Microsoft Office 365 Cheat Sheet - 2021 Edition


Microsoft Office 365 Cheat Sheet - 2021 Edition

Microsoft Office is a powerful app that is part of the Microsoft Office suite. Almost everyone has used Office 365 to perform tasks for personal use or for their job, such as creating reports, writing essays, journaling, creating graphics, writing emails and more. Microsoft Word and Excel are important parts of Office 365, so we’ll focus on them and their basic uses in this guide.

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Microsoft Office has two models for its use. Businesses and individuals can pay for the software license up directly and own it forever or they can buy an Office 365 subscription, which means they have access to Office for only as long as they keep paying for the subscription.

When you purchase a version of the suite, such as Office 2019, its applications will stay without any new features added in the future, On the other side, Office 365 apps are constantly updated with new features. This cheat sheet will update you on the features that were introduced in Office 365’s Word for Windows desktop client since 2015. The basic features are self-explanatory, so we’ll go over the new features that will be glossed over in other cheat sheets. Then we’ll go through Excel, which is a little trickier but pretty much runs the business world.

The Ribbon Interface

The Ribbon interface is a new feature of Word. It has been around since Office 2007, so you might know how it works or has at least heard of it.

Microsoft changed the way the Ribbon appears in 2018. It’s now less cluttered and nicer looking, with brighter colors, which makes the icons and text on the Ribbon easy to find. Additionally, the blue bar at the top was reduced, and now the tab names appear on a gray background. It still functions as before, and you’ll find most of the commands in the same locations as in earlier versions.

A small change to the Ribbon layout is the appearance of a Help tab to the right of the View tab. There are also slight variations in the Ribbon’s appearance between editions of Word in Office 365. For example, the Search box is located to the right of the Ribbon tabs in consumer editions but on top of the Ribbon tabs in enterprise editions. You can also use the search box on or above the Ribbon to find commands.

Similar to earlier versions of Word, in order to make the commands underneath the tabs on the Ribbon disappear, press Ctrl-F1. However, the Ribbon tabs (File, Insert, etc.) stay visible. If you would like to make the commands appear again, press Ctrl-F1.

There are also more options for displaying the Ribbon too. To try to reach them, click the “Ribbon display options” icon at the topmost right corner of the screen, and it will be to the left of the icons for minimizing and maximizing Word. A drop-down menu will appear with three possible options:

  • Auto-hide Ribbon: This will hide the entire Ribbon, both the tabs and commands underneath them. If you would like to show the Ribbon again, click at the top of Word.
  • Show Tabs: This shows the tabs but hides the commands underneath them. It’s the same as pressing Ctrl-F1. If you would like to display commands underneath tabs when they are hidden, press Ctrl-F1, click a tab or click the Ribbon display icon and select “Show Tabs and Commands.”
  • Show Tabs and Commands: Selecting this shows both the tabs and commands.

However, the blue color on the title bar is too bright for your eyes or if it bothers you for some other reason, you can turn it white, dark gray or black. If you would like to change the color of it, select File > Options > General. When you are there, in the “Personalize your copy of Microsoft Office” section, click the down arrow next to Office Theme and select Black, White or Dark Grey from the menu that drops down. If you want to go back to making the title bar blue again, choose the Colorful option from the drop-down list. Right above the Office Theme menu is an Office Background drop-down menu. That where you can select to display a pattern, such as circles, a circuit board or stripes in the title bar.

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Another great feature in the Microsoft backstage area appears when you click File on the Ribbon. If you click Open, Save a Copy or Save As from the left menu, you can see the cloud-based services that you have connected to your Office account, such as OneDrive and SharePoint. Each location can display its associated email address underneath it. This is a useful feature if you use a cloud service with more than one account, such as having one OneDrive account for business and another one for personal use. You'll find easily which one you are viewing.

Real-Time Collaboration

One of the biggest features introduced in Word for Office 365 subscribers is real-time collaboration. It allows you to work on documents with others from anywhere in the world. The only requirement is an internet connection. This is similar to a feature that Google Docs has had for a long time. Microsoft likes to call this “co-authoring.”

For Word in Office 365, there are three requirements for collaboration. You have to be logged into your Microsoft or Office 365 account; the document needs to be stored in OneDrive, OneDrive for Business, or SharePoint Online; and AutoSave has to be on.

