Improve your navigation and design with free and easy Unicode symbols to complement links

It doesn’t have to cost anything to improve your user experience and make links look more like, well, links. We’re accustomed to a modern navigation experience driven not just by underlined text anymore but by visual cues. We rely on iconography and buttons to get us more quickly from A to B.

So if you can’t (or don’t want to) install an icon library like Font Awesome, and if you’re not using a web part that has the built-in Office UI Fabric icons (such as the Quick Links web part), why not stick to the basics and use Unicode characters? While limited, you still have some great options for quick wins.

Note: These characters appear slightly different in different browsers or when used with pre-existing themes. For example, when writing this post they’re black-and-white, but when published, my styles are applied which give them color. They may also look different on a mobile device than they do on desktop.

Compart has a great listing of all the Unicode symbols you can search and filter. Here are a few examples I selected that could be useful:

☎ Directory
♻ Recycle vs Trash FAQ
♬ Fall Concert Details
☂ Inclement weather procedures
⛱ Vacation Requests
⛟  Track a Delivery
☃ Winter Sale

How to use Unicode characters on your site

Example used in the left navigation

To use Unicode characters, you can either:

  • Copy and paste the actual symbol -OR-
  • In your html, wrap the four-digit number in &#x and ; as follows


Here are many more icons, some of which might have purpose in your organization. You can also download this excel file for easier viewing/customizing.


25A0 260E 25AE
2601 25A1 260F 25AF
2602 25A2

2610 21C9
2603 25A3 2611 21CA
2604 25A4 2612 25B2
2605 25A5 2613 25B3
2606 25A6 2614 25B4
2607 25A7 2615 25B5
25A8 2616 25B6 21CF
2609 25A9 2617 25B7
260A 25AA 2618 25B8
260B 25AB 2619 25B9
260C 25AC 261A 25BA
260D 25AD 261B 25BB
2678 23F6 2686 21D5
2679 23F7 2687

267A 23F8 2688 2191
267B 23F9 2689 2192
267C 23FA 268A 2193
267D 2390 2194 21DA
267E 2391 2195 21DB
267F 2392 2196 21DC

2680 2197 21DD 269C
2681 2394 2198 21DE
2682 2396

2690 2199
2683 2397 2691 219A
2684 2398 2692 219B
2685 2399 2693 219C
26CC 26CF 26D2 26D5

26D0 26D3 26D6
26DA 26DE 2.60E+02 2.60E+05
21EE 2315 21F4 21F5
262A 25CA

2640 25D8
262B 25CB 2641 25D9
25CC 2642

2650 25EE
25CD 2643 2651 25EF
262E 25CE 2644 2652
262F 25CF 2645 2653

25D0 2646 2654
2639 25D1 2647 2655
25D2 2648 2656 23C4
263B 25D3 2649 2.50E+08
263C 25D4 264A 2.50E+09
263D 25D5 264B 2.50E+10
263E 25D6 264C 25EA
263F 25D7 264D 25EB

26B0 21B9 26F2
26A3 21AC 26B1 21BA
26A4 21AD 26B2 21BB
26A5 21AE 26B3 26F5
26A6 21AF 26B4 26F6

21B0 26B5 26F7 26C3
21B1 26B6 26F8 26C4
21B2 26B7 26F9 26C5
26B8 26FA 26C6 2672
21B4 26B9 26FB 26C7
26AC 21B5 26BA 26FC
26AD 21B6 26BB 21C4
26AE 21B7 26BC 21C5
26AF 21B8 26BD 21C6
2.60E+03 2.60E+09 26EB 26EF
2.60E+04 2.60E+10 26ED

2.10E+09 21F3 21FC 21FD

235F 23F4 23F5
21C7 261C 25BC

21C8 261D 25BD 2671
261E 25BE 262C 231B
261F 25BF 262D 2673


25C0 26C8
21CC 2621 25C1 26FD
21CD 2622 25C2 26FE
21CE 2623 25C3

2624 25C4 263A 26EC

21D0 2625 25C5 26DB
21D1 2626 25C6 21FE
21D2 2627 25C7 26D1
21D3 2628 25C8 2319
21D4 2629 25C9 231A
2694 219D 26A2 21F9
21D6 2695 219E 21FA
21D7 2696 219F 2674
21D8 2697

