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Last updated on 10/13/16

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Course introduction

Digital technology has profoundly transformed the world in which we live, and particularly the world of business! Today, it is absolutely essential to know how to use Office tools to manipulate data (Excel), as well as present and share this data (PowerPoint, Word). The objective of this course is to test your knowledge in this area. Depending on your level and your needs, we provide you with information on a range of courses to improve your skills. We also offer details on certification, in order to make the most of your skills in a professional context. ‌


In this course, we base our teaching on the 3 main software programmes of the Microsoft Office Suite: Excel, PowerPoint and Word (2010 version), as these are the tools and versions most frequently used in a workplace context. But don’t worry, most office tools are very similar: you can make use of most of the tips given here for other applications such as LibreOffice, Google Apps, etc.

Discover the functions of each tool

Each of the three main office tools is designed for a specific document type. It is important to understand the functions of each tool.

Excel: a brief introduction

Excel is a spreadsheet programme, and therefore logically serves to manage spreadsheets. But what does this mean in practice? You can use Excel to perform calculations of varying complexity using formulas and the integrated functions. Excel also allows you to manage lists of data, i.e., spreadsheets in which we store, sort, and filter information. The spreadsheet allows you to perform statistics on these lists, by using the database functions or famous pivot tables. Finally, Excel allows you to present your data in graph format.

Example of use: you can track your accounts in an Excel workbook, with a year by page, and extract the data in the form of pivot tables and graphs.

PowerPoint: a brief introduction

PowerPoint is a computer assisted presentation software. It allows users to create and present animated slideshows. You can also print out your slideshows and comments.

Example of use: you can use a slideshow to accompany the oral presentation of a speech and present the results at a meeting. You can print and distribute the slideshow at the start of the session for participants to take notes.

Word: a brief introduction

This is a word processing software. You type your content in continuous text, format it and set the document layout, which can be made more or less elaborate depending on its purpose. The longer the text, the more it should make use of functions to automate the format (styles, headers, footers, etc.). Word also allows users to add a table of contents, and to insert footnotes, an index and illustrations. Finally, the revision function allows the collaborative editing of documents.

But knowing how to write a letter in Word, or to perform a calculation in Excel does not mean that you have mastered all of the functions of these tools. However, it is unlikely that you will need to know how to use all of these! Therefore, you should focus on the essential and on the functions that meet your present and future needs, i.e. you should make an informed and effective use of these tools!

Example: You should be able to write the minutes of a meeting, apply the same formatting throughout, using styles, and include a table of contents and index. You should aim to be able to create a template from these minutes to reuse for future meetings.

A table outlining the main features of Excel, PowerPoint, and Word

Target the right tools for the tasks you have to perform

This index of functions may seem impressive, but don’t worry, you don’t need to master everything! Your ease of use and mastery of each tool depend on the nature of your work and responsibilities. It is up to you to carefully select what functions and tools you could use to make your work easier and more efficient!


Now it’s time to test your knowledge. Answer the three following quizzes. Then have a look at the grids for your results.

The three quizzes below are based on the 2010 English version of Microsoft Office.

Quiz on Excel

Quiz on PowerPoint

Quiz on Word


How to read the results

If you have 8 points or more

Well done! You have a firm general knowledge of Excel. You seem comfortable using its three main activities: calculations, data management and graphics. Why not think about doing a certificate to validate your proficiency using the software? The courses most suited to your profile would be thematically-based and/or advanced. You might also consider the possibility of doing the Visual Basic (VBA) Course to increase your Excel skills.

If you have between 5 and 7 points

Your knowledge of Excel is pretty good and you seem capable of getting the most out of the software. Therefore, an introductory Excel course would not be of any great benefit to you. However, it may be worthwhile taking specialized training modules in the three main areas of Excel (calculations, data management and graphics).

If you have less than 5 points

It would be worthwhile doing a comprehensive course that would allow you to familiarize yourself with the major features of the software, and provide you with a better idea of the possibilities offered by Excel.

How to read the results

If you have 8 points or more

Congratulations! You have a very good level of knowledge and feel at ease with PowerPoint. You would probably feel equally comfortable using other tools of the same type, such as Google Slides. Why not think about adding to your skills by doing a course on the different and complementary presentation software on the market, such as Prezi, which offers a lively and dynamic presentation design. It is also worth certifying your skills in order to provide concrete evidence or proof to a future employer. A certificate or diploma of this kind always looks good on a CV.

If you have between 5 and 7 points

You have a relatively solid knowledge of PowerPoint. But remember to get creative and make use of the visual aids to make your presentations more captivating. It might be a good idea to brush up on some of the basics (the slide master that will add consistency between your slides, or the use of animations and transitions).

 If you have less than 5 points

Courses offering a comprehensive discovery of the software are right for you. They will guide you through the steps to help you create a successful presentation, while teaching you how to use the basic (and advanced) features of the software.

How to read the results

If you have 8 points or more

Well done! You have a very good knowledge of Word. It might be worthwhile doing a diploma or certificate to add concrete proof of your skills to your CV and portfolio.