If you would like to collaborate on a document, open the document and click the Share icon in the top-right part of the screen. If you haven’t saved your file yet in SharePoint Online, OneDrive or OneDrive for Business, you’ll be asked to do so. The next step depends on if your document is stored in your own OneDrive or with OneDrive for Business or SharePoint Online.

If you have your files stored in your personal OneDrive, the documents will be shared via the Share pane. However, if the files are stored in OneDrive for Business or SharePoint Online, you will use a newer interface that Microsoft created for enterprise Office 365 users in 2017.

If the doc is stored in your personal OneDrive and you’ve saved the document to OneDrive and clicked the Share button, the Share pane opens on the right-hand side of the screen—this is central area for collaboration. At the upper pane, type in the email addresses of the people you want to collaborate with on the document and separate each email address by a comma. Word goes through your address book as you type and displays the matches it finds. Then click the email/person you want to invite. If you happen to be on a corporate network, you can click the address book on the right to search through your corporate email address book. If the person you are trying to invite is not in your address book, simply type in their complete email address.

After you have entered the addresses, select either "Can view" or “Cam edit” in the drop-down to allow collaborators read-only privileges or full-editing. If you would like to assign various rights to certain users, you can send two separate emails or you can switch any collaborator’s permissions later on by right-clicking their name in the Share pane.

If you want, type your message in the text box. Once that is complete, click Share. An email will be sent out to everyone you have shared the file with, showing an “Open” button that they can click to open the document.

For collaboration, there is also another path to share a file stored in a personal OneDrive: Near the bottom of the Share pane, click “Get a sharing link,” and from the screen that pops up, choose “Create an edit link” if you want to create a link to the file that will allow someone or a group of people to edit the file, or “Create a view-only link” if you want to create a link that allow it to be only viewed and not edited. Then copy the link, write the email, paste the link and send the email.

If you would like to send the file instead but don’t wish to allow people collaborate on it, at the bottom of the Share pane click “Send as attachment.” You can then send the file either in Word format or as a PDF. When you accomplish this, it won’t reflect any changes you make to it after you send the file.

If your document is stored in OneDrive for Business or SharePoint Online: Clicking the Share button pops up a Send Link window. This is where you can send an email with a link while others can access the document. 

The default only allows people whose email addresses you enter to be able to edit the document. If you wish, you can click “People you specify can edit” to call up a “Link settings” screen, and this is the place you can expand access to anyone with the link, such as people in your business or anyone who already has the access.

Microsoft Excel

Now let’s go over new Excel features in Office 365.

Use Search to Get Tasks Completed Fast

Excel is not easy to use for a first-timer, since it has many features, some of which hidden, that are difficult to understand and use, especially advanced functions that may be used in statistical and financial analysis. In Excel 2016, Microsoft made everything a little easier with an enhanced search feature called Tell Me, which made hard-to-reach tools in reach. Microsoft eventually renamed the feature Search, though it works in the same way as before. 

To use Tell Me, click within the Search box to the right of all the tab headers on the Ribbon. Keyboard fans can also press Alt-Q. Then you can type the task in you want to do, such as “create a pivot table.” Then you’ll see a menu showing potential matches for the task. In our case, the result shown at the top is a link to the form for creating a PivotTable. Select it to start creating the PivotTable without having to go to the Ribbon’s Insert tab first. The search box also makes it simple to perform almost any task in Excel.

If you want more information about your task, the last two items that appear in the menu let you select from related Help topics or search for your phrase using Smart Lookup. Smart Lookup will be gone over below

Even if you think you are great at spreadsheets, it will be good to try out the enhanced search function. It saves a lot of time, and it is more efficient than searching through the Ribbon to find the command you are looking for. Another reason to use it is it remembers the features you’ve previously clicked on in the box, so when you click in it, you will see a list of previous tasks you’ve searched for. This will help you find the tasks you use often rather quickly. It also lets you get to tasks that seemed difficult to find in close proximity.

However, the search box doesn’t just search for tasks. You can use it to look up word definitions using Bing, and people with Office 365 business accounts can use it to search for contacts in their company or for files stored in SharePoint or OneDrive.

Smart Lookup for Simpler Research

Smart Lookup helps you perform research while you’re working on a spreadsheet. All you have to do is right-click a cell with a word or group of words in it, and from the menu that appears, select Smart Lookup.

Excel will then use Microsoft’s Bing to perform a web search on the word/words, shows definitions, any related Wikipedia entries and some other results from the web in the Smart Lookup box that appears on your right. Click the result to open the page in full in a browser. If all you want is a definition of the word, click the Define tab in the pane. If you want even more information, click the Explore tab in the pane.

