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Cheat Sheets to Master Microsoft Office [Students Edition]

Originally published by Custom Writing. Republished with permission.


The rapid development of information and communication technology over the last few years has affected most, if not all, areas of our lives. Its influence is particularly apparent in the education sector. Students today usually don’t visit libraries to conduct their research or write essays by hand. Pens and papers have been replaced by computer programs like Microsoft Office, the most popular option for students and educators.





HEA Members receive free O365 access with membership. (Value $129)



Luckily for you, our team has compiled this excellent cheat sheet for Microsoft Office.

We’ve gathered the most useful tips and keyboard shortcuts for the various Microsoft programs. With their help, you’ll be able to use Microsoft Office in your studies without any issues.


Crucial Keyboard Shortcuts for Students

As we’ve already mentioned, Microsoft Office is the most popular office suite. It’s used extensively in business and education. MS supports the education sector by providing a free Microsoft Office 365 version for students and educators. [Ed: Home Educated students can access Microsoft 365 through the HEA]

Most people have Microsoft Office software on their computers, so we’ve decided to offer a list of essential, universal keyboard shortcuts for this program. These are useful for those who deal with computer programs in general, and they’ll definitely assist you with MS.



In the rest of the article, we’ve provided shortcuts for Windows. However, as you can see, they’re helpful for Mac as well. All you’ll have to do is to replace the Ctrl button with Cmd.


Word Cheat Sheets


The first Microsoft Office program that the majority of students use is MS Word. This is where most essays and other academic papers are written. If you’re not using it already, you will likely be dealing with Word throughout your education. So, it will be beneficial to learn cheat sheets for this program.


In the following sections, we have presented a list of valuable tips that will make your experience better.


1. Basic Keyboard Shortcuts


To work in Word without a struggle, you should begin by learning the keyboard shortcuts. There are dozens of configurations, and you can also create your own. Here we’ll list the basic shortcuts that will help you work efficiently with your documents.



2. Essential Keyboard Shortcuts: Editing Text

After looking at the basic shortcuts, let’s get to the good part. Knowing how to work with text is fundamental to using Microsoft Word. The combinations listed here are essential to quickly and efficiently edit your document, which is crucial for effective academic writing.



3. Working with Tables: Key Tricks

Besides working with text, Microsoft Word is also useful for creating tables. These are multifunctional tools helpful in storing large amounts of information. Here we have outlined the best ways to insert, organize, and manage your tables.


How to Create a Table

There are several ways of creating a table in your Microsoft Word document. Start with going to the Insert tab on the ribbon bar at the top. Locate the Tables menu and click on it

You will immediately notice that there are several options available:

  • You can insert a table via the grid. This method is helpful to visualize what the result will look like. Unfortunately, the maximum size of the table you can insert this way is 10×8 cells.

  • If you need a bigger table, your best option is the Insert Table menu. Here you can manually indicate the number of rows and columns. The maximum size of a table inserted this way is 63×63 cells.

  • If your table is not standard and you need room to play with rows and columns, Word has options for you. If you head into the Draw Table menu, your cursor will transform into a pencil. Using your mouse, you can easily draw a table with the dimensions that you need. Left-click and drag down for columns; drag sideways for rows.

Table Tools Layout Tab

Microsoft Word is a powerful tool for creating and managing custom tables. In this section, you’ll find out how to format and change its content and layout. Below, we have listed some functions that will be useful in your work.

  1. Table Properties

  • Table – Essentially, a table is a grid made up of rows and columns. It is useful for storing and managing information.

    • Row – The horizontal line in a table.

    • Column – The vertical line in a table.

    • Cell – The intersection of a row and column.

    • Alt Text – A text-based description of the contents of the table. This is useful for people with visual impairment or in cases where the table doesn’t load. To add alternative text into a table, right-click the cell and navigate to Table Properties. In the dialog box that appears, click Alt Text and fill in the description.

  1. Insert row or column – Navigate to the Layout tab. Click on Insert Below/Insert Above to add a row. Click on Insert Left/Insert Right to add a column.

