Word: 5 Things You Should Know About Hyperlinks

Have you ever created a hyperlink in a Word document? For the most part, this is a fairly straightforward process. That said, there are a few hidden gems in the hyperlink options that you may not have explored. Let’s check it out.

Place in This Document tab

Applying a Link

A quick review: to create a hyperlink in a Microsoft Office program, start by selecting the word(s) where you would like to apply the link, and then either…

Right click and select Link (or Hyperlink):

Right click menu, link selected

… or remember that one of my favorite shortcuts for accessing this hyperlink popup is Ctrl + K. This shortcut works in a wide variety of programs, so it is worth memorizing!

You will arrive at this familiar screen…

Text selected: Insert Hyperlink menu displayed

It is this Insert Hyperlink popup screen that I would like to explore with you today.

1. File or Webpage

In the Insert Hyperlink screen, the most common goal is to link to a webpage, so conveniently that is the default view.

Webpage

To link to a webpage, paste the webpage address into the Address field and click OK.

Web address pasted into menu bar

File

A lesser known option in this default view is the ability to link your words to a file.

Note that, in the box above where you paste your hyperlink, you can instead select folders and files from your list and the address will populate  a location of the file.

Link to file locations

After you create this type of link, clicking on the link will open the file you selected. How cool!

Be cautious with this option. If your goal is to send this document to others, the link may not behave correctly if they don’t have access to the file location.

2. Place in this Document

On the left side of the Insert Hyperlink page, notice that there are additional tabs. Here you have options beyond a simple web address or file location.

The first one I want to show you is my favorite: Place in This Document. There is so much you can do with this powerful tool.

Place in This Document tab

Glancing at this tab doesn’t always tell you what you need to know, however. Here are the basics:

Location Options

You have several choices for linking to a Place in This Document.

Top of the Document

One option you will always have is a Top of Document option.

Place in this Document OptionsThis is very handy for “Back to Top” links for ease of navigation in long documents.

Back to Top link

Headings

Another wonderful way to navigate is by utilizing Styles. If you would like to learn more about Styles, I hope to see you at a Word Essentials training, where we cover Styles in great detail!

Styles in the Home Tab

If you would like to utilize Styles to link to a location in your document:

1. Use Styles to apply Headings to your document.

2. Revisit your Insert Hyperlink options

3. Look under the  Headings section of the Place in This Document tab.

Headings with Headers applied to a couple sections

This is extremely helpful if you are referencing different locations within a large file and would like your readers to be able to easily skip ahead or back to specific sections.

Section 2 link created from Headers

One caveat… sometimes if you have heavily modified a header (also discussed in Word Essentials), you may find that it does not appear in the Headings list. This is where the next trick comes in handy…

Bookmarks

In addition to utilizing Headers, you can bookmark any location within your document and link back to this location with a hyperlink.

1. Place your cursor where you would like to insert the bookmark.

2. Go to the Insert tab, Links group, and select Bookmark.

Insert tab, bookmark

3. In the popup that appears, name your bookmark (no spaces may be used), and press Add.

Bookmark popup screen

4. Revisit the Insert Hyperlink popup and select the bookmark from the Bookmarks section to create a link to the location.

Bookmarks in Insert Hyperlink popup

3. Create New Document

The next option on the left is Create New Document.

Create New Document Prompt

If you select this option, the link will create a New Word file in your Documents Folder. You have further choices to name this document, and choose whether the link will prompt you to edit the document now or later.

Note: As with the File example, people would need access to the path (save location) for this link to work.

4. Generate an Email

Email Address is the last tab on the left side of the Insert Hyperlink popup. Select this option and enter an email address and subject line.

Email Address tab with email address and subject line created

When you create a link with this setting, clicking on the link will open Outlook, or the user’s default mail program, and create a new email to the specified address, with the specified subject line.

Email created in Outlook

5. Target Frame Options

We have talked in detail about the tabs on the left of the Insert Hyperlink popup, but there is one item on the right that I want to mention: Target Frame. In other words, how would you like your link to behave as it opens?

Target frame on right side of Insert Hyperlink screen

This option is something you will likely care more about if your end goal is to publish this document online somewhere; exporting it as html or PDF, or utilizing cloud services to publish and share a document to be opened in browser.

