Work Smarter in Microsoft Outlook, Word & Excel with these Super Tips & Tricks

Learning just one software power tip can save you minutes per day and hours per month. While those tips and tricks seem obvious once you learn them, until you’re enlightened, you can be doing things the “hard way” without even knowing it.

Over half of organizations around the world use Microsoft’s Office 365, which includes the popular standards, Outlook, Word, and Excel. It’s #1 most used cloud service of any type, which means many offices rely on it and it’s a huge part of their daily workflow.

As a certified Microsoft partner, BrainStomp has helped many a client increase productivity and reduce inefficiencies by teaching them the best ways to use their Office 365 suite of applications. Through our Modern Office IT, we also prevent downtime by fixing issues before they impact business. 

If your team is spending a good part of their day working in the MS “power programs” Excel, Outlook, and Word, read on for some productivity-boosting super tips that can help you work smarter and faster.

Power Tips for Outlook

Outlook has been around, pretty much since email has been in use in offices around the world. First launched in 1992 for MS-DOS, it’s become synonymous with the term “email” and much of a person’s day is spent there. 

The average office worker spends 2.5 hours per day reading and replying to email.

Here are some tips and tricks for making your use of Outlook more efficiently. 

Filter for Unread Messages

Often, we pick through our inbox, trying to find the most important messages to reply to first. That leaves a bunch of unread messages mixed in with those you already read, and sorting through those can take up unnecessary extra time. 

Just click Filter Email > Unread on your home tab menu to quickly display only unread messages.

Use Live OneDrive Links 

Have you ever collaborated on a document with colleagues, and then end up searching your inbox to find the latest version to work on? Instead of sending several document copies back and forth as file attachments, send a link to the live OneDrive document. This is much more efficient and ensures everyone has the most updated copy. 

Select Attach File > Browse web locations > OneDrive (the attachment icon will show a cloud on it).

Use Clean Up to Help Tame Your Inbox

Email inboxes can easily get out of hand and you end up with multiple email trails that are pretty much duplicates of each other and an unruly inbox to sort through. Using Outlook’s Clean Up option can help you move redundant conversations, folders or subfolders to the Deleted Items folder automatically.

From the Home menu choose Clean Up then either Clean Up Conversation, Clean Up Folder, or Clean Up Folder & Subfolders. 

Power Tips for Word

Word is one of the earliest Microsoft programs for office productivity, being released in 1983. Here are a few tricks to make the most of this popular word processing program. 

Pick Up Where You Left Off

Are you working on a long document and having trouble finding where you last left off? Save yourself some time searching through paragraphs by letting Word take you there automatically.

When you re-open your document press SHIFT+F5 and Word will take you to the last place you were editing.

Create & Share a Custom Dictionary 

Is auto correct continually flagging your company name or a specific technical term you use as being misspelled? It can be annoying (and time consuming) to have to correct it back to a spelling Word doesn’t recognize. Fix this by creating a custom dictionary with words, names, and other technical teams your organization uses. This can then be shared with others to help everyone save time. 

Go to File > Options > Proofing tab then click Custom Dictionaries and create new.  


You can share it by locating the file, typically located in Boot_Drive/Documents and Settings/user_name/Application Data/Microsoft/Proof, then send the file to another user or uploaded to a shared folder.

Find What You Need Faster

Have a paragraph setting that’s leaving extra space in your document? Need to quickly insert a hyperlink? Save time by letting Word take you where you need to go to make the edit fast. 

On the Home tab click into the “Search” bar at the top (Not the one that says “find”), and type in what you need to do, like “paragraph setting” and you’ll get a link that takes you there.

Note, this search area used to be called “Tell Me”.

Power Tips for Excel

 We’ll close out by giving you three helpful tips for the popular spreadsheet program Excel.

Total Without a Formula

 Rushing to get a quick spreadsheet column total to give the boss? You can use a keyboard shortcut that will bypass the need to enter the sum formula and total your column in milliseconds.

Click into the Excel table beneath the column you’re totaling and press Ctrl+Shift+T and Excel will add the total row at the bottom automatically.

Make Your Numbers Stand Out with Data Bars

Sometimes you don’t need a fancy chart to get your data to stand out. Impress your team by using Data Bars in Excel, which include representational bars right inside the data fields. 


Select your data range then go to Home > Conditional Formatting > Data Bars and choose your desired color scheme.

Separate First and Last Name into Their Own Columns

Most of us have had this happen at some point, we have someone gather a list of contacts (or we’ve made this mistake ourselves), and when the spreadsheet comes back, the first and last names are in the same column instead of separated like you need them to be.

Use this trick in Excel to separate them automatically without having to retype them all. 

Select the column to separate, go to Data tab > Data Tools group and choose Text to Columns. In the Wizard select Delimited and then next. Choose one or more delimiters (tab, comma, etc.). Select the data format and destination and click finish. See it step by step here.

Let Us Help You Keep Your Office Efficient

BrainStomp can help you keep your office and your Office productive and efficient. We can help with software, hardware, and IT consulting to take the burden of ensuring your tech is secure and effective always off your shoulders.  

Our brains are here to help. Call 260-918-3548 or reach out online.