Category Archives: Microsoft Office

Four Steps to a Professional Document

Almost everyone who works or has worked in an office environment has used some type of word processing software at one time or another – some of you may even work with such a program almost all day, every day. So, those of you who do are likely aware that using software like Microsoft Word allows us to create polished, professional documents in a (potentially) minimal amount of time. We can type the contents of a document, adjust the margins and spacing, create tables, and even add graphics. You may not have considered that, in order to make you that much more efficient at creating your documents, there are four golden rules to follow before you begin:

  • Planning
    Just like most everything else in life, planning saves you time and effort. Figure out what it is you want to say and then say it clearly. Include enough information to achieve that purpose without overwhelming your reader. Organize your ideas in a thoughtful, logical way; sometimes, working your way backwards can help. Decide how you want your document to look – the type of document you’re writing (e.g. business letter or research paper) will be the determining factor, of course.
  • Creating and Editing
    Once you’re past the planning stage, you’re ready to start typing. Here comes the hard part – try to hold off on editing and even formatting (step 3) until you’ve finished typing the document. Once you’ve entered your content, you’re ready to edit. Keep in mind that spell- and grammar check will only get you so far; your document should ALWAYS be fully read with human eyes prior to completion. If possible, get a colleague to look it over for a sanity check. It’s almost guaranteed that you’re going to miss something if you’ve been slaving away at it for hours on end.
  • Formatting
    How you format your document will depend on what type of document you’re working on; however, there are a couple of things to keep in mind. I recently wrote a post about formatting your Excel workbook, in which I talked about the most important aspect of the workbook – the data. Well, the same rules apply when it comes to formatting your Word document. There’s nothing wrong with making your documents “pretty”, but you want to make sure you’re not overwhelming the content of the document itself. Try to avoid garish colours – they can sometimes annoy your reader and make your document difficult to read. Ensure your document is readable on both black-and-white and colour printers. You also want to make sure you understand your printer’s limitations; colours that look great on your monitor may not print quite as well.
  • Printing or Distributing Online
    Before you go to print, display your document in your print preview window. If you print right away before previewing, you risk wasting time and paper. With print preview, you can immediately see how the page will look printed and can adjust scaling, margins, spacing, and paper size as necessary.

Let us know if you’ve got any tips or tricks of your own! Send us an email:

Katie Caplan
Office Manager & Instructor
Sector Learning Solutions

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

User Productivity Tip – Finding Link to Document Location in Office 2010

In Office 2010  you can find link to the location of the document under File tab. This link can be used to share the location of the document with others.

For example, in Word 2010:

1. Click the File Tab.
2. Underneath the file name, you’ll see a URL file path. Click on the file path.
3. Copy and paste the file path.


– Kelly Marshall,
Director of Communications,
Sector Learning Solutions

Quick Reference Guide: Inserting Symbols Using Keyboard Commands

Before I discovered keyboard shortcuts, inserting symbols into a document or email required several clicks of the mouse and some significant scrolling.


With keyboard shortcuts your fingers don’t have to leave the keys. Remembering three to seven digit key combinations isn’t my forté so I compiled a quick reference guide that I keep beside my desk for those moments when I need an e with an acute accent.

SectorLearningSolutions-QRG-symbols-pg1 SectorLearningSolutions-QRG-symbols-pg2

Send us an email at and we’ll send you a complimentary copy of this Quick Reference Guide for your files. Feel free to print out a copy to keep beside your computer screen.

-Kelly Marshall,
Director of Communications,
Sector Learning Solutions

Word 2010 – Custom Margins and “Locking” Letterhead Graphics

SectorLearning_Letterhead_FINAL_RGB_nobleedOur friends over at Hot House Marketing did a brilliant job designing our letterhead as part of our rebrand back in 2011. We decided to do a small run of pre-printed letterhead for the office.

To ensure the text in our documents didn’t interfere with the header, we created a template in Microsoft Word 2010 with a custom margin.

How Do I Create a Custom Margin in a MS Word 2010 Document?

1. Select “Page Layout” Tab.
2. Navigate your mouse to the “Page Setup” Group and select the “Margins” button.
3. Select “Custom Margins…” at the bottom of the “Margins” menu.
4. The “Page Setup” menu will open. Ensure the “Margins” Tab is selected then adjust Top field from 1.0” to your desired size.


Whenever a client requested an electronic copy of a document, we would create it in Microsoft Word 2010 and then convert the .docx file to a PDF file to ensure the background image and text stayed in place. This method suited our purposes until a new project popped up that required a creative solution.

Word2010Letterhead-multi-pages-no-header(Before Screenshot – unlocked Letterhead that doesn’t repeat)

The Sales Team wrote a list of questions in a Word document that they wanted sent out to a list of clients to gather information to create case studies. The client would insert their cursor into the text to type their responses after each question. Simple enough, except the Director of Communications insisted that the document have the branded letterhead appear on every page, regardless of how much text the client added to the document.

 The other issue was that the letterhead image could not be locked in place so we ran the risk of annoying the client as they attempted to insert their cursor into the body of text and would instead select the picture. The solution was simple after it was discovered.

How Do I “Lock” a Letterhead Graphic in a MS Word 2010 Document (and have it reoccur with each new page created)?

Word2010Letterhead-1-2-31. Select “Insert” Tab.

2. In “Header & Footer” Group, select “Header” button.

3. Select “Edit Header” button at bottom of dropdown menu. The “Header & Footer Tools – Design” Tab will appear.

Word2010Letterhead-3-44. Select the “Picture” button in the “Insert” Group.

