Top 5 Microsoft Office Tools for Students 💻

As a Microsoft trainer who is also a returning adult student, I have been meaning to write about this topic for ages… Here are my top 5 favorite tools in Microsoft Office for students. These are in random order, because there was no earthly way to pick a favorite!

GIF demonstrating dictation tools

1. AutoSave Important Documents

Have you ever spent hours typing a paper without saving? Sometimes we get away with this sort of thing, and other times… Word, or your computer, might “encounter a problem,” leaving you stranded, with nothing to show but lost time and effort.

Consider using the AutoSave feature in Word by saving your paper to OneDrive.

  • Open up an Office file (for example Word). You will notice an Autosave slider at the upper left of the screen.

Autosave slider

  • When you toggle that on, you will be prompted to save your file to OneDrive.

OneDrive prompt

  • Once you do this, your document will constantly save automatically every time you make a change.

"Saving..." message

Also, by saving your document to OneDrive, you will be able to access your file from any computer or mobile device. Win Win!

2. Dictation Tools

Think about those classes where you have to do a lot of reading and are trying to simultaneously take notes while reading.

Take a look at how quickly I was able to take notes for my fictional CARB101 class, below:

GIF demonstrating dictation tools

Here is how you can try out this feature, and one caveat, you will need Office 365 for this one:

  • Open up a Word document (or some versions of OneNote).  On the right side of the Home tab, click on  Dictation.

Dictate button

  • As you are reading your textbook, read out loud the passages that you would like to include in your notes.

Pro Tip: there are commands within the dictation tools for punctuation, moving to the next line, and so on. If you want to see those, click on the question mark next to your Dictation tools:

Question mark menu with additional dictation commands

3. OneNote: Organize Class Notes and Documents

There are so many ways you can utilize OneNote as a student. In fact, I had so much to say about OneNote that this was difficult to summarize, but here goes:

  • Note Taking: Most obviously, OneNote is an excellent way to organize your class notes:

Notebook for a class

  • Files: You may also find OneNote to be a handy place to organize class handouts, syllabi, and so on. Try inserting content as a File Printout (Insert Tab):

File Printout button

This will serve to attach a file to your notebook, with the addition of a handy readable printout within the note itself.  Here is my fictional syllabus, as an example:

Syllabus attached as a printout

  • Printout File Options: This printout method will work with Word, Excel, PowerPoint and PDF files. Maybe your professor has shared a series of PowerPoints, for instance. Insert as a printout!

PowerPoint inserted as a printout

  • Search Features: OneNote has robust Search features, particularly the Windows desktop version of OneNote.
    • Bonus: when you insert documents as a printout, the content within the attachment is also searchable. Search tools are either found on the upper right of your OneNote screen, or on Mac and online versions, at the upper left via a spyglass.
    • OneNote also has OCR technology, meaning it can search the text within pictures.

Search feature searching within powerpoint printout

There is much more to say about OneNote, but this will get you launched!

4. Word: Citation Manager

You may have heard of EndNote and Zotero, but did you know that Word has a built-in citation manager? Word’s citation manager will allow you to save sources, cite sources in a  variety of formats, and also create an instant Works Cited/Bibliography in a variety of styles.

Bibliography dropdown


I have an entire entry on the Citation Manager in Word here: Word: Citations and Bibliography.

Fair warning: You do still have to double check yourself for typos!

5. Word: Style Sets

Will you be writing copious papers for one class, with specific formatting guidelines that will apply to all of these papers? For instance, “all papers must be in Times New Roman, 12 point font, double spaced.” You could set up each paper with these settings one by one, or you could utilize Word’s Style Sets so that you can apply all these special settings to future papers with a click of a button.

Step 1: Changing Existing Styles

  • Open up a blank word document. Instead of changing text by hand, in the Home tab, Styles group, right click on the Normal style.

Right click on Normal style

  • Select Modify.


  • In the popup screen that appears, make the various font customizations: in this case, Times New Roman, 12 point font, double spaced.