The most common selection I see people utilize in this screen is New Window, for when you want the original document to remain on its own tab when your readers click on the link, while the linked content will open in a new browser tab.

Frame options

Thoughts?

What do you think, does this open up some new possibilities for utilizing hyperlinks in your document? I would 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: wichita.edu/poweruser

  • David Gomez
  • LaDawna Hobkirk
  • Judi McBroom
  • Amy Smith
  • Brittany Ulmer
  • Carrie Wyatt

Word: Convert Text to Table, or Table to Text… in 3 Clicks

There are a variety of reasons you may need to move text into (or out of) a table in Word. Sometimes you inherited a document with an odd layout, or you exported from another source, and  for whatever reason the text just looks odd. You could insert a table and copy and paste for half an hour, or you could do this little trick.

 

Comma delimited list transformed into a table

Starting Place: Comma (or Tab) Delimited Values

In my case, my starting values are separated by commas. This is common for a lot of text exported from other sources. But you may also run into documents that export with other delimiters, like tabs, paragraphs, semi colons, etc. Those can all be addressed.

Comma delimited list

Convert Text to Table

I am going to use the example of the comma separated values above.

1. Highlight the block of text.

2. Go to the Insert tab and select the Table dropdown. Select Convert Text to Table…

Insert tab, Table dropdown, Convert Text to Table

3. Word will guess the delimiter. In my case, Word has caught on that the values are separated by commas. Note you could change the delimiter under the Separate text at section, if Word does not pick up on it automatically.

COnvert Text to Table menu

4. Press OK and a simple table will be created with the text values you highlighted.

Simple table

Don’t forget… you have a lot of options for styles and formatting in the Table Design and Layout tabs.

Make sure you have clicked onto your table for these to appear, as they are contextual tabs.

Table Design and Layout contextual tabs

I always go for green for some reason…Table with green formatting

Convert Table to Text

Sometimes the inverse is true… you have inherited a document with a table and you need it to be converted to text. This can happen when you are trying to meet accessibility standards, or when an old table formatting just doesn’t behave well in modern versions of Office.

1. Click into your table to activate the Table Design and Layout contextual tabs.

2. Select the Layout contextual tab.

3. In the Data group, select Convert to Text.

Layout tab, data group, Convert to text button

4. You will have the option to choose how to separate your text at the existing cells. I chose Tabs for mine, but I may sometimes select Commas when I want to export as a comma separated value (CSV) file.

Convert table menu

5. The table is now a list of tab separated values, ready for you to work with outside of table formatting.List of tab separated values

Thoughts?

What do you think, will this save you some headaches in your Word documents? I would 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: wichita.edu/poweruser

  • Denise Gimlin
  • Kelly Gurik
  • Debra Haslam
  • Alma Hidalgo
  • Angie Myrtle
  • Denise Northup
  • Tisha Whitehead

10 MORE Secret Commands in Microsoft Office

Almost immediately after I posted my Top 10 Favorite Secret Commands in Microsoft Office, so many more came to mind… So without further ado, here are 10 more commands that go above and beyond our usual well-known commands.

Ctrl + ; to insert date

Ctrl + K = Hyperlink

This command works in all your Microsoft Office programs, and other programs as well (like OU Campus!). Select your text, and rather than going through a right click menu, press Ctrl + K to access your hyperlink options.

Ctrl + K to insert hyperlink

Think about how quick this action can be if you have already copied your hyperlink, you can simply select text, Ctrl + K, Ctrl + V (paste), enter, and you are done.

Ctrl + ; = Insert Date (Excel)

This is different than the =TODAY function we talk about in Excel Advanced Formulas class. This command, Ctrl + ;  does not insert a formula; rather, it inserts today’s date as stagnant text.

Ctrl + ; to insert date

By the way, a similar command is Ctrl + Shift + ; to insert the current time.

Ctrl + 1, 2, 3… = Outlook Navigation

We have talked before about how Outlook has some incredible time-saving commands, and here is one of my favorites. Ctrl + (a number) will take you through the basic Outlook navigation.

Ctrl + a number for Outlook navigation

Here are the basic navigation commands in Outlook:

  • Ctrl + 1 = Mail
  • Ctrl + 2 = Calendar
  • Ctrl + 3 = Contacts
  • Ctrl + 4 = Tasks
  • Ctrl + 5 = Notes
  • Ctrl + 6 = Folders
  • Ctrl + 7 = Shortcuts
  • Ctrl + 8 = Journal

So the next time you are in your mail module, and want to take a look at your calendar, try Ctrl + 2 to quickly access it!

