Thursday, July 24th, 2014

Insert Text from a File into Word

You can quickly insert text from a file into your document using Word’s Text from File command. This used to be as simple as choosing Insert > File  but the command got hidden behind an additional layer of the UI in Word 2007, making it almost entirely invisible to most users.

To insert text from a file in all recent versions of Word, open the Insert tab in the ribbon and, in the Text settings find the Object button. Click the small arrow to the right of the Object button, and choose Text from File…. Choose the file you want and click Insert. The file type selection here defaults to Word documents only, so if you wish to insert a .txt file or other non-Word document, you’ll have to change the file type to your desired type or All Files.

If you insert a Word document it will include all elements of the document such as images and special formatting. If you wish to include the file’s header or footer (if it has one), you should insert the file into a new section of your document. Be careful when inserting multiple files with different formats, since text from one file may take on another file’s format if the inserts aren’t separated properly.

Friday, March 21st, 2014

How to Fix Excel Printing a Workbook to Multiple PDF Files

Learn how to  make sure that printing multiple sheets to a pdf gives one pdf and not many

If you have ever tried to print a large Excel workbook to a PDF file, you’ve probably run into this issue. You press print, Excel asks you to name the PDF, and then it begins to print. Everything seems fine, but then Excel asks you to name another PDF, then another, then another, ad infinitum. When the operation finally finishes, Excel has properly printed the workbook to a PDF format, but your worksheets have been split into several different PDF files. Some PDFs contain multiple worksheets, others only a single one, but all you really wanted was one PDF file with the entire workbook.

It turns out this issue is caused by having different Page Setup options on each worksheet. For example, Excel can’t print two pages with different paper sizes to the same “piece of paper” (actually a PDF in this case). Instead, it insists on having two different PDFs to print to, one for each paper size. So, to resolve this issue, you must make sure each worksheet’s page setup agrees with the others.

Fortunately, doing this is very simple. To begin, in your Excel workbook, right click one of your worksheet tabs at the bottom of the window and choose Select All Sheets. Any changes to the Page Setup options will now be applied to every worksheet.

This means we don’t have to check each worksheet to make sure it has the same settings as the others; we simply choose which settings we want and all the worksheets will automatically match. To do this, go to the Page Layout tab in the ribbon. In the Page Setup section, click the small arrow in the bottom right corner to open the Page Setup dialog.

The Page tab of the dialog contains the critical options that can lead to this issue, namely the paper size and print quality settings. Change these to whatever you wish, typically something like letter paper at 300 dpi. Other settings, such as orientation and scaling, do not cause the multiple PDFs issue so if you wish you can change them for individual worksheets. Still, it’s best to have all worksheets print with the same settings. Once you have chosen your desired settings click OK and they will be applied to every worksheet.

You can now print your workbook to a single PDF file.

Helen Bradley

Helen Bradley

Thursday, June 6th, 2013

Photoshop – Line Drawing Techniques for Maps

Learn how to create uneven lines that look hand drawn to use for cartography and other uses in Photoshop. Make use of Hue/Saturation adjustment to add vintage color, use brushes to create a pattern for the lines. Also, show how to render lines in black and white without any shades of grey and, lastly, how to distort them slightly. This video also shows how to add shadow around land mass and multiple lines of edging for a land mass.

Hello, I’m Helen Bradley. Welcome to this video tutorial. In this tutorial I’m going to show you some line drawing techniques for creating maps in Photoshop. In this video I’m going to show you how you can create the effect that we have here around the edge of this chart. We’re going to draw the edge. We’re going to add this shading and also create these lines so that we can see how this could be created. The pattern in the middle is just a very simple pattern fill. We won’t be covering that, but we’ll be covering everything else in this video tutorial.

So to get started I’m going to start with a new image. And I’m going to choose File and then New. And I’m going to create a very tall image. So it’s going to be 2,000 pixels tall, RGB color. Background contents of white is just fine, so I’ll just click Ok to create that image.

And what I want to do first of all is to create these lines. And we’re going to do that using a paintbrush. So I’m going to click on the paintbrush and let’s select a brush to use. And what I want is something relatively small so I’m going to start with something like this 4 pixel brush. And then I’m going to choose Window and then Brush to open this brushes panel here. And what I want to do is to set up the brush so it’s going to paint the lines for me. So first of all I’m going to adjust the spacing so that there’s increased spacing between the brush tips. And I’m going to leave the size at about 4 pixels. Then I’m going to shape dynamics because I want the size of the brush to vary.

So I’m going to increase this quite a bit so we start seeing that there’s some variety in the brush here. Minimum diameter I don’t want to change at all. And that’s pretty much all I need to do with the brush right now. And then I’m going to test it. So I’m going to make sure that I have black set as my background or foreground color, which it is here. And then I’m going to click with my brush here and I’m going to Shift click at the bottom because that will create a straight line of brush strokes. And let’s just have a look in here a bit closer at this.

You can see that we now have this sort of dotted line which is different varieties of line. Now if that’s not quite what I want I can just zoom out and we can start again. So I’m just going to undo the brush and perhaps we’ll go back and make the brush just a little bit bigger than it was. So let’s go to brush tip shape, increase the size just a little bit, and perhaps bring down the size jitter or up the minimum diameter so that we haven’t got quite so much variety in our brushes. I’m going to click here and then Shift click to finish my brush stroke.