Formatting options

Note: you can do more advanced formatting in the Format dropdown in the lower left.

Paragraph options

… like hanging indents, spacing, etc.

Paragraph options

Step 2: Save the new style

  • Go to the Design tab, Document Formatting group, and click on the arrow at the lower right.

Design tab, dropdown

  • Select Save as a New Style Set.

Save as new style set

  • Choose a name (perhaps the class name), and click Save.

File name, save button

Step 3: Access the style

Going forward, you can apply these exact font settings to a new Word document:

  • Go to the Design tab, Document Formatting group, and click on the arrow at the lower right.
  • You now have a Custom section with your presets ready to apply to the new document.

Custom styles

In other words, with just a couple clicks, you can jump right in to typing your paper with the exact prescribed formatting.


Do you think you will use these tips as a student? Or even as a non-student? I would love to hear what you think!

Congratulations, Power Users!

Congratulations to our newest Power Users! For the full gallery, and more information about the WSU Microsoft Office Power User Program, please visit:

Deana Beek

Daniella Blair

Cheyenne Dealy

Cheyenn Power User

Janise Eck

Janise Power User

Shelly Ellis

Shelly Power User

OneNote/Teams: Collaboration Inspiration

Don’t worry, this is not a missing episode of Schoolhouse Rock… but it is almost as fun. I wanted to share with you some collaboration inspiration utilizing OneNote in Teams. These examples are by no means the only ways to collaborate, but this may incorporate something new you hadn’t thought of. These tips would be great for a Team used for a class, or for coworker collaboration. Let’s check it out.

Collaboration tools using markup and typing in OneNote

The Scenario

The particular scenario I am going to outline here is a faculty member utilizing some collaboration tools in Teams and OneNote with the goal of student engagement.

1. Use the Desktop Version of OneNote (even for Teams Notebooks)

Unlike the Teams view of OneNote, the full desktop application of OneNote gives you maximum capabilities with the program, including some of the features we are going to look at next. Additionally, many people tell me that they prefer the desktop version.

The good news is, you can open a Team notebook in OneNote desktop application. Here is how.

  1. If you are using the Class Team type, or one of the other Team types that incorporates the customized OneNote, be sure that you are in the Collaboration space. This means that people who are not owners of your Team will be able to edit.
    • Want to learn more about Team Types? We talk about these in Teams Advanced training. Visit myTraining for times.
  2. Create a new Section for the presentations/content.
  3. In the Open in Browser dropdown, select Open in Desktop App.

Open in Desktop App

2. Insert Your File as a File Printout

This example is assuming a faculty member has a PowerPoint they are wanting to work from, but you could also insert a Word file, Exel file, or image. Once you are safely in the Desktop version of OneNote:

  1. Visit the Insert tab.
  2. Select File Printout.

Insert tab, file printout button

3. Browse for your file.

This will not only insert an attachment version of your file, but also a “printout” view of the presentation.

PowerPoint inserted as a printout in a OneNote

You may even like to try out Insert as Printout for other OneNote uses, beyond collaboration. Inserting as a printout works with Word, Excel, and PowerPoint.

3. Set Picture as Background

The goal is to allow students to draw on top of this PowerPoint, so this next step will allow them to do so, turning the file into a stagnant image in the notebook.

1. Make sure you are still in the desktop application of OneNote:

2. Right click on the image/presentation and select Set Picture as Background.

Right click menu, set picture as background selected

4. Return to Teams, OneNote

When you return to your OneNote view in Teams, you may have to refresh (button in upper right) to see the changes.


Troubleshooting trick

Sometimes when you bounce back and forth from the OneNote desktop app and the OneNote tab in Teams , you will try every which way to Sunday to get the notebook to update, and it simply won’t do it. This has worked for me every time this happens:

      • In the Teams OneNote, create a new page. That’s it. You will delete this page in a couple seconds, but in those seconds, all your changes from the desktop application will suddenly appear.
      • Don’t ask me why this works when the sync button doesn’t. It’s a mystery.