  2. Delete row or column – Navigate to the Layout tab. To delete the selected row, click on Delete – Delete Rows. To delete the selected column, click on Delete – Delete Columns.

  3. Alignment – To adjust the position and alignment of text, navigate to the Layout tab. Select the needed cells and choose an option from the Alignment group.

  4. Merge – Cells can be merged or split up. To do so, navigate to the Layout tab and find the Merge Cells/Split Cells option.

  5. Convert text to a table (and vice versa) – Make sure that the data in the text is separated. Use commas or tabs to indicate where to divide into columns and paragraphs to indicate rows. Pick the text you wish to convert into a table, then click Insert – Table – Convert Text to Table. Adjust the options in the dialog window. If you want to convert a table back into text, select the information first. Navigate to the Layout tab and in the Data group, click on Convert to Text.

  6. Autofit – – Automatically adjust the size of your table. Go into the Layout tab and click on Autofit. Select the option that works best for your needs.

Table Tools Design Tab

After you finish with the content and the layout of your table, you can change its design. Spending time on this may not be in your plans. However, the right design can raise your work to the next level.


Here, you can check a description of the design features for your table.


4. How to Format: 10 Critical Rules

Every educational institution has its requirements for the formatting of text documents. You can find out how to work with a variety of styles. There are precise guidelines for such popular formats as MLA, APA, and Harvard on different websites.

Here, see the ways you can format text in Word:

  1. Create lists. You can either make a bulleted style list or a numbered list. Find the Paragraph group in the Home tab. You will find three Bullets buttons: a bulleted list, a numbered list, and a multilevel list. Browse through the style gallery and select one.

  2. Align paragraphs. Select a paragraph. Click on the alignment option in the Paragraph group in the Home tab. Any section of your text can be left-aligned, center-aligned, or right-aligned.

  3. Change fonts, sizes, and colors. Under the Home tab, find the Font group. Select the text that you need to change or choose an option before you start writing. Browse through the lists of available font styles, sizes, and colors. You can also input a custom number for the font size and select a custom color under More Colors.

  4. Clear or copy formatting. First, select the text. Then, find the Format Painter button in the Clipboard group of the Home tab and click on it. Then, select the text you want the format to be applied to. To clear formatting, click the Clear Formatting button.

  5. Use headers and footers. These are additional sections that you add either at the top or the bottom of a document. Typically they are used to indicate extra information, such as the title of the paper, date of creation, etc. To add a header or footer, navigate to the Insert tab. Click either the Header or Footer option under Header & Footer group.

  6. Make use of tab stops. There are four types in Microsoft Word: left-aligned, right-aligned, center-aligned, or decimal-aligned. They are used to align text in a document. To set up a tab stop, click on the place in the paragraph where you want to add it. Then, open up the Paragraph group’s dialog box and click on the Tabs button. You can adjust the tab stop position from there.

  7. Pick your margin size. Margins refer to the empty spaces at the sides of the document. To adjust their size, you will have to navigate to the Page Layout tab. Click on the Margins button under the Page Setup group. You can pick the preset one or create your own in Custom Margins.

  8. Display page numbers. Go to the Insert tab and click the Page Number button under Header & Footer group. Numbers can be displayed both at the top and at the bottom of the page.

  9. Use and format columns. Word allows you to split the text up into columns. You can find these under the Page Layout tab in the Page Setup group. Click on Columns and select the needed style. As a result, they will be applied to the whole document. However, you can adjust this under More Columns.

  10. Set the spacing. You can change line spacing and paragraph spacing. To do so, select the text that you want to change. Under the Paragraph group in the Home tab, find the Line Spacing option and adjust accordingly. To adjust paragraph spacing, navigate to the Paragraph group’s dialog box. In the Indents and Spacing tab, find the Before and After values.

Stay tuned for the other articles in this series, with tips & tricks for mastering Excel, One Note, Powerpoint and Teams.

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