Smart Lookup is very useful for discovering general information, such as definitions of financial words.

But for basic words, such as “ROI,” it still works well. But Smart Lookup doesn’t always do a great job of researching financial information that you might want to put into your spreadsheet. Sometimes the result you wanted isn’t listed at the top, so it’s not always good at retrieving you exactly what you wanted. You might need to scroll down a little to find the result you wanted.

However, Smart Lookup doesn’t always misinterpret things. It’s good to use, since it’s conveniently in front of you, built into the software. Microsoft is always improving its AI capabilities in Office, therefore Smart Lookup has improved over time.

New Chart Types

Spreadsheets are about more than just basic data. They are a good precursor to visualizing data in charts. Charts are also useful in presenting and gaining insights from data. Excel for Office 365 has some new chart types, including a histogram, a “waterfall” that’s effective at showing running financial totals, and a hierarchical treemap that finds data patterns. However, the new charts are only available if you’re working in an .xlsx document. If you happen to use the older .xls format, you won’t find them.

If you want to view the new charts, put your cursor in the group of cells that contain data, select Insert > Recommended Charts and click the All Charts tab. The new charts are found with the older ones. Select any one of them to create a chart.

Excel for Office 365 includes several new chart types, including waterfall.

The following includes the new chart types:

Treemap. This will create a hierarchical view of data. The top-level categories are shown as rectangles (branches), and the subcategories (sub-branches) are shown as smaller rectangles grouped inside the larger ones. You can compare the sizes of top-level categories and subcategories in an easy manner.

Sunburst. This chart type shows hierarchical data as well, but this time it is in a multi-level pie chart. A circle represents each level of the hierarchy. The inner circle includes top-level categories, the next circle displays subcategories, the circle after that the subcategories of the subcategories and so on.

Sunbursts are great for displaying relationships among categories and subcategories. Treemaps, on the other hand, are better at displaying the relative sizes of categories and subcategories. A sunburst chart shows hierarchical data, such as animal categories (humans) and subcategories (dolphins) as a multi-level pie chart.

Waterfall. A waterfall chart is best used for visualizing financial statements. It shows a running total of negative and positive contributions toward a net value. These positive and negative contributions could be revenue and expenses that work towards a final net value.

Histogram. A histogram displays frequencies within a data set. It could show the number of cars sold on the market today at a certain price range. Histograms are great for displaying frequencies, such as the number of cars sold at various price points.

Pareto. A Pareto or sorted histogram includes bars and a line graph. Values are shown in descending order by bars. The total percentage of each bar is represented by a rising line. Using the car example, each bar could represent the brand of vehicle in this given price range (Toyota, BMW, Ford, etc.) The chart might show each model that each of these brands have in the given price range (such as $35-40,000 price range).

The Pareto chart, however, doesn’t appear when you select Insert > Recommended Charts > All Charts. If you want to use Pareto, select the data you want to chart, then select Insert > Insert Statistic Chart, and under Histogram simply choose Pareto.

In a Pareto chart, a rising line represents the total percentage of the items that are being measured. In the last example for cars, the BMW might be the one with a car at the top of the price range we used.

Box & Whisker. A Box and Whisker also show frequencies within a data set, but it includes a more thorough analysis of the data. For example, we might show all the little additions to each car that makes it reach that range. It might be a fully-loaded Toyota Camry that brings the price to the $43,000 range. This can be messed around with a lot to show the exact data you want to achieve. You can also show the amount of features added-on and the average cost of adding a certain amount of features to a car. For example, adding in 10 new features for a BMW would most likely be more expensive compared to a Toyota, since we are comparing a luxury car to a non-luxury one.

Box & Whisker charts can also show facts about data ranges, such as the first to third quartile in the “boxes,” median/mean inside the boxes, upper/lower range with the “whiskers” and outliers with dots.

Funnel. This chart type is great when you wish to show values at multiple stages in a process. A funnel chart can show the number of sales prospects at every stage of the sales process. This can be prospects at the top for the first stage, qualified prospects underneath it for the second stage, etc. until you get to the final stage, which is closed sales.

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We hope you found this short cheat sheet helpful for understanding the new features of Microsoft Office 365. If you would like Office 365 certification training, we can help. It’s essential to have skills in Microsoft Office, as almost every employer using Excel or Word in their day-to-day operation. Start your 30-day free trial to gain access to over 900 self-paced courses.

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