Monday, September 30, 2002


Macro Wizard

You don't have to be a Word macro wizard in order to create a couple of automated processes that can make your life easier. For example, right now I'm working on a project that requires a lot of strikethrough--like 500-pages worth, with small commands and phrases hither and yon on every page. Now I could just reach for the Format menu and choose Font; then click the Strikethrough checkbox for every infernal command in the entire project. Well, I could, but I won't. Why flirt with repetitive stress disorder when you can do it once, record it in a macro, and then let Word do it for you at the simple press of a button?
To create this kind of simple style macro, follow these steps:
Of course, this is only the tiniest tip of the macro iceberg. But they're fun, can be simple, and may even make your work a bit easier. At any rate, they're worth a second look. Have a good day! :) k

Friday, September 27, 2002


Fun with Pix

It's Friday and I just can't take anything very seriously today. I was messing around with a few photos I'm adding to a document and was enjoying the surprising array of picture editing tools available in Word's Picture toolbar. Do you know about them? When you scan, import, or open an image in Word and select it, the Picture toolbar appears, like so:

The Picture toolbar enables you to increase or decrease the contrast and brightness (this is great when you just need to clean something up quickly before you show it to a client), compress the image for the web or for print, rotate it, flow text around (or through) it, or even recolor it and create funky effects. Next time you have a spare moment and a picture you want to play with (no, don't put that dog's head on your boss's picture!), open a fresh Word document and give the Picture tools a whirl.

Have a good weekend! Cya :) k

Wednesday, September 25, 2002


Love the Blogs

This is really an aside, but I wanted to tell you what I did this morning. I am loving this whole blogging thing so much that I signed up on Dane Carlson's blog that makes matches between people wanting to hire out their blogging talents and the employers who may be (and hopefully are) looking for them. If you love to blog and would like to do more of it (and for money!), let the world know at

Tuesday, September 24, 2002


What? No Macros?

Here's something you might not know til you need it...because of a fun, weather-related calamity last Friday (my work computer was soaked with not-so-holy water)...I am trying to finish up projects on my backup (read: slower) system. I went to open a heavily macro'd document and none of the macros would work. A message box appeared, saying, "Hey! You can't do this because of your macro security settings." I've never set up any macro security settings on this system, so this must be built into Windows XP (or Word 2002) by default. Here's how to undo (or reduce) the security settings so that you can use macros provided in templates others give you:

Open the Tools menu and choose Options. Click the Security tab and then click the Macro Security button. You'll see three choices: High, Medium, and Low. You might want to try a Medium setting (but I set mine to Low because I'm basically a trusting soul and impatient, too--I don't want to have to come back here and change the settings!). Click OK to close the dialog box. You may need to close the document and reopen it in order for the new settings to take effect (I did).

Hey, it's not the most interesting tip in the world, but if it saves you a step or two, that's cool. Have a good day. Cya :) k

Saturday, September 21, 2002


Little Accents Mean a Lot

I don't do a lot of fancy, international stuff. So I rarely need to worry about accents and umlats and such. But this morning I was working on a company summary document for a consulting group that does have international clients, and I found myself facing slashes and dots and characters that don't appear on my laptop keyboard. Did you know that you use the Symbol dialog box for all those funky symbols, not just for copyright marks and em dashes? Here's how to add the special symbols in the body of your document:

Maybe now I'll start getting some international clients and I'll be able to put those four years of French club to work! Have a good weekend. Cya. :) k

Thursday, September 19, 2002


Pulling It All Together

Are you one of those people who starts a database, uses it for a month or so, and then later abandons it in favor of creating a better database? Yeah, me too. It's time we faced the fact that this love-em-and-leave-em database method is counterproductive. Access makes it easy for us to import the data we've already entered--in Access, dBASE (III thru 5), Excel, Lotus 1-2-3, Paradox (remember that?), XML documents, or plain ol' text files.

This means that if you've entered and saved data electronically, you don't have to waste your time re-entering it. Create a new database (or open the one you want to add the data to) and choose Get External Data from the File menu. Select Import, navigate to the file you want to import (choose the format in the Files of type field if the data isn't in Access format), select the file and click Import. In the Import dialog box, click the items you want to import. (You can choose tables, forms, queries, and so on--whatever you created for the other database. To select everything at once, click Select All.) Click Import to finish the job, and Access adds the existing file as a new table in the selected database. Isn't that simple? And it's a great way to pull together all those "favorite movie" databases we created in the 80s. Who knows? Bad-and-ugly trivia might come back into style. :) k