Ctrl + Shift + < or > = Adjust Text Size (Word, PPT)

Do you want to increase a block of text by exactly one font size? In Word or PowerPoint, select your text, then try the commands Ctrl + Shift + > to increase all selected  text by one font size or Ctrl + Shift + < to decrease.

Ctrl + Shift + > to increase size

Ctrl + [Drag] = Duplicate

We have talked about Ctrl + [drag] in Acrobat fillable forms, but did you know if works in Microsoft Office as well?

If you would like to duplicate a block of text in Word: select the text, hold down your Ctrl key, and with your mouse click and drag it to a new location. You will have an exact copy of the selected text.

Ctrl + drag to duplicate

Same story in Excel. Want to copy a block of cells? Select them, hold down the Ctrl key, and with your mouse click and drag them to their new location

Ctrl + Drag to duplicate

One note in Excel, you will want to hover your mouse on the line of selected text, until you see the four headed arrow cursor. Otherwise, Ctrl will simply deselect one of the cells in your group, rather than move them.

Four headed arrow

Ctrl + Shift + C = Copy Formatting

Almost like the Format Painter in command format… you know that Ctrl + C is copy, but did you know that Ctrl + Shift + C copies formatting?

This will work in most of your Microsoft Office programs. Select the text you would like to copy, and press Ctrl + Shift + C.

Ctrl + Shift + C to copy formatting

Select the text where you would like to copy the formatting, and press Ctrl + Shift + V. The Format Painter as a command, how cool!

Ctrl + Shift + V to Paste formatting

Ctrl + Alt + V = Paste Special

Ctrl + V is paste, and we just learned that Ctrl + Shift + V is use when copying formatting… here is another paste option: Ctrl + Alt + V will Paste Special. This will work in most of your Microsoft Office programs.

Frequently used in Excel, but also when transferring Excel data to Word… Select your data and copy (Ctrl + C), select the new location and press Ctrl + Alt + V to access Paste Special options.

Ctrl + Alt + V is paste special

Ctrl + Shift + $ = Currency Format (Excel)

There is nothing wrong with selecting a number format from the ribbon, but if you know you want currency, it could speed things up considerably to select your cells and press Ctrl + Shift + $.

Ctrl + Shift + $ to apply currency format

Ctrl + Shift + ! and beyond= Number Formats (Excel)

While you are looking at the numbers on your keyboard, try out a few more. Ctrl + Shift + ! will give you a standard Number format. Ctrl + Shift + % will give you percentages, and so on. Test out a few, and see if there are number formats you find yourself reaching for regularly.

Ctrl + Shift + ! to apply number format

Alt + F = File Tab

The Alt commands are a powerful tool in Microsoft Office. Alt will take you to the ribbon in your Office programs, and there are so many paths you can learn and memorize from there. Here is a great one to get you started:

Alt + F will take you to the File menu.

File is Alt F

From here, notice the highlighted letters letters on top of popular commands. S for Save, P for Print and so on…

File Menu options

Even if you don’t end up falling in love with all the Alt commands in the ribbon, Alt + F is an easy one to learn and utilize.

Thoughts?

What do you think, will you use these shortcuts to save time in Microsoft Office?

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: wichita.edu/poweruser

Stephanie Versch (Picture coming soon!)

Word: The Spike Feature

Have you ever heard of the Spike feature in Word? If you are shaking your head, you are not alone… it is not well known. This is a handy hidden feature that could be an enormous help to you if you are copying and combining separate pieces of data. It is kind of like your clipboard, but if utilized properly, can be a lot faster. Let’s check it out.

Spike

The Scenario

The best uses for Spike involves the need to move and combine separate blocks of text. In the example below, we want all the important, highlighted text to be pulled together at a separate location, removing it from the extemporaneous paragraphs. We could copy and paste three times, or we can utilize the Spike to do it all at once…

Text that needs to be moved together

Step 1: Cut Content to Spike

Start by selecting the first piece of information to be moved. With that text selected, press Ctrl + F3 on your keyboard.