21A0 26C9
21D9 2698 21A1 26CA
2699 21A2 26A7 2.60E+08
269A 21A3 26A8 2.60E+06
269B 21A4 26A9 2.60E+07
21A5 26AA 21B3 21FF
269D 21A6 26AB 26D4
21DF 269E 21A7 21F6

2.10E+01 269F 21A8 21F7

26A0 21A9 21F8
2.10E+03 26A1 21AA 2.10E+07
26D8 26DC 26DF 2.10E+08
26D9 26DD

2.60E+01 21FB
26EA 26EE 26F1 2675

21F0 21F1 2676
264E 25EC 265C 2677
264F 25ED 265D 26CE
265E 2.10E+06 2.10E+04 26CB
265F 23CD 2.10E+05 26D7

23C0 2668 23CE

23C1 2669 23CF 2661
23C2 21ED 2.10E+10 2662
23C3 266B 21EA 2663
2664 21EB 21EC 2665
2657 23C5 266C 2666
2658 23C6 2316 2667
2659 23C7 2317 266A
265A 23C8 266E 26BF
265B 23C9 2318

26BE 26F4 26C2 266D
26F3 26C1 266F

Introducing my new OneNote 101 7-day email course

I’m excited to share my first-ever email course with everyone. I enjoyed building the course and I’m confident there’s something new and exciting in it for everyone. And when you’re done, in the final email on the 7th day, you’ll receive a link to claim a Credly achievement credential for having completed the course.


OneNote 101: 7-day email course


This email course delivers a healthy serving of OneNote each day, for seven days. Topics include tags, Outlook, audio, files, version comparisons, and more (see below full listing).

Upon completion, subscribers receive a
Credly badge acknowledging their participation.

Category: Tags: ,


This email course delivers a healthy serving of OneNote each day, for seven days. Topics include:

  • Flavors of OneNote (multiple devices, multiple versions)
  • Audio tips and tricks
  • Working with files in OneNote
  • Image magic in OneNote, like searching text within images
  • Keyboard shortcuts to maximize your effiency
  • OneNote + Outlook
  • Tags and Tag reports (summary pages)

Upon completion, subscribers receive a
Credly badge acknowledging their participation.


  • Includes GIFs and relies on images to demonstrate tips so must support HTML message formats
  • Must allow emails from MailChimp (check spam/junk if you don’t get your first email within 24 hours of signing up)


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How to promote/feature a search result based on user query in SharePoint

If someone searches in SharePoint for “Power BI,” chances are they aren’t looking for a document from 2016 that happens to mention the phrase “Power BI.”

Using out-of-the-box search reports you can come to understand what phrases are being searched (and abandoned) on your intranet, then improve search by promoting/suggesting results you think your users are actually seeking.

I’m going to use my “Power BI” example. If a user searches Power BI on my dev environment, they get these as the top three results. The first two are SharePoint link lists (like promoted links or otherwise) and the third is just a document about embedding Power BI reports. None take you

Let’s make it easier to get directly to our portal when searched on the intranet.

  1. Go to central admin –> Manage service applications
  2. Select “Search service application”
  3. Select Query Rules from the left nav
  4. Select “Local SharePoint Results” from the first dropdown
  5. Click “New Query Rule”
  6. Name the rule and enter semi-colon separated phrases you want to trigger our promoted result
  7. Click “Add promoted result”
  8. Complete the form, keeping in mind that the “Title” and “Description” are what will appear in results when searched. Click Save.
  9. Click Save again. Changes are immediate, and your promoted result will appear FIRST in results with a checkmark icon to indicate it’s promoted/suggested
  10. Test your search

Note: If you use SharePoint Online, your navigation to the query rules is a bit different but still starts in central admin. The rest of the steps are the same.

