Tell Me What You Want to Do

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  • I know it can be done in Word (or Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, and OneNote). I’ve done it before but I don’t remember how or where it is on the menu.
  • I know it is there, but I don’t have time to look. I need to get this done now.
  • The instructions say look for Picture Tools, look for format tab, and click…. Where is everything? Seriously…

If you have ever been in any of the above situations, read on. There is a great feature for you in Office 2016. “Tell me what you want to do” (also known as Tell Me Assistant) is a handy tool available in Microsoft Office 2016.

Context-sensitive help has been around for a very long time and most people are familiar with it. Tell Me Assistant takes it one step further. Simply type what you want to do in the Tell Me Assistant box. Instead of getting instructions on how to do something, Tell Me Assistant shows you the menu required to get the job done. As you type into the Tell Me box, Tell Me Assistant will provide a list of suggestions. Click on the one you need and you get the menu immediately. If the task requires further selection of options, they will be provided on a flyout menu. No more looking for menu items on the ribbon or following lengthy instructions.

Expert users of Office who know their keyboard shortcuts by heart may find the Tell Me Assistant redundant if not downright irritating like Clippy the Office Assistant (Office 97 to 2003). Admittedly typing Alt-Ctrl-c to insert a copyright symbol is a lot faster, if you remember the shortcuts. But for the rest of us, Tell Me Assistant is a time saver. And let’s not forget those times when you are on the road with a mobile device and no external keyboard.

Below are a few examples:

Insert £, €, ©, ®, and other symbols (Word)

Put your mouse where you want the symbol to appear. Type symbol into the Tell Me Assistant box. Pick the symbol you need and voilà, it’s done. By the way, I used Tell Me Assistant to insert the à in voilà.

Text Box (Word)

Highlight the text to be put in a text box, type text box in the Tell Me Assistant box.

Click and drag the handles to resize the text box and click on the Layout Option icon on the top right corner for text wrapping options.

Page Number (Word)

Type page number into the Tell Me Assistant box, choose the position and format of page number on the flyout menu.

Pivot Table (Excel)

Here’s my all-time favourite. Highlight table cells, type pivot table in the Tell Me Assistant box.

 

and here you are with a pivoted table:

Here are a few more of my favourites. Give it a try.

  • Footnote
  • Table of contents
  • Change case
  • Link
  • Bookmark
  • Cross-reference
  • Margin

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