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.


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…


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? 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…


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:

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.


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:

Tera Park

Tera Park

Mary Ann Hollander

Mary Ann Hollander

John Keckeisen

John Keckeisen

Amanda Conner

Amanda Conner

Word: Compare and Combine

In the last Office Byte, we talked about the ability to compare two Excel documents via a special Add In. In the case of Word, we can use a feature already present on the Review tab, and in many ways it is even cooler. We cover this Compare feature in the Word Advanced training… if you would like to learn more about this, I would love to see you at a future session! Let’s take a look.

Compare dropdown, Compare circled


If you would like to follow along, here are a couple of exercises. The first is a fictional draft of a document, and the second is a final version.

Much like with the Excel example, our goal is to ascertain the difference between the two documents.

Also, big thank you to Hannah in HR for letting us use her Final document as an exercise (the draft is a fictional version of her final).


In Word, the Compare feature lives on the Review tab. This will make sense when you see what happens after we load up both documents.

1. In a blank Word Document, go to the Review tab, Compare group, and click on the Compare dropdown.

Compare dropdown in the ribbon

2. Select Compare.

Compare dropdown, Compare circled

3. A popup will appear. Click on the folder to the right of the Original Document and browse to select the draft document. Then click on the folder to the right of Revised document, and select the final version.

Compare documents screen, folder icon circled

4. Notice you have the ability to label the changes. You could list the name of the author of the revised document here. Click OK.

Label changes with: James T. Kirk as author

One more note… there is a button that says More at the lower left of this screen. For now, I am going to skip that, but it is worth taking a look as you use this Compare feature more.

Navigating the Compare Screen

Hey look, a mission control screen! What are we looking at here?

Compare screen mission control


On the left side you will see Revisions. you can click on any of these to be taken directly to the appropriate area of the document.

Revisions Screen

Original and Revised Documents

On the right side, you have two panes: the Original and the Revised document.

Original and revised screens

Combined/Compared Document

In the center are both documents together. As you scroll down in this document, you will see the left and right panes scroll with you.

Compared document

Already, this “mission control” view (not the official name) is making it much easier to compare the differences between these two documents, and see exactly what my coworker changed. But there are some other cool things about this feature.

Changes: Accepting or Rejecting

I mentioned there is a reason this feature lives on the Review tab. The center document effectively took our original, overlaid the revised version, and is retroactively treating it like comment and markup.

What does this mean? For one, you can accept or reject each of the revisions, just as if your coworker had used markup to change your document. What a cool tool! Especially if your office doesn’t regularly use Track Changes features, and you want to utilize their functionality…

Accept dropdown

Additional Notes

A couple more things I want to make sure to share:

New Document

When you chose to Compare these two documents, take a look at the top of your Word screen. This created a new document titled Compare Result.

Word document title: Compare Result

You can save this as its own document. It will not have the mission control experience when you reopen, however it will retain the changes as if it were a document with track changes enabled, and you will be able to come back later and decide to Accept or Reject changes.


So that was compare… what is this Combine option in the same dropdown? If you selected Combine instead of Compare and ran through the same exercise, you actually wouldn’t see a huge difference.

Compare dropdown, Combine circled.

So a common question is… what is the difference between the two features? I have heard it said that the difference is Compare is only for two documents, and Combine is for multiple documents… this confused me, since I don’t see a way to add more than two in the Combine screen. What I came to learn is that Combine allows for track changes to be turned on on the documents that are being compared… it is basically Compare for two documents with tracked changes already enabled… allowing for more collaborators.

Long story short (too late)… the features behave remarkably similarly, with the one exception that if Track Changes is turned on in either of the documents to be opened, Combine seems to be the method of choice.

Annnd… if you want to learn more about Track Changes, check out Word Essentials training! [/shameless plug]


So what do you think, do you think you will use Compare with your Word files?

