Word and Excel are helpful platforms that can be used to store different data sets and organize them efficiently. They offer a wide range of features, but most people only know the basics. Hence, we would like to share a few easy tricks that can be used on Word and Excel to improve and optimize the project writing process. Let’s see what they are!
MS Word 🔮
1. Format Painter 📌
One of the most helpful tools available in Word is indeed the Format Painter! Specifically, it comes in very handy when we have a lot of text with different formatting.
Sometimes when we are writing a project proposal and copy a lot of text from different sources, the document will result similar to the one in the picture below: with a lot of different fonts, sizes, and colours.
No panic! There is a quick and easy way to make the whole text homogenous with one formatting.
Steps 📝: First, you must have some desirably formatted text (paragraph) and select it by pressing the Painter icon 🖌️. At this point, the selected formatting will be copied from the chosen text once. The pointer will change to a paintbrush icon and it will be possible to select the area that needs to be changed.
By double-clicking on the Painter icon, the copied formatting will be frozen and can be used several times in different areas of the document. Pressing again on the Painter icon or ESC will stop the formatting ✨.
This tool is particularly helpful when working on worksheet headers!
2. Page breaks 📌
When there is the need to move to a different page, most people generally use ENTER manually, isn’t it? However, there is an easier and quicker way to do it.
Steps 📝: Place your cursor where you want the page to end, go to Insert -> Pages -> Page break – it will automatically move you to the next page ✨ .
3. SUM formula 📌
Sometimes we need to prepare documents with data tables in Word (usually done with MS Excel), where we need to have the TOTAL (sum up) row. To do this with Word, it’s possible to use some simple Formulas instead of adding numbers manually.
Steps 📝: Click the table cell where you want your result to appear -> Layout tab -> Formula.
By doing this, you will see the sum up formula in the formula box, which will add the values of the rows above and automatically show the total✨. You only need to choose the number format.
4. Shortcuts 📌
Here some other useful shortcuts you should know about:
👉Adding web links to a document: Ctrl (Command on MAC) + K;
👉Selecting the whole file: Ctrl + A;
👉Printing the file: Ctrl + P;
👉Saving the current document: Ctrl + S;
👉Creating a new document: Ctrl + N;
👉Undoing previous action: Ctrl + Z;
👉Looking for particular word/phrase/number in the text: Ctrl + F
5. Find + Replace 📌
To correct misspelled, incorrect words, changing dots to commas etc., MS Word’s Find and Replace feature can become a game-changer 💡
Steps 📝: if the chosen word needs to be changed in a particular area of the text, that area should be selected; if in the whole document, no paragraph should be selected.
-> Home -> Find -> Replace
Enter what you want to find in the Find box and then enter the new text in the Replace box. Now select Find Next until you come to the word you want to update and choose Replace. To update all instances at once – choose Replace All.
e.g. we would like to change the word motivation to the word reason in the whole text.
6. PDF edit 📌
How many times do we find ourselves needing to edit a PDF document and having to do it online? What a lot of people don’t know, is that this conversion can easily be done with Word!
At this point, PDF Word will inform that a copy of the PDF will be made, and its content will be converted into a format that Word can view. Original PDF will stay unchanged.
Click OK -> Make changes.
Save back to PDF: File -> Save as -> File format -> PDF -> Save.
7. Language 📌
Lastly, a good practice is to check the spelling of the whole Word document you’re working on to avoid mistakes.
Steps 📝: Select the whole text (Ctrl + A) -> Review -> Language -> Word will display the Language dialog box -> Select English (or other desired language).
Text with spelling mistakes will be underlined in red after a few seconds. To correct it, you must use the right click of the mouse on that particular word – the correct version will be shown in the window.
MS Excel 🔮
1. Adjust columns & rows 📌
When copying specific data, sometimes the formatting appears not quite convenient, as rows and columns may not the same size or some parts of data cannot be properly seen.
