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Microsoft Office Essential Skills

Learn the essential Microsoft Office skills employers want from a Microsoft Certified Trainer!
David Millard
1,655 students enrolled
English [Auto-generated]
Confidently use Microsoft Office in the workplace
Understand the essential skills employers expect in Word, Outlook, Excel and PowerPoint
Apply best practices to your work
Achieve confidence and job satisfaction through practice

In this Microsoft Office essential skills course I share with you the real-life skills people need to get the best from the software in the workplace, gathered over many years as a Microsoft Certified Trainer. By taking this course you will be able to:

  • Confidently use the core Microsoft Office programs in the workplace
  • Learn the skills employers expect you to have in Word, Outlook, Excel and PowerPoint
  • Apply best practices to your work
  • Achieve confidence and job satisfaction through practice

Who should take this course?

  • You should take this course if you use Microsoft Office at work but have never been trained
  • Anyone who wants to become more confident, achieve progression at work or find a new job
  • Anyone who wants to update their skills if returning to work after a career break

Who should not?

  • This course is not intended as a comprehensive guide to Microsoft Office, it is intended to teach the essential skills employers look for
  • It does not cover advanced topics but does cover all you need to get started plus lots of cool shortcuts to make your day fly by

What will students need to know or do before starting this course?

  • This course requires no previous knowledge, but assumes that students will have access to a PC and a copy of Office 2010 or later.
  • Most of the principles can also be applied to Office 2007 and to Office 2013, but as the 2010 version is the most commonly used, this is the version I have chosen for the tutorials.
  • When appropriate, the actual files used in the tutorial are provided for practice and I encourage students to download them and follow along.
  • You will learn faster and be more confident when you try it yourself!


Introduction Video

In this Introductory video I describe what the course will cover in broad terms, who it is aimed at and what students will be able to accomplish once they have completed the course


This introductory lecture shows the specific topics covered in the course and is a written outline of the curriculum. The four main elements of Microsoft Office covered are Word, Outlook, Excel and PowerPoint as these are the most common in daily use. The version of Office used in these tutorials is 2010 - once again, because this is the most common version I encounter in my work.

How to Use This Course

This introductory lecture gives general tips for getting the most from the course by watching and then repeating the techniques using the practice files included with most tutorials. These files are the actual files used when the recordings were made, so you should have no problem replicating my actions.

Microsoft Office Word Essential Skills

A Quick Tour of the Interface

I'll be covering Microsoft Word, Outlook, Excel and PowerPoint in this series, but I'll be starting this tutorial with Microsoft Word. I've chosen to do this because Word is probably the most familiar office program, and this will give me the chance to identify some of the features of this version that are common to all programs in this suite.

We will move on to look at Styles in Microsoft Word in the next tutorial - really useful and essential in a busy workplace, but hardly anyone uses them!

Using Styles

Styles are common in modern web development in the form of Cascading Style Sheets - or CSS - but they have been around in word processing for years. Very few of the people I train use Styles because hardly anyone is aware of them. Those who are usually dismiss them as a fancy way of formatting, but there is so much more to them.

A style is a collection of formatting effects that can be saved and re-used as many times as you want. What makes styles so versatile in this version of Word is the ability to use a hierarchy, so Heading 1 followed by Heading 2, then Heading 3 and so on.

This has real benefits for navigation and structure as we will find out in this video...

In the next tutorial I demonstrate checking spelling in Word, and although you might think you already know how to do this you might find there is more than one way...

Spellchecking a Document

If there is one feature of a word processor that distinguishes it from a mere text editor it has to be the ability to check your spelling. There are, as usual, more than one way of doing this, so in this tutorial I demonstrate how to change a single word, and also how you can spell check the entire document in one sitting.

The other essential skill I share in this video is how to turn off the mini-toolbar. Having this little toolbar pop up whenever a word is selected is one of the default actions in Word, but a lot of people - myself included - find it almost as irritating as the infamous paperclip used to be in older versions.

Want to know how? Watch the video:)

Find & Replace, and the New Navigation Pane

Find and Replace has been a feature of word processing since the early days, but in Word 2010 it has become a lot more useful.

The new Navigation pane makes it possible to instantly move to another area of the document based on a heading style or a specific word, This makes it of immense value for anyone working with large documents and it is complemented by the next topic we will cover, using lists in Word.

Adding a List in Word

One of the most useful features of word processors is their ability to condense information into a list. This is particularly important online, where people tend to scan rather than read every sentence.

Microsoft Word 2010 has a great selection of tools to create lists with - bullets, numbers and new for this version, multi level lists.