5. Select graphic then select “Insert”. The “Picture Tools – Format” Tab will appear.

Word2010Letterhead-5-6-76. Select the “Position” button in the “Arrange” Group.

7. Select “More Layout Options…” button at bottom of dropdown menu to open the “Layout” Menu.

Word2010Letterhead-88. Select “Text Wrapping” Tab then select “Behind Text” button under “Wrapping Style” heading.

9. This will unlock the “Options” section on the “Position” Tab of the “Layout” Menu. Ensure the following options are checked:
a. “Move object with text”
b. “Allow overlap”
c. “Layout in table cell

10. You can now move the graphic that you inserted in the Header to any location you desire. Word2010Letterhead-10

Be sure to select the “Close Header and Footer” button located in the “Close” Group on the “Header & Footer Tools – Design” Tab. Tada! You’re done!

Word2010Letterhead-multi-pages(After Screenshot – locked Letterhead that repeat)

-Kelly Marshall,
Director of Communications,
Sector Learning Solutions

Test Your Knowledge: Delete Key versus Backspace Key

True or False?

The Delete keyboard key performs the exact same function as the Backspace keyboard key.


Answer: FALSE

The Delete Key

The “Delete” key performs a forward delete – pressing the Delete key when your cursor is inserted in a line of text it will delete text located in front of the cursor, one character or space at a time.

For example, if you place the cursor in front of the letter “j” in the word “jumps”… fox-cursor-before…and press the Delete key once, the “j” character is deleted. To delete a full word in one keystroke, hold down the Ctrl key before pressing the Delete key. Any number of spaces after the word will also be deleted.



Ctrl + Delete:fox-ctrl-delete-after

What Else Can the Delete Key Be Used For?

Besides the well-known “Control-Alt-Delete” (Ctrl+Alt+Del) keyboard shortcut – used to: interrupt a function -or- access the Welcome screen to:

>>> brings up the Windows Task Manger

(“Ctrl+Shift+Esc” –bypass the Welcome screen to access the Task Manager directly)

>>>lock the computer

(“Windows logo key+L” –bypass the Welcome screen to lock the computer immediately)

>>>switch users

>>>log off

(“Windows logo key+then press the RIGHT ARROW key three times and the letter “L”” –bypass the Welcome screen to log off the computer immediately)

>>>change your Windows login password

The Delete key has one other keyboard shortcut function. You can also move an item or several items to the Recycling Bin by pressing the Delete key with the item(s) selected. Warning: Pressing and holding the Shift key before pressing the Delete key will permanently delete selected items. These files will not be moved to the Recycle Bin.

Shift + Delete:file-shift-delete-key

The Backspace Key


The “Backspace” key performs a backward delete – pressing the Backspace key when your cursor is inserted in a line of text will delete text located behind the cursor one character or space at a time.

For example, if you place the cursor in front of the letter “j” in the word “jumps”…

fox-cursor-before…and press the Backspace key once, the space before the “j” character is deleted. To delete a full word in one keystroke, hold down the Ctrl key before pressing the Backspace key. Any number of spaces before the word will also be deleted.

Backspace: fox-backspace-after 
Ctrl + Backspace:fox-ctrl-backspace-after

What Else Can the Backspace Key Be Used For?

In a web browser you can press the Backspace key to go back a page.

In Windows Explorer, if you’ve drilled down several levels in a folder, you can press the Backspace key to switch back to the Parent folder.


-Kelly Marshall,
Director of Communications,
Sector Learning Solutions

The Fastest Way to Change Screen Size

There are multiple ways to increase or decrease the size of text and images on a web page or computer application screen without changing the monitor resolution. But which way is the fastest?

The obvious solution is to navigate to the Tools menu (Internet Explorer 9) and open the Zoom menu…


… or open the Zoom menu by clicking the Zoom button in the Zoom group in the View tab in the Ribbon (Microsoft Office Word 2010) …


… but both take a minimum of three clicks of the mouse. The next option is to manually change the zoom level using the Zoom Tool in the status bar (Internet Explorer 9) …


… or to manually change the zoom level using the slider control in the status bar(Microsoft Office Word 2010) …


… both of these take two clicks, which is faster… but is there a faster way?

A well-known trick is to use keyboard commands. By pressing and holding the CTRL button on the keyboard and then pressing the plus (+) button, you can zoom in. Alternatively, you use the CTRL button with the minus (-) button to zoom out.


There are some potential issues with this method:
 1. You have to remove your hand from the mouse to perform the action.
 2. You often have to press the plus or minus key multiple times to get the desired result.
 3. This method only allows you to zoom in or out 25% at a time

And most importantly, this method only works in internet browsers. It does not work in Microsoft Word, Outlook or Excel.

So what’s a person to do?  Fortunately there’s a time-saving trick that works in any program. By holding down the CTRL button on the keyboard while scrolling up (or down) with the wheel of the mouse you can zoom in (or out).

mouse-scrollSome of the benefits of this method are:
1. Your hand can stay on the mouse to perform the action.
2. It requires one swift scroll of the mouse wheel instead of multiple clicks.
3. This method allows you to zoom in or out 10% at a time.

One Final Tip: If you’re using the mouse wheel method in your internet browser to zoom in or out and you accidentally end up at a 300% or 10% zoom level, save your screen with this handy keyboard shortcut that will take you right back to 100% zoom level: CTRL button + zero (0) button.


-Kelly Marshall,
Director of Communications,
Sector Learning Solutions