Beneath the Christmas tree there is a bumper crop of presents from the various applications of Microsoft Office, all of which come in matching wrapping paper that is emblazoned with our old favourite Clippit in a Santa beard. So let's get opening.

Create a signature in Outlook
In Outlook select Tool/Options, and click on the Mail Format tab. Click the Signature Picker and then New. Give your new signature a name. This is for when you have multiple signatures for different mails. For example, a signature that contains a message asking if it is necessary to print the email off may be called 'Green', and so on. Type in your signature, usually your name and contact details, but anything goes. Click OK and you need never type your name at the bottom of an email again.

Turn off the spell checker in Word
Those squiggly lines that appear under mis-spelt or unrecognised words can be of great assistance in weeding out errors, but they can also be something of an annoyance. Words such as the names and nicknames of people, jargon, abbreviations and many place names don't get past the all-seeing eye of the spell checker and, if you are writing a piece that contains a lot of these words then the resulting document can end up resembling a psychedelic wormery. In these instances it may be as well to disable the spell checker completely.

To do this in pre-2007 versions of Word, go to Tools/Options and from the dialog box click the Spelling or Spelling & Grammar tab. From the list that appears, uncheck the box that says either Automatic Spell Checking or Check Spelling As You Type. Click OK and say goodbye to those squiggles.

In Word 2007 you should click the Office button and choose Word Options. On the left of the dialog box that appears, click Proofing and uncheck the Check Spelling As You Type box. Click OK.

Obviously, to turn the spell checker back on you simply recheck the boxes you unchecked to turn it off. While you will now be free of the distraction of mass underlining, you can still perform a spell check simply by pressing F7.

Apply a check box in Excel
This clever little tip places a check box on the Excel worksheet and a designated cell displays the outcome of clicking that box.

Go to View/Toolbars/Forms. Click on the Check Box tool. You will see that the cursor changes to a cross. Drag a rectangle out and you will see the check box appear inside, with a label next to it - this label can be changed to anything you wish.

While the check box rectangle is still selected, return to the Forms toolbar and click the Control Properties tool. This will bring up the Format Control dialog box. Select the Control tab and in the Cell Link field type in the location of the cell you want the check box to be linked to. Click OK.

If you check or uncheck the box you will see the changes reflected in the cell you linked the check box to. However, if you were to change the typing in the linked cell, the box will be checked or unchecked accordingly - it is a two-way-street. If this all seems a little complicated and confusing I suggest you follow the instructions and then experiment with the check box and the linked cell. It will soon become clear how it works.

Enrolling on a training course would open your eyes to a whole world of similar tricks and tips from Microsoft Office. It only remains for me to wish you all a very merry Christmas.