Wednesday, June 20th, 2007

Millions in Excel

format 789864 Millions in Excel

Excel has some cool formatting tricks up its sleeve and one of these is its ability to shrink really big numbers down to size.

So, if you have values in the millions – like your salary – Ha!, you can size them down to size using a custom format. Select the cells, choose Format, Cells, Number tab and click the Custom group and type #,,”M” and Excel will format 200,000,000 to read 200M! The numbers aren’t altered it’s just a simpler way of displaying them.

Since the Y axis of a chart inherits its formatting from the top left cell in the chart data range this lets you format a chart’s Y axis to show the smaller values too.

Helen Bradley

Tuesday, June 19th, 2007

Outlook Notes anywhere

Still on the subject of Outlook Notes (on the basis of when you’re on a good thing stick to it), did you know Notes can be dragged out of Outlook?

Go ahead, grab a Note adn drag it out of Outlook. Put it anywhere you like – it will sit on the Desktop or your Quick Launch bar. If you close Outlook, you can view the note’s contents without having to open Outlook by just double clicking on it.

This feature makes an Outlook Note something of much higher value than before. Need to remember a phone number? Type it into a Note and drag and drop it to your Quick Launch bar and it’s there handy for when you need it.

Helen Bradley

Monday, June 18th, 2007

Color Your World – Outlook Notes

notes 789665 Color Your World   Outlook Notes

Ok, so yellow sticky notes just don’t work for me. I’d rather mine were, well, anything but yellow. In Outlook 2007 you can color your Notes by clicking the indicator in the top left corner, choose Categories and then the category to assign the note to – the category color becomes the Note color. In Outlook 2003, click the indicator in the top left corner of the note and choose Color and then a different color for your note.

To change the default color in Outlook 2003 and Outlook 2007, choose Tools, Options, Preferences tab and click Note Options. Set the Color value to your chosen color and click Ok twice. There’s only a limited color selection available this way but it does make a change from yellow.

Helen Bradley

Saturday, June 16th, 2007

Self Portrait in Excel

Excel can take photos of itself, it’s a fun technique for applying a portion of a worksheet back into the worksheet as an image or into some other application.

To do this, make a selection around the area you’re interested in and hold Shift as you click to open the Edit menu. There’s a new option called Copy Picture which, if you click it, you can then select how to copy the picture – as shown on the screen or when printed etc.. Make your choice and then you can paste the image into any application.

To paste it back into an Excel workbook, Shift + click on the Edit menu and you can paste it back in by choosing Paste Picture.

You can do some funky things with this. Take a copy of a portion of a worksheet using this technique and then select a bar in a bar chart. Choose Edit, Paste and you’ll paste the image in as your new bar chart fill.

Helen Bradley

Thursday, June 14th, 2007

A map to find your way around – Word

map 765521 A map to find your way around   Word

The Document map tool in Word is a cool way to find your way around a long document. Click the Document Map icon on the toolbar in Word 2003 or earlier or choose View, Document Map and it appears down the left of the page. In Word 2007, the Document Map checkbox is on the View ribbon tab.

If you use styles, in particular the heading styles, the items formatted with these styles appear in the list. Simply click one to move automatically to that item.

It’s simple and a smart way to find your way around a seriously big document.

Helen Bradley

Wednesday, June 13th, 2007

Quick Question – what is 2 + 3 x 4?

Answer: 14

Surprised? Did you think it was 20? It’s not. Try it in Excel if you need proof. Type =2+3*4 and the answer is 14.

Excel calculates according to an order of precedence which isn’t necessarily left to right. In this calculation it performs multiplication first and then the addition, hence the answer: 3 times 4 is 12 add 2 is 14.

To learn more about it, look up Order of Precedence in Excel Help.

In the meantime, the short explanation is that it performs things in brackets first, then percents, exponents (as in squared and cubed), multiplication and division, then addition and subtraction. If you have two of the same such as an addition and a subtraction they’re done left to right. So, to force the calculation to perform your way, put things in brackets when you want them done first.

In our case, to get an answer of 20, write the formula =(2+3)*4

Helen Bradley

Wednesday, June 13th, 2007

Changing Excel 2007 Default template location

templateexcel 763849 Changing Excel 2007 Default template location

Q: Where do you go to change the default locations for templates in Excel 2007?

