Make Office 2013 more powerful with 10 killer apps

Plot location-based data on a map with Bing Maps.

6. Bing Maps

This fast, free app embeds into your Excel 2013 worksheet, allowing you to plot location-based data on a map. You can zoom in and out of the map, and choose from either a road or a bird's eye map view. It can chart more than one series of data. However, because pie and circle charts are your only choices, you can only use a series of data with positive values. If your data meets these limitations, this is a useful tool. 

Lucid Chart app takes you to a website to create a diagram, which you can then insert into your document.

 7. Lucid Chart

This free app for Word lets you create a range of diagrams, such as flowcharts, mind maps, site maps, and organizational charts. The application installs as a task pane in Word, but to create a diagram you’ll be taken to the program's web site. There you can select from a range of shapes, including flowchart shapes and various text containers. You can color, resize and position these on the screen, and connect shapes to other shapes. The add-on is easy to use, and charts can be formatted to look neat and professional. When you’re done making tweaks, click Return to Office to return to Word. Your chart shows up in the task pane's list so you can insert it into your document.

You're a free thinker? MindMapper helps with brainstorming.

8. MindMapper

MindMapper is an app for PowerPoint, Excel, Word and Project Professional. You can try it free of charge and it costs $2.99 to buy. MindMapper shows you what an app can look like if it is intelligently designed. It has a getting started tutorial and is very easy to use. Designers have built the entire app in the task pane complete with Open, New and Save buttons, and with tabs that contain multiple tools for working on a map.

LegalZoom's app provides boilerplate legal forms within Word.

9. LegalZoom

Legal forms are missing from Microsoft Word's own document templates, but you can get boilerplate templates for things like a non-disclosure agreement or an apartment lease from LegalZoom. Once you download its free app, activate it by clicking Word's Insert toolbar, then Apps for Office, and Free legal forms. A menu of forms appears in the task pane. Pick a form, and download it. To make the form your own, make sure to select Enable Editing along the top of the open document. Naturally, LegalZoom invites you to register with its site for additional step-by-step help, but that's not required.

Get rid of pesky excess space in Excel cells.

10. Trim Spaces

If you spend a lot of time in Excel, there's no greater chore than making manual formatting changes. Data that's imported from another source is often riddled with errors, quirky characters, or plain old blank space that yawns from a column of text. The Trim Spaces app from Add-in Express will free you from deleting every blank space by hand. Plus, it's free. Its makers provide additional Excel add-ins, including a random number generator and duplicate data remover. Huzzah!

Run too many apps at once, and they eat up all your Office document space.

Use Office apps efficiently

Although we're spotlighting some of the most useful add-ins here, some Office apps aren't always integrated in the most elegant fashion—starting with installation that makes you go back and forth between the Office Store and Office software. Nor is launching an app from within Office always swift. If you have several task pane apps running at once, your document all but disappears in the clutter. And, unlike with a web browser, there's no tabbed organization, so multiple Office windows can clutter your desktop. To make these apps enhance rather than frustrate your Office experience, use them sparingly, one at a time.

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