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:

  • Tierney Mount

Mail Merge With Tricky Number Formats

Have you ever attempted to mail merge with fields that contain formatted numbers, only to find that the formatting does not carry over onto your merged Word document? This is a common source of frustration with mail mergers, and something that we can quickly remedy on the Excel end. Let’s take a look… but first, big thank you to Jamie for having this excellent question at Wednesday’s Excel Essentials session and inspiring this Byte.

Insert Merge Field dropdown in Word

Exercise Files

If you would like to follow along, download today’s exercise files below to your desktop.

For this Byte, I am assuming you know the basics of working with Mail Merge in Word. If you are not comfortable with Mail Merge, please attend a Word Essentials training with me! I would love to show you how it works.

Excel File

Let’s take a look at the Excel file first. This is a list of employees… here are all out new professors who we are going to send letters to, welcoming them to Starfleet.

There are columns with Last Name, First Name, Salary, FTE, and Phone Number. The number fields are all formatted: Salary as currency, FTE as rounded to two decimals, and Phone Number as the Special Phone Number format.

Excel file with names, Salaries, FTE, Phone Number, and TEXT columns

Heads up: Notice that, highlighted in yellow, there are also some “helper columns” with TEXT titles. Let’s ignore those for the present, because in real life, perhaps you haven’t created those, and instead incorporated number formatting, as most of us do in our Excel Files

Word File

Opening up the Word File, you will find a letter welcoming professors to Starfleet Academy. Our plan is to enter merge fields into the bold area circled below.

Letter with merge field entry circled

Mail Merge with Formatted Number Columns

Let’s start our merge. We are going to build this using our number formatted columns. Again, I am assuming you have merged before for this exercise. If you are not comfortable with Mail Merge, please come attend one of my Word Essentials session. I would love to show you!

1. In the Mailings tab, go to Start Mail Merge, and select Letters.

Start Mail Merge dropdown

2. For Select Recipients, select Use an Existing List. Browse for the Excel file, wherever you chose to save it.

Select Recipients dropdown

3. Take a look at the Insert Merge Field dropdown, and make sure that you see all the columns you saw in your Excel file. Remember, we are focusing on the first five merge fields for now (not the TEXT ones).

Insert Merge Field dropdown

4. Insert each merge field in the indicated location. It should look like the example below.

Merge fields inserted into Word document

5. Let’s toggle the Preview Results button to see how this will look.

Preview Results button

This is usually the point where people realize that certain types of number formatting do not come through in Mail Merge. The salary, phone number, and FTE are just general number formatting. The phone number has no dashes, the salary has no commas, and the FTE is missing a “0.”

Merge fields previewed with unformatted numbers.

6. Let’s remove the Phone, Salary and FTE merge fields, and try this again. This time, insert the TEXT options that we saw in our “helper” columns in the Excel file.

Insert Merge Field dropdown with TEXT fields circled.

So Salary should be replaced with TEXTSal, FTE with TEXTfte and Phone with TEXTPh.

Merge fields inserted as described

7. When you Preview results, it will look much more like what we had in mind.

Preview with formatted numbers

What difference! Let’s see what makes these columns different in our Excel file.

Text Formulas

Open the Excel file again, and let’s do some investigating. We are going to check out our “helper” columns in columns F, G, and H that contain TEXT in the header.

1. Let’s see how the formula for TEXTSal is set up. Click into cell F2, and take a look in the formula bar. The formula used for Sal was:


Excel, F2 selected, formula bar circled

2. Do the same for TEXTfte in G2. The formula used was:


Excel, G2 Selected, formula bar circled

3. … and finally, TEXTPh in H2. The formula used was:


Excel, H2 selected, formula bar circled

So our investigating reveals that TEXT formulas have been used in these columns, which came over in a much better format for mail merge purposes.

If you would like to learn more about the TEXT function, take a look at this handy guide from Microsoft that will walk you through creating all of these used above, and more!


