All posts by Ali Jackowski

Clean up your act!

Spring has sprung and the time for Spring Cleaning is upon us!

Mission Critical Training wants to help you dust off those career-advancing skills. Whether you need to refresh your Excel skills, learn to manage your time better with Outlook, or make the move up the corporate ladder with a professional development course, MCT has the classes to help your career bloom this season.

All of our tips this month are about cleaning things up in your working life with the help of Microsoft applications. We hope these tips will inspire you to see just what you can do with more knowledge, more skills, and more tips and tricks. Then, when you are ready to empower yourself more, check out our full calendar of classes at our website.

For questions and more, including information on our private training discount packages, contact our sales department at 303-900-0850 (CO) or 602-955-7787 (AZ), or email us at

Checking for Duplicate Records with Queries In Access

Anytime you have duplicate records in Access, you run the risk of having corrupt data in your reports, because databases rely on normalized data for all tables and relationships. Normalized data means that entered data exists in only one table, and is utilized everywhere else throughout the database. This does not mean that you will not see the data in other places, only that you will enter it in one table.

Once records are entered, duplicate records can be easily found and removed by running queries that look for just that type of thing. The Query Wizard gives us an easy way to create these types of queries, so that you do not need to worry about setting them up from scratch.

Check out this video that will show you how to do it:

Clean up your database skills with an Access class from Mission Critical Training

Removing Redundant Messages in Outlook

It is annoying, and wastes your time, to see 20 or 30 of the same message in your Outlook folders, especially if you store your messages as conversations.  It can mean you see the same string of messages repeatedly, along with anything that is added as the conversation moves along.

In Outlook, there is a way to get rid of all the duplicated messages, without losing any vital information. As an added benefit,removing the duplicate messages cuts down on the amount of space being taken up in your Outlook account.

To Clean Up your Outlook folders, follow these steps:

  1. Select the Outlook folder you wish to clean up
  2. Click the Folder tab, and in the Clean Up group, click the drop-down menu for Clean Up Folder
  3. If your folder has no subfolders, select Clean Up Folder; if it does, then select Clean Up Folder & Subfolders.

You can choose a subfolder to do only the one folder, if that is what you need. You can also right-click on any folder and select Clean Up Folder, as this does the same thing, to only to this selected folder.

Cleaning up your folders is a quick and simple trick that can make it much simpler to find that much needed email, without having to search through a ton of them.

Learn more ways to clean up and simplify your life with Outlook with a class from Mission Critical Training.

Removing Duplicate Rows of Information in Excel

When we are working with many rows of data, it would be time consuming to scroll through all the data to see if there are duplicate rows of information. Luckily for us, Excel has a built-in duplicate remover.

To use this functionality, we need to make sure we select a cell within the data.  Excel will select all the data it needs to check, based on the cell you select when you start the process. Also, ensure that your data has column headers, wherever possible, as it will make the process a little easier.

If there are any rows or columns of information missing, it can mess up the process. Missing cells of information here and there will not mess up the process.

Once you are ready to start, follow these steps:

  1. Click the Data tab
  2. In the Data Tools group, click Remove Duplicates
  3. A dialog box will open with a selection of columns to choose from when comparing for duplicates Best practice is to keep all columns selected, as this will only delete true duplicates. However, it is not required to keep all columns selected to run the functionality
  4. Once you are ready, click OK. A dialog box will pop-up, stating how many duplicates were deleted
  5. Click OK again to finish

If for some reason you need to undo this process, click the Undo icon in your Quick Access Toolbar to undo the process.    If you click Save before you undo this process,  the duplicate information cannot be brought back.

It is a good practice to clean up your data, before you start printing reports or manipulating your data.

Mission Critical Training can teach your more best practices and effort-saving tips with a class in Excel.

Lunch and Learn

Mission Critical Training is ready to help you empower your lunch hour!

We are now offering a Lunch and Learn program, designed for companies and working employees, covering a variety of relevant topics. These “working lunches” are held via webinar or at one of our training facilities.

Each session is $59, and open to the public. However, if you have taken one of our half-day or longer classes, within six months of the Lunch and Learn, you can get in on one Power Lunch free of charge! If you do qualify for a free Lunch and Learn, please contact our sales department (303-900-0850 in Colorado and 602-955-7787 in Arizona, or email us at to sign up.

Please check our website for a full calendar of MCT training courses.

What is the best practice for folders in SharePoint?

There are many articles on the internet about folder best practices, but there are few that are actually accurate in their assessment. This is mostly due to the idea that a folder structure is the ideal way to build out a SharePoint site. Keep in mind, the reason a company moves from a shared drive to SharePoint is because employees find it hard to use, both in organizing and finding documents. So why would you rebuild the same structure somewhere else? When making the move from a shared drive, the new platform should be structured to keep employee frustration to a minimum and documents from being saved on employee computers.

A folder structure presents problematic organization, such as documents with so many versions that it is impossible to know if the document being edited is the latest and greatest, too many folder separations for documents, or remembering where to find documents you need to edit. SharePoint allows us to change the way we find and save documents, with an incredible amount of extra functionality not available on shared drives. For us to get this functionality, we need to avoid folder norms, and create a better structure.