If you have between 5 and 7 points

You’re comfortable using the basic features and functions of the software. However, it might be interesting to brush up on some of these (styles, layout tabs, sections, page numbering, etc.) and perfect your knowledge of functions to create a more professional-looking layout (tables of content, indexes, illustrations, revision mode, for example).

If you have less than 5 points

You may not have had to use Word on a regular basis or create documents whose layout requires a knowledge of its advanced features. You should do a comprehensive course, which will provide you with an overview of a range of features to suit your needs. Once you’ve mastered the basics, you will save a lot of time, from selecting text to keyboard shortcuts.


What’s the best way to enhance your Office skills?

It’s better to demonstrate:

  • maturity and realism: it is impossible to know and master everything.

  • humility: even if you think your Office skills are fantastic, remember that unless you’re applying for a job in IT, impeccable Office skills are not the first or deciding criteria sought after in a job applicant. There’s no need to insist on your skills in this area.

Opt for a description that highlights your functional abilities and skills: for example: ‘bonne maîtrise de la gestion analytique et statistique sous Excel’ (good use of data management and statistics in Excel). Such a description is more precise, and a potential recruiter or employer can thus see the link between your skills, your experience, and the qualities sought after in the job candidate.  

During the job interview, the same advice applies, avoid boasting about your Office skills! You may find yourself being interviewed by someone highly competent in Microsoft Office who doesn’t mind checking your skills by asking you one or two very technical questions. Furthermore, you may be asked to take a little test to ensure that the skills you claim to have are, in fact, real.

Therefore, it is a good idea to certify your skills with a course or diploma. You will find information about training courses at the end of this course.

What skills should I try and develop?

It is vital to build on your already existing skills based on the following criteria:

  1. Your current activity. Think about your current tasks and responsibilities, and your career on a broader level. In what areas could you excel and specialize in order to be more independent and productive? If you work in accounting or finance for example, you should focus on improving your Excel skills: calculations, formulas and functions specific to this field, macros, VBA, etc. If you are a team leader and hold many meetings on the other hand, communication is an integral part of your job. Therefore, you should think about developing your PowerPoint skills (or other presentation tools such as Prezi). You might also consider additional software such as photo editing tools, graphics creation, schedule management, etc.

  2. The direction you would like your career to go in. It is important to think about the future. The skills that you will need will evolve over time. For example, if you want to start your own company, it is essential for you to be able to do projections, simulations, a business plan, etc. Therefore, the advanced use of Excel features like the solver, scenario manager, the target value or the spreadsheets and pivot tables are a must.

Where can I find training resources?

Numerous resources are available free of charge on the Internet, including downloadable user guides and video tutorials.

Comprehensive training programmes:

The site tutoriel-video.com offers a large number of online training courses (in French) for the 2007 and 2010 versions of Microsoft Office. Different modules are offered based on ability level (beginners/intermediate/advanced).

There are also a large range of courses available (in different languages) for Office 2016 (for PC and Mac), on the site support.office.com. The advantage of this site is that the resources are always up-to-date.

Courses to help you revise the basics

Excel – learn how to create a spreadsheet

Excel – learn how to structure and format a spreadsheet

Excel – learn how to master basic formulas and calculations

PowerPoint – how to create a slide presentation

Word – how to create documents on Word

Courses to build on your Excel skills

Excel – data management (and connecting links)

Excel – creating and personalizing graphics

Excel – performing advanced statistics using pivot tables

Excel – learn how to use the search tools

Excel – learn how to set one or more print areas

 Courses to build on your PowerPoint skills

PowerPoint – learn how to insert objects into slides (images, photos, diagrams, etc.)

PowerPoint – learn how to use the Slide Master

PowerPoint – learn how to apply animations and transitions

PowerPoint – learn how to use SmartArt

Courses to build on your Word skills

Word – understanding styles

Word – learn how to customize headers and footers

 Where can I certify my Office skills?

There are several certificates you can do to validate your Office skills specifically, or your IT skills more generally. These start with complete beginner’s courses right up to more advanced skills, including the use of social networks, digital copyright, etc.

 TOSA Certificate

The newcomer on the market but already approved for the personal training account (replacing the DIF), the TOSA Certification has already become a standard in terms of Office and IT skills. 35 questions, 60 minutes, and at the end of the exam, the successful applicant obtains one of five levels of expertise, ranging from beginner to expert. Certificates are available in Excel, PowerPoint and Word.

The ECDL (European Computer Driving License)

As its name suggests, this certification has the advantage of being a European certification. The ECDL can also be done as part of an employee’s personal training account and allows you to certify your basic IT skills in multiple-choice test format. The modules include:

  1. Understanding key concepts relating to ICT, computers, devices and software

  2. Document Management

  3. Word Processing

  4. Spreadsheets

  5. Databases

  6. Computer Aided Presentation

  7. Email and Web browsing

Microsoft Office Specialist Certification

MOS certifications are based on a test of your ability to perform specific or set tasks on the various software applications of the Microsoft Office Suite. There is no multiple choice quiz, and therefore it is more a validation of skills, rather than knowledge. The MOS certificates are recognized at an international level, including the United States.

Now it’s up to you to take the next step!


                                                                   This course was developed with the support of:



Example of certificate of achievement
Example of certificate of achievement