Has this ever happened to you when you were mail merging with numbers? Do you think you will incorporate TEXT functions with your future merges?

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:

Haley Underhill

Word: Mail Merge with PDF Attachments

Have you ever wished that you could do an email Mail Merge with PDF attachments as the merged results? There are a variety of reasons you may want to do this. Maybe you would like to send individual PDF letters to students via email attachment, or perhaps you want to have a partially completed PDF form that is personalized for each person you are emailing. The possibilities are endless! By the way, big thanks to Julie and Meghan for having an awesome question in last week’s Word session that has inspired this Byte!


  • Today I am going to be referencing an Add In that comes with the installation of Acrobat DC on a computer. To request Acrobat DC, or other Adobe Creative Cloud programs, contact the Help Desk at 4357.
  • Also, for these exercises, I am assuming you have some experience with Mail Merge in Word. If you have never merged before, or are not comfortable with the process, please come attend my Microsoft Word Essentials training! You will be comfortable with it in no time.

Exercise Files

Here are a couple files for experimentation, if you would like to follow along:

  • Sample Letter Word Document: this is your file that you would like to turn into a merged PDF for recipients. This is a fictional letter for potential students.
  • Mail Merge Database Excel File: this is a fictional database for linking to the merge document.
  • Important: you should save these both to your desktop before starting, since you will have to browse to find the Excel file when merging.

Creating the Merge

You will start this merge like any other email merge:

1. Open the Sample Letter Word file.

2. Go to Mailings tab and select Start Mail Merge

3. Select Letters

Start Mail Merge dropdown, Letters selected

4. Select Recipients and browse for the Excel file

Select recipients dropdown, Use an existing list selected

5. Insert Merge Fields as desired. I am going to insert:

  • Address block
  • Greeting line, and
  • Interest field
Insert Merge Field dropdown

Work Offline

In real life, this is an optional step when doing an email merge, but I will ask you to do it this time, since we are working with fake email accounts, and you probably don’t want to receive a bunch of bounce back emails. When you work Offline in Outlook, it allows you the opportunity to review your email merge before going back online and sending them.

  • In Outlook, go to the send/receive tab and select Work Offline.
Outlook Send/Receive tab, Work Offline selected

Finish and Merge

1. Instead of going to Finish and Merge, like we usually do, we are going to select Merge to Adobe PDF.

Mailings tab, Merge to Adobe PDF circled

2. In the popup screen:

  • Specify a name for your PDF
Specify PDF File name completed with "Welcome" title
  • Check the box next to Automatically send Adobe PDF files by Email. Email data will populate by default, but that is something that could be changed if the wrong column is selected.
Automatically send Adobe PDF files by Email box checked. Email selected from dropdown.
  • Type in a special email Message, if desired.
Message inserted in Message box: We can't wait to see you this fall!
  • Press Ok

3. Select a location to save the merged PDF files. This creates separate PDFs for each of the merge results, for your records.

If there you don’t see a location that will work, notice you can also create a new folder in the lower left.

Browse for location screen

Double Check Results

  1. Open your Outlook.
  2. Since you are working Offline, these files are going to be sitting in your Outbox. You should see a number on the left side of your screen next to Outbox. Click on the Outbox to access the folder.
Outbox displayed on list

3. You will see a list of emails. Double click on any of them and take a look at the email that is set to send. You will see your message, subject line, and a PDF attachment.

Email from results, with PDF attachment

4. Double click on the attachment. Here is the letter you wanted to send, as a PDF attachment.

PDF of merged Word file

5. The individual PDFs are also living wherever you chose to store them on the previous section, step 3.

Work Online

Don’t forget that you need to go back online again with your Outlook! When you go back online, all of the emails in your outbox are going to send automatically, and in this case (with our fake emails) is not a good idea.

Red X next to each email to delete from Outbox.
  1. Click on the red X to the right of of each of the emails to delete them.
  2. When you are finished, revisit the Send/Receive tab and toggle off the Work Offline button to go back online again.