Text selected

It will appear that this text has disappeared, but it has been cut to a special location… and if its disappearance bothers you, ctrl+ z (undo) would bring it back.

Repeat this step with the second and third important piece of information. Now you will be left with only extemporaneous information.

Only extemporaneous information remains

Step 2:  Paste Content from Spike

There are a several options to paste this content, and none of them involve the usual methods. All of these techniques will paste the entire contents that you previously cut to the Spike.

The First Method: Type “Spike”

Note: This method will not clear out what you have stored in the Spike, and as you cut more items to the Spike, it will be added to existing content.

  • Place your cursor where you would like the text to go
  • Type the word “Spike”; you will need to type slowly and you will see some helper text appear above the word.
  • Press enter to insert the text.

Type Spike and press enter to quickly paste

The Second Method: QuickParts

You can also paste content from your QuickParts… this method will also not clear the contents of the Spike.

  • Place your cursor in the desired location.
  • Go to the Insert tab
  • Select QuickParts
  • Hover over AutoText
  • Select Spike.

QuickParts

The Third Method: Ctrl + Shift + F3

This method will clear out what has been store in the Spike as well as paste the joined contents in a new location.

  • Place your cursor in the desired location
  • Press Ctrl + Shift + F3 on your keyboard.

All information pasted

Remember, if you picked one of the first two methods, at some point you will need to do this last method to clear the contents of the Spike.

Function Keys

It is worth mentioning, as a lot of us are working from laptops at the moment… Since you have to incorporate a function key (F3), remember that you may have to activate your function keys for this, or any function key feature, to work.  Many laptops have keys that serve dual purpose as function keys and other features, like volume or brightness.

Look for a key that says “Fn” to toggle on the function keys.

Thoughts?

What do you think? Do you have a use for the Spike feature in your Word documents?

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: wichita.edu/poweruser

Susan Norton (picture coming soon!)

Compatibility Mode: How to Re-Activate Your Favorite Features

This happens frequently after a PivotTables session… An attendee excitedly returns to their computer to create a PivotTable from an existing Excel file, only to discover that the PivotTable screen looks a lot different than it did in class, and a lot of their favorite features are grayed out in the ribbon.  This is not just an Excel issue… sometimes this happens Word or PowerPoint: certain features are mysteriously faded in the user’s ribbon. The culprit? Compatibility Mode. Let’s talk about this setting, and how to escape from it, in your Microsoft Office documents.

Grayed out buttons in ribbon

What is Compatibility Mode?

The intentions of Compatibility Mode are in the right place. Its purpose is to make a document as functional as possible with older versions of software. So if you are using Office 365, and your friend is running Office 2010, you could send this Compatibility Mode document to them and rest assured it will look the same to them as it does to you.

For this reason, you will often see data that is exported from other programs; Reporting Services and WSU Reporting, for instance; default to Compatibility Mode. The software programmers aren’t sure what version of Office you will be using, so they err on the safe side, and have the export default to Compatibility Mode.

Another possibility: you are opening an old document. If someone created this document in 2001, and never updated the file format since then (we will talk about this further down), chances are you are in Compatibility Mode by default.

Missing Features

Earlier I mentioned that PivotTables are often the first place people notice missing features in the ribbon…

Grayed out buttons in ribbon

… But this happens in other Excel tabs, PowerPoint, and Word as well.

Grayed out buttons

The features that gray out vary from version to version, but bottom line, newer features are what disappear in Compatibility Mode. When someone is experiencing these ghosts of buttons, this is almost always the culprit.

How to identify Compatibility Mode

How do you know for sure if your document is in Compatibility Mode? There are several ways.

1. You might have some visual cues; the icons look slightly different in Compatibility Mode, shown below, on the left side of the icons.

Icons

2. At the top of your document, next to the title, you might see the words Compatibility Mode

Compatibility Mode

3. Go to your Save As screen (File, Save As). What do you see in the dropdown under the title? If it says Excel 97-2003 Workbook, you are in Compatibility Mode.

Save As screen file type drop down

In fact, stay in the Save As screen, and I will show you how to fix this.

How to Escape From This Setting (and get your favorite features back)

In your Save As screen (shortcut: F12), Compatibility Mode reads as Excel 97-2003 as the File type (dropdown under the document title).