In this tutorial we look at all three, and how you can adapt them to whatever you want them to be.

In the next tutorial we look at how tables can be used as an alternative to lists.

Inserting a Table

In this tutorial I start looking at the Insert tab and begin with tables. I show you several different ways of inserting a table into a Word document and also how to convert text contained in a text file into a regular table.

There are several handy shortcuts in this video, and as always, the files are available to download and practice within the privacy of your own home or office. Next time, we'll look at inserting charts and pictures.


Inserting a Chart and a Picture

In this tutorial we look at two essential skills - inserting a chart and a picture. Inserting a chart is covered in more detail in the PowerPoint module, so to reduce any duplication I create a simple chart in Excel then copy it and paste it into my Word document.

Inserting the picture is a bit more detailed, because although a similar exercise is performed in PowerPoint the Picture tools are slightly different in Word. I also show you how text wrapping can make all the difference to how your picture is presented.

In the next lecture we look at Quick Parts...

Using AutoCorrect, and a Look at Quick Parts

The AutoCorrect feature helps keep the text spell checked as we type in Word, but it has a hidden benefit. We can use it to create shortcuts to anything that is difficult to spell, or to remember, or anything that is tedious to type.

In this video I show you how to harness this power for your own benefit and then expand the feature by covering Quick Parts. Quick Parts can contain pretty much anything - not just text, but diagrams, pictures and shapes.

Once they have been added to the gallery they are there for you to use again and again - a real time saver, and definitely one of my Essential Skills!

Saving a Document as a Template

In this tutorial, the last in the present series for Microsoft Word, we look at how a standard document can be saved as a template for re-use with different content.

One of the common bad practices - that of just overtyping an existing document and saving it with a new name - is highlighted, and I explain why I don't recommend using it. What I do show you is how to make the document safe for re-use, and how to put it in a brand new folder in the Template area.

Microsoft Word Quick Quiz

Take this short quiz to see if you can remember what you have learned...

Microsoft Office Outlook Essential Skills

The Outlook 2010 INterface, and Setting Up Your Account

In the first of the Outlook tutorials we look at the interface and discover where everything is. In this video I am using a computer that is not connected to Exchange server, but I have included it in case there are people who work for small companies that do not have Exchange.

Outlook is very useful if you have more than one email account, as you can add many mailboxes to Outlook and they can be different types.

Email can come in different "flavours" such as Pop 3, IMAP and Exchange, and you can add any or all of them to your Outlook account and open messages, respond to them, forward, delete and manipulate them all from the one place.

Let's get started...

Email and Folders in Outlook 2010

In this tutorial we continue with Microsoft Outlook and examine sending and receiving emails.

Part of the flexibility of Outlook is the ability to organize messages in folders, so we also cover creating a folder and a sub-folder of an existing one and also how to search the Address book within Outlook for a specific person.

Forwarding Emails, and Sending & Receiving Attachments

In the third video in this series I continue with email messages and look at changing the view of the inbox from normal to reading view. This collapses the toolbars and magnifies the message window making it easier to read, and you wouldn't believe how easy it is to switch views.

A very important improvement in Outlook was the ability to preview an attachment to an email without opening it - a major boost for security. In this tutorial I show you how to do this safely.

I continue with forwarding a message to another person and replying to a message I have been sent. I finish by showing you how to reply at everyone in a "thread", or conversation as Microsoft calls it.

The Outlook Calendar

We move on from email in this tutorial and start looking at the Calendar. I begin by showing you how you can easily change the view of the calendar and navigate to different dates.

We look at the new Schedule view, and I show you how you can see someone else's calendar if you have permission. I make a new appointment and then edit it to add more details and change the time, then introduce the topic of Categories.

These are a great way of identifying items in Outlook, and they can apply not only to appointments and events but to messages and tasks as well. I demonstrate how to do this and apply a category to an appointment, then we look at sharing calendars.

I email my calendar for the coming week to a colleague and finish off by adding an all day event.

Adding a Recurring Appointment, and Setting Up a Meeting

We continue with the calendar in this tutorial and firstly add a couple of categories. Next, we set up a recurring appointment for a weekly staff meeting and finish up by scheduling a meeting.

We look at sharing calendars and the scheduling assistant to check availability, then invite attendees and demonstrate how they can accept, decline or propose a new time.

Adding Outlook Contacts

In this tutorial we look at a couple of ways in which you can add a contact - manually or automatically if you have been sent an email. We cover filling in the details of a contact record with information from a signature line, and from information provided by the contact.

One of the essential skills covered is that of adding a new contact from the same company as one of the existing contacts, and that can be a real time-saved.