Best practice for folders is to only use them for security purposes (permissions), so that documents that need to be seen only by authorized users are kept that way. This, in conjunction with metadata, makes for being able to quickly find anything with a few clicks, instead of drilling down through too many folders, only to find you went the wrong way. There are exceptions to the rule, but they are far and few between.

When building libraries in SharePoint, the command for adding folders should not be available to anyone outside of the company power users that are building the libraries, as users will add folders regularly, if given the chance. Once the folders are set, for security purposes, the folder command should be turned off, as it is available by default in newly created libraries. Check out this video on how to turn off the folder command in a SharePoint library:

Learn more SharePoint techniques and best practices with a class from Mission Critical Training.

Expanding and editing images for the most impact on your slide in PowerPoint

Most PowerPoint slides follow this pattern: A title across the top, bulleted text on the left. and an image on the right.  However, we are visual people.  So if you really want to make your slides impactful and memorable, make the image the size of the entire slide.  Have the image be the background with your text on top.

Sometimes it is hard to find the right image that has a place with less dense color, so that your text will display over it.  In this video we will look at how to set up a slide with an image in the background and the text on top, as well as some tricks to make it look good, including how to layer your content so your text is visible on top of the image, and how to edit your image so that your text displays, in an area that is easier to read in order to not conflict with your image.  Even if you don’t find the perfect image that will work with text, we will show you a trick to edit it to work the way you need it to.

To learn more about working with Images in PowerPoint, Mission Critical Training’s Presenting PowerPoint Intermediate class covers all of the techniques to create slides that will Wow when giving your presentation.  Learn how to find the right images, special editing effects, and tricks for using PowerPoint during your presentations.

Copy and Paste Only Values in Excel

If your Excel workbook uses many formulas to display report data for managers or supervisors, and you need to give them only the report worksheet, you can copy just the values of that worksheet and leave all the formulas behind with a special paste. This can be done in a brand new workbook as easily as it can be done in the workbook you have open. Let’s walk through the steps to copy our values into another workbook.

  1. Open the workbook with the worksheet you need to copy, and make that worksheet active by clicking on the worksheet tab. (For our example, we are going to use our Equipment List worksheet from our Functions and Formulas class.) 
  2. Click the square to the right of column A, which is used for selecting the entire worksheet.
  3. Press Ctrl + C to copy everything on the worksheet.
  4. Open a new workbook.
  5. Once the new workbook opens, cell A1 will be the default cell selected.
  6. Click the Paste drop-down menu, in the Clipboard group of the Home tab, and hover on the Values icon in the menu.
  7. Note that these icons in this menu are live galleries and show you what will paste in the cells, before you click the option.
  8. Click the Values icon and the values from the other workbook will populate.
  9. Click into any of the cells and note that only the values copied from the other workbook.
  10. This new file can be sent to your manager or supervisor with no link to the original workbook, allowing them to play with the data while not altering the original workbook.

Learn more ways to power up your spreadsheets with an Excel class from Mission Critical Training.

Creating Section Groups in OneNote

Creating multiple notebooks can help keep work, school, or personal information separate, but is it really necessary to create a new notebook every time you have a new project for work or other information that needs to be separated out?

Section Groups act like a whole new space within the notebook, allowing a user to feel like it is a separate area. Once in the new Section Group, there is always a way back to the main area, or other Section Groups, making navigation never feel like a burden.

Within these Section Groups, a user can add sections and pages, as usual. The difference is that new sections and pages are not mixed with a mess of miscellaneous information, as the Section Groups can be added at any level. Organization, being key to keeping everything running smoothly, is a breeze: There are multiple ways to find what you are looking for, without drilling down through the different levels (a tip for another time).

Watch this video to find out how to add/build Section Groups.

OneNote training is available as a private course. Contact Mission Critical Training to schedule your organization’s private group training!

Custom Bullet Points in Word

Customizing a bullet point can be fun and useful, bringing more attention to important information. As with anything new, using this method to bring attention to information takes a little time to get others in sync with you. However, once it catches on, it can help people understand what is a priority, when it comes to various task lists, or more importantly, when it comes to vital information needed for a project or job.

Let’s take a look at how to create a custom bullet point.

  1. Create four lines of text, to be used with the bullet points
  2. Highlight the four lines of text, and click the drop-down arrow for the Bulleted List,  located in the Paragraph group, in the Home tab of the ribbon
  3. Click Define New Bullet at the bottom of the menu
  4. Click the Symbol button – This will bring up a dialog box for all available symbols 
  5. Click the drop-down menu for the Fonts symbols menu, and select Wingdings, towards the bottom of the menu 
  6. Select a symbol that will stand out, and click OK twice
  7. Your bullets will change over to the new bullet shape 

If you return to the Define New Bullet dialog box, note there is a selection to use pictures as bullet points. This is a fun way to use company logos as bullet points, but keep in mind that some pictures do not display well as bullet points. 

For more tips and tricks in Word, sign up for a class from Mission Critical Training in Denver or Phoenix!