Wednesday, September 18, 2002


A Note to Subscribers

If over the last couple of weeks you've tried to subscribe to this blog and have been getting my other blog Practical ~faith~instead--my apologies! Web scripting neophyte that I am, I had the subscription code messed up. It's all sorted out now, though. Thanks to Monsur at Bloglet for coming to my rescue! If you're one of the lucky ones on the special messed-up list, drop me a note by clicking here and I'll get you in the right place! Sorry for the oh-so-human goof...I'm good for those. :) k

P.S. Of course, if you're new to this blog and want to subscribe for real, enter your email to the left and click Subscribe--and welcome! (It works! I promise! )


Out Here on the Big Web

Hey, I'm using Blog This! to send this message back to the studio from the Big Kahuna Microsoft Office site, where my article 10 Tips for Creative Effective Presentationsis running right now. I think they did a cool job preparing this for the web. Check it out at Microsoft Office Home Page

Tuesday, September 17, 2002


A Little Formatting F&R

Here's a simple little Word trick that can save you lots of find-and-replace time and trouble when you're trying to fix formats in long documents. When you want to make a global (meaning "everywhere in the document") kind of change--for example, suppose that you italicized a product name and your boss wants it bold--start by pressing Ctrl+F to display the Find and Replace dialog box. Enter what you're looking for in the Find what: box; then click the Highlight all items found in checkbox. Notice that the Find Next button changes to Find All. Click Find All and Word searches for and highlights all the occurrences of the word or phrase you entered. Click the Close button and now change the format to whatever you want by clicking the Italic button (to remove the ital), clicking Bold (to add bold), or clicking the Styles down-arrow and choosing the style you want to apply to the found text.

For some reason, this sounds WAY more complicated than it is to do. Check it out for yourself. Press Ctrl+F to begin.

BTW, you can search and replace styles in Word by choosing Styles and Formatting from the Format menu. But that's another tip...CYA :) k

Monday, September 16, 2002


Open Em All

Am I the last Office XP user on the face of the earth to discover this? I was working in Excel this morning (one of my favorite clients wanted an update pronto! and I was scurrying to send the info via email) and I was trying to find the right document. Opened one--nope, that's not it. (Here's where I put in a plug for naming your files in such a way that you know instantly what they contain later...). Opened another one--no, that's not it either. In my rush, I was surprised to see Word open over my Excel window and I realized that I'd just selected the business plan document as opposed to the sales projection spreadsheet (same root name, different extensions). Who knew I could launch Word and open a Word document from the Excel Open dialog box? Way cool!

The moral is that if you've been minimizing applications and going to the Start menu (or clicking the desktop shortcut icon) in order to launch a different Office program, you can save yourself some wasted steps. No matter which program you're using, just choose File Open and select the file you want to use (make sure All Files is selected in the Files of Type field so you can see all the different files in the selected folder). Leave it up to Office to launch the program you need to work on the file you want. It's the little things like this that make this program so completely cool, dontcha think?

Friday, September 13, 2002


Cheater's Index

Indexing is fun if you like word searches, crossword puzzles, and connect-the-dots (well, maybe not that last one...). When you have to do a quick index, if you don't want to take the time to learn Word's true indexing feature (it's really pretty easy but takes a while--and discipline--to enter the tags and mark your entries), you can do it the Super Fast way. Just create a blank document and create a list of all the entries, in the order you find them, with a comma and a page number afterwards, like this:
Go page by page through your document and enter the heads, topics, whatever you want indexed. Be sure to press Enter after each item so each one is on a separate line. Then highlight the whole list (press Ctrl+A, it's easiest), open the Table menu and choose Sort. All the default values are fine so just click OK--and, Cool!all the items are alphabetized and in order. Just do a little editing to make it look nice and you're ready to go. Simple, eh?


Charts 4 Everything!

If you're like me, your eyes glaze over when you look at a column of numbers. I don't want dry facts, I want color! Splash! Bars and pie slices! Give me an excuse to make a chart for anything (Want to see a comparison of weights and sizes of all the boys on my son Cameron's fourth-grade football team? Give me a minute...) and I'll be glad to leave my paying gig and dash one off for you. (Oops, I'm showing my flaws again. Gotta love blogging.)

Did you know you can easily email an Excel chart you've been working on to your coworkers for a quick peer review? Just create your chart and, with it still selected, open the Chart menu and choose Location. Click As a New Sheet and then click OK. That puts the chart on a new sheet all its own. Next, open the File menu and select Send To; then choose Mail Recipient from the submenu that appears. Select the Send the Current Sheet as the Message Body option; and click OK. Now all you have to do is choose the To Whom, add a Subject line (and more info if you really want to), and click Send. You might want to email a chart-in-progress to your home email account so when you have a brilliant chart epiphany at 3 A.M., you can check it against (or improve upon) yesterday's brainchild. That's it for me in these wee hours. Cya! :) k

Tuesday, September 10, 2002


Well, I Feel Like a Dork...

