Today, in the current world of IT there are a lot of products out there that have a lot of functionality. It is very difficult to know every function in each of these products, so I thought I would share my personal “quick wins” in some Microsoft products.

Read Aloud

Since Word 2019 this function has been available to all users of Word. This function reads the document out to you, meaning this is great for proof reading, picking up any inconsistencies or even saving you time reading someone else’ s document to you.

There are a couple of ways to access Read Aloud, from the Review ribbon or using the shortcut keys Ctrl, Alt and spacebar.


When you open Read Aloud, a toolbar will show on the right-hand side of the document window. You can now use the Play button or the shortcut keys Ctrlaand spacebar to start listening. If the speech is too fast, you can slow this down using the setting button. 

Please note: this is also available in Outlook, great for long emails!

The Back Button

There is a function that can be added to your Quick Access Toolbar (QAT) to help you navigate a large document with hyperlinks such as table of contents and cross references. The back button helps you to go back to where the link was selected, to save you scrolling back to where it was.

Adding the back button

From your Quick Access Toolbar use the Customize Quick Access Toolbar button and select More Commands… from the dropdown. With the Quick Access Toolbar window open, change the Choose commands from: dropdown to select All Commands.

From the options below, find Back. You can scroll down or by putting your cursor into the options and type b, this will go to the options beginning with b. When you have selected Back, press the Add button and this will now show in the right-hand side, press OK to save this change.

Now this will show on your QAT. It will be greyed out until you have used a hyperlink in a document, when you use a hyperlink to navigate through a document, this will become active and you can press this to go back to where you opened the link.

Splitting and grouping cells

When you receive a spreadsheet, sometimes you may want to manipulate the data to make this easier to read and gather the specific information you want to look at.

Splitting data in a cell

For example, if you need to split a cell for a mail merge you can do this by using the Text to Columns feature. Before using this feature, you need to see if there is a clear way of splitting, e.g., the address lines split by a comma. You will now need to insert the number of columns needed, it is always best to add more than needed and delete them later.

To insert a column, select the column to the right of the column that you are splitting, right-click and select Insert. To repeat this action press F4 on your keyboard until you have enough empty columns. Now with all the columns, select the first cell you want to split, go to the Data ribbon and select Text to Columns.

This will open a window where you can control how the data is split. I tend to split by Delimited as this will split by specific characters, select Next on the window. On the next screen select how you are splitting the data, please note you can add in another character / or – by selecting the Other option, now press Finish to split the text to multiple columns. This can now be copied down the column.

Concatenating into one cell

For example, you have a spreadsheet which splits Full names into First name and Surname columns. You can join these together by using the Concatenate function. Before using this feature, you will need to insert a new column. When you have the additional column, select in the first cell you want the function to work.

When you are in the cell, select the Functions button to the left of the formular bar. This will open the Insert Function window. If you have used this recently, this will show in the list on the bottom half of the screen. If not, please type in Concatenate into the Search and press Go. Double-click on the Concatenate function on the bottom half of the screen, this will now load the Concatenate window.

In the Text 1, please select the first cell you want to join together. In the Text 2, please insert how you would like to split the cells for example a space. This will be added as “ “. Now in the Text 3, please select the other cell that you would like to join together. You can keep doing this until all your cells have been grouped. Press OK to complete the concatenation. This can now be copied down the column.

Please note: there is a preview below the fields.

Find related

When you have an email in your inbox and you want to see all the related items, such as your replies, forwards that you have been copied into you can do this by using Find related. You can also use Find related to find emails from the sender. When you use Find related this will search through your inbox and all other folders such as sent and deleted items.

To use Find related select the email and right-click over this and select Find related. This will give you two options, to see Messages in this Conversation. This will load all the emails connected to the email thread, this uses the subject line, so if you use the same subject line for multiple threads this may not be as useful. To see emails from the sender, please use the Messages from Sender option.

Adding reminders to outgoing emails

I find it useful to add reminders to some of my outgoing emails. You can add reminders for yourself or to the recipient.  This will pop up in the Outlook reminder window when the time of the reminder has been set to.

Create and write your email as you usually do and just before sending use the Follow Up dropdown and select Add Reminder…. This will open a reminder window, if you want to set a reminder for yourself please keep Flag for Me ticked, if you would like to add a reminder to the recipients tick the Flag for Recipients.

Use the other fields in the reminder window to add in the date and time of the reminder. Press OK. When a reminder is added to an email you will see a preview above the send button.

If you would like to gain more hints and tips, please do get in touch. These topics are covered more in my Microsoft Word, Outlook and Excel training sessions.