Will you use this in your area? I would love to hear how you plan to use this tool!

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:

Word: Linking Text Between Documents

There are several options in Word for referencing a separate Word document. A feature I particularly like is called Insert Object. There is a lot you can do with the Insert Object feature, but one nice aspect is the ability to link (and sync!) text between two documents. Let’s see how this works.

Exercise Files

There are two files that will work together today:

The Welcome New Employees document contains a section that you would like to reference back to another Word document, Policy 55555. You would like for the Welcome New Employees document to update as your policy updates.

Since we will be linking these documents together, save both of these files to your desktop before going to the next step.

Insert Object

1. Open the Welcome New Employees document.

2. Place your cursor where you would like to insert the content from Policy 55555, at the end of the document.

3. Go to the Insert tab, Text group, and select the Object dropdown.

Note: if your screen is a smaller size, or the size of the Word window is reduced, you may only see an icon for the object in the ribbon.

4. Select Object from the dropdown.

5. In the tab at the top of the pop out screen select Create from File.

Create from File tab

6. Press Browse to browse for the Policy 55555 document.

Instructions 6 through 8

7. Check Link to File

8. Press OK

Inserted Text

Notice how this inserts the text with a frame around it. You cannot edit this text anywhere except in the source document, Policy 55555.

1. Double click on the frame to open the linked document in a new window.

Inserted text in a frame

2. Make a change to the source document.  Instead of Sandy, change the contact to Hannah, and the phone number to 999 9999.

3. Save the Policy document and close it to see the change take effect in the Welcome document.

Changes made to policy document

By the way, in the future you could always just open the linked Policy file, and make a change to it on its own. The change will take effect the next time you open the Welcome file… you may have to close and reopen the Welcome file if it is open when you make the change this way, though.


A few more things to note:

  1. Be cautious of where you save or move your linked documents. They may need to be re-linked if you move them to new locations.
  2. Insert Object also exists in PowerPoint. Imagine the possibilities!
  3. If you choose to email the final file to people, or post it online, they will be able to see the latest linked text, but they will not be linked to the linked document (Policy in this example), nor will they be able to open the linked document. Only people who can access where the linked document is stored will be able to do that.
  4. All bets are off if you export to PDF. The text will appear, but it will no longer be linked.

In other words, think of this as a feature to use with your master documents, to ensure consistency.


Do you have a use for this nifty linked text feature? Also, like I mentioned in the introduction, this is only one aspect of the Insert Object feature. Feel free to explore and let me know how it goes!

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:

Microsoft Office: Customizing the Ribbon

In every Micrsoft Essentials training, we talk about customizing the Quick Access Toolbar (QAT). In a similar vein, did you know you can customize your Microsoft Ribbon as well? Indeed, you can create your own custom groups with those hard-to-find favorite features. This is just another way to save yourself a few clicks throughout the day… which we all know can add up to a lot of time. Let’s take a look.
Customize Ribbon selected on dropdown

Exercise File

There is no exercise file today, because you will be customizing the ribbon on your individual download of Microsoft Office. If you would like to follow along, open up a blank Word document.

Layout of the Ribbon

Ribbon with Tabs, groups and commands labeled

The Ribbon is made up of:

  1. Tabs: e.g. Home, Insert, Design
  2. Groups: printed at the bottom of each tab, e.g. Clipboard, Font, Paragraph
  3. Commands: the buttons/features within each group

Throughout all our sessions, have also talked about how we see specific Contextual Tabs, or Tool Tabs, appear as we access certain features (pictures, tables, etc.).  All of these can be customized.

How to Customize the Ribbon

Let’s say that you have been doing a lot of work in Word. You would like to make it easier to find Alt Text when inserting images. You also frequently find yourself adjusting Headers, Footers, and Page Setup options, and would like to save yourself a few clicks in finding these features.

