Saturday, March 31st, 2007

Data labels on Excel charts

Data labels on your charts show your viewer the values they’re looking at and after all – isn’t that the purpose of the chart?

To add Data Labels to a chart, click the chart and choose Chart, Chart Options. Click the Data Labels tab and choose a style that will look good on your chart. Typically values is a good choice but, for pie charts, for example, a different type might work better.

Helen Bradley

Friday, March 30th, 2007

Go Ahead – Make My day!

Ok, so this post is seriously off topic but I just had to write it. I subscribe to a great email newsletter written by horseman Doug Emerson and which you can find here:

He writes great stuff, common sense, smart and very business oriented. I don’t know anyone who couldn’t benefit from his ‘pearls of wisdom’ whether or not you know what end of a horse the food goes in.

Ok so what about the Make My Day bit. Well, I took the time to write to Doug today to say hi and thanks for his stuff. It was just a short email, a few lines but very soon a reply came back and in it he said “you made my day!” – that’s exactly what I feel when someone who has read an article I wrote writes to say “Hi and Thanks”. When the “Hi and Thanks” comes without strings, no questions attached, just an out of the blue pat on the back it really does just that, it makes your day, whoever you are.

So, my challenge to you? Go ahead and make someone’s day. Next time you read something and think “that was good/cool/interesting/well written…” email them. Say hi and thanks. Pass the good word feelings around, curiously, I think (in the process), you’ll find it makes your day too!

Helen Bradley

Thursday, March 29th, 2007

Getting alignment right (or left), in PowerPoint

Let’s face it, it’s easy to dump pictures, text and charts on a PowerPoint slide but it can end up looking like the dog’s breakfast – at least what I imagine a dog might eat for breakfast.

When you want your slide to look good, you need to have everything aligned neatly on it. To do this, click on the first object to align and Control + click on the second. From the Drawing toolbar choose Draw, Align or Distribute and then an option such as Align left to align both objects so they’re lined up along the left edge of the object that is further to the left on the screen.

In a few simple clicks you can restore order to an unruly slide.

Helen Bradley

Wednesday, March 28th, 2007

Seeing double – split windows in Word

Long documents are harder to manage than short ones, and it can be difficult to cut and paste an item on page 1 all the way to page 20. I find it easier to do when I can see the source and target area on the screen all at once. That’s why I love the Split window tool.

Here’s how to use it, position the document on the screen where you want it to be split in two and choose Window, Split. Now click where you want should be. You’ll get two horizontal panes each with its own scroll bars and you can move around the panes independently and show different places in the document in each. You can also drag and drop between panes.

When you’re finished editing, choose Window, Remove Split.

Helen Bradley

Tuesday, March 27th, 2007

Excel and the taskbar

I like to see each individual worksheet I have open named on the taskbar – well, that is unless I don’t. When I have one of those “redecorating the desktop” days, I opt to have one indicator for Excel and then use the Windows menu or Control + F6 to switch between them.

Changing how I view my Excel interface is easy. Choose Tools, Options and click the View tab in the Options dialog. Disable the Windows in Taskbar checkbox to view one Excel indicator on the taskbar. Click Ok. Reverse the process to switch back.

Helen Bradley

Monday, March 26th, 2007

Change the color of unread Outlook messages

Outlook highlights all unread messages in your Inbox using bold type. If you’d like something more flashy or subtle, simply change the formatting option. To do this, click your Inbox and choose View, Arrange By, Current View, Customize Current View. Click Automatic Formatting, click Unread Messages and click Font and set the color, font and size to use for unread messages. When you’re done, click OK – simple, and from now on, very colorful!

Helen Bradley

Friday, March 23rd, 2007

Excel Freeze Panes

When you’re working on a very big spreadsheet it can get confusing as to what the headings are for the various rows and columns when you move away from the top most cells.

A simple way to solve this problem is to freeze panes – it’s a funny term for something that actually is very handy. Move so that cell A1 is located in the top left corner of your worksheet area and then position your cell pointer just below the set of headings that you want to see and just to the right of the column headings if they’re important too.

Choose Window, Freeze Panes and Excel will freeze the area above and to the left of where you are working. Now if you move around the worksheet wherever you happen to go the cells on the left and top of the worksheet will always be there.

If you need to undo the effect choose Window, Unfreeze Panes and it will all be back to rights. My guess is that you’ll like it so much that you won’t want to change it anyway.

Helen Bradley

Thursday, March 22nd, 2007

Pictures inside Excel comments

In a previous tip of the day, I showed you how to create shaped comments in Excel but today I’m going to go one step further and create pictures inside the comment.

As you might expect, start off in Excel and add a comment to a cell. Right-click the cell and choose Show comment and then click the border of the comment to select it. Choose Format, Comment and, from the Colors & Lines tab’s Color dropdown list choose Fill Effects and then the Picture tab and click Select Picture.

Find a picture to add to your comment from those in your My Pictures folder, enable the Lock Picture Aspect Ratio checkbox and click OK twice. You’ll now have the image inside your comment.

Depending on the image that you have used you may want to change the format of the text, for example coloring it a different color and sizing it large enough so that it can be easily seen.

Helen Bradley

Wednesday, March 21st, 2007

Too cool for school – Office 2007 SmartArt

New to Microsoft Office 2007 PowerPoint, Excel and Word is the SmartArt feature which is one you’re just going to love.

To test it out add a new slide to a PowerPoint presentation, for example, and select the blank layout. From the Insert tab on the Ribbon, select SmartArt and then one of the SmartArt objects.

I like the one called Staggered Process which I’ve shown here as it makes a great display for a simple step-by-step process. Select your choice of design and then you’ll see text brackets appear on the screen. Click in them or click the double-pointing arrows at the left of the SmartArt object and type your text in the special dialog.

Once you’ve got your bullet points in – and you can add more than the default three if you need more – you have a simple step-by-step graphic. But – this is only the beginning.

There are lots of different looks for your graphic including beveled edges and 3D effects, and you can choose these from the SmartArt styles dropdown list in front of you. You can also change the colors used in the design which, of course, are based on the current document Theme colors. Change the Design Ttheme and the look of the project changes with it.

It’s about as simple as it’s ever going to be to add great looking step-by-step graphics to a PowerPoint slide. They are, seriously, way cool…

Helen Bradley

Tuesday, March 20th, 2007

Naming Ranges in Excel

When you’re working with different areas on an Excel worksheet it sometimes helps to name the area or range as Excel calls it.

You might do this so that you can easily select a print area from a number of different printing areas on the worksheet or where you want to move very quickly to a named area which is in an out of the way place on the worksheet.

To name a range, select the cell or range of cells to name and choose Insert, Name, Define and give the cell or range a name. You can use whatever name you like, it just must be a single word name with no spaces and it can’t start with a number. When you’re done, click OK.

Now look up to the top left corner of the screen to the left of the formula bar you will see a small Name dropdown list. You can dropdown the list and select the named cell from the list and you will automatically go to it and, if it is a range, it will be automatically selected ready, for example, for printing.

Helen Bradley

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