Save As screen file type drop down

To fix this issue, click on the dropdown under the title, and select the first option for Type: Excel Workbook in this case (Word Document for Word and PowerPoint Presentation for PowerPoint).

Save As screen file type drop down

Important: you must close the file and reopen it to see the new options appear.

That’s it! You have your features back! I hope this helps with some of your legacy documents or documents exported from various sources.

Thoughts?

What do you think? Have you been plagued by the trials and tribulations of Compatibility Mode?

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: wichita.edu/poweruser

Top 10 Secret Key Commands in Microsoft Office

Whenever I mention one of these shortcuts in a session, I see people taking out their pencils to write them down. Most of us know some commonly used keyboard commands in Microsoft Office; Ctrl + Z to undo, Ctrl + C to copy, and so on… but I have some lesser-known favorites to share with you today. Also, take a moment to check out this article, which contains some more general shortcuts.

Header by pressing alt + ctrl + 1

 

F12 = Save As

If you have taken any of my Essentials sessions, you know this one, one of my absolute favorites. Remember in the old days when you used to be able to select Save As from the menu, and you would be taken directly to a dialog box with everything you wanted in one place? If you are like me, you found that box to be way faster than clicking through the options one by one in the new File/Backstage menu.

So just press F12. It does everything you want, and works in all your favorite Microsoft Office programs.

Save As screen

F7 = Spell Check

Want a quick spell check? No need to visit the ribbon, just press F7.

Word Spell Check

Especially useful in Excel, where we don’t get the red squiggly lines underneath misspelled words like we do in Word.

Excel Spell Check

F7 will also work in PowerPoint

PowerPoint Spell Check

Alt + Q = Find Features

This is a big one. Sometimes you know that a feature exists in Microsoft Office, but you are just not sure where to find it. Press Alt + Q to search for it.

Forget how to get to the Accessibility Checker? Press Alt + Q and search for it…

Find Features

While I still think it is a good idea to know where features live in the ribbon, this is an excellent tool to find what you are looking for in a hurry.

Ctrl + Y  =  Redo

Companion to the famous Ctrl + Z (undo), Ctrl + Y gets a lot less fanfare, and I have no idea why. It is a great cheat if you don’t know a key command for something. Ctrl +Y will simply recreate the last action.

Let’s say you want to insert a row into Excel in a variety of different places. Maybe you don’t know the key command (Shift Ctrl + +), so you insert one row… with the old-fashioned right click , Insert.

Right click menu, insert

To insert another row,  go to the new location, and hit Ctrl +Y. Click on the next location, Ctrl +Y, and so on. This will be much faster than performing the old “Right click, Insert” method 20 or so times.

New row with Ctrl + Y

It also works for formatting. A couple weeks ago, I was editing a Word document with quite a few pictures that I wanted to have identical style formatting. I selected one picture, applied a style format, then selected the remaining pictures, pressed Ctrl + Y and voila! All the same formatting was applied.

picture formatting. Ctrl + Y to reapply

Note: Ctrl + Y will only apply the last action, so if you were making several format changes to an item, you might be better off copying formatting with the Format Painter. Please attend an Excel, Word, or OneNote Essentials session to learn more about this amazing feature!

Ctrl + Home/Ctrl +End = Go to the Beginning or End

Need to get back to the top of a document, or conversely, need to find the end? Try Ctrl + Home or Ctrl + End to navigate.

Ctrl + Home will take you back to the top of your document, and Ctrl + End will take you to the bottom.

End of a row

Note: this will require that you are using a full keyboard… sometimes the Home and End buttons are not present on smaller keyboards or laptops.

Ctrl + Shift+ (arrow) = select an entire column or row

If you have attended Excel Advanced Formulas you know this one. Ctrl + Shift + Down Arrow will select all the data in a column. This also works with a right arrow to select all the data in a row. And in Word, it will select an entire row of data at a time.

All data selected in column with ctrl + shift + down arrow

Outlook: Ctrl + Shift + M = Create Email

I mentioned in a previous article that Outlook has some amazing time saving shortcuts. This one and the next one are my two favorites.

Regardless of the Outlook module you are working in, Ctrl + Shift + M will create a new email message. No need to return to the mail module.

Below I was in my Calendar module, and started an email with this command.

Create Email

Outlook: Alt + S = Send Email

Once you are done typing your email, don’t touch that mouse… Alt + S will send the email.