Create a Group

  1. Right click in a grey space on top of the ribbon and select Customize the Ribbon.
    Customize Ribbon selected on dropdown

    • Notice this looks similar to the QAT customization screen, but this time Customize Ribbon is highlighted.

Customize Ribbon highlighted

  1. Highlight the Home tab on the right and press New Group at the lower right of the screen.
    New Group button circled
  2. A new group will appear in the home tab list. Select it and press Rename to name it something else. I am going to name mine Special.
    New group, rename button circled

Add Commands

Let’s add a few commands to the Special group.

  1. Select the Special group on the right pane.
  2. On the Left Pane, change the dropdown from Popular Commands to All Commands.
    All commands selected
  3. Scroll down to Edit Footer. Select it, press the Add button between the two panes.

Edit footer slected, add button circled

  1. Do the same for Edit Header, and Page Setup

Once you click OK, you will see a new group with your custom commands.

Special group with new commands

Customizing a Contextual/Tool Tab

We added the previous commands to the Home tab in Word. We also would like to add Alt Text to the Picture Tools contextual tab. Contextual/Tool tabs are tabs that we don’t see until we select a specific object (like a picture) the document.

Note: if you are using Office 365, Alt text will already appear on the Picture Tools tab by default.

To customize the Contextual/Tool tabs:

  1. Right click on the ribbon and select Customize the Ribbon
  2. On the right pane, change the dropdown from Main Tabs to Tool Tabs.Tool Tabs selected
  3. Find the Picture Tools tab and select the only group (Format).
  4. Follow the instructions above to add Alt Text to your picture tools tab.

Remove Commands

You will not be able to remove the default commands from the ribbon, but if you would like to remove commands that you have added yourself, you can do so easily:

  1. Right click on the ribbon and select Customize the Ribbon.
  2. Highlight the command or group (in our case, Special) on the right pane
  3. Press the Remove button between the two panesSpecial group highlighted, remove button circled


Remember, this works in all your Microsoft Office programs, not just our Word examples above.  I am sure there are special features you wish you could access more easily, so I can’t wait to hear what you decide to do!  A few I have added to mine are:

  1. Outlook: Journal Feature to the Home tab (and QAT, because I am extra).
  2. All Programs: Alt Text to the Picture Tools tab
    • As I mentioned earlier, in Microsoft 365, Alt text will appear on the picture tools tab by default, but if you are on 2016 or earlier, it can be a huge time saver to add it yourself.
  3. Excel: Set Print Area to the Home Tab


How will you customize the ribbon on your Office programs? I would love to hear which commands you decide to add!

Congratulations, Power Users!

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




Word: Solutions for Common Issues with Numbered Lists

Automated numbered lists are a feature a lot of us take for granted in Microsoft Word…. They usually work seamlessly and automatically, but sometimes these lists can work against us: restarting a list of numbers  at 1 when we mean to continue our list, or picking up formatting that we can’t seem to shake, like creating all bold numbers in spite of unbold text. Don’t despair; these little inconveniences are remarkably simple to fix.

Exercise File

To follow along, you may download the exercise file: NumberedLists

This file contains a fascinating list of silly words laid out in series of numbers lists. Let’s take a look at our options.

Continuing or Restarting Numbered lists

Look at the second section of words, starting with “Brouhaha.” It is clear that this list should not be starting over; it should be a continuation of the previous list. This is a simple fix.

  1. Right click on top of the number 1 next to the word Brouhaha.
  2. Select Continue Numbering

Right click menu, continue numbering

This will pick up the value from the previous numbered list.  What if the opposite happens? Word guesses that you would like to continue numbering, but you actually intend to start over? Easy peasy! Follow the same process, but this time select Restart at 1.

 Right click, restart at 1 selected

 Additionally, occasionally when you insert a numbered list, you will see a lightening bolt appear with a dropdown arrow. This is just another way to access the same feature, a shortcut inserted by Word that will allow you to make the decision whether to continue numbering or restart at 1.

