Office 365: Office Online

What is Office Online?

Office Online is the name for the web based versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote, available as part of the Office 365 suite. They don’t require any install on your computer, which means you can use your Plymouth University logon on any computer, tablet or phone to view, edit and collaborate on documents anywhere in the world. You can upload documents to your OneDrive and edit them in Office Online, or create documents from scratch.

What features does Office Online have?

Office Online is a cut-down version of the normal Office suite of desktop programs, with a streamlined interface and decluttered options. As a general recommendation, Office Online is best suited to creating simple documents - if required, use the desktop version to add more complex formatting.

  • Print from browser - A single click to open a PDF on your desktop which you can print straight away. 
  • Open in desktop app - If you’re trying to make an edit which is not allowed in the online version, you can simply click a button to open the document in your desktop program. This will save back to the OneDrive when you're finished editing.
  • Autosave -  No need to click save - all changes are automatically saved shortly after you make them.
  • Standard Office interface - Office Online uses the same ribbon as on the desktop, so you don’t need to worry about learning a whole new set of terms.
  • Ease of access - Through OneDrive using any of the Office systems, including collaborating with others.

Where would I use it?

I am an academic collaborating on a document in my OneDrive. I need to make a minor edit before saving to PDF and submitting to a journal via email.

With Office Online, you never need to download the document and open it in Office 2013. This means you could use any computer to edit, save to PDF and submit the document through Outlook – all completely online.

I am a student or staff member in a lecture or meeting with my tablet and I want to make some quick notes that I will flesh out into a fully formed document later and share with others.

You can open Office Online in your browser and type your notes to be saved to OneDrive. Later, you can open the document in Word and complete the notes to your satisfaction. You can share the document with others for group work using phones and tablets, removing the need to carry laptops to and from meetings and lectures.

How do I use it?

Simply log into OneDrive for Business by clicking the Login link at the top right of the Plymouth University web page. Then select the tile for My OneDrive. To open existing documents from OneDrive, go to Files, Recent, or Shared with me and select the document you want to view. From the preview page you can choose to either edit the document online or download it and open in Office on your desktop.

To create new documents, click New and choose the type of Office document you want to create. You will be taken to Office Online where you can edit your document.

What do I need to use Office Online?

You only need a device with a modern browser and the internet – everything is done online.


Power users of Word will miss some of the advanced features of the desktop version, however most users who just want to write a document will be able to do everything they need online. You cannot perform some advanced actions, such as mail merge and macros.

When editing uploaded documents, you may occasionally see formatting that is greyed out and non-editable. That means the content is not able to be edited online, however you can normally move or delete the content if necessary. When you open the document on the desktop programme, any greyed out content will be editable again. You cannot edit styles, adjust autocorrect settings, use certain fonts (e.g. webdings) when editing existing docs from OneDrive.

You must have an active internet connection to use Office Online. To edit documents offline, you will need to have the full Office suite installed on your computer.

Further information

Getting started at

Keyboard Shortcuts for Office Online

Accessibility features

Office 365 provides features that are accessible and usable for people who have special needs or disabilities. This link provides information for Windows and Mac users, with help for various browsers.

Accessibility in Office 365 online videos

Comparison of features between online apps and desktop versions