This week’s Roundup of the reading file is an embarrassment of riches from the usual suspects: TechRepublic’s take on the most important Microsoft Word skills, how to put time values into Microsoft Excel, Vivian Manning tackles Microsoft Word’s mail merge feature, making it easier to switch between Word documents, and how to share your Microsoft Outlook calendar. Click the “Read More” link for the details. Keep reading →
Because I’m always trying to make sure I’m posting tutorials that help as many readers as possible, I regularly check out the statistics on what current posts are getting the most eyeballs (so I can do “more like that“). Sometimes, the stats surprise me.
But it is. And don’t get me wrong: I’m glad it’s helping so many people, especially considering how much work went into it.
In fact, at the time I originally posted it six months ago, I had done a video tutorial to go with the illustrations and text. Unfortunately, I was still scaling the learning curve on my newly-purchased screencasting software, and since I couldn’t figure out how to get rid of the irritating background whine in the the audio portion of the video, I set the video aside and published the post without it.
Now, I’ve gone back and fixed the original video showing the 5 steps to formatting a large Excel spreadsheet for printing, and I’ve added it to the post. So if printing in Excel is a mystery to you, click here to check out the post and the new companion video. (There’s even a downloadable transcript of the video in case the narration’s not 100% clear — I had to talk a little faster than normal in some spots when re-recording the narration!)
The editors at Attorney at Work reached out to me for some quick tech tips for their blog this week, and I was happy to oblige. Ranging across the most popular Microsoft Office suite applications, this guest post will show you how to:
Set up your Status Bar to maximize its usefulness in every Microsoft Office application
Improve the full-justification of text in Microsoft Word
Make sure your Microsoft Excel sheets auto-calculate
Start your Microsoft Outlook each day in the folder of your choice: Inbox, Calendar, Tasks, or even the Outlook Today overview
If you've ever been presented with an Excel spreadsheet with a gosh-awful number of rows and/or columns in it and assigned the task of making sense of all those numbers (grouping, summarizing, or making other calculations), you need to learn about Pivot Tables.
Okay, people, I hear yawning out there! Seriously, this is a good skill to have in your back pocket, even if you only work with Excel occasionally, because it saves so much time. So to motivate you properly, here's a fun little YouTube introduction to the whys behind Pivot Tables:
My friend Karen has issues. No, I'm not talking about those kinds of issues. She's got issues with Microsoft Excel.
Every time her boss gives her one of those monster Microsoft Excel spreadsheets (the kind that span 10 pages across and have 20,000 rows of data) and says, "Print this," she panics. And then she comes to my desk and begs me to print it for her.
I can't say I blame her. Unless you've worked with Microsoft Excel a fair bit, the prospect of formatting something that large for printing is pretty daunting. (I always felt the same way about Lotus 1-2-3 for DOS back in its heyday. Yes, I am that old.)
I promised her I'd break this process down for her so, in case I'm on vacation one day when she really, really needs something printed now, she'll know how to do it herself.
Recently, a fellow reader, Jessica from Miami, asked if I would help her figure out a way to create an event timeline in a format her boss is partial to:
She had tried to find templates online, but nothing really seemed geared to a legal context.
I tried creating a solution in Word, but it was less than satisfactory. So, given that Jessica was pretty comfortable with Excel, I developed a template for her there.
Changing the orientation of text within cells (vertical, horizontal, or diagonal, as in the example above) is actually pretty easy — here, I’ll show you:
(To view in full-screen mode, click the button in the lower right-hand corner.)
There’s other formatting done here too — the cells are wrapped (the Wrap Text checkbox above), I shifted the vertical alignment to Bottom, and in some cases, to get the middle cell to look more “centered,” I added a hard return before the text (with ALT-ENTER). There’s a fair bit of eyeballing that has to be done to get it to look right, and it’s all a judgment call according to your personal preference.
What uses could you find for this trick? Let me know in the comments below.
(P.S.: Jessica seemed to be pretty happy with her new template last I heard!)
If you use Microsoft Excel to organize data (say, a list of documents being produced), you may have run across The Cell That's Too Small For Its Data. You know, you've got a bunch of stuff typed into a cell (not because you're rambling, but because you need all that information, dang it), and it just breaks out of the borders of the cell and keeps on going:
And if that's not annoying enough, if you have to type something into the cell to the right, then you've just cut off the last part of that other cell:
What you want to be able to do is have the information in the first cell wrap so it appears on multiple lines within that cell. Right?