Restart Numbering lightening bolt

Change Number Values

There is also an option in this menu to Set Numbering Value. This option is for those times when you need a special number, perhaps one that is out of sequence with the rest of your numbered list.

Right click, set numbering value

Formatting Numbered Lists

Sometimes you create a lovely numbered list, and for whatever reason, Word picks up on formatting from a previous line of text, making all the numbers bold, or a previously used color.

Formatting in numgers matches words

On the exercise document, look at the third section. Someone used a blue bold font for the text above the numbered list, and Word assumed that this should apply to the numbers on the list. To fix this, let’s take a closer look at that right click menu.

  1. Right click on top of the first blue number, next to “Taradiddle”
  2. Attached to the numbering options in a separate section is the ability to change the formatting: to remove the bold formatting and recolor the text.
    • Note: sometimes these options appear above the numbering options, sometimes they are below.

Right click, formatting options

Sub Points

Creating Sub Points

In the last section, numbers 4 and 5 should be sub points of number 3. To demote them to sub point click to the left of “Our Friends,” and hit tab on your keyboard. Do the same for “Our Neighbors.”

This has created sub points, and Word assumed that you would like to indicate sub points with lowercase alphabet:

Subpoints on a list

If the alphabet isn’t your goal, you can always click into the text in the line of a or b, go the numbered list dropdown in the Paragraph group of the Home tab, and select a different format. Maybe Roman numerals?

Numbered list options, Roman numerals selected

Promoting Sub Points

By the way, how do you change your mind and promote a sub point back to being a main point? Well, you could use the Decrease Indent (left arrow) in the Paragraph group…

Left Arrow in Paragraph group

But you all know I am a fan of shortcuts, and my favorite one for this purpose is shift + tab.


Have numbered lists caused you trouble in the past? Will any of these tips help you going forward? 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:




Microsoft Office: Creating and Using Templates

Microsoft templates are a mystery to a lot of people. Maybe you have found  a way to save a file as a template. You noticed a new type of extension appear at the end of the file… but for the most part you see it behaving the same as a regular office file. So you wonder, what is the big deal with templates? I have to let you in on a secret. The usefulness of template files is all about where they are saved.  And… they can actually be a timesaving lifesaver in a pinch, especially for repetitive work. Let’s explore how templates work in MS Office.

Exercise Files

This process will work the same in Excel, Word and PowerPoint; here are some sample templates to try out for each program:

p.s. This awesome PowerPoint template is available through the Strategic Communications Templates page. I hear that more will be coming soon, so stay tuned!

Open the File

Let’s open one of the files, the Word Template. Let’s say this is a file you had spent a lot of time creating; from selecting a theme and color palette, to tweaking the Styles to creating a dynamic Table of Contents. (More on those options for a future Byte).

Word Template with Themes and palettes

Save As

  1. Go to File and select Save As (or a lot of you know that my favorite shortcut for a quick Save As screen is F12). Location doesn’t matter, because that is about to change when we select type.
  2. In the Save as Type dropdown menu, select Word Template.
    Save As screen with type dropdown
  3. Notice this changes the default location of your save to Custom Office Templates Folder.This is important:  do not change this save location! This is where Word will look for your template.
    Custom Office Templates Folder Location
  4. Press Save.

 Access Your Personal Templates

Let’s test out your new template!

  1. Go to File and select New. You are creating an entirely new Word document, just like you would in the future when starting from scratch.
    File, New screen
  2. At the top of the templates, notice you now have a Personal tab. Press this button.
    Personal Templates button
  3. You should see your new template, the Office Bytes Template. Select this to apply the template to your new Word document.
    Template in the Personal Templates folder

Notice how this brings in not only the content, but all the themes, colors, fonts and styles.

This will work the same way with your PowerPoint and Excel file examples. Give it a try!


Do you have a handy use for templates like this in your 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:

  • Amy Yonai

Amy Yonai