There have been occasions where someone was standing behind me as I used this command and the last in Outlook, and they exclaim, “How did you do that??” The wizardry of key commands!

Word: Alt + Ctrl + 1 (or 2, or 3) = Format as Heading

We are all utilizing headers after attending Word Essentials, right? Well, here is a quick way to set a line to Heading 1, 2 or 3: Alt + Ctrl + 1 (or 2, or 3).

Header by pressing alt + ctrl + 1

Excel: Ctrl + T = Convert Range to Table

After you attended Excel Essentials, you ran back to your computer to convert all your ranges to tables, right? The functionality we see for tables goes even beyond what we see in Essentials and Pivot Tables sessions. It is just a good practice to start utilizing them.

Instead of using the Table feature from the Home tab of the ribbon, place your cursor in the middle of your data and press: Ctrl + T.

Ctrl + T converts to Table

Of course, you can still make adjustments via the contextual Table Tool tab.

Table Tools Tab

Thoughts?

What do you think, are any of these one of your favorite shortcuts? Or do you have a different favorite secret shortcut to share?

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: wichita.edu/poweruser

  • Kaleb Basham
  • Joan Wilson

Microsoft PowerUp! Videos Posted: Check Out What’s New in Office 365

Almost 150 people attended the special Microsoft PowerUp! Sessions…  If you missed them, or even if you attended and wanted to revisit some of the special content, videos are available now!

The purpose of these sessions was to give everyone a quick update on some of the highlights now available (or coming soon, depending on your update schedule) in Microsoft Office 365. Keep an eye out for future sessions as more updates are released…

PowerPoint Updates

Word Updates

Excel Updates

Bonus Content: Sandy

This is Sandy (Power User!), with a very kind testimonial. 😊😊

 

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: wichita.edu/poweruser

 

Erin LeBegue (not pictured)

Chris Leonard

Chris Leonard

 

Tyra Miles

Tyra Miles

 

Marsha Compton

Marsha Compton

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!

 

Microsoft Office: Color Themes and Custom Color Palettes

Working with color themes in Microsoft Office can open up a whole world of possibilities for customizing your documents. Most people don’t realize how much they are already interacting with themes in Office, or how much control they can have with just a couple clicks. Let’s check it out. But first, a special thank you to Sheree for having some excellent color palette questions in an Excel Essentials session a couple weeks ago and inspiring this Byte.

Exercise File

You can follow along on one of your existing documents, or if you would like a starting place, here is a Word document you can start with:

This is a Word document with a few visual elements that incorporate theme colors. These are all things that will be effected by altering the color theme.

Themes and Color Palettes

What does it mean to apply a color theme? In most of your Office programs, you are already using a color theme, whether you realize it or not. The default is the Office color theme. You see your theme colors in everything from the color options for your fonts, to your default headers, to tables and charts… and more.

In the test file you downloaded, you are seeing it in the headers, the chart, the icons and the table…

One of the easiest ways to check your current palette is to visit the Home tab, Font group, and click on the dropdwon arrow next to the Font Color.

Notice how there are Theme colors, and Standard Colors. The Theme colors display your current color palette. There are gradations underneath each main theme color…. lighter and darker versions of each of the theme colors to create contrast.

Change the Color Theme

Changing your color theme is simple!

1. Go to the Design tab, Document Formatting group. (By the way, this is also where you can go to change your default font settings for the document).

2. Select the Colors dropdown to see a full list of themes. Hover your mouse over each color palette to see a preview.

3. Select a color theme by clicking on it.

Because theme colors are utilized in so many ways in this document, we really see a change in appearance!

Custom Color Palettes

If you are artistically inclined, you might be interested in creating your own custom color themes.

1. In the Design tab, Document Formatting group, click on the Colors dropdown again, but instead of selecting a predefined color set, select Customize Colors…

2. Click on the dropdown beside any of the accent colors to make an alteration. Typically Accent 1 is the color you will see the most in a document.

3. You have the ability to select colors from a color wheel, or select More Colors to enter an exact RGB color.

4. When you are finished, name the color palette and click Save.

5. The new color set will appear in a new section at the top of the Colors dropdown called Custom.

You will be able to access this color palette anytime you create a new document on this computer.

