Wednesday, July 4th, 2007

Excel – highlight cells containing formulas

There’s no shortcut way to color code cells in Excel which contain formulas but this workaround is simple and fast.

Choose Edit, GoTo, Special button and click Formulas and then Ok. Now fill the cells with a color using the Fill Color tool.

It’s now clear which cells contain formulas and those that do not.

Helen Bradley

Monday, July 2nd, 2007

No new file when you launch Excel

When you open Excel you will, by default see a new blank workbook. If you’d prefer to see nothing at all you can do so by altering the Excel startup icon.

Right click it and choose Properties and then in the Command area add the text /e at the end after the double quotes. Now Excel will launch without the splash screen and with no new workbook.

Helen Bradley

Friday, June 29th, 2007

Fixing misspellings – Word

It happens just when you don’t want it to – you press the wrong key and all of a sudden you’ve saved an incorrectly spelled word to your dictionary. Unless you fix the problem, Word won’t pick up this misspelling ever again.

To solve the problem, choose Tools, Options, Spelling & Grammar and click the Custom Dictionaries button, click Custom.dic and click Modify. Locate the misspelled word, select it and click Delete.

Now click Ok and you’re done.

Helen Bradley

Wednesday, June 27th, 2007

Word – Quick and easy columns…

One thing I do amongst all the things I do is to tech edit articles and books.

You learn a lot when you do this, on the one hand you learn how much you don’t know and on the other you learn how much you do know… it’s an eye opening experience both ways.

One thing that came out of a recent experience is how to do columns in Word. In this case, I liked my solution lots better than the one in front of me.

To turn a piece of text you have already created into a series of columns in Word, select the text and choose Format, Columns. Now choose how many and the width of your columns and instantly – columns to go!

I won’t disclose the solution I was editing… it simply wasn’t this simple.

Helen Bradley

Wednesday, June 27th, 2007

Gridlines – Yes or No?

In Excel there are gridlines and gridlines. You can display them on the screen as you work or on the printouts or both or neither.


To display or hide gridlines as you work, choose Tools, Options, View tab and enable or disable Gridlines.

For printing, choose File, Page Setup, Sheet tab and enable or disable Gridlines for printing…

Now you know.

Helen Bradley

Tuesday, June 26th, 2007

Word – Click to type blocks

The MacroButton field code in Word is handy for creating “Click Here” blocks in your documents indicating what needs to be typed and where. When you use these blocks, you simply click and type the entry required.

To create a click here block, choose Insert, Field, from the Categories list choose Document Automation and from the Field names list choose MacroButton. In the text area, after the word MACROBUTTON, type:

NoMacro [Click here and type a name]

Click Ok to finish. Provided you’re displaying field code results and not the codes themselves, you’ll should see the prompt text appear inside the square brackets. Save your document. Then, when you open and use the document you can complete the required text by clicking the prompt and type the requested data. Notice when you do this that the field code text disappears and is replaced by your text.

Helen Bradley

Friday, June 22nd, 2007

Excel Pasting column widths

Copy and paste a range in Excel and you get everything except the column widths. They get left behind and sometimes that’s a big nuisance. When you need to paste column widths too, paste your cells and don’t move. Choose Edit, Paste Special and click Column widths and the column widths of the new cells adjust to match the source.

Easy when you know how…

Helen Bradley

Thursday, June 21st, 2007

Versioning in Word

Ever had that “Woops! I shouldn’t have deleted that!” feeling? If you use versions in Word, you never will. Versions let you save a copy of the document’s current status in the document file. Each new version is stored in the same file so you can return to a previous ‘version’ any time.

To save a version and configure it to happen automatically, choose File, Versions and click Save Now. You can also configure it so a version for your file is saved each time the file is closed. Then, using the same tool you can view and use an older version of the file whenever you need it.

If you’re prone to changing your mind, it could be just the tool you need!

However a word of warning, versioning isn’t supported in Word 2007 and you’ll lose your versions if you open and save a versioned document using Word 2007. So, this tool is only for those of you who haven’t yet upgraded.

Helen Bradley

Wednesday, June 20th, 2007

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

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

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

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