Luckily I already know the answer to this question because my bet is that it’s going to take your hours to work out how to do it. You see, there’s no way in Excel to change the default location for where its templates are stored, in particular as one of my blog readers found to his chagrin, the default location for saving chart templates.

Perhaps I’ll start this story again, this time at the beginning. In a recent blog entry I showed you how to save a chart template. The process is this: create your chart in Excel 2007 and then from the Design tab which appears only when you have the chart selected, click the Save As Template button in the Type group and save your file in your default templates folder which should be c:\Documents and Settings\username\application data\Microsoft\templates. The file should have the .crtx extension.

Close your Excel worksheet, close Excel, open Excel again, create the data for a new chart, select the data and choose Insert, Other Charts, All Chart types, Templates and your chart template should appear in the list. So far so good.

Problem is that not everyone’s installation of Excel 2007 looks to this default location for either saving chart templates or finding them when you need to use them. In particular you may confront this problem if you’re on a network. So the question then becomes where are your chart templates supposed to be saved to? Answer – who knows? You see, there’s no setting in Excel to say where to put them, so you have no clue where Excel is looking for them, so you can’t put them there because where is “there”?

So, we’re now at the point where we know there’s no setting in Excel for specifying the default location for templates. If we could set this, we could save our template there and Excel could find it… simple to understand, but problematic to achieve.

The solution that I found and which works is to make the change in Word 2007 – not exactly the first place you’d look huh? If you visit this link: you’ll see buried in the KnowledgeBase article quoted there, information on how the template locations in Office 2007 programs are managed.

There are some registry entries that you can change but the simpler solution is to change the location in which your templates are stored using the Word settings. When you use Word 2007 to change the location where your Word templates are stored you also change the location where all Office 2007 templates are stored. So Word’s settings control every other program which is sort of handy to know because you could spend all day looking in Excel for a place to change the Excel template location.

So here’s the short information on how to change Excel’s default template locations: –

Start Word 2007, click the Office button and choose Word Options, Advanced and locate the General group. Click File Locations, User Templates, Modify and in the modify location dialog change the setting in the folder name list or the look in list to point to the folder where your templates will be saved.

For ease of access and backup I suggest that you put it where they were supposed to be put in the first place which is Documents and Settings\username\Application Data\Microsoft\templates but theoretically you could put them anywhere.

This changes the setting in the Windows registry so that all templates are now saved to this location.

The KnowledgeBase article makes essential reading for anybody trying to manage Microsoft Office applications particularly in a network situation.

Helen Bradley

Monday, June 11th, 2007

Print from Outlook 2007

Ok, I’ll fess up, I had an email today in Outlook that I needed to print. I sat looking at the screen and that beautiful ribbon for a few minutes wondering how a hapless new user is ever going to remember that, inspite all the pretty buttons you see in front of you, there is no Print button visible. Ok , yes, it’s on the Office button (that multicolored thing in the top left corner of the screen) but it’s simply not easy to find and certainly far from intuitive. I wonder how many millions of words both spoken and typed will be spent telling students and new users to click the Office button – “you know, that funny colored button in the top left of the screen” – why didn’t it get a name? Like Tools, or File or Something, – Anything. Clearly no one on the design team has ever taught a class of students any application at all – because if they had, they’d have given that stupid button a name.

Ok, so back to my print dilemma. I obviously hadn’t had enough coffee because I blanked out and thought GD! How am I going to print this thing! There’s no print button! Yikes! All was saved by a trusty shortcut key… Control + P – write it down, remember it. When it seems like you can’t print something, in any application, give Control + P a go. It worked in Outlook, of course, it also works in Internet Explorer windows that open without menus or buttons. It’s one to remember, it can get you out of big fixes as well as little ones.

Helen Bradley

Saturday, June 9th, 2007

Outlook 2007 – what time is that in London?

time 721876 Outlook 2007   what time is that in London?

I’m one of those people who suck bad at calculating time. I miss interviews in Sydney, I call New York at 5pm my time wondering why they aren’t still at work, and ask me the time in London and I can only guess at it – even though I talk to UK folk each week.

Thank you Outlook 2007! Now I can act smart on international times, provided no one knows my secret!