Power BI refresh error “could not load file or assembly…provided impersonation level is invalid”

Short version

Run Power BI Desktop as administrator before opening the report.


Recently, when opening a report from Power BI Report Server that used a SQL database as a data source I received the following error.

An error happened while reading data from the provider: ‘Could not load file or assembly ‘System.EnterpriseServices, Version=, Culture=neutral,PublicKeyToken=b03f5f7f11d50a3a’ or one of its dependencies. Either a required impersonation level was not provided, or the provided impersonation level is invalid. (Exception from HRESULT: 0X80070542)’

So I clicked “Edit Queries” to see what was going on and received almost the same error but referencing a specific table and getting me thinking about SQL specifically.

Error seen after clicking “Edit Queries”

So I checked that table in the query editor and received yet again the same error.

Error seen after clicking the specific table referenced in the previous error message

Simple solution. It’s likely that your credentials and queries are just fine.

The solution for my particular issue here, and the meaning behind the “impersonation level” part of the error, is just that you need to run Power BI Desktop as administrator before accessing the report. After opening the report in Power BI Desktop being ran as an administrator, everything worked as expected.

Make training fun and increase learning retention with puzzles and games

My number one compliment at trainings comes from my live, interactive elements like my Mentimeter quizzes. But I’m branching into a new type of interactivity that might begin in the training classroom but carries on with attendees after they leave.

I’m talking about handouts. Attendees are more likely to remember sessions, topics, and facts if they had a little fun along the way. Not every handout has to be a glossary. Bingo, for example, challenges end users to explore various capabilities in SharePoint they otherwise may not have considered.

SharePoint Bingo and O365 Crossword: These two downloadables encourage attendees to listen up and have certain prompts in mind throughout your talk such as “how could I add a new list?” or “we can live stream events?? with what?” They can work on these throughout the session as they learn, or take it back to their desks. A great way to encourage participation is to offer an incentive such as “add your name and turn it in when you’re done for a chance to win a Surface Go.”

SharePoint Sudoku: This one is just for fun and is a great “added bonus” handout for your session. It’s also great for those attendees that show up 15 minutes early and might appreciate something to do in the meantime.

3 Puzzle Pack (SP Bingo, SP Sudoku, & O365 Apps Crossword)

$10.85 $7.99

Get three puzzles in a bundle (saving over 25%) to improve attendee engagement and training reinforcement.

  • SharePoint Sudoku #1
  • SharePoint End-User Bingo
  • Apps in O365 Crossword (Editable)

Premium members save an additional 10% (discount reflected automatically when logged in).

Category: Tags: ,


Get three puzzles in a bundle (saving over 25%) to improve attendee engagement and training reinforcement.

  • SharePoint Sudoku #1 (great for occupying early arrivers)
  • SharePoint End-User Bingo (hands-on practice during or after training)
  • Apps in O365 Crossword – Editable version (have “ah-ha!” moments during, and reinforce learning after)

Premium members save an additional 10% (discount reflected automatically when logged in).


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Get a customized puzzle from me

I’m happy to create a custom crossword or bingo downloadable for your needs at the same cost of these examples (no setup fee). DM me on Twitter or send me a message via he form below with your scenario and let’s work together to make training fun!

Boost your audience engagement and knowledge retention with live, interactive surveys and quizzes

I often hear from my session and training attendees that they enjoy the interactive elements of my sessions. I usually end each session with a swag or book giveaway based on the highest scoring participant in a Mentimeter quiz. Sometimes my only follow-up is: “I loved that quiz, how can I do that for my own team?” The nice thing is even if an attendee knew everything I mentioned in my 101, they still left with a new tool they can use to engage their co-workers and attendees.

Note: I don’t get any affiliate or referral program perks for this. I just truly appreciate the value Mentimeter has added to my presentations and wish the same success for you.

What is Mentimeter?

Mentimeter is a service that allows participants to “join” quizzes or surveys you create without needing an account. Once you create your questions and indicate the correct response(s) (if applicable), you click present. Attendees see the “access code” at the top of the screen and, using their mobile device or computer, join the quiz using their name (whether they choose to use their real name or not is up to them). Results show up on the screen in real-time.

