Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Making Fast, Consistent Changes in Microsoft Word

Fun with Find and Replace

Find and Replace is a basic, and too often overlooked, feature in Microsoft Word. Here we’ll step you through just a few operations you can perform with Find and Replace that will eliminate a lot of editorial tedium and prevent overlooked details.

Curly vs. Straight Quotes: Have you ever pasted something from Notepad into a regular Word file and ended up with something that looks like this?

Here's a sentence of two from Notepad. Notice the "straight" quotes and apostrophe. Now here’s the existing text in Word. See how the quotes are “curly”?

Unformatted Notepad text has quotes and apostrophes that stick straight up and down. Formatted Word text has quotes and apostrophes that angle in to set off the words they surround. When curly and straight quotes mix on the page, 99% of readers won’t notice or care. The remaining 1% hate this sort of inconsistency. So if you’re one of those sticklers, here’s how to fix it:

1.        Press Ctrl + H to bring up the Find and Replace box.

2.        Enter an apostrophe in both the Find and Replace fields.

3.        Select Replace All.

4.        Word will change all the straight apostrophes to curly apostrophes, and will leave the curly apostrophes alone.

5.        Repeat these steps for quotation marks.

Replacing Text with Graphics: Suppose you’re working on a document where you want to replace instances of a company name with a graphic of its logo. It requires a few more steps than your typical Find and Replace, but here’s how to do it.

1.        Insert the logo somewhere into the text. It can be anywhere. You just need to click on it and press Ctrl + V to copy the image onto your Clipboard and remove it from the text.

2.        Now press Ctrl + H to bring up the Find and Replace box.

3.        Enter the company name in the Find field.

4.        Put the cursor in the Replace field. Click the More button in the lower left-hand corner, then click Special and select Clipboard Contents (see below).

  1. Click Replace or Replace All, depending on whether or not you want to replace every instance of the company name.

Case-Sensitive Find and Replace. This is useful if you’re working on a document which contains both capitalized and lower-case versions of the same word. Suppose you’re writing about a trademarked product whose name includes some very common word. You need to make sure the trademark symbol appears after the product name, but not after every instance of the word. For example:

Miss Kitty’s Cat Trees look just like real trees – but cats don’t have to go outdoors to climb them. Models include pecan, walnut, and willow trees. Try Miss Kitty’s Cat Trees when you’re tired of calling the fireman to get that pesky cat out of your tree!

To make sure Miss Kitty’s Cat Trees™ is properly trademarked while ensuring that “trees” is not, do the following:

  1. Insert the trademark symbol after Trees.
  2. Highlight Trees™ and press Ctrl + C.
  3. Press Ctrl + H to bring up the Find and Replace box.
  4. Type Trees in the Find field.
  5. Click in the Replace field and press Ctrl + V to paste.
  6. Click More.
  7. Check off the box that says “Match Case.” This will ensure that the computer will only look for capitalized instances of “Trees.”

  1. Click Replace All. In order to avoid trademarking generic instances of “trees” when they start a sentence (for example, “Trees are something cats love”), click Find Next so that you can approve each replacement individually. Or search on the whole phrase “Miss Kitty’s Cat Trees” and do a Replace All with “Miss Kitty’s Cat Trees™”.

Don’t go combing through long documents when you have global changes to make – you’ll go cross-eyed with boredom and probably miss some crucial details. The Find and Replace function can make your life a whole lot easier


Friday, December 14, 2007

Creating Bold, Professional Excel Charts

Produce Clear, Attractive Charts in Excel

Whether it was at a conference, a business meeting, a Webinar, or over email, chances are you have been forced to look at some very unattractive charts in the course of doing business. Blame it on Excel and its evil stepsister, PowerPoint. These programs give users so many presentation options – column, line, bar, or pie graph, to name a few – that it’s no wonder people have on occasion made some bad choices. In this QuickTip, we’ll show you how to avoid creating eyesores like this:

1.       First off, think about the information you want to convey. This sample chart was made for a company whose gross income grew steadily over the first half of the year, but whose net income dipped in April due to unforeseen expenses. Column charts and line graphs are great for comparing simultaneous trends, so the author made a good decision in selecting a column chart. The mistake was in introducing so many wacky perspectives, shapes, and competing fonts and colors that they obscured the trends in the data.

2.       Just because it’s an option doesn’t mean you should use it. Once you’ve figured out how to access them, it can be tempting to use gradients, fills, borders, and a variety of fonts. But remember that clarity is key, and that clarity depends on simplicity. Don’t use more than one font type, keep colors sedate, and don’t use 3D charts unless they’re really necessary.

3.       If you’re using Excel 2007, trust the default. Some very wise designers have gone in and made the default chart settings soothing and attractive to the eye. Here is the data from the chart above, rendered in default Excel 2007 style:

To create this chart in Excel 2007, follow these simple steps:

1.       Input your data.

2.       Highlight your data, then go to the Insert menu and select the Column button. Select Clustered Column from the drop-down menu.

3.       Your chart will appear. If you want to investigate other chart types, just right-click on the chart.

4.       Select Change Chart Type for other chart options.

Excel 2007 makes charting easier by giving you big, easy buttons to push instead of making you wade through layer after layer of menus. And the default designs mean that you don’t have to be Michelangelo to produce an attractive chart. If you haven’t upgraded to Office 2007, now might be the right time. Get a great start to the New Year! Contact CMIT Solutions to find out more.


Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Creating Search Folders in Outlook 2003 and 2007

Use Search Folders to Group Messages by Sender, Topic, Keyword, and More

The Search Folder is an easy way to organize your correspondence without actually shuffling copies of messages between folders in Outlook 2003 and 2007. For example, say you’ve been working with someone on several different projects. You might keep a folder in Outlook under the name of each project.  But with a saved search folder, you can put together a virtual copy of all the messages you’ve sent to that person and received from them, regardless of which project it related to.

Here’s how to do it:

1.       Go to the New button on your toolbar and click the arrow for the drop-down menu.

2.       Select Search Folder.

3.       You’ll see a number of Search Folder options. You can organize them according to whether they’re flagged or not, who sent the message, how large any attachments are, and a host of other options. You can also customize folders by more advanced criteria.

4.       Say you want to create a folder for all of your communication with a particular person. Select Mail from and sent to specific people under the Mail from People and Lists column. Then select Choose.

5.       Type in the person’s name in the From or Sent to field at the bottom. It doesn’t have to be their actual address. Click OK, and click OK again to close out of the Search Folder menu.

6.       You’ll see a new Search Folder listed in your mailbox that will contain all of your correspondence with that person.

The real value of the Saved Search folder is that it collects messages sent and received messages, so you don’t have to go trolling through your Sent Items to get a full picture of every conversation. And when a particular folder isn’t useful to you anymore, you can go ahead and delete it – the original messages remain intact regardless of what happens to the Search Folder.

This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the capabilities of recent releases of Office. If you haven’t upgraded, now might be the right time.