Office XP Basics: Help Features in Office XP

Lesson 14: Help Features in Office XP



By the end of this lesson, you should be able to:

  • Use the Office Assistant
  • Use Microsoft Help
  • Access Office on the Web

Getting help in Office XP

When working in an Office XP program, you may have questions. Fortunately, Office XP provides several ways to get the answers you need.

Each of these methods can be helpful, depending on the type of question you have.

To explore Office XP's Help options:
  • Choose Help from the menu bar (F1).

Word 2002's Help menu

Office XP's Help provides help for each of its programs. For example, if you are using Word 2002 then Microsoft Word Help is the first option in the Help menu. If you are using Excel 2002, Microsoft Excel Help is the first option in the Help menu.

The Office Assistant

The Office Assistant, or Clippit, looks like a cartoon paperclip. It answers questions about Office XP programs.

Office Assistant

To display the Office Assistant:
  • If the Office Assistant doesn't show up on your screen by default, choose HelpShow the Office Assistant (F1).


  • Click the Help button on the Standard toolbar. Help button
To Hide the Office Assistant:
  • Choose HelpHide the Office Assistant.


  • Right-click the Office Assistant and choose Hide.

Using the Office Assistant

When you click the Office Assistant, a dialog box appears.

To use the Office Assistant:
  • Click the Office Assistant.
  • Type your question in the dialog box, then click Search.

A question typed into the Office Assistant's dialog box


  • Choose a helpful suggestion, or click See More...
  • When you click a helpful suggestion or search button, a Help window pops up on the right side of the screen, listing topics related to your question.
  • Click a subtopic you hope will give you the answer you want.
  • Click the close button in the upper-right corner to close the Help window.

Office Assistant responding to a question

If the Office Assistant is in your way, you can click and drag it to a new location on the screen.

More Help options: Contents, Answer Wizard, and Index

What do you do if the Office Assistant doesn't display the answer you're looking for?

Open the Answer Wizard:
  • With the Office Assistant open, click the Show button. Show button
  • The Contents, Answer Wizard, and Index tabs appear.

Answer Wizard

  • Type your question in the box, then click Search.
  • A list of topics displays. Select a topic to display. The explanation displays in the right-hand window.
If you're still having difficulty:
  • Click Search on Web.
  • Here, you can include more information to Microsoft. Then click Send and go to Web.


  • Click the Contents tab.
  • Click a topic.
  • Choose a subtopic.
  • The explanation displays in the right-hand window.

Contents tab


  • Click the Index tab.
  • Type a keyword or double-click a keyword.
  • The topic(s) will display in the Choose a topic box.
  • Click a topic. The explanation displays in the right-hand window.

Index tab

More Help options: Ask a Question box

You can also get help while you're working.

  • Type a question in the Ask a Question box on the menu bar.

Ask A Question box


  • Open the new task pane and click the Microsoft Help link.

Microsoft Word Help link

More Help options: What's This?

The What's This? command lets you point at any icon on the screen to have Office 2000 display a short description explaining the function of that particular icon.

To use the What's This? command:
  • Choose HelpWhat's This? (Shift+F1).
  • A question mark appears next to the mouse pointer.
  • Move the mouse pointer over a menu command or toolbar button.
  • A tooltip displays.

What's This tooltip

  • Left-click to display a note providing a brief explanation.

What's This brief explanation

  • To make the What's This? note disappear, click anywhere outside the note, then press Esc or any other key.

More Help options: Office on the Web

This option provides you with the latest in Microsoft help. News, tips, software updates, patches, and bug fixes are all available online at the Microsoft Office Assistance Center.

When you choose this option, Office XP starts your Internet browser and immediately loads the webpage. To use this option, you must have an Internet connection and account.

To use Office on the Web:
  • Choose HelpOffice on the Web.

Microsoft Office Assistance Center

Browse the pages until you find the information you need. Choose FileExit from the menu bar, or simply close your browser window to return to your work.


  • Open Word 2002.
  • Practice accessing each of the help options described in this lesson, including Office Assistant, Contents, Answer Wizard, Index, What's This?, and Office on the Web.
  • Close Help and Word 2002.