Mentimeter allows you to get to know your audience better, engage them in friendly competition, or just solicit questions throughout your talk. This allows for your more introverted attendees to be comfortably engaged whereas otherwise you may not have heard from them at all. It also allows your questions to be “compiled” until you’re at a good stopping place to address them.

From (attendee view after a question has ended)

For quizzes as seen above, voting is closed after a specified time for each question and points are awarded on accuracy AND speed of response. You can even display a leaderboard between questions to get the room more engaged and competitive. There is never a tie, which makes it easy to give away swag to the top two or three.

When you’re done, you can export PDFs of the question slides to share attendee questions, responses, comprehension, etc. and then reset the presentation so it’s ready for your next session. If you have a paid license, you can export to excel instead of PDF.

How much does it cost?

Personally I use the free version because it gives you up to six quiz questions, or three survey questions which is the perfect size for an end-of-session “what did you learn” quiz or intra-session “touch-base.” But there are also licenses that allow more questions, different question types, and some pretty impressive capabilities for various events and campaigns.

How do I get started?

  1. Sign up for a free account (always free, no end date or trial period)
  2. See how the available options work for you
  3. Upgrade to unlock advanced features

How to create a live poll or quiz using Mentimeter

  1. Once signed in, click “New Presentation,” name and click “Create Presentation”

  2. Choose quiz if you’ll be awarding points for accuracy and speed, otherwise choose from available survey types (no correct answers, just polling the audience). After each is added and configured, click “New Slide” to create another.
  3. When you’re ready to present, click “Present” and you’ll go full-window with an view suitable for the big screen, and that pulls in real-time responses from attendees:

On an attendee’s phone (or tablet/computer), they see mobile-friendly options for interacting with your questions:

Add a print button to SharePoint list items

One of my more popular requests is an easier way to print list items (either to PDF or paper). Using SharePoint Designer, we can add a “Print Item” button to the display forms for all list items. This button appears in the “Actions” section of modal dialogs AND standalone display forms in their own window. See above for an example of a modal dialog implementation.

You can do this rather quickly, but will need to be a site admin with access to SharePoint Designer to make the change.

Note: This only works for classic view lists.

  1. Download the print icon
  2. Add print icon to Site Assets
  3. Add a custom action to list

1. Download the print icon

2. Add print icon to Site Assets

  1. Open your site in SharePoint Designer
  2. Go to Site Assets and import the downloaded print icon (using import/browse OR drag-and-drop)

3. Add a custom action to list

  1. Open your list in SharePoint Designer
  2. Add new custom action for display form ribbon (upper left dropdown)
  3. Name it “Print Item”
  4. Set “Navigate to URL:” to
  5. Browse for the button image URL (I used 32×32) and select the print.png image you added to Site Assets
  6. Change “Manage” in Ribbon Location to “Actions” and click OK


Test away!


I don’t see the “Ribbon Location (Tab.Group ID:)” option!

You need to double-check step two of “Add a custom action to list.” You must create the action from this dropdown field and specifically select “Display form ribbon” to get this option.

It’s not showing up!

  1. Make sure you types “Actions” (plural) and not “Action”
  2. Refresh your SharePoint list (Ctrl+F5 for a hard refresh)
  3. Make sure you’re using the classic experience. This does not work in modern. You can accomplish this by forcing the classic experience for all users (recommended for consistency):

If you’d rather let users choose, just be sure to educate them on the ability to switch back and forth.

Flow now supports multiple condition controls for advanced if/then scenarios within a single step

Say goodbye to nested if/then statements in Flow taking up fourteen monitor widths. Flow now supports nested if/then statements all in a single, vertical step. For example, the following requires that WeekDayNum is not 0 or 7 AND requires that either Bob or Nate created the item. And I didn’t have to scroll horizontally at all to see it!

The next time you use a condition control, enjoy rethinking how you might structure your various requirements for conditions to be met.

