Office 365 Tips to Increase Your Productivity


If you’ve you’re looking for Office 365 tips, you’ve come to the “write” (a little pun) place! The newest version of Microsoft’s Office suite is called Office 365, as in “You can use Office 365 days a year.” Or “There’s 365 ways you can use Office.” Microsoft has moved the majority of the suite to the cloud, which gives you a number of benefits, as well as possible drawbacks, but those are fodder for a different story. In this article I’m going to lay out a number of tips and tricks to help you become more productive with Microsoft’s newest version.

Office 365 Users Get Free Skype Credits

You can use Skype to make phone calls to anywhere in the world. If you dial a toll-free number, the call is free, but if you dial a toll number, or a number outside of the U.S., you have to pay. You have to pay unless you’re also a user of Office 365, whose users are given a free 60 minutes worth of credits.

Office 365 Tips for Working with PDF Files

Not too long ago, there was only one Word file format, .doc. However, the last few versions of Word have produced the .docx file format by default. That doesn’t become a problem until you send a document to someone that is using an older version of Word. A great way to avoid the “Hey, I can’t open this file.” complaint is to use the Adobe PDF format.

The problem with that, though, is that the PDF format is often hard to modify and maintain the original formatting of the document. Office 365 puts that firmly in the past, though. Word 2013 has a feature called PDF Reflow that was designed with this shortcoming in mind. The program has the ability to read the PDF file and maintain all original formatting such as tables, headers, lists, columns, and the like. Although it isn’t a complete replacement for using the Professional version of Adobe Acrobat, it’s more than enough for most users. Just right-click the file and choose Open with…. and then select Microsoft Word from the list of available programs.

Match Colors in PowerPoint Using the Eye Dropper Tool

If you’ve ever used the color matching tool in older versions of PowerPoint you know how difficult it can be to get a perfect match. PowerPoint 2013, which is part of the Office 365 Suite, gives you a Photoshop-like eye dropper tool to match colors quickly, easily, and exactly. Here’s how:

  • Right-click the object you wish to match the color of and click Fill
  • Click Fill and Eyedropper
  • Click the desired color
  • Click the area you wish filled with the matched color.

Using “Special Characters” Quickly and Easily

Special characters are any characters or symbols that you may need to have in a document but which don’t have a matching keyboard key for. Do you write to people in Brazil or Spain quite a bit? I do. The Portuguese language has a number of letters that the English language doesn’t have, and if they aren’t used, you change the meaning of the word. For example, the words for grandmother and grandfather are both spelled with the letters a-v-o. However, there’s an accent on the ‘o’ for grandmother and a circumflex on the ‘o’ in grandfather. The words look like this: avò and avô. You can use the keyboard shortcuts ( and numbers in this case 149 and 147 respectively) or you can:

  • Click where you want the symbol or special letter/character
  • On the menu, select the Insert option
  • Select Symbol
  • Select More Symbols
  • Select the Special Characters tab
  • Select the symbol or character
  • Click Insert

If the symbol(s) or character(s) you need aren’t there, change the font you have selected for the document. Just be sure to change it back before you start writing again.

Remove Image Backgrounds in Office Programs

Imagine if you will, you’re busily working away on a PowerPoint presentation and you’ve found a few images that you really like, but the background, or what we refer to as ‘the fill’ doesn’t fit in your document; either it’s too big or the wrong color. Never fear, you don’t have to go looking for a background-less version of that image. You can let Office remove the background for you.

  • Click the Insert menu tab
  • Select Image or Clip Art
  • Click the image to bring up the Format menu
  • Select Remove Background
  • The program will “look at” the image and try to remove areas surrounding the main image. If that doesn’t work well enough, you can select Mark Areas to Keep or Mark Areas to Remove and draw lines around the image with the mouse to tell the program where to crop the image.
  • Click Delete Mark to remove the lines you’ve drawn. (Discard All Changes lets you start over)
  • Once the image is exactly the way you want it, select Keep Changes to go back to your document and check your work.

College Ready Papers Easily-Headers and Footers

I remember those days. The prof wanted headers and footers on every page. That was back in the pre-Cambrian typewriter days that some of you may remember. Office does this pretty easily for you if you tell it to.

  • Open the Insert menu
  • Select Header, Footer, and Page Numbering
  • Select the option you need. Each one opens a new menu that lets you customize your selection.

Create a Bibliography or Index

A bibliography lets you cite the sources used for a paper. They can be a pain to create, but, if you want to pass the class, they’re required.

  • Open the References menu
  • Click Insert Citation and Add New Source
  • Fill out the information in the window that opens
  • If more info is needed, click the Show All Bibliography Fields box
  • Click the location in the paper you want the bibliography
  • Select References-Bibliography

Looking for more Office 365 tips and tricks? Check out the Office 365 area on Microsoft Technet.