Technology September 11, 2012 Last updated September 18th, 2018 1,500 Reads share

OutofhoursAdmin Talks Virtual And Microsoft Office Tips

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Sharon Sheppard runs the virtual office company – What did you do before you set up “Out of Hours Admin” and when did you set it up?

I set up OutofhoursAdmin full time in July 2010, although I was “testing the waters” part time for six months previously. I’ve always wanted to work from home and be my own boss. My background since the age of 18 has been in administration – I started off as an office junior and worked my way up to admin manager. So after researching the idea of working “virtually”, it seemed like the most natural step to take.

You use Social Media a lot to market your business. Which platform works best for you and why?

I find social media is great for marketing my business. I mostly use Facebook and Twitter (although I am also on LinkedIn and Google+). I find I can be a bit more ‘human’ on Facebook and Twitter whilst still being professional. I have actually gained a couple of clients from both platforms so I know it works for me! I also use YouTube as an outlet for my blog tutorials.

How did you become an expert on Excel and other Microsoft applications? It’s a continuous learning curve so do you keep learning as you go?

I wouldn’t say I’m an expert! I was self-taught on all MS applications at the beginning and I’ve been using them since I was 19 (a long time ago!). I decided to back up my experience with qualifications and became certified last year as a Microsoft Office Specialist in Excel, Word and PowerPoint. I’m hoping to become Microsoft certified at Expert level within the next 12 months. I’m constantly learning new tips and tricks which I try to pass on to anyone who will listen.

Related: The Virtues Of The Virtual Office, An Interview With Samantha Clooney

With so many apps around promising to save time and increase productivity, we often forget about the applications we use on a daily basis such as the Microsoft Office suite. Below are some handy tips from Sharon which she hopes will help SMEs in their fight against time! (NB. These are for 2007 version)



Did you know there is a feature on Excel whereby you can view a calculator? It’s actually hidden by default, so in order to access it you’ll need to add it to your toolbar.

Click on the drop down arrow to the right of the Quick Access Toolbar and select More Commands. Then under Choose commands from: click All Commands, then scroll down to Calculator, click Add and OK.

The icon will now appear on the Quick Access Toolbar. Click on the icon to view the calculator – you can even view a scientific, statistics or programmer type of calculator.

Data Entry

For those mundane data entry tasks that we all have to do sometimes, if you find you’re entering the same data over & over again, whether it’s a number, formula or text, the “normal” way would be to type out the text then copy & paste into the destination cells.

But there is a slightly quicker way….

First, select all the cells where you want the information to go, then type the text and press CTRL+ENTER (instead of just enter), and Excel will automatically copy what you have just typed into all of the selected cells!

Paste Values

This is for when you have a formula and want to copy the value only to another cell.

You can go to paste special values by clicking on Paste in the Home tab on the ribbon, and selecting Paste Values.
Or, you can insert a shortcut icon onto the Quick Access Toolbar. Click on the drop down arrow to the right of the Quick Access Toolbar and select More Commands. Then under Choose commands from: click All Commands, then scroll down to Paste Values, click Add and OK.

A little green button icon will appear on the Quick Access Toolbar. Next time you want to paste values, just click on the icon once you’ve copied the information.

Audio Proofing

Another data entry tip, especially if you’re checking data that you’ve entered from another offline document (e.g. a book), is to get Excel to “speak the cells”, that way you’re not going backwards & forwards from the page to the screen. My video shows you how to set it up in 2007.

Related: Lies, Damn Lies And Spreadsheets: How To Prevent Spreadsheets Ruining Your Business


Replace Font

This is a handy tip if you’ve copied some slides from another presentation into a new one and the fonts are all different.

In the Home tab on the ribbon, go to the Editing section and click on the drop down arrow to the right of Replace then Replace Fonts…

Under the Replace heading just select the font you want to change from the drop down list, and under the With heading choose the new font that you’d like. Click on Replace and the original font will now be replaced with the new one throughout the whole presentation.

Create Handouts Quickly

Once your PowerPoint presentation is complete you can quickly create handouts in Word by just a few clicks! Go to the Microsoft Office Button and click Publish then choose Create Handouts in Microsoft Word. This will then open a dialogue box asking how you want the layout to be – do you want blank lines next to each slide so the audience can make their own notes, or do you want your notes next to the slides etc. Make your selection and press OK, and it will open a Word document complete with slides and notes.

Jump Slides Quickly

If you’re giving a presentation and find that you’re running out of time, you can miss out some slides without the audience knowing. During the presentation, just type in the slide number and press enter and it will automatically jump to that slide.


Change Text

If you have a section of text all in lowercase and you want to change it to uppercase, a really quick way is to press SHIFT+F3. Keep pressing it and it toggles between lowercase, title case and uppercase.

Moving Paragraphs

If you want to move a paragraph quickly to another position on the page, you don’t just have to cut and paste. You can move the paragraph around in the document by highlighting the paragraph, then press SHIFT+ALT and the UP or DOWN arrow keys. This way you can see what it will look like as you do it.


This is one of my favourite features for saving time! You can customise how you want Word to spell and format your work. For example I’ve set Word up to automatically type in my business name, OutofhoursAdmin, whenever I type in ooha! It saves me no end of time.

To do this in Word 2007, just click on the Microsoft Office Button and select Word Options. Choose Proofing and AutoCorrect Options, then just type in the words you want to replace.

It’s brilliant if you know that you consistently spell something when you’re typing. A lot of people spell the “teh”, or you “yuo”, by adding these into the autocorrect feature Word will automatically replace the mistake with the correct text.

NB. You can also customise the proofing options in Excel and PowerPoint.

I hope you have found the Virtual Office interview interesting and the Microsoft Office tips helpful. Sharon actually runs a very helpful blog with lots of useful tips so have a look. In the meantime I’m sure she’d be happy to answer any questions you may have in the comments below.

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Sian Phillips

Sian Phillips

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