The best Microsoft Excel and Word add-ins for iPad

These extra tools give your spreadsheets and documents even greater capability when working on the iPad.

Office plug-ins, Ipad
ITworld/Derek Walter

Office add-ins increase what you can do with Word and Excel

Microsoft Office add-ins have long been a great method for extending the functionality of Excel and Word files. Recently, Microsoft brought some of these capabilities with add-ins specifically built for some of the company’s iPad apps.

These new add-ons are accessible from the ribbon and feature writing aides, data analysis tools, and research helpers. If you want to see all that Microsoft offers, head to the Insert tab in Word or Excel and then touch Add-ins. There’s a short write up about the add-in’s capabilities and then a “Trust it” button if you want to give it a go. We’ve pulled together some of the more useful add-ins that will bring some refinement to your Office Word and Excel files when working on an iPad. Such tools help bridge the gap between Office’s capabilities on iOS when compared to the desktop.

Wikipedia, Word
ITworld/Derek Walter

Wikipedia (Word, Excel)

When you need a quick background dive into a subject, Wikipedia is still the best solution. With this add-in you’re able to look up any topic in the online encyclopedia right from inside your Word or Excel file.

This can be a faster method for conducting quick research about a background subject you want to reference, rather than jumping over to the browser. Additionally, staying in Word can be the right choice to keep you on task instead of falling into the sinkhole of the Internet.

Excel, Bing, Maps
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Bing Maps (Excel)

Sometimes a map says a lot more about your content than a description or data set. This add-in allows you to embed a Bing Map inside of your Word or Excel file, which I’ve found to be useful if the content is about a location not everyone might be familiar with. While Bing Maps isn’t as powerful or detailed as what Google offers, it works for this use case to give the reader some more context about the region of the world being discussed.

Word, Bing, Dictionary
ITworld/Derek Walter

Bing Dictionary (Word, Excel)

Perhaps you want to use some more elaborate vocabulary before firing off that letter to your colleagues. If so, then try out the Bing Dictionary. Along with giving you the definition for any word you put in the search bar, it functions as a thesaurus.

You also get some sample sentences that suggest the proper context for their usage. It’s a great writing tool that can help you out when struggling to find the right word or describing an idea in a different way.

People in chart
ITworld/Derek Walter

People Graph (Excel)

The People graph is a good plugin for comparing three or more different sets of data. For example, if you’ve produced a survey about user app preferences or feature requests a graph gives a more visual presentation of the results.

To use this add-in, you select which columns in your spreadsheet to output to the graph. There are then several tweaks for the color and overall look so you can give it the right amount of flair.

Bubbles
ITworld/Derek Walter

Bubbles (Excel)

Almost everyone likes bubbles. They're happy, nonthreatening, and make for a great way to illustrate your data. With the bubbles add-in you select an existing table in your spread sheet, and then the bubbles add-in will convert that into a more visual presentation. 

If you want an eye-popping graphic that will bring your data to life, the Bubbles add-in is a great option. 

Stocks
ITworld/Derek Walter

Stock tiles (Excel)

This add-in is only going to be useful if stocks are somehow part of your research or presentation. However, the implementation is rather clever and worth highlighting. You can add in any number of boxes and select a stock. The box will highlight the current price and whether it jumped up or down in value that day. The green and red boxes indicate, as you may suspect, which direction the stocks' value went.

Translation
ITworld/Derek Walter

Translator (Word)

Bing's translation powers are rather strong. Instead of pasting the contents of a document into the browser or another program to change some of the content into another language, just use this tool instead. 

Symbols
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Symbols and Special Characters (Excel, Word)

This is a great tool for quickly adding any type of symbol or other character that isn't easily discoverable on the Apple or third-party keyboard. The best way to find items is to use the free search menu - just type in what you're trying to find and you're most likely to locate the appropriate symbol. 

Videos

Video player (Exel)

You don't usually think of videos when working with spreadsheets. But Microsoft saw fit to include a web player that will crank out YouTube or Vimeo videos inside of your file. Perhaps you may want to add a little humor or embed a presentation into your spreadsheet. To do so, just click the link to your preferred video service and search for something that you want to play.

Histogram
ITworld/Derek Walter

Histogram (Excel)

Sometimes you just need a histogram to illustrate the change in data over time. The histrogram add-in will help you do this, though it does require some precise tapping and selection of columns to get the right data to import. However, with some patience you can produce a rather good-looking chart that will look like you spent a lot more time on it than just a few minutes from your iPad.