Accessing Custom Color Themes in other Microsoft Programs

Once you have created a color theme that you like, you may want to access it in other programs. Microsoft knows this, so has made them accessible to you in many of your Office programs. They are in slightly different locations though, so let’s take a look.

PowerPoint

In PowerPoint, you often see color themes even more prominently than in Word. Here is one popular theme called Berlin, that features a red and yellow color set.

1. In PowerPoint, visit the Design tab, Variants group.

2. Select the dropdown arrow in the lower right:

3. Here is where you will see your color theme options, plus the new custom color you just created in Word. Neat!

This definitely changes the look of this document…

Excel

In Excel, Color themes affect features like tables, charts, shapes, and fonts. The default in Excel is the Office color set as well. These colors should look familiar:

1. In Excel, visit the Page Layout tab, Themes group.

2. Select the Colors dropdown.

3. Here is your custom color theme again… no need to reinvent the wheel.

Outlook

Outlook? Did you read that right? Yep! Outlook also has the same themes and color sets you know and love from your other Office programs.

1. Open up a new email.

2. Visit the Options tab, Themes group.

3. Click on the Colors dropdown, and there you are…

Thoughts?

What do you think? Do you think you will utilize custom color themes in your Office documents? By the way, if you create a cool WSU themed color theme, I would love it if you would share it with me!

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: wichita.edu/poweruser

Madelyne Toney

Linda Claypool

Susan Johnson

Karen Wilson

Jaime Scherer

Jessica Casper

Cara Tucker

Linda Young (not pictured)

5 Tips for Optimizing Charts

Charts can be incredibly challenging. They represent where the right brain and left brain meet… where computations and numbers collide with art and color. To be able to convey true meaning with graphics is a very special skill; here are 5 tips to help you along the way.

Line chart showing two years of chocolate pie revenue

1. Determine Your Message

Two important questions to ask yourself before you dive in to chart creation:

  • Who is your audience?
  • What is your message for them?

Cognitive Overload: Be Kind to Your Audience

One mistake a lot of us make is overloading the audience with too much information. This concept is called cognitive overload. Sometimes we zoom out in an attempt to show lots of data… and end up burying the story we are trying to tell in the process. The audience loses patience, and the entire message is lost.

Horribly messy pie chart titled Star Trek Fans

Consider this unfortunate pie chart… what story was the creator trying to tell? We are going to find some better solutions for this data shortly.

Audience Motivations

Some other important questions to ask are:

  • What is important to your audience?
  • What motivates them?
  • What is their level of knowledge on the topic?

All of these questions should influence the way you determine your message. We are going to revisit this first point frequently throughout this article. Even though it seems like the simplest of concepts, it is often the most forgotten.

2. Select the Right Chart Type

If the picture above gave you minor palpitations, part of the problem may be that someone picked the wrong chart to convey this information. There was a lot of data to comprehend here, more than a pie chart could feasibly tolerate. The chart below uses the exact same data set formatted as a column chart. Is this easier to understand?

Column chart showing star trek fans by state

Alright, the message is still pretty unclear, but we are moving in the right direction.

Here are a few general rules for selecting chart types:

Pie Charts

  • Pie charts should contain no more than 5 pieces, and preferably fewer than that.
  • Pie charts are supposed to show portions of a whole, so the whole should ideally be represented, even if you incorporate grouping (discussed next).
  • Remember your message and your audience (Tip #1), and then consider: are all your pie pieces all the same size? If so, is this pie chart really showing what you want to tell? Maybe it is… maybe your story is that all things are equally represented. But if that is not your message, consider a bar or column chart.
  • Consider incorporating data labels and callouts for further clarification.
Pie Chart titled Favorite Weekend day, showing 86% Saturday and 14% Sunday (fictional data).

Bar Charts and Column Charts

Bar and Column Charts are a great option if you have more information to display.

  • The main difference between bar charts and column charts is that bar charts are composed of horizontal data bars and column charts are composed of vertical data bars.
  • Both are great options for showing larger numbers of data sets.
  • Still, beware of cognitive overload with too much information (see Narrow your Focus for more tips below).
  • Clustered column charts are great for showing quick comparisons between small groups.
Clustered column chart showing dessert sales by three people.

Line Charts

  • Line charts do well comparing two competing data sets over a time period, like monthly sales figures this year stacked up against sales figures last year.
  • They also can help a viewer quickly ascertain overall trends at a glance.
  • One tip: when possible, start the Y axis at 0. This should already be the default setting.
Chocolate pie revenue line chart showing two years of data.

