One of the best things about Microsoft Office is its abundance of free online resources. Regardless of your expertise level, you'll find something to appreciate. Last year I put together a list of a few favorites; now it's time to revisit the offerings and look at some additional possibilities.
Kick off the New Year off by learning about Office 2016 and Office 365. The latter offers new development opportunities across many 365-compatible platforms, and Microsoft's support site is the best place to start. If it's a bit over your head at first, try the Training option on the Resources tab for a variety of Getting Started tutorials. Or if you want a direct route into developer content for Office, visit Office developer documentation.
Jon Peltier is tops in the industry for supporting Excel. Not only will you find free content and other resources in his blog, Jon is great at reporting industry news in a timely manner. If you're supporting Excel users, you should definitely check Jon's site on a regular basis.
FMS has been supporting Access for years. Its professional products are top-notch. (I have no financial interest in the company and receive no compensation in any form.) It also offers a lot of free articles on a number of Access solutions, bugs, and other issues. If you're an Access user or developer, be sure to check out FMS.
You might already know this about me, but I dislike Outlook (a lot). I appreciate all the bells, whistles, management tools, and opportunities. Unfortunately, it's the app most prone to fail me, and useful help is hard to find. HowTo-Outlook is a good source. Bookmark it. You'll be glad you did.
Mike Alexander (MCAD MVP) offers a unique resource for Excel and Access users and developers. I'm especially fond of his Bacon Bits blog, which he updates a few times a month with interesting techniques and warnings.
I often use other people's techniques to inspire myself. That's why Indezine is one of my favorite sites for discovering new possibilities using PowerPoint. It hasn't been updated in a while, which is a shame, but there's a lot of content to keep you busy for a while.
This site is specific to Excel and offers a lot of free content, blog style. Check the Categories tab to get started. You may want to have a snack nearby when you visit the site; you'll be there for a while. It's packed!
This site hosts a compilation of articles by several Word MVPs. It hasn't been updated in a long time (that I can tell), but the content is valid and there's a lot of it.
I'm still a member of the DatabaseAdvisors listserv community. It's my go-to network of experts, and it's open to the public for free.
Good forums are a valuable resource as well. You won't find free content, but you'll find real human beings who can advise you. When you visit for the first time, check out the menus and options. Some of them offer more than forum support. Here are a few good ones to get you started:
- Microsoft Community
- StackOverflow (Excel)
- The Code Cage
- Experts Exchange
- VBA Express
- Excel Guru
Before I wind this up, I want say thank you for being such a gracious group of readers over the years. You help one another and when you contact me with questions, you're polite and appreciative. Thank you for your support and generosity of spirit, with each other and with me.
Send me your question about Office
I answer readers' questions when I can, but there's no guarantee. When contacting me, be as specific as possible. For example, "Please troubleshoot my workbook and fix what's wrong" probably won't get a response, but "Can you tell me why this formula isn't returning the expected results?" might. Please mention the app and version that you're using. Don't send files unless requested; initial requests for help that arrive with attached files will be deleted unread. I'm not reimbursed by TechRepublic for my time or expertise when helping readers, nor do I ask for a fee from readers I help. You can contact me at email@example.com.
Susan Sales Harkins is an IT consultant, specializing in desktop solutions. Previously, she was editor in chief for The Cobb Group, the world's largest publisher of technical journals.