Comparing two documents in MS Word

Today I was sent two documents by two people in the same department. One was a revised version of the other. Neither file had tracked changes turned on, and so I had no way of knowing the differences without using the handy dandy Compare feature inside Microsoft Word.

As much as we like to complain sometimes about Microsoft and some of the thinking behind some features, sometimes you really have to take a moment to thank them for building all this neat functionality that makes our lives easier.

Comparing two documents

Under the Review Tab in Microsoft Word, click the Compare dropdown in the Compare section of the ribbon.

Then choose “Compare”


You then pick the original file, and the revised file. The only thing I wish it would let us do at this point of the process is pick from currently open documents instead of making us browse to the files, but that was just a minor inconvenience.

Clicking on the “more” button gives you more features to choose from as to what you actually want to compare. You may not care about white space or case changes, or perhaps you want to ignore headers and footers. By toggling these expanded features you’ll be able to customize the level of detail you get upon comparing.

This screen shows a blurred version of the results. The main portion shows the changes marked in blue, and then on the right hand side you see both the original (on top), and the revised copy (on bottom). Scrolling and moving the cursor in the main document also changes the view on the side panels, which is nice. Comparing also turns on the Revisions pane where you can see all the changes that were made by the individual.


Data Manipulation – Find & Replace and Text to Columns

Data manipulation seems to be an almost daily occurrence for me. Well, maybe not daily, but I do it so often that I don’t even think about it anymore.

IT is supposed to be this always-working, man-behind-the-curtain magical thing, and while it works – it’s awesome. When it doesn’t work, however, we’re stuck either working around it, or fixing it.

The other day someone sent me an email address list in the body of an email. Well, it never came across, so I had the person put it into a Word Document and send me that.

What I didn’t know, was that the Word Document now contained a table. Oh well – copy and paste that into an Excel sheet, and it did just fine.

Now, I had an email address in the left hand column, and then I had a full name surrounded by (parentheses). Why??

OK, so now I have (Mickey Mouse) in my Excel file

First I need to remove the parentheses. How would we go about doing that?

Well, I could have used Text-to-Column but in this case I just used Find and Replace. (Ctrl+H) is the keyboard shortcut for that.

Find and Replace

I had to look for the actual ribbon controls, which are under the Home tab, in the Editing section. Click Find & Select, then Replace.

Enter the ( character in the Find What, and leave Replace With blank so that it will just remove the character from your text. Click “Replace All” to remove all the parentheses. Then do Find & Select and Replace again, and enter the ) character in the Find What.

Text to Column

A lot of the time, I need to split the full name into two columns, with first and last name. One of the easiest ways I know to do that is to use the Text to Column feature, which  you find under the Data tab.

On the first Wizard screen, choose Delimited. On the second screen, add a checkbox for “Space”.
Note how the preview splits out Mickey from Mouse? That’s what you want.

Now this is not foolproof, because if there are middle names, or a surname that contains a space, you need to clean up the data. You could do that using the Filter feature if you have a large list, or you can eyeball it if the list is fairly small.

In looking up this blog, I realized I haven’t done any posts on Filters yet. Shame on me! I’ll spend some time in the next few posts on what to do with Filters. They are incredibly powerful and I use them often.

Adding Excel file information to the header and footer

Adding file information to the header and footer of an Excel file can be done as follows:

  • Under the page layout tab
    • click the little arrow under print titles to expand your page setup window
  • Under the header/footer tab, pick custom header or custom footer
    • For each section, click the information you want to show.
    • To figure out what information each option provides, just click on the buttons.
      • In the center section, I added the word “Page” in front of the options
      • In the right section, I added the words “Last printed: ” in front of the date field.

Excel Header and Footer

Creating Email Templates in Outlook

I needed to send individual emails to a number of users who need to activate their Office 365/SharePoint user licenses. Sending a mass email to the group did not quite yield the results we were looking for, and so we’re now sending individual emails to the users. So far I have sent 43 individual emails to these users, and I am sure there are more to come. Sending these emails manually involves copying and pasting the subject line and content 43 times and adding the copied recipients 43 times.

To help me get this accomplished a lot faster, I created an email template so I don’t have to do all this copying and pasting.

Create the template

Templates are easy to create: you simply draft the email like you normally do. In other words, click New Email from the New Group on the HOME tab, type the message, adding any attachments, pictures, formatting you need. If you always carbon copy certain people, you can add them as well.