But I'm out here on the web, sending in the link for the free Microsoft Publisher trial from the big kahuna web site, I just love this simple little program and I miss using it. (I also wrote several books about it in a former life.) My version of Office XP didn't come with Publisher 2002, and when I saw the free trial (it's usually $10 bucks for the 30-day evaluation copy), I thought, why not see what I've been missing? Publisher is great for those simple marketing pieces (postcards, business cards, newsletters, and more) and you can even use it to create web pages if FrontPage intimidates you. Check it out for yourself at Try Publisher 2002 for Free. I'll let you know what I think once I've had a chance to scout around. Enjoy your day. :) k

Friday, September 06, 2002


A Quick Note

Several of you have dropped me notes (thanks!) asking about blogging in general. I'm relatively new at this (although I *love* it) but I can point you toward Biz Stone, the author of the hot new book Blogging. I had the good fortune to be on the editorial team of Biz's book and it's wonderful, fun, and very specific in showing you how to go through the various steps in creating and enhancing your own blog. His book is what hooked me, and I consider it the definitive reference. So if you want to know more about blogging--or want to blog better--check out Biz's blog & book at

That's it for me this week; I hope you've had a good one and are looking at a fun (or at least relaxing) weekend. Remember--part of the reason we work so hard at getting good at computers is to give us more time to do the meaningful things in life (however you define that). Enjoy! :) k

Thursday, September 05, 2002


Excel-ing in Outlook

Sheesh, that's a bad pun. So here's my puzzle of the day. Yesterday afternoon I went back and forth (and back and forth) with a person in my client's accounting department as we tried to figure out which invoices hadn't been processed yet. (When you run a small business, it's important to know what's coming and when.) I wanted to show her the entries I had for outstanding invoices, including the date, invoice number, project number, and amount. Seems simple enough--just email it. But when I copied the info from Excel to Outlook, it jumped sideways and reformatted itself all out of whack. So my workaround, to get the data into an Outlook email message so I could send it in a legible way, was this: I wrote the body of the message as normal. Outlook was in HTML (the default) mode. (You can tell which mode your version of Outlook uses by opening the Format menu on the current message and seeing whether Plain Text or HTML is selected.) Then I copied the info from Excel and tried not to grit my teeth when it reformatted itself. Finally, I clicked the invisible text box the data was placed in (you can tell where this is by moving the pointer over the data and clicking when the pointer changes to a four-headed arrow), opened the Format menu, and selected Plain Text. Outlook displayed a message warning me all my formatting would go away. I said fine, just fix it. Then, once the Excel data was stripped of its weird format and sitting nicely on the line, I opened the Format menu and selected HTML again. Now the formats reappear, the data is lined up, and I could add backgrounds and colors and new fonts or whatever I else I wanted in the rest of the message. Of course, by then I was tired of messing with it so I just added a smiley :) and clicked Send. It's the little things that make or break a day, you know? :) -k

Wednesday, September 04, 2002


The Zen of Envelopes

Okay, so instead of my morning meditation time I decided to take care of a few business details. And instead of feeling at-one with the universe, I spent 25 minutes struggling with printing a single envelope. Not a very peaceful start to a busy morning. :) Be forewarned--sometimes Word's Envelopes and Labels feature works great, and sometimes it acts like a huge bug sitting on your keyboard. The envelope I was trying to print, based on the address block of the current document, came out three different ways--none of which was centered the way I wanted it to be. And even though I clicked Omit for the return address (the idea being that Word won't print the return address (great for printing on professional envelopes that have your logo and business address already printed on them), the darned thing printed anyway. The moral? It's four-fold: (1) Delete the return address if you don't want it; (2) print a test on paper before you load the envelope so you know how--and where--it's going to come out; (3) click Add to Document once you get it right so the envelope is added to the envelope for the next time you try to print it; and (3) don't skip your morning meditation time. Have a good day, with or without envelopes. Cya. :) k

Monday, September 02, 2002


All This and Images, Too

Man, I really like the easy-scan feature built right into Word. Just put the photo in the scanner, open a document, choose Picture from the Insert menu, and click From Scanner or Camera. The software does the rest (assuming you've got your scanner or camera connected.) Take a look. This is me. Kathy Murray, computer dork. (My son says being a dork is *much* cooler than being a geek.) I don't know who that lady is sitting behind me. Try not to notice.
Happy non-Labor Day, by the way. :) k

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Subscribe to Posts [Atom]