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

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