One of the essential skills for the modern, savvy Assistant is how to create fabulous-looking professional documents in Microsoft Word.

There are so many different document types used in business today. These include business letters, reports, newsletters, white papers, invoices, brochures, CVs and resumes, catalogues, flyers, research papers, cover letters, contracts, menus, lead magnets and E-books.

It is more important than ever that VAs, PAs and EAs have Word Skills Mastery, so they can take on different document creation, editing and co-authoring tasks.

Here are ways Assistants can make the most of Microsoft Word to put together professional-looking documents with more efficiency, speed and ease.

Developing Brand Consistency by Formatting and Customising Documents in Word

Whether it is for your own business or somebody else’s, establishing and maintaining brand consistency is important.

It creates that strong first impression, shows you are professional and demonstrates the value you bring to your work.

To be able to deliver on that, the savvy Assistant needs to know the ins and outs of formatting and customising documents for brand consistency. The more efficiently you can do that, the more you get done in less time.

It is important to use formatting because it makes documents more accessible, creates a good impression on the reader or recipient, and adds a professional look and feel to it all. You can change the text, paragraphs and whole documents swiftly in Word.

There is usually no need to create something from scratch because Microsoft Word has bult-in templates for common types of document.

The savvy Assistant will already know about Styles and how to apply these preset combinations of font style, colour and font size to selected text in the document: titles, headings, subheadings and quotations, for example.

Another time-saving function within Word is Themes. This allows you to create a consistent look in one place, coordinating a suitable combination of colours and font styles for the document you’re looking to create.

Not quite happy with the templates or themes provided? No need to worry. You can create custom templates and custom themes – and then save them to use again another time.

It’s all about mastering the art of formatting in Word to make your life easier – and to serve your clients or bosses better.

Enhancing Microsoft Word Documents with Templates and Themes

As I introduced above, using Templates and Themes in Word is a smart way to save time on tasks – and to give documents more visual appeal and greater accessibility.

In essence, Microsoft has done the essential formatting for you. The leg work is done for you. You spend more time on refinement than starting from scratch.

Templates can help you with business letters, reports, newsletters, brochures, research papers, cover letters, catalogues, menus and more.

The process is simple. Choose a template, customise the template, review the result. If you are co-authoring or collaborating on a document with others, you can share a document, refine it co-creatively and revise to create the best version possible.

The template is your starting point, your framework for building on. Change the page layout, reshape the text. Add images, charts, tables or graphics.

Themes can then be used to add some vibrancy and ‘personality’ to a document, especially where a more creative approach is justified.

Using Templates and Themes to enhance Microsoft Word documents is a good move for the savvy Assistant who wants to do more in less time.

It gives you something to create a ‘ready-made’ document, or to play with and experiment with the look and feel of a document. Over time, you will build up a folder of template documents – all ready to use whenever you need them.

If you’re using certain types of documents on a regular basis, it makes sense to make the most of Templates and Themes in Word. Why waste time on work that’s already been done for you?

The Value of Collaborating Effectively on Microsoft Word Documents

Microsoft is on a mission to make it easier for teams to work more productively and work together more efficiently.

The introduction of the Microsoft Teams ecosystem is at the heart of that drive. It allows people to collaborate effectively on Word documents, in real-time together or co-creating bit by bit.

A collaborative approach to document creation helps to create the best possible version. It encourages efficiency, creativity and for different perspectives to be taken into account.

Co-authoring in Word is easy. Simply share the document you’re working on with the people you want to help with putting it together, or with people who are going to review it before a final decision.

Everyone can work on the same document at the same time. Make changes, add comments, ask questions. Every change, tweak or suggestion can be tracked. You can even point specific people to an aspect of the document or give them a task – simply by mentioning their name.

Microsoft Word allows the savvy Assistant to keep a record of each iteration of the document, or version history.

The application also has some neat tools for researching words, editing the grammar and spelling into good shape, and offering suggestions for revisions.

Not forgetting, of course, that Word gives you the option to program the AI-driven Copilot function to create some starter text for you to work on and improve.

Keeping Your Microsoft Word Documents Secure with Password Protection and Permissions

Today’s savvy Assistant understands the importance of confidentiality, data security and how to handle sensitive information.

It is not just a matter of professional courtesy. It’s a matter of keeping within the law and avoiding the negative consequences of getting it wrong. The smart VA, PA or EA will keep their laptop and other office devices safe, and may even consider taking out professional indemnity cover.

In terms of working with confidentiality with Microsoft Word, it’s about securing documents with password protection and permissions.

Passwords allow you to encrypt a Word document so only somebody with access to that password can open that document. It’s also a way to restrict who can edit and work on a document.

When using passwords, it’s important to ensure each password is strong. Otherwise it defeats the object of having one.

The savvy Assistant can manage how a document is viewed or used, either open as a ‘read only’ document or available for editing or co-authoring. You decide what is protected and how it is protected.

Building security into everything you do with Microsoft Word is not just a ‘nice to have’ but an essential part of your practice as a VA, PA or EA.

Microsoft Word – The Essential Office Tool for Creating Great Documents

Microsoft Word is one of the most popular applications in use around offices globally today. And it’s not hard to understand why.

Word makes creating, editing and collaborating on documents a very simple task. Preset Templates, Themes and Styles provide a framework to quickly build the content, look and feel of a range of documents for business.

