For those who don’t know, Document Sets allow site administrators to create a “glorified folder on steroids” used to group documents and files that are stored within one library together so that they share metadata and have a common homepage, workflows, and archival process. Fortunately, if your library contains files for multiple projects, you can set up multiple document set types in the library.

So why does this matter? Document Sets free you from having to use folders to organize data when a hierarchical structure is not required. When data is nested in folders you have to apply metadatas and workflows to each folder one at a time. Document Sets allow you to apply these in one place reducing inefficiency and saving you time.

Chris Stone’s Back to Basics: Permissions presentation highlighted his ability to transform a topic that is often migraine-inducing for new SharePoint site administrators into a clear, easy-to-absorb concept.

Some feedback on the event from attendees:

“The double  pizza order was stupendous and the topics were quite relevant for me.”

“Good information was shared. I learned some new things especially some tangentially-related “gotchas” to watch out for.”

Join the Victoria SharePoint Users Group to access copies of both presenter’s PowerPoint slides.

When’s the Next Meetup?

The May vSharePoint meetup is scheduled for: Thursday, May 9, 2013 from 6:30 PM to 9:00 PM at Sector Learning Solutions’ training centre. Presenters and topics for May meetup will be announced in early May.

-Kelly Marshall,
Director of Communications,
Sector Learning Solutions

April 2013 vSharePoint Meetup Topics- Document Sets 101 & Back to Basics: Permissions

The April 2013 vSharePoint Users Group Meetup on:
Thursday, April 11, 2013
at regular start time of:
6:30 pm – 8:00pm

9 spots already taken – reserve your spot today!
(free event, free pizza, free fun)

Sean Wallbridge, of itgroove, will be away so Chris Stone, of Sector Learning Solutions, will be hosting the April meetup.

Who Will Presenting at the april meetup?

Speaker #1:

Keith Tuomi (SharePoint Consultant –
Title: Document Sets 101

Overview: Keith Tuomi will be presenting on the benefits of using document sets and folders in SharePoint. You can think of a document set as a “folder on steroids”  – they allow you to group related documents together so that they share metadata and have a common homepage, workflows, and archival process.

When working on projects, people seldom create individual documents. For many kinds of projects, it might be more typical to produce a set of multiple related documents. In some cases, this set of documents might be the end result of a project, or the “deliverable.” For example, a professional services company might produce a pitch book in response to each request for proposal that it receives from a possible client. These documents may be produced simultaneously or in phases by one or more people, and they might involve documents of different file formats (for example, Word documents, PowerPoint presentations, Visio diagrams, Excel files, etc.).

Keith will run through how you can leverage Document Sets in your organization and how to determine how document metadata fits into the picture. This presentation is geared towards content managers and information architects, however should benefit anyone involved with SharePoint. No code or configuration will be inflicted on the audience!

About Keith: Keith Tuomi is a Microsoft-focused Developer and web systems expert who has been making Bulletin Boards, Websites and Applications since the late 80’s. He’s lived and worked abroad in places like Germany and Saudi Arabia, and recently returned home to BC to discover the great combination of itgroove and SharePoint. He is currently learning, blogging, and helping clients achieve success with SharePoint under the mentoring of itgroove’s head Microsoft MVP, Sean Wallbridge.

Keith’s Blog:

Speaker #2:

Chris Stone (Operations Manager; Collaboration Systems Business Analyst –
Title: Back to Basics: Permissions

Overview: SharePoint Permissions are often the single most challenging element for a new administrator to learn. Chris Stone will break Permissions down into its key components and then run through multiple examples of how to properly setup permissions using different situations that you might encounter in the office environment.

About Chris: Chris joined the Sector Learning Solutions team in October 2010 as an Applications Specialist. He moved into a Collaboration Systems Business Analyst role in November 2011. In January 2013 he accepted a promotion to Operations Manager. Chris holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree from UVIC, with a specialization in International Business.

Chris’ Blog:

-Kelly Marshall,
Director of Communications,
Sector Learning Solutions

March 2013 vSharePoint Meetup Summary


Victoria SharePoint User Group –
summary of March 14, 2013 meetup

Seventeen members of the Victoria SharePoint User Group welcomed one of the pioneers of the Vancouver SharePoint User Group, Yaroslav Pentsarskyy, to its March meetup. What a treat to have two SharePoint MVPs in the room!


Yaroslav’s presentation on the growing community of downloadable SharePoint apps was well-received by the entire room, with only laughter punctuating the silence as the audience hung on his every word. His presentation style transformed a typically “tech-heavy” subject into an informative talk that engaged the entire audience.


SharePoint developers and administrators gained insight into how to build SharePoint apps using the “app builder” app while SharePoint end-users were introduced to the Microsoft App Store where 99 unique apps are already available for purchase (58 of which are free!).


Gerry Brimacombe posed the question “Is Paperless Possible?” to the audience during his presentation. He provided examples from a Sector case study of how SharePoint is being used by a client to improve their bottom line by reducing the cost of relying on paper for day-to-day administrative tasks.


One key way that this is actualized is through changing the corporate culture to place the onus on the individual to decide if they want to print a document. Similar to a consumption tax, this process could require the individual to absorb the cost of printing, instead of company.


The presentation generated a great deal of discussion resulting in a lively debate. Ultimately, and in summary, the group deduced that being 100% paperless is not possible. This YouTube video, shared with the group by Gerry, illustrated that point clearly and with humour.

Join the Victoria SharePoint Users Group to access copies of both presenter’s PowerPoint slides and see the rest of the pictures from the event.

When’s the Next Meetup?

The April vSharePoint meetup is scheduled for:
Thursday, April 11, 2013
from 6:30 PM to 9:00 PM
at Sector Learning Solutions’ training centre.
Presenters and topics for April meetup will be announced in early April.

-Kelly Marshall,
Director of Communications,
Sector Learning Solutions

Created with content from Manny Mandrusiak, Director of Business Development, Sector Learning Solutions.