There are a few ways to easily make tables look better without manually dragging each row or column:
1️⃣Select the whole page by clicking on the left corner of the spreadsheet -> double click every row and column, and they will automatically adjust.
2️⃣Select the area you want to format -> Format -> and again there are few ways: you can either choose auto-fit, which would automatically fit data to row/column or height, and choose yourself the desired row and column heights by writing the numbers in the field.
3️⃣The Painter brush mentioned in MS Word tips can be used in Excel too. If you have a formatted table and would like to apply the same formatting to a new one – it might easily do so.
2. Freeze panes 📌
Freeze panes tool helps with tables that store a lot of data, particularly, to keep a worksheet area visible when scrolling to another worksheet area. Usually the first row/column of a worksheet stores headings or very important data, and it might get lost when scrolling. To avoid this, there is an easy trick you can follow:
Steps 📝: View -> choose if you want to freeze the first row or the first column of the worksheet. The faint line that will appear between columns A and B or the first and second row will show that the first column/row has frozen.
View -> unfreeze panes – will unlock the frozen area.
3. Some simple formulas 📌
There are numerous different formulas in Excel, which can be used for a wide range of reasons. Some of the most helpful formulas you might need when preparing either budgets of a new project or reviewing costs of a period are the following:
Extracts from the left/right side a certain number of characters.
E.g. we want to see how much was spent by year and a month. To find it out, we can use this formula: =left (A2;7), meaning 7 symbols (year, dot, and a month numbers) should be taken from the left string of the A2 area.
Press ENTER to confirm, and the result will appear. On the right down corner of the appeared result area, the plus sign will show up. By clicking there twice, the formula will be extended throughout the whole area automatically.
The find & replace tool in Excel is very useful too. Copying data from one file to another might change the number format and, therefore, replacing dots with commas (or any other information) will be necessary.
Steps 📝: if the symbol needs to be changed in a specific area, that paragraph should always be selected; if in the whole document, there’s no need to select anything.
Home ->Find -> Replace.
a) Using =SUM formula and choosing the particular area from … to – will add the arguments that will be entered in a formula. (e.g. A2:A10)
b) Select the cell next to the numbers you want to sum up, click AutoSum on the Home tab, click Enter.
Pivot Table is a statistics table that summarizes more comprehensive table’s information. The overview can include sums, averages, or other figures. Pivot Table recognizes and makes sense of data.
Steps 📝: Select the data -> Insert -> Pivot table -> the table notifying the selected area will appear, here you could also choose where you want your table to appear in the new worksheet or existing one -> Select OK.
The Pivot Table Fields pane should appear as in the picture below. Now, you only need to play a bit by dragging table information mostly to Rows and Values. Everything depends on the result you want to see.
4. Filter 📌
The last tool is the filters. Filters can easily sum up values and compare various data in your spreadsheet. This feature is particularly helpful when trying to see whether the data matches certain criteria. To use filters efficiently, all columns must have names/headings!
Steps 📝: Home -> Sort & filter -> Filter.
In the example below, the budget table can be filtered by Activity or/and beneficiary or/and sum.
To amend the filter application, select the drop-down menu where you’re able to pick the necessary criteria manually. Any changes that have been applied can be reversed by the same exact process (selecting the drop-down menu again and selecting all relevant fields).
Use dollar signs to keep one cell’s formula the same regardless of where it moves.
E.g. you want to add 10.00 euros to each row in the C column: you add a particular column and row data. For the one that shouldn’t change, add the dollar sign before column and row indicators. Click ENTER. On the right down corner of the appeared result area, the plus sign will appear and, by clicking twice, you can extend the formula in the whole area automatically.
✅ That’s it for now!
Now you know a few good tricks that can be used on Word and Excel to optimize your project writing process. Hope you’ll find them useful and that they will help you master your project manager work.
What are you waiting for? Start experimenting with our tricks on Word and Excel now!
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