To set a cross timezone appointment in Outlook open the New Appointment dialog, select the Time Zone icon and, from the list, choose the second timezone – for me that might be 3pm in London. Outlook creates the appointment in my calendar in my time zone so I get the reminder when I need to call or be on hand for the meeting. It’s all way too easy… no more missed interviews.

Helen Bradley

Friday, June 8th, 2007

What’s your fancy? It’s Oriel for me…

deftheme 770783 Whats your fancy? Its Oriel for me...

The new PowerPoint 2007 is just wonderful! It really makes the task of creating a presentation easy and fun. Pity you can’t say that for the task of sitting through most of them!

If you don’t like the Office Theme which is the default, you can easily make any theme your own. Open the Theme gallery on the Design tab and right click the theme of your choice, choose Save As Default Theme and every time you start PowerPoint that’s what you’ll see. Neat huh?

Helen Bradley

Thursday, June 7th, 2007

Love the theme, hate the background image?

background 776659 Love the theme, hate the background image?

Yum, PowerPoint’s new themes. They’re fun, colorful and a far cry from the drab and boring ones we’ve lived with for so long. So, what happens when you love everything about a Theme except its background?

Well, since I’m waxing lyrical about PowerPoint you can probably guess I’m about to let you in on a trick for fixing the background problem in your PowerPoint 2007 theme love affair? Click the Background Styles option in the Design tab and there is an entire selection of different backgrounds all coordinated with the theme. If you change your color scheme the background’s colors change too – sweet!

Helen Bradley

Wednesday, June 6th, 2007

Blog from Word 2007

blog 778433 Blog from Word 2007

One of the coolest features in Word 2007 is the ability to blog from Word.

To do this, click the Office Button and choose New, New Blog Post. Click the Register Now button and choose your blogging tool, it’s Blogger for me. Enter the details of your account and choose the picture option to use for uploading images. If you have multiple blogs running from the one account, choose the blog to use with Word. It’s very simple then to create posts and upload them without having to
crank up your browser.

Helen Bradley

Monday, June 4th, 2007

Word Toolbars your way

symbols 799243 Word Toolbars your way

I use the £ and ¢ symbols a lot but they’re not on my keyboard. However they’re on my toolbar, thanks to the ability to customize Word’s toolbars.

Right click Word’s toolbar and choose Customize and then the Commands tab. Click the All Commands option in the Commands list and locate and click the Symbol: entry. Drag and drop it onto a toolbar and, when the symbol dialog appears, click the symbol to attach to the button and click Ok.

The toolbar button displays the font name and the symbol number. To make it look prettier, right click the button and type a different name for it. If the symbol can be typed using the keyboard by pressing the Alt key and typing out the numbers then do this. Alternately, click the Edit Button Image button and draw the symbol to create your own icon.

And, if you’re curious, the £ symbol is Alt + 0163 and the ¢ symbol is Alt + 155 – so now you know.

Helen Bradley

Thursday, May 31st, 2007

Haven’t I said this before?

quickpart 720130 Havent I said this before?

Ever get that sense of deja vu – you’ve said this before.. oh so many times? Office has never had a good tool for managing blocks of text that you use repeatedly. The is AutoText and AutoCorrect but they’re not highly visible or intuitive. In Office 2007 another tool is thrown into the mix. The jury is out on whether this is a good thing or just another option that isn’t properly thought our or implemented. Anyway, it’s worth testing out to see if it works for you. BTW the technical term for text you use over and over again is boilerplate text… not sure why, but there it is!

In Word, for example, type and select the text that you use a lot and, on the Insert tab choose the Quick Part option. You can save the text and later insert it using the same tool – it’s kinda nice that the tool shows you the full text before you insert it.

Interestingly the same feature is available in Outlook 2007 where it just might be a litte bit more use.

Helen Bradley

Wednesday, May 30th, 2007

Are you free? Add a calendar to an Outlook 2007 email

I need to meet with you. I know when I’m free I don’t know when you are. To avoid the “Can you do it this time?” “No. What about?” discussion you can send an outgoing email with your calendar in it so your recipient can see when you’re free and plan accordingly.

The proviso for this is you need to be using Microsoft Exchange so it’s the sort of thing you can do at work but unlikely you will be running exchange at home. To do this, in a new message dialog, click the Insert tab and select Calendar. You can then choose just how much calendar to send, just your available spaces or everything… it’s up to you.

Helen Bradley