5. Collaborate (the fun part!)

It’s time for your class, meeting, or presentation! Let’s see what your collaborators can do from here…

Remember, you inserted this PowerPoint as an image, so students/members can’t change the text on this image. However, they can interact with it as the background.

Idea 1: Type Questions/Comments

Have people to type questions or comments out to the side of the presentation, maybe as you are presenting, maybe seperately.

Commet written to the side of PowerPoint

It is so intuitive in OneNote, since they will be able to pretty much click and type wherever they would like.

Who wrote that?

Want to know which comment belonged to whom? No problem.

    • In the View tab, select Show Authors.

View tab, Show Authors

    • Author names will appear next to each comment.

Author of comment shown

Idea 2: Draw/Play

Your collaborators will also have access to draw on top of your PowerPoint images. They may need an introduction to how to access this feature (just grab this screenshot below to use in your classes if you’d like).

All the tools they will need for drawing are on the Draw tab in their class notebook. From here they can select different colors, highlighters and more.

Draw tab

Here is an example from a fake history class (don’t judge me, this was my worst subject). Maybe the professor would like to keep the students interacting during a presentation by putting a check mark next to their choice… More on this in a minute.

Markup incorporated into presentation

Side note: these Draw tools can be a life saver in remote math classes. Often it is simpler to write out an equation than to search for symbols.

Idea 3: Icebreakers

The Draw tools are also great for icebreakers. Here are a couple examples:

Ice breaker: markup next to images: place to add comments

  • Use the Draw tools to have attendees select a meme/idea/choice.
  • Use the typing tools to have them select a line to add comments
    • If you go this route, it can help to add bullet points for them to select a space to type, since collaborative writing can get crowded!

Bonus: Searching Content: OneNote’s OCR

OneNote (in all its forms) supports Optical Character Recognition. This means that your text will be recognizable on any images/PowerPoints that you insert.

This also means that people will be able to utilize the search (A) to search sections or pages (B), and OneNote will find that text, even if it is the text of an image or PowerPoint (C).

Search, as outlined in text


I can’t wait to hear back from you all about this one. If you use some of these collaboration tricks, I would love to hear how it goes! Or, if you have more ideas, I would also love to hear from you.

Congratulations, Power Users!

Congratulations to our newest Power Users! For the full gallery, and more information about the WSU Microsoft Office Power User Program, please visit:

  • Amy Chesser
  • Whitney Fiene
  • Judy Lewis
  • Stephanie Sauls
  • Sarah Shaffer

OneNote: History Tab and Restoring Page Versions

In OneDrive Essentials training, we learn all about restoring old versions of documents stored in the cloud. Did you know you have the same ability with your OneNote Notebooks? And the good news is, it is remarkably simple. For that matter, you also have a variety of additional features available to you that involve the history features in your notebooks. Let’s take a look.

A Note on OneNote Applications

There are many types of OneNote Applications in the mix: phone applications, tablet applications, Windows Store applications, Mac applications, and so on… The application I am referring to for this Byte is the OneNote Desktop Application for PC.

This does not mean these history features are not available in other apps, but the Desktop Application is by far the most versatile way to access OneNote notebooks, and is still the way I would recommend accessing your notebooks primarily.

History Tab

Just a heads up that we will be hanging out in the History tab in the desktop PC application of OneNote for all of the features described below.History Tab

Restoring Page Versions

One of the most exciting abilities in the History tab is the Page Versions feature. Just like your OneDrive documents, by default OneNote is keeping track of different versions of each page in your notebook.

  1.  Go to the History tab, History group and select the dropdown for Page Versions.History Tab, Page Versions
  2. Select Page VersionsPage Versions Dropdown Menu
  3. Notice on the right side, old page versions will appear shaded in grey. Select one to take a closer look.Page Versions Side Menu
  4. To restore a page version, or see more options, click on the gold bar that appears at the top of the scren.