To get started, just add a condition control as you normally would:

  1. Add an action
  2. Condition control


Create one-click, direct download links

You’re sending an email, or creating a new page on your intranet instructing people to download a file.

You can always just link to an image or document and then have people figure out how to download it themselves. But methods of downloading vary by browsers and versions and content types (images vs PDFs, for example) so it’s much easier to just provide a link to users that automatically initiates the download for them regardless of context.

Note: This downloads to their default download folder/location.

Using a direct download link will save them some time by providing a one-click download option. No need to right-click-save-as, or save-and-name.

Simply add the word “download” after the href URL before closing the tag." download>Download here!</a>

For example, if I want people to download the print icon below I would link it in my HTML-formatted email or on my webpage/intranet using the script following it. The red text could be an image (download button?) or text like “Download the icon.”

<a href="/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/print.png" download><img src=""></a>

And for a PDF I don’t want opened in the browser, it might look something like

Download the latest newsletter

<a href="/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/DownloadMe.pdf" download>Download the latest newsletter</a>

I am an MVP (and so can you!)

A little context

Once upon a time (2 months ago) I had decided to stop pursuing the MVP award. There were a few issues in the process and related communication that were bugging me and made the experience more of a chore than a valued credential. So I withdrew my nomination.

After posting that I received a lot of feedback through public and private channels. Many had a similar experience, some were supportive regardless of my choice, and others disconnected/disappeared or outright let me know I was making a mistake and had brought shame upon their ancestors. Here are GIFs illustrating the general feedback (because GIFs are more fun than the reality):

Some were supportive

From Frozen
From Broad City

Others, less so

So to those of you who had my back, thank you. And to those who didn’t, thanks for the true colors demo.

What’s a credential, anyway?

The thing about any credential is you don’t stop being yourself once you obtain it. When you get a promotion, you shouldn’t shun the people “left behind” or change your personality. But some do anyway. To them, it’s all about their journey and checking off boxes. To others, it’s about achieving something challenging and using that experience and newfound platform to help others up the slope.

When you rise in an organization or obtain a new credential it is, rather, a responsibility of yours to help elevate and develop others. This is what separates great leaders from the rest. Your actions, when credentialed, are also more heavily scrutinized. Do you use your credential selfishly (to promote yourself) or to influence change and build the community?

To poor leaders, growth is all about THEIR journey on their way to better things. To effective leaders, growth is about achieving something challenging and then using that experience and newfound platform to help others up the slope. Click To Tweet

So what’s your legacy? Were you a community builder who made the organization better? Or did you just make sure it didn’t collapse and kept it as it was?

Community Builder

Actively works within and outside the community to make it better by pushing for positive change and helping to introduce new members to the community. Possesses a growth mindset.

Community Supporter

Actively works within the community to maintain success by featuring its own members and initiatives and focusing on the member experience. Possesses a maintenance mindset.

Yes, yes, but what can I actually do?

If the MVP award sits on your desk, let it be a daily reminder that there are hundreds who are seeking that same recognition you received. What are you doing to provide opportunities for those others to shine in your arenas?

  • Run a user group? Reach out to a non-MVP and ask if they’d like to speak.
  • Organizing a conference? Include non-MVPs
  • Have a podcast? Interview a non-MVP
  • Are you a speaker? Share your talents with non-MVP organized events and groups
  • Celebrate the contributions of and interact with non-MVPs on social media

Your promotional materials that say “90% of our speakers are MVPs!” certainly demonstrate how much talent you’re featuring at the event. But those 10% that aren’t MVPs don’t feel included in your marketing plan and, by extension, feel they may have just been filler material.

You can always list “MVP” after the speakers’ names in your listings and let potential registrants do the math themselves. I’d be more inclined to attend a conference where I knew I’d be engaging with speakers who:

  • Started their own company
  • Wrote a book
  • Participates in diversity initiatives
  • Run a podcast I listen to (or might start)
  • Own the blogs or YouTube channels I frequent

Consider celebrating the accomplishments of your entire speaker group, MVPs and non-MVPs alike. If they’re good enough to have at your event then they’re good enough to recognize equally.