The tutorial finishes with a look at adding a signature to your profile and assigning it to a specific email address.

Outlook Tasks

As I travel around different organizations in my job I come across very few people who actually use tasks, but those who do use them all the time. In this tutorial I explain the concept of tasks, adding a task via the tasks screen and the To Do bar, and the difference between a category and a flag.

We look at how a task can be marked to show progress and flagged for follow up with a reminder if necessary. I also show you how a task can be given, or assigned, to someone else for completion.We finish by adding a new task manually and then changing the view of all the tasks we have.

Outlook Quick Quiz

Microsoft Office Excel Essential Skills

Simple Excel Calculations - Subtraction

I start the Excel series with a very simple example. In the spreadsheet I want to calculate the profit I would make by subtracting one figure from another.

Although there are several ways you could accomplish this, I show you how I would do it and invite you to try it yourself by downloading the spreadsheet that accompanies this series from below this video.

Simple Excel Calculations - Multiplying by a Percentage

This essential skill has many applications, from adding tax or surcharges to calculating discounts so it is one I had to include.

In this tutorial we are calculating the commission payable to a travel agent, so once again I show you the way I would approach this task.

I finish with a very hot tip - how to repeat the calculation right down the column with the minimum of effort.

Simple Excel Calculations - Subtracting and Multiplying in the Same Formula

This tutorial adds an extra level of complication to the last example, as this time we have to subtract the cost before we calculate the commission. This allows me to demonstrate a fundamental rule, and a very essential skill - the order of calculation.

Excel is pretty smart, but it is still a machine and we have to give it clear and unambiguous instructions if we want it to give accurate results.

This tutorial explains how Excel uses a set of rules to perform calculations in a certain order, and how we tell it which part of a calculation we want done first.

Simple Excel Calculations - The Invoice

This tutorial is designed for completion by the student, and is consolidation for the topics covered so far.

When you have completed the practice file for yourself you can check your results by watching this video. There are a couple of really useful keyboard shortcuts featured here, and as this is the sort of thing that will elevate your skill from ordinary to slick, I strongly encourage you to try them.

Simple Excel Calculations - Locking Cell References

Another essential skill is featured in this tutorial, and that is how to lock the references to a cell address so that it can be copied down a column.

By default, Excel uses pure logic to address cells in formulas and this is called relative cell addressing. But many times, you don't want it to do that - you want to lock the reference to a particular cell if it contains a value, typically a percentage, which is likely to change.

It is absolutely critical to understand this if you want to make the most of Excel, so I tried to express it in as clear a way as possible and as always, urge you to try it yourself.

Excel Formulas and Functions

Formulas and functions - what's the difference?

In this tutorial I show you what the difference is, and demonstrate how in many cases a function will work better than, be easier to enter than, and give a more accurate result than a formula. Formulas obviously have their place in spreadsheets, but this tutorial covers the essential skill of getting the syntax right.

I also share a function that will insert the date - and update it automatically!

Inserting Functions from the Autosum Button

In the last tutorial we looked at functions and formulas, but in this video I show you how the top 5 functions can be entered directly from the AutoSum button.

This essential skill is rarely used, but it can be a great way of quickly adding one of the most popular functions from a familiar interface - great for anyone who needs to use Excel, but not very often.

Excel Named Ranges

This tutorial covers the essential skill of assigning names to cells or ranges of cells. Why would you want to do this? Simple - you can use the name in a calculation.

I demonstrate how you can assign a name to a range of cells, then perform a calculation using the name instead of the cell references. I also show you that a named range can be inside another one, and Excel couldn't care less - it will work just the same.

I also share with you how a named range can be edited, how you can get Excel to create a named range for you and a nifty keyboard shortcut to insert a name into a formula.

Outlining in Excel

In this tutorial I cover an essential skill for anyone who works in a financial role, or anyone who needs to break down trading periods into quarters and half years.

Excel has the ability to automatically insert indexes that allow the data to be displayed in months, quarters, half years and full years - very useful for management summaries etc.

In order to make this work the data needs to be presented in a certain layout, and in this video I explain how this is done and show you a couple of very handy shortcuts in the process...

Sorting Data in Excel

Wherever there is a large amount of data, one of the essential skills is to be able to sort it into some kind of order.

Excel is perfectly suited to this, and in this tutorial I demonstrate how you can perform a sort on a text, numerical and date field.

I also how you can create a custom sort that allows you to sort on more than one field at a time.

Adding Filters in Excel

Sorting and filtering data are two essential skills for anyone using Excel. They are similar, but most definitely not the same and the differences are explained in this tutorial.

