What Is MS Office? (Plus Other Helpful FAQs To Review)

Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 7 November 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Microsoft Office contains a valuable set of tools that professionals can use to send emails, create documents, make spreadsheets and complete other tasks. Many jobs also require their employees to have knowledge of MS Office. If you work in a professional setting, it is important to understand how to use MS Office to complete your job duties. In this article, we explain what MS Office is, and we provide the answers to several frequently asked questions related to MS Office applications.

What Is MS Office?

MS Office, which stands for Microsoft Office, is a set of software applications developed by Microsoft. MS Office includes many applications that all have different functions related to office productivity. People in many different industries use MS Office to complete their job responsibilities, as its specific applications are useful for many specific job tasks.

Related: An In-Depth Guide to Professionalism

What Is MS Office Used For?

There are many uses for MS Office in professional settings. Often, professionals use MS Office to complete tasks like creating documents, writing emails and making spreadsheets. People can also use a personal MS Office license to complete personal tasks like:

  • Writing and responding to emails

  • Creating lists and other documents

  • Creating budget spreadsheets

  • Taking digital notes

What Types Of MS Office Are There?

MS Office is comprised of several different applications that have different functions. Some of the most popular applications included in MS Office are:

MS Word

MS Word is a word processing tool that you can use to create and edit documents. MS Word is used widely across different industries to write memos, reports, articles and other textual documents. Many professionals use MS Word, including writers, editors and academics. When you create a document with MS Word, it uses the .doc file extension. You can also use MS Word to:

  • Design document templates

  • Creating resumes and resume templates

  • Write papers and articles

  • Fill out forms

  • Create posters and other graphics

  • Editing written documents and adding comments

  • Creating documents from templates

  • Sharing documents and working collaboratively

Related: Business Memo Format and Samples

MS PowerPoint

MS PowerPoint is a software application that professionals can use to create presentation slides. MS PowerPoint is useful for many people who give presentations as part of their jobs, including professors, college students, financial analysts, marketers and many other professionals.

You can add videos, audio, images, text and other components to design engaging presentations, which use the .ppt file extension. You can customise your presentation slides to match your company's branding by including different font choices, colours and logos. You can also use the presentation view function to project your presentation slides to an audience while keeping your speaker notes private. Some additional uses of PowerPoint include:

  • Using pre-made templates to create professional-grade presentations

  • Design your own custom presentation slides from scratch

  • Incorporating transitions and animations to make presentations visually engaging

  • Share presentations and collaborate with other people

MS Excel

MS Excel is a spreadsheet tool widely used in many career fields. Many professionals, especially people who work in finance and data analysis, use MS Excel to organise and analyse data. You can use spreadsheets to make calculations using Excel shortcuts, which are key combinations that can help you complete tasks quickly. You can also use Excel to:

  • Create your own custom spreadsheets from scratch

  • Use Excel spreadsheet templates to create documents like budgets and schedules

  • Use the auto-fill feature to fill columns with information quickly

  • Perform large calculations quickly with formulas

In addition to spreadsheets, you can also use Excel to create tables, charts and other visualisations. Excel files use the .xls file extension.

Related: Types of Graphs and Charts

MS Outlook

MS Outlook is a software application that you can use for many information management tasks, including:

  • Sending and receiving emails

  • Keeping track of tasks

  • Managing your contacts

  • Managing your calendar

MS Outlook uses the .pst extension. Professionals in many fields can benefit from learning MS Outlook, as it can allow you to perform essential job duties like scheduling and communicating with other people.

Related: How To Write and Properly Format Business Email Messages

MS Access

MS Access is a type of database management system (DBMS). A DBMS is a software application that you can use to connect with databases to retrieve and manipulate data. In MS Access, which uses the .accdb file extension, you can convert data into reports, tables and other formats. Knowing how to use MS Access is a valuable career skill for people who work with data, including data scientists and data analysts. You can also use MS Access to:

  • Create databases

  • Sort data

  • Write queries

  • Analyse data

MS Access is also compatible with SQL. SQL, which stands for Structured Query Language, is the standard language that data professionals use to communicate with databases. Because MS Access works with this language, it makes it an even more valuable tool for people who work with data.

MS OneNote

MS OneNote is an application that you can use to take notes and organise them in a digital notebook. For some people, this is more efficient than taking notes using a pen and paper. In this application, you can add visual elements to your notes, including images and charts. You can also access your notes both online and offline. OneNote files use the .one file extension. Some additional uses of OneNote include:

  • Create sketches to add to notes

  • Organise note files into different notebooks

  • Record audio to add to notes

  • Access and edit notes on multiple devices

  • Share notes and collaborate with others

Learning how to use OneNote is especially useful if your company uses it for collaborative work. OneNote can also be useful for professionals to capture their ideas quickly and to take notes during meetings.

Should You Put MS Office On Your Resume?

Many professionals are curious about whether they should list their MS Office skills on their resumes. For many positions, it's a good idea to list these skills on your resume to show potential employers that you're qualified.

You can focus on including the applications that directly relate to the position you're applying for. For example, if you are applying for a financial analyst position, it makes sense to include your Excel proficiency on your resume, as many finance professionals use Excel to process financial data. If you are applying for a database administrator position, it is more valuable to list Access on your resume, as it is a database management application.

How Should You Include MS Office Skills On Your Resume?

You can include MS Office skills in the skills section of your resume and your professional summary. You can detail specific skills you have with each application, or you can simply list the application itself as a skill. For example, if you are skilled with MS Access, you could list SQL and query writing as your specific skills. You can also include your level of proficiency on your resume to describe how well you know each application. You can use these terms to describe your level of proficiency:

  • Fundamental: Having a fundamental level of proficiency means that you have some experience working with essential functions of the application.

  • Basic: A basic level of proficiency indicates that you understand and can use the software, but you may not know how to use advanced functions.

  • Proficient: The term proficient means that you have a moderate level of knowledge of the application, meaning you know how to use different functions to complete different tasks.

  • Intermediate: An intermediate level of proficiency means that you have extensive experience with the application, but you don't know how to use all the advanced features.

  • Advanced: An advanced level of proficiency means you can use the applications' advanced features to complete complex tasks.

How Can You Learn MS Office?

There are many paths you can take to learn how to use MS Office applications. Many university students learn how to use these applications in their classes. You can also develop your MS Office skills by reading books or taking self-guided online classes. Be sure to practise what you're learning so you know how to use different functions of the applications in real-world settings. Furthermore, try to focus on the applications that make the most sense to learn for your specific career field.

You can also pursue MS Office certifications. This can give you formal training to include on your resume. There are many MS Office certifications for different applications, and you can choose the ones most relevant to you.

Please note that none of the companies, institutions or organisations mentioned in this article are associated with Indeed.


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