Restore bar

There are a couple more options worth mentioning in the dropdown for Page Versions, including the ability to:

  • Delete all versions in a section, group or notebook
  • Disable history for this notebook (not recommended).

Page Versions Dropdown Menu

Recent Edits

Relatedly, you can search by recent edits made to a notebook. This can be especially helpful with notebooks you are sharing with others.

  1.  In the History tab, Authors group, select the Recent Edits dropdown.

Recent Edits Dropdown menu

2. Select a time range to view.

3. Search results will appear on the right side of the screen, with edited pages highlighted in yellow.

History Search

Find by Author

Here is another great tool to keep you organized if you are sharing your notebook: the ability to search by author.

1. Go to the History tab, Authors group and select Find by Author.

Find by Author button2. On the right, you can refine your search by a specific author.

Search results by author


I hope you find these History tricks useful for your OneNote notebooks! If you find a handy use for these features, or have any questions, please feel free to drop me a line.

Congratulations, Power Users!

Congratulations to our newest Power Users! For the full gallery, and more information about the WSU Microsoft Office Power User Program, please visit:

  • Courtney Lockhart

Courntey Lockhart

  • Susan McCoy

Susan McCoy

  • Kristen Powell
  • John Hammer
  • Trisha Wenrich

Microsoft Office 365 PowerUp! Sessions

New Session for WSU Faculty and Staff

Microsoft Office 365 at WSU will feature biannual updates, so you will start seeing new buttons and features appear in your ribbon periodically (perhaps you have noticed a few already). So, we are testing out something new…

Microsoft PowerUp!

  • The sessions will be called Microsoft PowerUp!
  • PowerUp is intended to showcase new features in 365, and will contain new information not covered in previous Microsoft Office sessions.
  • The sessions will be quick. These are demos, not full training sessions, so you can plan for about an hour.
  • Two January sessions will be offered: January 8th and 15th.  
  • Sessions are listed in myTraining, so sign up now and we will save you a spot and a free guide!


OneNote: Web Clipper

You are using and loving OneNote, right? In OneNote Essentials training, we discover how this program opens up tons of possibilities for organizing thoughts, integrating Outlook items, and so much more. One feature I talk briefly about in this training, but can’t show in detail, is the nifty Add-On you can use in your browser of choice. These Add-Ons can streamline organizing information you are pulling from the web.

OneNote Browser Add-On Downloads

About half of you are using Chrome, about a quarter are using Firefox, and the other quarter one of the other browser options.

Here is the good news… Regardless of your browser of choice, the link below will detect your current browser and send you to the appropriate download. If you use multiple browser programs, you can open it in each one (Chrome, then Firefox, etc) and download the clipper for each program.

OneNote Clipper Download

1. Select Get the OneNote Web Clipper

Get the OneNote Clipper button

2. You will be redirected to the appropriate log in page with a button allowing you to add the clipper to your browser.

Add to Chrome button

After the clipper is installed, it will appear:

  • Chrome/Firefox/Edge: to the right of your address and search bars
  • Safari: to the left of your address bar

Log In

The first time you click on the clipper, you will be prompted to log in to your OneNote account. This will give the clipper access to place your selections into your OneNote notebooks.

To log in, remember:

1. Your email is your (e.g.

2. Password is your usual myWSUID password.

3. You will be redirected to a Shocker log in page; this will look familiar if you have taken the OneDrive training.

4. You will likely be asked to Duo, so be sure to have your device of choice at the ready to authenticate.


Once logged in, check out the clipper! You have a choice of clipping:

  • Full page
  • Region
  • Article
  • Bookmark
Clipper Options

And, you can select a location to place your clipping. Select the dropdown by Location to see your OneNote notebooks and folders.

OneNote Locations


What do you think? Do you think you will use the clipper?

Congratulations, Power Users!

Congratulations to our newest Power Users! For the full gallery, and more information about the WSU Microsoft Office Power User Program, please visit:

Jacquelyn Johnston

Jacquelyn Johnston