Home > Articles > Home & Office Computing > Microsoft Applications

5 Things to Try in Office 2013

Office 2013 has been getting mixed press since it first arrived in beta. A number of new features make the popular application suite a better fit for touch devices, but does it have new features that will be relevant to your life and work? Katherine Murray offers up a few of the new features worth trying as you’re considering whether Office 2013 is right for you.
Like this article? We recommend

Like this article? We recommend

When it comes to Microsoft Office, I’m a pretty easy sell. I love technology (geekiness is in my genes), and I enjoy learning and using new features, especially if they fit something users really need and want. Office 2013 has been a good, if not life-changing, release, and it includes a number of new features and techniques worth checking out. Whether those additional features are enough to spring the cost of the upgrade (or to entice you to sign up for the new monthly subscription model available through Office 365) is your call. This article points out a few of the things you can try to see whether Office 2013 is something you’ve got to have.

Some Extra Help, Right from the Start

Whether you’re using Office 2013 with Windows 7 or Windows 8, as soon as you launch one of the applications, you will come face to face with what Microsoft calls “the Start experience.” This initial screen appears automatically when you start Word, Excel, or PowerPoint, and it is designed to give you quick access to the files and tools you may want to use right off the bat. The intention is to get you into your files faster (and to provide a little extra help if you are new to the software and aren’t quite sure what to do next). Figure 1 shows you the Start experience for PowerPoint 2013.

Figure 1 The Start experience gives you tools to open a file you’ve worked on recently or start a new one.

On the left side of the Start screen, you see the Recent list, which shows you all the files you’ve worked on recently using that application. At the top of the screen, you’ll find a search box, which enables you to search for templates related to a word or phrase you enter (for example, you could type lesson plan to find any templates that could help you with the online learning module you’re creating). You can also scroll down through the list and click or tap the template that looks good to you, or choose one of the Suggested Searches (just below the search box) to display templates by category.

Read Mode in Word 2013

Word 2013 now offers Read Mode to help you review documents quickly using a touch device or your desktop computer. Read Mode displays the file in a view with a minimum of screen clutter so you can focus on the document text. You can page through the document by clicking or tapping the arrow keys on the right or left sides of the screen, and change the way the text is displayed by using the options in the View menu (see Figure 2). You can’t edit the document in Read Mode, but if you want to make a few changes, you can switch to Print Layout view by clicking the Print Layout tool in the view controls in the bottom-right corner of your screen.

Figure 2 Read Mode enables you to focus on the text and move from page to page easily, using a touch device or a traditional computer.

Weather in Outlook

It’s the simple things in life that make the difference. When you’re curious about the weather report, what do you do? Check an app? Do a search on the web? Use your phone? Now Outlook 2013 makes it possible for you to add the weather right to your calendar, so when you’re making plans you know what to expect from Mother Nature.

Display the calendar by clicking Calendar in the lower-left corner of the Outlook 2013 window to get started, and then click the weather area in the top center of the calendar display. Choose the location you want, and Outlook does the rest. You can add multiple locations and switch among them (a nice trick if you’re traveling) and see a more detailed weather report by hovering the mouse over the current conditions (Figure 3).

Figure 3 You can add the weather conditions to your calendar to help you plan out your week.

Analyze Data Quickly in Excel

Excel 2013 has a few timesaving and analysis-boosting tools to help you crunch numbers, whether you’re a new Excel user or an experienced one. My favorite is the Quick Analysis toolbar, which appears as a small tool whenever you select data on your worksheet. When you click or tap the Quick Analysis tool, a toolbar appears, giving you a number of tools you can use to analyze the data you’ve selected: Formatting, Charts, Totals, Tables, and Sparklines.

Click the category of tool you want to use, and the toolbar changes to display the tools related to your selection. In Figure 4, you see the tools available for formatting the data selected on the worksheet. You can experiment with the different tools to get just the effect you want, or undo your changes by pressing Ctrl+Z.

Figure 4 Excel’s Quick Analysis tool enables you to display and analyze your worksheet data quickly, without needing to hunt for tools in the ribbon.

