Office Computer Skills, Tips and Keyboard Shortcuts

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Keyboard shortcuts make you to be a faster and more efficient computer user.

When learning Microsoft applications mastering keyboard shortcuts should be high on your list of priorities.

Optimising your workflow can be key – did you know 38% of office workers’ time is spent using Excel? This time could be reduced using shortcuts and freeing up more of your time for your other tasks! For more Excel Statistics read here.

Using our knowledge at Acuity Training, we have revealed our tops tips and keyboard shortcut hacks for Microsoft Word, Powerpoint, and Excel.

Additionally, we have researched some of the most popular questions have associated with Microsoft tools and their search volumes. is an SEO software suite that contains tools for link building, keyword research, competitor analysis, rank tracking and site audits.

We have also revealed some of the most commonly asked questions you may have on these Office applications.


Microsoft Word

Converting Documents to PDF Format

Have you ever been asked to send over a document in PDF format and thought you’d require fancy software to convert it? Well, you thought wrong!

Microsoft Word now allows you to convert documents into PDF and many other formats when saving your work.

To convert a PDF document, choose File > Export >Create PDF/XPS

Restoring Corrupted Documents

Word now autosaves documents while you work, which is helpful because it’s not uncommon to lose documents or for them to become corrupted, if your computer crashes.

Once you’ve restarted the program, Word will more than likely present you with a panel with your recovered documents.

The document with [AutoRecovered] next to it is the most recent version of your document.

Dictation Tool

This is the perfect tool if you’re still learning how to use a keyboard efficiently, don’t have one, or you simply can’t use one!

Go to Home > Dictate and speak!

Remeber you will need to insert punctuation verbally by saying it, but when you’re done, all you have to do is go through and edit!

Table of Contents

If you’re working on a large document and need your table of contents to look professional, navigate to References > Table of Contents to choose an automatic style for your table of contents.

Whether you do this at the start or part-way through your document, you may find that it’s not automatically updating.

If this is the case, right-click the table of contents and choose ‘update field’.

Most popular questions we ask online about Microsoft Word

The top questions for ‘Word’ and their monthly search volume were:

  • How to delete a page in Word- 15,000
  • How to convert pdf to Word- 9,400
  • How to delete a blank page in Word- 5,100

Other popular questions included ‘how to insert a tick on Word’, ‘how to add page numbers to Word’ and ‘how to add a signature in Word’.


Microsoft Powerpoint

Aligning Text, Images and Other Objects

PowerPoint has one primary function; to create informative and visually appealing presentations which can be used for training purposes, business pitches and even educational presentations, for instance!

Images and text that aren’t aligned looks very unprofessional, but PowerPoint has a tool for this.

Select all the images and text you’d like to be aligned and go to Format> Align.

You’ll be given the option to horizontally align (left, right or centre) or to align vertically (top, middle or bottom).

Presenting With Shortcuts

If you’re new to presenting with Powerpoint, it can be a nerve-wracking experience, especially if you need to remember how to start your presentation and move from slide to slide.

Fortunately, you can simplify things with a few keyboard shortcuts!

  • F5: Starts presentation from the start.
  • Shift + F5: Starts presentation from the start.
  • N, Enter Key, Right Arrow Key: Performs the next animation or skips to the next slide.
  • P, Backspace, Left Arrow Key: Performs the previous animation, or goes back to the previous slide.
  • Esc: End the presentation.

Grouping Objects

If you’re attempting to move lots of objects like images and text boxes, did you know you can group them together and move them all at the same time?

Simply hold the shift key whilst selecting your pictures, then hit Ctrl+G to group them together.

Creating Templates

If you use PowerPoint regularly, especially if you work for an organisation with a set theme and brand guidelines, you will benefit from learning how to create templates for your PowerPoint! Not only can you make a template that perfectly fits with what you’re looking for, it will also save you considerable time.

It’s essential to be familiar with PowerPoint and how it works before doing this as it can be quite a long-winded and complicated process. You can find Microsoft’s tutorial on how to create a template here.

Most popular questions we ask online about Microsoft PowerPoint

The top questions for ‘PowerPoint’ and their monthly search volume were:

  • How to embed a video in PowerPoint- 1,400
  • How to add notes in PowerPoint- 1,200
  • How to make PowerPoint portrait- 800
  • How to use PowerPoint- 800
  • How to share PowerPoint on Teams- 700


Microsoft Excel

Searching for Data

Although this function is basic, it’s essential if you are working with a spreadsheet of thousands of cells.