Now what I want is a sampling of this. So I’m going to use this tool here which is the single column marquee tool, one of the few times you will ever find a need for this particular tool. I’m going to zoom in here so that I can see exactly what I’m selecting and I’m just going to click to select a single line through this image. Now that’s not the world’s best. So let’s just try again. My brush stroke is not completely vertical so that’s causing me some problems here. Let’s start this again. I’m going to click here, and again let’s Shift click to create a straight line. And let’s see if that’s a bit straighter. That will be when we click just to one side of it. So that’s going all the way through the dot.

So I’m just going to choose Edit and then Define Pattern because this is going to be a pattern. And it will be just this dashed line as our pattern so I’ll click Ok. I can now close this image because I don’t need it any longer. And let’s see how our pattern will work.

I’m going to create a new document, this time 2,000 by 2,000 pixels in size. And this time I’m going to fill it. So I’m going to choose Edit and then Fill. And I’m going to fill it with a pattern. So I’m going to select Pattern. And the very last pattern in this container here will be the pattern we’ve just created so I’ll click Ok. And there are our lines. And that’s a starter for our map.

Now with our lines we can make these bigger. So I’ve got a background layer here but I can click to make it into a regular layer. And we can just enlarge this. So if we want larger lines all we need to do is to just drag up and down on this to just make the lines a whole lot wider than they are. And because they’re lines we can just size everything like this.

If you want to make sure that that there are no gray areas to the lines, as you can see they’ve got slightly fuzzy sides here, just use Image and then Adjustments and then Threshold. And that just makes the lines black and white. They’re pure black and white now. And if you want a bit of variety, Edit, Transform and then Warp. And you can just adjust the lines with a little bit more of a curve or something through them so that they look a little less like they’re straight lines and perhaps a little bit more hand-drawn feel about them, Ok. Now let’s add our map part.

So I’m just going to grab the Lasso tool and for this exercise just draw a very wiggly sort of coastline that we’re going to use for our map. And white is my foreground color so I’m going to Alt Backspace, Option Delete on the Mac, to fill this with white. Now I want an edge around here so I’m going to choose Edit and then Stroke. And I’m going to stroke the edge with black. I’m just going to get all my tools over on this screen. So I’m going to select Black. And I’m going to make this a 6 pixel to begin with. And it’s going to be on the inside of this shape so I’ll just click Ok. And there’s our 6 pixel stroke.

Now I’m going to bring in this size. So I’m going to choose Select, Modify, Contract and I’m going to contract this by 10 pixels because I think that will be enough and then add another stroke. So again, Edit, Stroke. And this time I’m going to just use a 3 pixel stroke, but again on the inside. And then we’ll repeat that again, Select, Modify, Contract by 10 pixels and then repeat the stroke, Edit, Stroke and just click Ok. And then when I press Ctrl D you’ll see that we have the edges around here. But I’m actually just going to undo that Deselect right now because I have another piece to go in here.

What I want to do is to fill this shape with the grass so I have that as a pattern. So I’m going to choose Edit and then Fill, and again still pattern but here is my grass pattern here that I created earlier. And I’m just going to fill it with the grass pattern. Now we’re going to see how to create the shading around the edge. So I’m going to deselect the selection. I’m going to make sure I’m selected on the land, which is where the shading is to go, and I’m going to choose the Add Layer Style button here. And we’re going to choose an outer glow.

Now outer glow sounds like it should add some lightness around the edge but we can use it to add darkness. All we’re going to do is to select a dark color. Well we’ll stick with black right now. Now we can’t use screen as our blend mode. We’ll have to use something that will darken. So we’re going to choose multiply. And we’re going to set this if we want it to be full strength at 100 percent opacity. And we can adjust the size which is really the feathering around here. And the spread is how big it is. It would sound better to me if spread were really the feathering and size was the actual size. But that’s what you’re going to use.

So I’ll just click Ok. And now if we want to add this sort of sepia tone to the image, I’m going to make sure I have the image selected, and we’re going to do that with the hue/saturation adjustment layer, Layer, New Adjustment Layer, Hue/Saturation, click Ok. We’re going to select Colorized because we want to colorize this. And then we’re going to go and pick up our sort of brown color, increase the saturation and adjust the lightness. And you’re just looking for that sort of effect that is going to say vintage map to you. So I’m probably just going to select that for now.

And then I would finish off by cropping my image. We probably don’t need quite as much sea visible. In my image I have a one to one crop set here. That’s why it’s behaving a bit strangely. And there is our final result.

We’ve created lines using a brush in Photoshop. They’re all different size lines and we’ve created this sort of effect of an old-fashioned map. And actually if I just drag this adjustment layer up over the top of the fill we’ll really get that look of a vintage map.

I’m Helen Bradley. Thank you for joining me for this video tutorial. Look out for more of my Photoshop tutorials on this YouTube channel. Subscribe to the channel. If you enjoyed it please comment and like this video. You’ll find more videos, tips, tricks and tutorials at my website at

Helen Bradley

Sunday, November 11th, 2012

Smart Objects and Strokes in Photoshop

One relatively unknown benefit of Smart Objects in Photoshop is the ability to use it to apply multiple strokes to an image. You can’t do this with Layer Styles on their own but you can do it with Smart Objects.

Here’s how to do this.

First add a Stroke Layer Style to your layer.

You can’t add a second stroke but you can convert the object to be a Smart Object. To do this, right click and choose Convert to Smart Object.

Now click the Smart Object layer and go ahead and add a new stroke to it. It all remains fully editable and you get multiple strokes – or multiple “anything” you want in Photoshop.

Helen Bradley