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10 Tips and Tricks for Microsoft Office Online

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Office Online is an incredibly valuable tool for nonprofits working remotely. As long as you have a Microsoft Account (or Microsoft 365 account) and are connected to the Internet, you can access Office Online from anywhere and at any time.

What is Office Online?

Office Online is the free, cloud version of Microsoft’s popular Office desktop products (i.e. Word, Excel, PowerPoint, etc.). While Office Online has reduced functionality compared to its desktop equivalent, it offers additional advantages that are best suited for extensive collaboration and working on the go, such as syncing documents and data across all Office Online apps, and real-time collaboration.

You might also be surprised by the number of features that are available, which is why in this post, I’d like to share ten tips and tricks to help you get the most out of Office Online, specifically PowerPoint Online, Excel Online and Word Online.

Tips that work in PowerPoint Online, Excel Online and Word Online

1. Set file sharing expiry dates and blocking downloads

If you have a document, presentation or spreadsheet you’d like to share, but don’t want others to download it or view it past a certain date, you can customize your settings to block viewers from downloading the file, and/or set an expiry date for the link.

  1. In your document, click on the Share button at the upper-right corner
  2. Here, you can set an expiry date of the link you’re sharing, or toggle the “Block Download” setting which renders the document view-only (you’ll need to uncheck “Allow Editing” in order to enable “Block Download”)

2. Embed Documents to Your Website

Office Online allows you to embed your files and documents to an external site or blog, which is great for nonprofits looking to share templates, guidelines, etc. online.  To embed your document, follow the steps below:

[ NOTE ] The process is the same for all three online applications, but for the sake of keeping this post nice and tidy, I’m only showing screenshots from Word Online

  1. Click on File > Share and hit the Embed option
  2. Select the code and paste it on your blog

[ TIP ] Expand the Interaction menu to customize your embed settings, such as enabling others to copy and paste your embed code, allowing readers to print the document, and even specifying where in the document you’d like the code to display.

Curious to see how your embedded documents will look? Here are some sample embedded documents from:

PowerPoint Online:

Excel Online:

Word Online:

3. Read and reply to comments without opening the file

Did you know you can respond to comments and mentions without leaving your inbox? When you get an email notification informing you that you’ve been @mentioned in a comment, simply hit the “Add a comment” button to respond right away. If you prefer to look at the original document, you can still do so by clicking the “Go to comment” button instead.

[ NOTE ] This feature only works if you’re using Outlook as your email client, and the document is created via Office Online

Tips for PowerPoint Online

4. Draw on screen during your PowerPoint presentation

When presenting in PowerPoint Online, you can draw on screen with a digital pen to emphasize a point or show connections.

  1. View your presentation in Slide Show (either from the Beginning or from Current Slide)
  2. When you reach the slide where you want to highlight or draw something, move your cursor to the lower left corner of the window and select the ink button
  3. Choose pen, highlighter, or eraser/erase all ink on slide

[ TIP ]: If you have a digital pen connected to your computer while you’re presenting, simply put your digital pen to the screen/tablet and draw.

5. See all your PowerPoint slides at a glance

In Slide Sorter, you can easily reorganize your deck and view your presentation at a glance.

  1. Click on the View tab and select Slide Sorter
  2. Drag and drop your slides to reorganize them instantly

Tips for Excel Online

6. Rotate your data in Excel with ease

In Excel Online, you can transpose (rotate) your data from rows to columns and/or from columns to rows. To do this, simply:

  1. Copy the cell range you want to transpose
  2. Select an empty cell where you’d like to paste your data
  3. On the Home tab, click Paste, and select Paste Transpose

7. Sort data by colour or icon

If your spreadsheet has conditionally formatted data, you can sort your data by cell colour, font colour, and even icons.

  1. Under Sort & Filter, select Custom Sort
  2. In Column, select your conditionally formatted data, then select cell colour/font colour/icon (e.g., in my sample dataset, donation amounts are colour coded with red, green and yellow cell colours)

8. Make the Status Bar work for you

The Status Bar at the bottom of your Excel spreadsheet is invaluable. With one glance, you can quickly see the total count of cells in your dataset, and the sum and average of selected cells. However, did you know that you can customize your status bar to display additional values (i.e. min and max values)?

  1. Click on the down arrow on the left-hand side of the Status Bar
  2. Select the values you wish to display

Tips for Word Online

9. Stay in the writing flow with follow-up

Need to verify something in your document, but you don’t want to break your writing flow? You can create a quick follow-up task (think of it like a bookmark) right in the area of the document you’d like to revisit later.

  1. Select the word, sentence or paragraph you’d like to come back to
  2. Right click and select “New Follow-up

Once you create a follow-up, you can click on it to view all follow-ups in the document, or resolve it. Follow-ups can also be viewed under Review > Show Comments.

10. Instantly transform your Word doc into Web Page

Do you need to present your Word document to your Board, colleagues and/or volunteers, but don’t have time to make it … well, presentable? Try turning your document into a beautiful, interactive web page instead! Thanks to the seamless integration of Word Online and Microsoft Sway, you can quickly transform your Word documents into fully functioning, responsive web pages in seconds (quite literally).

  1. Click on File > Transform > Transform to Web Page
  2. Select a template and click Transform -- and you’re done!

Once your webpage is finished rendering, it’ll automatically open in Microsoft Sway, where you can customize it further and set your sharing options (e.g., choose who can view your page, set a password to protect the page, view embed code and more).

Here’s the sample webpage that was transformed from a Word doc:

I hope you’ve found these Office Online tips useful! Got other tips and tricks you’d like to share with us? Leave a comment below or let us know on Twitter or Facebook. We’d love to hear from you!