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Making the switch to Office 2013

Microsoft Office 2013 is available for all faculty and staff on campus. To upgrade to Office 2013, contact your department technical staff. If you are centrally supported, you will be able to download and install it yourself. Functionally, Office 2013 is almost identical to Office 2010 with the exception of a few new features. The biggest differences you’ll notice is with the design and layout. We put together the following Web page to help make the switch to Office 2013. You can also download and print the Making the Switch to Office 2013 guide (PDF).

TIP: As a KU faculty or staff member, you have the ability to purchase and download Office 2013 for your home computer at the discounted rate of $9.95. And, students can download Office at no cost. To get your copy, go to and click on Start Shopping.

General Office 2013 Tips

The Ribbon

Standard Ribbon

The Ribbon in Microsoft Office is the menu and toolbars usually located at the top of your window. When you can see all of the tools and the file menu, you are viewing the Standard Ribbon.

Standard Ribbon in Outlook

Standard Ribbon in Outlook

Collapsed Ribbon

You can choose to collapse the Ribbon by selecting the arrow icon on the right side of the Ribbon. 

How to collapse ribbon

How to collapse the Ribbon

If you’d like to expand the Ribbon again, you can choose any of the tabs. To keep the Ribbon expanded, click on the Pushpin icon in the lower right-hand corner of the Ribbon.

How to expand the Ribbon

How to expand the Ribbon

Hidden Ribbon

When you open a document in Read Mode in Word, the Ribbon may be hidden. To unhide or view the Standard Ribbon, you’ll need to exit read mode. The easiest way is to use the Print Layout icon in the lower right-hand corner of the window, or you can click Esc on the keyboard.

Exiting the hidden ribbon

How to exit the hidden Ribbon

Quick Tools

With Office 2013, you no longer will need to go to the Ribbon to make format changes in emails, documents, spreadsheets, and slides. Quick Tools show up when you pause by a selection, object, or chart.

Quick tools in Word

Quick tools in Excel

Zoom Slider

Depending on how an email, document, or spreadsheet is formatted or the size/resolution of your screen, the text might be too small to read comfortably—or too large for the confines of, say, the preview pane. The Zoom slider—located in the lower right-hand corner of your window—lets you make quick and easy adjustments to the zoom level for the message you're viewing.

Zoom slider

How to zoom using the slider

In Outlook however, the zoom setting doesn't carry over to other messages in your inbox, and if you click away from one zoomed email and then click back to it, your zoom setting is lost.



Replying to a message should be faster in Outlook 2013

Outlook 2013 opens with a simple two-pane design consisting of the list of messages and the selected message in the preview pane. You can quickly respond to the message by clicking the Reply button in the preview pane.

TIP: You can also use the shortcut keys to start drafting a response immediately. A complete list of shortcut keys are located here:

Reply to a message.


Reply all to a message.




Forward as attachment.




Peek at your calendar

At the bottom of the screen, you can click either Calendar, People, or Tasks to switch views, or hover to get a peek—via a small pop-up—at your selection. This Peeks feature allows you to access information without having to change views completely.


A new feature called Mailtips will bring possible issues to your attention, such as if you fail to forward an attachment.

Biggest gripe about Outlook 2013 and how to fix it

Harder to see the differences between unread and read email.

The default setting in Outlook 2013 is that unread messages have a blue bar instead of a read/unread envelope. In addition, the subject of the email will appear in blue.

Default read/unread settings in Outlook 2013

Default settings in Outlook 2013

Default read/unread in Outlook 2010

Default settings in Outlook 2010

So, you have two options:

  • You can either learn to live with the new clean layout. It won’t take that long to become accustomed and then you’ll forget all about 2010.
  • Or, you can change the view settings using Conditional Formatting in Outlook 2013 to mimic that of 2013. One catch is that you can’t get the unread/read envelopes in 2013. Here’s a web page that explains how to do it:

Additional view settings

Additional links



Open PDFs in Word

With Office 2013, you can now open and edit PDFs in Word (it converts PDFs to Word and then saves them back as PDFs). It’s not perfect, especially for documents that have a lot of images or formatting. But, at least you can avoid having to convert it to Word in Adobe PDF Professional (if you have it).

Read Mode

One of Word’s most visible innovations is a new Read Mode that dispenses with the Ribbon toolbar and lets you see documents as though they appeared within a printed book. In this mode, you can’t edit, but you do have access to find and search tools, so you can perform lookups related to highlighted content. Another new mode provides a navigation pane, useful for getting around in lengthy documents.

In Read Mode, you can click graphical elements to enlarge them for closer study (Microsoft calls this object zoom), and then click them again to return to the original layout.

How to exit Read mode

Word also automatically bookmarks the page you were last on when you closed a document, and lets you return to that page when you reopen it.

Simple Markup

Microsoft has also tweaked the review and revision tools. The cleaned-up Simple Markup view spares you a lot of the clutter from deletions and comments in a heavily edited document. Word now supports replies to comments for more orderly tracking of conversations, and once a comment has been addressed, you can mark it as done. You can also password-protect the ability to stop tracking changes, so no one can fiddle with a document without being detected.

Design Tab

The new Design tab gathers styles and other formatting options in one place, so you can easily try out different looks for your work.

Collapsible Headings and Subheadings

When you use Word’s character styles to format your text, you can later collapse your headings and subheadings to quickly view the outline of your document.

character styles in word

Character styles in Word



Excel 2013 has some of the most appealing and potentially useful new features in the Office 2013 suite, as the additions help with entering, analyzing, and presenting spreadsheet data.

Flash Fill

The new Flash Fill feature can detect patterns (beyond the numerical and date patterns Excel has long been able to recognize), and autocompletes empty fields as appropriate. For example, if you’ve pasted a list of similarly formatted email addresses (say, into a column, you can then type the first two first names into the first two cells of another column, select the entire column, and click the Flash Fill option to see Excel insert the rest of the first names instantly.

Flash fill in Excel

Flash fill in Excel

Flash Fill should be on by default, but here are the directions to check to see that it is on:

Quick Analysis

Excel also makes it easier to figure out how to wrangle a bunch of data in a spreadsheet. Select an entire table, and a small Quick Analysis button appears by the lower-right corner. You can click the button to view thumbnails of several graph and charting options, and then click one to apply it. Not sure how best to massage the data? Excel also offers buttons that generate chart and pivot table recommendations. A timeline slicer makes it easier to examine data from a specific time period within a larger set of data. Creating mashups with third-party data sources is also easier.

Quick analysis in Excel

Quick analysis in Excel



Many of the innovations in PowerPoint 2013 mirror those in Word, including a reading view, the capability to add screenshots and art from photo-sharing sites from within the application, object zoom, instant visibility for formatting changes, enhanced commenting features, and the Design tab.

Formatting Pane

PowerPoint 2013 makes adjusting design elements simpler by showing options in a new formatting pane to the right of the slide. You summon the pane in the menu that appears when you right-click a selected object such as an image, shape, or text.

Formatting pane in PowerPoint

Formatting pane in PowerPoint

Presenter View

For presenters with two screens at their disposal (one for the audience and one for themselves), the Presenter View makes it easier than ever to access notes and preview upcoming slides. If the Presenter View somehow winds up on the wrong screen, the Swap Display command quickly deals with the problem.

Working Collaboratively

With PowerPoint 2013, you can add a comment or note to a word, graphic, or entire slide. Using comments is a great way to provide feedback to others about their presentation. For more information, see Microsoft’s website.

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