We look at adding filter tabs to a set of data - these were referred to as Autofilter buttons in older versions - and how the options are so much more sophisticated now.

We look at the search box, how you can filter on more than one field and - hot tip - how you can copy the filtered data and put it on another sheet while maintaining the original formatting.


Introduction to Excel Tables

Tables in Excel 2010 are a modern version of Lists in older versions, but they are much more powerful.

I honestly believe that tables are the future of data handling in Excel, and, having trained many data analysts, can confirm that this is true.

In this brief tutorial I introduce the concept of using tables in preference to a cell range and show how easy it is to extend the table by adding extra data.

This has wide implications for anyone whose data is likely to grow over time - it will be absorbed in a table, and any existing calculations automatically continued to the new data. Wow!

The subject of structured referencing is touched upon as it is an integral part of table properties.

Excel Quick Quiz

Microsoft Office PowerPoint Essential Skills

PowerPoint Basics

Anyone can use PowerPoint, right? Even my ten year old niece uses it at school, so it is pretty easy to learn, and yes, it look good when printed.

But PowerPoint is actually quite a powerful image editor as well as a tool for creating electronic slide shows, and so in this tutorial I cover the interface and the basics.

This includes formatting the slides to show on a widescreen monitor. the default sizes and fonts for each of the standard placeholders and the differences between editing modes.

Adding a Bullet List and a Table

We continue with adding content of various types to PowerPoint, and in this tutorial these take the form of a bulleted list of text and a table.

Both of these skills are essential if you are ever called upon to create a presentation from scratch, and while many companies require the use of templates in any presentation, having these skills means you will be able to adapt them to your liking.

Adding a Chart to your Presentation

A picture speaks a thousand words, they say, and it is certainly true that if you want to present numerical data in a visual manner then a chart hits the spot every time.

Data presented in dull, boring tabular form is almost guaranteed to send your audience to sleep, but show them a chart, and everyone understands it.

In this tutorial I show you haw to accomplish this essential skill and even give you the data I used in the video so you can try it yourself (and please do!)

Adding a SmartArt Diagram to a Slide

SmartArt was first introduced in Office 2007 but it has been enhanced in the 2010 version and now includes a wide range of pre-formatted diagrams. These are actually very good, and very easy to use, and they lend themselves particularly well to PowerPoint.

In this tutorial I show you how to insert a picture list, how to add images to it and how to add extra shapes if you need to. Download the pictures below this video as usual and have a go yourself!

Adding Images in PowerPoint

As a visual medium, PowerPoint is tailor made for adding images and in this tutorial I show you how to add images of various types.

This essential skill will serve you well as you use PowerPoint in your work, as one of the techniques is adding an image as a background and placing objects - a piece of clip art and a text box - on top of it.

Another essential skill is removing the background from an image, and that is covered here too, so please download the material below and try it yourself.

Adding Slide Transitions and Applying a Theme

Putting a slide show together is straightforward enough, but to bring another dimension to it you need to add a bit of style. In this tutorial I show you how to do just that - firstly by adding slide transitions so that the show flows nicely, and then by adding a theme.

PowerPoint 2010 has a number of themes in different genres, but I tend to stay with the simpler options because it makes the slideshow easier to watch and doesn't detract from the message you are trying to convey.

Adding Animations

In the last tutorial we added some action to the slides in the form of transitions, but this time I show you how to add animations to really make your presentation sparkle.

We start by animating our bulleted list, and I show you how this can be configured so that each bullet point comes in one at a time. Next, we add the animation we just created to the SmartArt diagram using the Animation Painter tool.

We cover adjusting the speed, direction and trigger for each animation and how you can add special effects such as a bounce at the end. We also open the animation pane so that the animations can be fine-tuned and the timeline previewed.

Putting it All Together

In the final tutorial of this series we bring the previous sections together and turn this random group of slides into a real presentation. We add animations to the table and chart, then to the image and the text box on the final slide.

When all is completed and saved as a PowerPoint presentation I reveal another essential skill - saving it as a PowerPoint Slideshow. The difference between the two formats is that a presentation can be edited by anyone with PowerPoint, but a show can't.

So, if you want someone to see the show but not be able to change it, this is how to do it.

PowerPoint Quick Quiz

Next Steps

Where do we go from here?
You can view and review the lecture materials indefinitely, like an on-demand channel.
Definitely! If you have an internet connection, courses on Udemy are available on any device at any time. If you don't have an internet connection, some instructors also let their students download course lectures. That's up to the instructor though, so make sure you get on their good side!
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