“Our speaker lineup includes 10 published authors, 5 CEOs, and 14 active bloggers!” These quantifiable numbers tell a more specific story that others can relate to. Maybe a potential registrant is starting their own blog and would see this as a good opportunity to speak to someone who could help. And the speakers would probably appreciate the additional, specific exposure to their individual accomplishments and contributions.

What I’m saying (as I’m sure you’ve guessed) is that you can be President but that doesn’t necessarily make you a good one.

From Miranda

My next objective

All of this to say, I welcome a new challenge and opportunity into my life today:

I was fortunate to have Jon Levesque, Betsy Weber, and Christian Talavera who each acknowledged my post and took time out of their busy agendas to reach out and talk with me. I consider each of them to be exceptional leaders that not only listen to concerns, but really hear them. I felt that they really wanted to make positive change and improve the program.

Other leaders could have shrugged off my comments and left me to my own devices. But that’s what made these three community builders instead of just community supporters. After talking with them, I learned that some positive change has occurred since I withdrew my nomination and shared my post.

  • The application has some new questions that make it more personal and goal-oriented as much as accomplishment focused
  • Timelines have shifted so that there’s more accountability to those responsible for voting and firmer deadlines to make sure a backlog doesn’t happen
  • Notifications and follow-up will be more standardized with applicants, making sure those anxiously awaiting any news are aware of their current status and know who to contact with questions

My objective is to practice what I’ve preached here. I intend to:

  • Use the credential as a reminder to lift up others so that they too may experience the joy of recognition for their efforts
  • Do what I can to make the program better and improve the nominee experience
  • Continue blogging and speaking to share freely what I’ve learned along the way
  • Continue organizing LSPUG and SPL Scholarships
  • Continue co-organizing SPSKC with Sharon and Jonathan Weaver
  • Continue popping up at events and user groups to share the SP word

With a little help from my friends

Finally, I want to take a moment to thank a few people who kept me motivated and inspired throughout this three year journey. My heartfelt thanks to:

  • Greg Swart who first showed Mike and I the wonders of SharePoint in practice.
  • Dave Peterson and the organizing committee of SPS Omaha for taking a chance on me a few years ago and giving me my first SPS speaking gig.
  • Mike Broadwell and Mary Roach, my bosses while at KU Libraries, who approved my funding request to speak at some non-library conference in Omaha and then continually supported me as I learned and grew in SharePoint and O365.
  • Sharon and Jonathan Weaver who welcomed me to the organizing committee of SPS KC and who have been great partners and friends in our LSPUG and Kansas City O365 UG adventures.
  • Starla Jones and Michael Williams, my bosses at LMH Health, who support me today by entertaining my wild ideas about modern collaboration and organizational communication and who encourage me to keep learning.
  • Tim Canaday, my systems counterpart of LMH Health, whose seemingly infinite wisdom of all things server and structure (and patience when my ideas come faster than my rationality) inspires me to learn things I hadn’t dreamt of learning before and achieve things together I certainly couldn’t do alone.
  • Mark Rackley and the organizing committee of the North American Collaboration Summit for inviting me to speak at my first national, non-SPS conference. Thanks for believing in my value before I had an MVP credential.
  • All of the SPS organizing committees, professors, and user group owners who have welcomed me to speak at their events and classes. I’ve enjoyed Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Omaha, St. Louis, Kansas City (of course), and Denver and am looking forward to upcoming events wherever they may lead me.
  • All of the many speakers who have volunteered their time to share with LSPUG, a small but might user group in the heart of the country.
  • Jag Kakarlapudi for inviting me to speak on the podcast at Modern Work.
  • My sister and parents who are the best cheerleaders and life coaches I could ask for when I’m down or struggling with anything.
  • My husband, William Ottens, and our exchange student Lucas for putting up with the heightened level of nerd I can sometimes bring into the car or house.
My new profile on the MVP Website