Microsoft Excel and Word 2013 best add-ons

We look at some of the most useful Office 'apps' available for Excel and Word 2013

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For some reason, Microsoft has taken to calling the mini-programs that you can install into their Office applications 'apps'. Functionally, though, most of these are similar to web browser add-ons - in the sense that they add to or enhance the feature set of the main program. Here are the most useful ones for the latest versions of Excel and Word.

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For some reason, Microsoft has taken to calling the mini-programs that you can install into their Office applications 'apps'. Functionally, though, most of these are similar to web browser add-ons - in the sense that they add to or enhance the feature set of the main program. Here are the most useful ones for the latest versions of Excel and Word.

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Britannica Researcher for Word 2013

This official app provides access to the online version of Encyclopedia Britannica. With it, you can search through over 80,000 article entries in the Britannica library, and view their respective images. You can even insert these images, and citations and references, into your document.

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Bubbles for Excel 2013

This app takes selected data in your spreadsheet and represents it in a chart as bubbles - the size and colour of each is based on the number of times a certain value appears. Data from two tables can be “bubbled” so you can compare their differences with this whimsical model.

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Gliffy Diagrams for Word 2013

If you don’t have Visio, here’s an alternative. This toolset lets you design flowcharts, mind maps, organisational charts, and other diagrams. Paid options are available offering extras like larger storage space in the cloud, and more shape libraries. But you can still use the app for free to create an unlimited number of graphics.

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Gauge for Excel 2013

This app is exactly what its name implies - a chart graphic that displays what looks like a gauge. Imagine embedding a virtual tire pressure gauge into your spreadsheet to get a reading on whether sets of values are “too low” or “too high.”

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Geographic Heat Map for Excel 2013

A model that takes selected values in your spreadsheet that are based on location and generates a map showing their ranges for corresponding regions of it in various colors. The current version features a map of the United States.

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Lucidchart for Word 2013

Like Gliffy Diagrams, Lucidchart is another option for easily and quickly making flowcharts and other such process diagrams within Word 2013. It’s a free service that also offers paid plans where you get additional features that include larger online storage and more shape libraries.

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Merriam-Webster Dictionary for Excel 2013 and Word 2013

Microsoft offers its own Bing-branded dictionary app for Office 2013, but an appealing alternative is by one of the respected names in the dictionary biz. With the official Merriam-Webster app installed, you can right-click on a word and choose “Define,” and a definition entry for it will appear in a panel to the right of the Excel 2013 or Word 2013 application window.

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Mini Calendar and Date Picker for Excel 2013

This app lets you embed a mini calendar into your spreadsheet that will make it easier for you or others to select a date to enter into the spreadsheet. The calendar can be customized to highlight specific dates, given different theme colours, or resized.

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Radial Bar Chart for Excel 2013

Another colourful chart generator by the author of Geographic Heat Map, this model takes your spreadsheet’s selected values and creates what is essentially a horizontal bar chart that is curved into a circular rainbow graphic.

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TaskIt for Word 2013

TaskIt is a basic to-do list app that runs alongside Word 2013. Just enter into its textbox a simple description for a task you need to do, adding more one-by-one to build a list of them. Then click the checkmark box beside each task after you actually complete it.

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WordCalc for Word 2013

Here’s a tool that could be helpful if you are going over math formulas in documents. You can select a mathematical expression in a document or manually enter one into this app’s textbox, and its answer/resulting value will be shown.

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WordCloud for Word 2013

This app turns your text document into a tech-marketing and typography cliche: a “word cloud” where certain words that the app determines are most significant are displayed larger than others. Supposedly, if you put your document online, these words are latched on to the most by search engines and used as keywords.

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Suite of Excel 2013 feature enhancements by Tyrant Ventures

Tyrant Ventures has developed five apps that add new functionality to Excel 2013, so we grouped them into one. Together they can help ease editing and re-formatting spreadsheets that may not have been created originally on Excel 2013. The suite includes Change Case, which lets you easily change the letters in selected cells to app caps, lower case or proper case.

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