Email Example

When the email is ready, click the FILE tab and choose Save As in the left pane
In the dialog box, give your file a name, and choose Outlook Template (*.oft) from the Save As Type drop-down.
Click Save and close the mail window. You may be prompted to save it again. You don’t have to.

Outlook: Save Email Template

Using the template

When you’re ready to use the template, instead of using New Email, use the New Items drop-down from the HOME tab, choose More Items, and then Choose Form…

Outlook: Retrieve Email Template

From the Look In: drop-down choose User Templates in File System

Outlook: User Email Template

Select your template, and then click Open. From here, add your recipient, a greeting, edit your message if need be, and hit send. While it’s a tad tedious to retrieve the templates sometimes, in the end, it does save you quite a bit of time if you’re needing to send the same message over and over again.

Outlook - Email Select Template

OneNote – the Connected Learner

Here is another SWAY showing us how OneNote can be used for collaboration and in the classroom.

Just note that this teacher is using the CLASS NOTEBOOK app that exists within Office 365, and thus there are a few features that don’t exist in the standard OneNote app, such as read only content areas, and private student sections, which exist in the CLASS and STAFF notebook versions.

You’re welcome to work with the CLASS Notebook or STAFF Notebook apps within Office 365 but there’s just a small (ok, not so small) glitch with those: you are unable to transfer the ownership of a CLASS or STAFF NOTEBOOK to another person. This is a big deal to me: I’d like Microsoft to realize people do switch jobs occasionally and that these notebooks need to be transferred in a secure and seamless way. Hopefully they will work on that soon.

In the meantime, if you like what this presentation is about, and you want to use CLASS or STAFF NOTEBOOK apps, just know that while you can back up the Notebook, it loses its connections with the online setup.

How to Turn a Teacher into a OneNote Ninja

As much as I try to explain how OneNote can be used, sometimes you just need examples, and so here is another Pinterest find for me. I thought that it was too good to keep a secret. This is a great use of SWAY to show you how to use OneNote in the classroom.

I have attended a few “Tweet Meets” surrounding use of OneNote in education and it’s amazing how much this tool is being used in the classroom at all levels. Check out this neat SWAY on How to Turn a Teacher into a OneNote Ninja.

Connecting OneNote Notebooks to your desktop

We’re seeing more and more usage around the division for OneNote, especially for meeting notes. One of the reasons I think it has caught on it because all of the meeting notes live in one file, and you can connect the OneNote file directly to the desktop version of OneNote, and it remains accessible to you wherever you are, and syncs to the online version whenever you’re connected to the Internet.

You will get the best experience if you link it to the 2013 or 2016 versions of the software. Surface and Ipad “app” versions are limited in features.

Before you get started

Just a quick note: you will need to follow this procedure for each of your devices: your desktop computer, your laptop, your Surface, Ipad. Connecting it to one device does not automatically connect it to others.

There are several ways to connect your online file (either from OneDrive or from SharePoint) to your desktop client, some easier than others:

Navigate to the SharePoint site or OneDrive folder where your file resides.

Open the file in your browser, then click on Edit in OneNote.

OneNote: Edit in OneNote

If you are asked which application to use – choose the one with the 2013 or 2016 in the title.

Log into your company’s Office 365 portal and click on the OneNote app in your browser.

This will take you to
From here you will be able to click on the files in your OneDrive, recent files you have accessed, and files that have been explicitly shared with you.

OneNote: Notebook list online

Click on the file name to open the file in your browser, then click on Edit in OneNote.

OneNote: Edit in OneNote

If you are asked which application to use – choose the one with the 2013 or 2016 in the title.

Connecting from OneNote

My least favorite way to connect your OneNote is to do directly from the OneNote desktop application. It’s my least favorite way because you have to navigate to your OneNote file by knowing where the file lives on SharePoint site or within OneDrive.

From within your OneNote desktop application, go to File > Open

The Recent Notebook section would be the quickest way to open your OneNote file.

OneNote: Recent Notebooks

If your file lives on SharePoint
Click on Sites – Virginia Tech. You would need to start with the URL: and from there navigate to the site you need.

If your file lives on OneDrive
Click on OneDrive – Your Company.
Locate the file within your folder structure.

Once your file is open in your OneNote desktop application

Use the Pin Notebook function within OneNote to show all of your notebooks on the left side of your application.

OneNote: Pin Notebooks

That will pin all your notebooks on the left hand pane.

Notebooks: My Notebook, Projects, DSA OneNote