Take Charge of Your Presentations with Presenter View

Most of us are at least a little nervous when we have to give a presentation. Chances are that before you get up in front of your audience, you’ve gone through the presentation at least a half-dozen times, trying to make sure it all flows smoothly and you’ve included all the information you need to share. PowerPoint 2013 now includes a great tool called Presenter View that enables you to manage the presentation with more confidence. Presenter view enables you to easily control the display of slides on the screen, see which slides are coming next, read your presenter notes, and even annotate the slides as you go along.

To display Presenter View, choose Slide Show view (or press F5) and then tap the options button on the far right end of the slide show controls in the lower-left corner of your screen. Click or tap Show Presenter View in the list that appears. Presenter view appears on your screen (but only on your screen—your audience is still seeing the regular presentation). You can use the tools below the current slide display to draw on the slide, display all slides in the presentation, zoom in to an area on the slide, fade the presentation to black, or move to other slides out of sequence. You can also use the navigation tools at the bottom of the view to move to the next or previous slide (Figure 5).

Figure 5 Presenter view brings all the tools you need for presenting into one handy place—and that can help dissolve your performance jitters.

In the top-right corner of Presenter View, PowerPoint shows you the next slide coming in the presentation, so you can make the transition smoothly for your audience. And any presenter notes you’ve entered for the current slide appear in the box on the lower-right portion of your screen so that you can get tips and reminders as you work your way through the slide show. You can change the size of the font used to display the notes by using the tool in the lower-left corner of the notes panel. When you’re finished presenting, click or tap End Slide Show at the top of Presenter View to close the view and return to the PowerPoint window.

Weighing It Out

These are just a few of my favorite new features in Office 2013, but there are more, including threaded comments, PDF editing, Flash Fill in Excel, video support in Word, and more. If you regularly read documents, analyze numeric data, schedule appointments, or give presentations, you may find that the new features in Office 2013 make your life a bit simpler. Office 2013 is available as a free one-month trial at http://office.microsoft.com, so give it a test drive and see what you think.

InformIT Promotional Mailings & Special Offers

I would like to receive exclusive offers and hear about products from InformIT and its family of brands. I can unsubscribe at any time.


Pearson Education, Inc., 221 River Street, Hoboken, New Jersey 07030, (Pearson) presents this site to provide information about products and services that can be purchased through this site.

This privacy notice provides an overview of our commitment to privacy and describes how we collect, protect, use and share personal information collected through this site. Please note that other Pearson websites and online products and services have their own separate privacy policies.

Collection and Use of Information

To conduct business and deliver products and services, Pearson collects and uses personal information in several ways in connection with this site, including:

Questions and Inquiries

For inquiries and questions, we collect the inquiry or question, together with name, contact details (email address, phone number and mailing address) and any other additional information voluntarily submitted to us through a Contact Us form or an email. We use this information to address the inquiry and respond to the question.

Online Store

For orders and purchases placed through our online store on this site, we collect order details, name, institution name and address (if applicable), email address, phone number, shipping and billing addresses, credit/debit card information, shipping options and any instructions. We use this information to complete transactions, fulfill orders, communicate with individuals placing orders or visiting the online store, and for related purposes.


Pearson may offer opportunities to provide feedback or participate in surveys, including surveys evaluating Pearson products, services or sites. Participation is voluntary. Pearson collects information requested in the survey questions and uses the information to evaluate, support, maintain and improve products, services or sites, develop new products and services, conduct educational research and for other purposes specified in the survey.

Contests and Drawings

Occasionally, we may sponsor a contest or drawing. Participation is optional. Pearson collects name, contact information and other information specified on the entry form for the contest or drawing to conduct the contest or drawing. Pearson may collect additional personal information from the winners of a contest or drawing in order to award the prize and for tax reporting purposes, as required by law.


If you have elected to receive email newsletters or promotional mailings and special offers but want to unsubscribe, simply email information@informit.com.

Service Announcements

On rare occasions it is necessary to send out a strictly service related announcement. For instance, if our service is temporarily suspended for maintenance we might send users an email. Generally, users may not opt-out of these communications, though they can deactivate their account information. However, these communications are not promotional in nature.

Customer Service

We communicate with users on a regular basis to provide requested services and in regard to issues relating to their account we reply via email or phone in accordance with the users' wishes when a user submits their information through our Contact Us form.