The savvy Assistant will do well to ensure they have Microsoft Word Skills Mastery to make light work of creating professional documents every time.

What are you doing to make sure that your documents are sparkly?

Shelley Fishel

I find Shelley’s training easy to follow and the very best thing is that you can do it all at your own pace and revisit modules if it doesn’t quite sink in the first time round! I have learned so much from her training and continue to do so! She is responsive to my questions and I learn something new with each module. I find Iam hardly ever having to Google or YouTube information now, so it really is saving me time in my work day. Time that can be better used by learning more about the business I operate in!
Thanks Shelley!

Tracey Whitehouse – Executive Assistant

I have been following Shelley on Linkedin for several years, and always loved her hints and tips. In May of this year, I had the opportunity to recommend Shelley as one of our workshop speakers at the annual HMC Heads’ PA Conference in Sheffield.

On receiving the brief Shelley quickly produced content for two IT Microsoft Skills Workshops covering nuggets from Outlook, Word and Excel. Shelley then delivered (virtually) these two fantastic workshops to over 60 PAs at our conference.

From initial enquiry to delivery Shelley is the consummate professional and it was my pleasure to have had the opportunity to engage with her.

I would have no hesitation in recommending Shelley to any individual or group.

Michaela Fletcher – Heads PA

Shelley is THE guru on all things Microsoft.

I love Outlook, use it every day, and think I have a pretty good understanding of it. But every time I attend one of her sessions I learn a lot more. Her knowledge is remarkable. And she delivers her knowledge in a really clear, engaging way.

Thanks Shelley

Kathy Soulsby

I have just spent less than an hour at one of Shelley’s presentations and my mind is truly blown! I thought I was fairly proficient in Outlook, but I had no idea it could do so much more! So many time saving tips and shortcuts to help me – I can’t wait to get stuck in and implement them all! Thank you Shelley – I would highly recommend!

Hayley Rose – Executive Assistant -Dalcour Maclaren

Shelley joined us for the annual HMC Heads’ PAs conference in May 2023, where she delivered two hands-on practical IT skills workshops for over 60 PAs in attendance. Both sessions were warmly received by all participants, and from a personal perspective it was an absolute pleasure for me to work with Shelley both offline in the extensive prep phase ahead of the sessions, and online during the day itself – sharp in subject knowledge, flexible in content delivery and everything executed with a really affable manner and “can-do” approach throughout. I would recommend her services wholeheartedly.

Gareth Johnson – Leader GRE Education

Heads PA Conference

The session was well structured and the explanation was very clear. It was amazing how Shelley managed to squeeze so much info in just one hour and a half! Colin’s support and contributions were also very valuable, and so were “Virtual Veronica”‘s. Thank you for a most interesting and useful training session at the Miss Jones Virtual Summit!

Laura Carizzo- Royal Norwegian Embassy in Argentina

I haven’t used PowerPoint in 20 years, this has really boosted my confidence.

Lyn Parker

Course is packed with so much valuable information in a easy-to-understand and follow language, even for a complete beginner. I can respect the fact that sometimes it’s very hard for an expert to break the information down to basics. but Shelley has done it brilliantly. I was sure that I knew quite a bit but Shelley has proven me wrong even at the very beginning of the basics of PowerPoint. Lessons are short and precise which allowed me to easily transfer the new skill into practice without being overwhelmed and to carry on adding on more with each lesson. I had so many ‘Aha!’ moments and for most of them I couldn’t believe I used to pay graphic designer to do it for me, now, thanks to Shelley, I am looking forward to creating, designing, converting my presentations all by myself!

Iva Freeman – Vertex Human Capital

Shelley was very thorough and knew a lot of tip’s for using Teams, thank you 🙂

James O’Connor – Cavannah Homes

Very informative, constantly getting everyone in the meeting involved, loved every bit of it!

Dylan Teal Hopkins – Cavannah Homes
Fantastic and informative training and great to see all of the exciting functions with Microsoft Teams.
Laura Rigby – The Apprenticeship College
Shelley was really clear in her teaching and went at a pace that was helpful to us. We covered all we needed to know to get us started, as a small team, using MS Teams. She was also very helpful in the run up to the session, with check in calls and ensuring our platform was set up correctly. I would highly recommend Shelley to anyone wanting to learn to navigate their way around MS Teams.
Leigh Dowling – Innuous

Microsoft Teams One to One Training Session

Shelley was approachable, easy to work with, and agile with answering questions to apply the session to my specific needs

Melissa Marshall – Present Your Science

A course on Outlook had been on the top of my list when Shelley asked VA’s what they wanted to learn. It was a real case of ‘so that’s how you do it’ or ‘I never knew that’. I have to say that I learnt so many great tips it has definitely improved the way I work in Outlook and my inbox is looking colourful and organised and I can’t wait to share this knowledge with my clients.

Jacqueline Leake – JLeake VA Services – Outlook

A great course with lots of examples and step by step instructions. I can now confidently create infographics and as a bonus, I learnt a lot of new PowerPoint functionality that will enhance all my PowerPoint work and save me so much time.

Jessica Bailey – Integral Resource

I really like Shelley’s courses. She has a clear and easy to follow teaching style. In ‘How to Create Fillable Forms’ I’ve learned about the functions of the Developer ribbon which will mean I’ll be able to create a bespoke Returns Form for a client who has an online shop

Freya Henderson – Virtual Office Orkney