Using Ctrl+F will bring up a window where you can search for any specific terms/names etc.

It’s just one of many great shortcuts Excel has for efficiency!

To take this one step further, you can also use the same window to replace the term you’ve searched for with another term.

Inserting Rows and Columns With Keyboard Shortcuts

If you’re tired of constantly looking for the ‘add a new column’ or ‘add a new row’ on the menu, luckily there’s a keyboard shortcut for that!

Select where you’d like to create a new row below and use Ctrl+Shift+Plus Sign (+).

It’s the same shortcut for columns too. Using it will create a new column to the right of the one you’ve selected.

Filters and Sorting

Filters and sorting are handy if you have a large dataset and need a faster way to find specific data when analysing your dataset.

Select the data you want to filter and go to Insert>Table

Ensure that you double-check the cell range Excel has selected and tick the box which asks if your table has headers.

Once your data has been converted into a table, you should notice that each header cell has a tiny arrow next to it. Clicking on these will allow you to sort and filter your data!

You can sort your data in a variety of ways. The most common is sorting by A – Z (lowest to highest) or Z – A (highest to lowest).

To filter, you can deselect or select the parts of data you only want to see!

Quick Access Toolbar

Excel’s extensive array of functions and features (and those of the other Microsoft products) can be overwhelming.

If you notice that you use the same commands frequently, you should use the QAT.

You can find the QAT at the top of your screen, next to the autosave function and the ‘undo’ and ‘redo’ buttons. The toolbar is customisable, so if you can’t see a specific command already there that you often use, find that command on the main toolbar (or ‘Ribbon’), right-click and select ‘Add to Quick Access Toolbar

Most popular questions we ask online about  Microsoft Excel.

The top questions for ‘Excel’ and their search volume were:

  • How to lock cells in Excel- 5,900
  • How to merge cells in Excel- 5,200
  • How to split a cell in Excel- 3,800
  • How to remove duplicates in Excel- 3,200
  • How to add a drop-down list in Excel– 3,100

It’s important to note that the search volumes associated with Excel are considerably higher than those associated with PowerPoint and Word.

This shows more people are confused by Excel than any other Microsoft program!


Our most commonly asked questions

If someone was to learn the MS Office package with barely any experience, would you recommend learning the basics first before learning any hacks/tips?

“Always. There’s lots of information on the web, so as long as you understand the basics, you can teach yourself the rest. It’s easy to encounter problems when you don’t understand the basics and start trying to use more advanced functions which assume an understanding of the basics.”

On a scale of 1-10, how hard do you think learning the basics of Word, Powerpoint, and Excel are?

“Word is fairly simple, especially in its layout and therefore for beginners, it is pretty standard. (8/10)

PowerPoint can be slightly more complicated until you understand how the screen elements work together. (5/10)

The difficulty of learning the basics of Excel depends on whether you enjoyed or hated maths at school! Some people hate maths and therefore struggle with Excel (4/10), however, some were fine with maths at school and so long as they go slowly, they are fine. (8/10)”

Regarding keyboard shortcuts and hacks, which of the three applications would users benefit most from being proficient in?

“Depends on your job and which application you spend the most time on. On average, people spend the most time on Excel and struggle with it the most, so we recommend starting there without any other information.”

Overall, we hope that we have made keyboard shortcuts slightly easier to get your head around and have assisted your understanding of Microsoft Office.

For those wanting to gain a more in-depth knowledge of Microsoft, we have ​​a range of courses in London and Guildford, in addition to both office and online courses.

All our training is hands-on, as we believe that valuable real-life skills are developed through individual practice combined with expert coaching. The exercises during our training are carefully chosen to reinforce the key learning points and build your confidence when working with them.



About Ben Richardson

Ben is a director of Acuity Training which he has been running for over 10 years.

He is a Natural Sciences graduate from the University of Cambridge and a qualified accountant with the ICAEW.

He previously worked as a venture capitalist and banker and so had extensive experience with Excel from building financial models before moving to learn SQL, Microsoft Power BI and other technologies more recently.