Other Collection and Use of Information

Application and System Logs

Pearson automatically collects log data to help ensure the delivery, availability and security of this site. Log data may include technical information about how a user or visitor connected to this site, such as browser type, type of computer/device, operating system, internet service provider and IP address. We use this information for support purposes and to monitor the health of the site, identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents and appropriately scale computing resources.

Web Analytics

Pearson may use third party web trend analytical services, including Google Analytics, to collect visitor information, such as IP addresses, browser types, referring pages, pages visited and time spent on a particular site. While these analytical services collect and report information on an anonymous basis, they may use cookies to gather web trend information. The information gathered may enable Pearson (but not the third party web trend services) to link information with application and system log data. Pearson uses this information for system administration and to identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents, appropriately scale computing resources and otherwise support and deliver this site and its services.

Cookies and Related Technologies

This site uses cookies and similar technologies to personalize content, measure traffic patterns, control security, track use and access of information on this site, and provide interest-based messages and advertising. Users can manage and block the use of cookies through their browser. Disabling or blocking certain cookies may limit the functionality of this site.

Do Not Track

This site currently does not respond to Do Not Track signals.


Pearson uses appropriate physical, administrative and technical security measures to protect personal information from unauthorized access, use and disclosure.


This site is not directed to children under the age of 13.


Pearson may send or direct marketing communications to users, provided that

  • Pearson will not use personal information collected or processed as a K-12 school service provider for the purpose of directed or targeted advertising.
  • Such marketing is consistent with applicable law and Pearson's legal obligations.
  • Pearson will not knowingly direct or send marketing communications to an individual who has expressed a preference not to receive marketing.
  • Where required by applicable law, express or implied consent to marketing exists and has not been withdrawn.

Pearson may provide personal information to a third party service provider on a restricted basis to provide marketing solely on behalf of Pearson or an affiliate or customer for whom Pearson is a service provider. Marketing preferences may be changed at any time.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user's personally identifiable information changes (such as your postal address or email address), we provide a way to correct or update that user's personal data provided to us. This can be done on the Account page. If a user no longer desires our service and desires to delete his or her account, please contact us at customer-service@informit.com and we will process the deletion of a user's account.


Users can always make an informed choice as to whether they should proceed with certain services offered by InformIT. If you choose to remove yourself from our mailing list(s) simply visit the following page and uncheck any communication you no longer want to receive: www.informit.com/u.aspx.

Sale of Personal Information

Pearson does not rent or sell personal information in exchange for any payment of money.

While Pearson does not sell personal information, as defined in Nevada law, Nevada residents may email a request for no sale of their personal information to NevadaDesignatedRequest@pearson.com.

Supplemental Privacy Statement for California Residents

California residents should read our Supplemental privacy statement for California residents in conjunction with this Privacy Notice. The Supplemental privacy statement for California residents explains Pearson's commitment to comply with California law and applies to personal information of California residents collected in connection with this site and the Services.

Sharing and Disclosure

Pearson may disclose personal information, as follows:

  • As required by law.
  • With the consent of the individual (or their parent, if the individual is a minor)
  • In response to a subpoena, court order or legal process, to the extent permitted or required by law
  • To protect the security and safety of individuals, data, assets and systems, consistent with applicable law
  • In connection the sale, joint venture or other transfer of some or all of its company or assets, subject to the provisions of this Privacy Notice
  • To investigate or address actual or suspected fraud or other illegal activities
  • To exercise its legal rights, including enforcement of the Terms of Use for this site or another contract
  • To affiliated Pearson companies and other companies and organizations who perform work for Pearson and are obligated to protect the privacy of personal information consistent with this Privacy Notice
  • To a school, organization, company or government agency, where Pearson collects or processes the personal information in a school setting or on behalf of such organization, company or government agency.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of each and every web site that collects Personal Information. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this web site.

Requests and Contact

Please contact us about this Privacy Notice or if you have any requests or questions relating to the privacy of your personal information.

Changes to this Privacy Notice

We may revise this Privacy Notice through an updated posting. We will identify the effective date of the revision in the posting. Often, updates are made to provide greater clarity or to comply with changes in regulatory requirements. If the updates involve material changes to the collection, protection, use or disclosure of Personal Information, Pearson will provide notice of the change through a conspicuous notice on this site or other appropriate way. Continued use of the site after the effective date of a posted revision evidences acceptance. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Privacy Notice or any objection to any revisions.

Last Update: November 17, 2020