So Many More…

There are so many more charts to choose from! Check out this helpful Chart Chooser for more assistance with selecting the right type of chart.

3. Narrow Your Focus

For this section, I would like to revisit our original problem chart from the beginning. Remember, we started with this:

Horribly messy pie chart titled Star Trek Fans

And changed the chart type to a column chart:

Column chart showing star trek fans by state

…but this is still not an ideal situation.

What story do you want to tell?

Tip #1 will help you narrow your focus for this step. In this case, we had a (fictional) chart of total U.S. Star Trek fans broken down by state. Let’s explore a few stories you may want to tell with this data.

Avoid displaying too much information

Because all the states are represented, this means there are 50 data points. Do we really need to show all of this information? Perhaps, you decide that the story you want to tell is to show the states with the highest rates of Star Trek Fans.

How about removing the states that are not pertinent to your story? Let’s try to narrow our focus by filtering out some unnecessary information (i.e. the lower figures in the data set) with the filter button to the right of the chart.

Filter dropdown next to chart

This leaves us with a more manageable data set, down from 50 points to 7…. let’s keep going.

Column chart titled states with the most star trek fans, showing 7 states.

Highlight Important Information

Another useful technique to drive home a point is to use contrast to highlight important information, visually pulling it to the foreground. Select any data bar, right click, and select Fill to choose any color in the color wheel.

Right click menu, fill selected.

Let’s make use of this opportunity to pull the highest states to the foreground with a deep color, and grey out the others, pushing them to the background.

Take a look at the same filtered graph, recolored. Maybe the story you want to tell is that Hawaii, Kansas and New York had the highest populations of Star Trek fans… if so, this could be a cool way to do it.

Column chart for states with the most star trek fans, with highest figures in a darker red shade.

Group information together

We initially started with a pie chart, and there still might be a case for this type of chart with this data. Grouping together pieces of information is another great way to focus in on your overall message.

Perhaps your goal is to spotlight Kansas, and tell the audience that Kansas contains 5% of the country’s Star Trek Fans. Why not group together the states that are less relevant? We can also incorporate the previous highlighting technique.

This is much easier on the eyes than the original pie chart.

Star trek fans by state, showing Kansas pulled out on its own and the other states grouped together.

Do you see why asking yourself the questions in Tip #1 can put you on the right track for creating a meaningful chart?

4. Choose Words Carefully

Take a look at the chart below. ..

Very wordy pie chart

How long did it take you to grasp the meaning of this chart?

Wherever possible, keep the words to a minimum. And when in doubt, refer back to Tip #1 and ask yourself:

  • Who is your audience?
  • What is your message?
  • How much time would you like them to look at your chart, and what would make the biggest impact?
simpler pie chart: people who like pie.

Remember, the point of a chart is to create a visual illustration of data. More words means less visual impact…

5. Don’t Forget About Your Colorblind Friends

Hey, don’t forget about your colorblind friends!

  • Approximately 8% of the male population and 0.5% of the female population is colorblind or color deficient. This means if 1000 people will be viewing your chart, about 45 of them may not be able to differentiate between certain colors.
  • You can still use color in your charts… Just remember that you don’t want to use color alone to convey meaning.
  • This is something we have talked about before, so if you would like to read more information about the use of color in documents, check out my previous article on the subject.

Just remember, this chart may look perfectly clear to you:

Student Satisfaction pie chart, inaccessible colors.

… but here is how it looks to someone with the most common type of color blindness:

Student Satisfaction pie chart from before, run through a color blindness filter, and the pieces are indistinguishable.

More Notes and Disclaimers

You probably know this stuff, but just in case…

  • You have seen example charts throughout this article. All the data used to create the charts is entirely fictional.
  • Do you want to learn more about how to make charts? Please attend one of my Excel: Pivot Tables, Charts and Pictures sessions listed in myTraining.

Thoughts?

Okay, what do you think Power Users? Do you think you will be able to put some of these tips to use with your data? I would 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: wichita.edu/poweruser

Tera Park

Tera Park

Mary Ann Hollander

Mary Ann Hollander

John Keckeisen

John Keckeisen

Amanda Conner

Amanda Conner