Tame your computer – clever topping and tailing

16 Jul

Today’s tip is inspired by Phil, the Manager Director at Cambridge Print Solutions, the company which has been printing my course handouts for donkey’s years. (I highly recommend Cambridge Print Solutions. I have been using them to print my training manuals since August 2006 and they have always delivered on time, occasionally at short notice – with a smile and a chat.  And no, I’m not getting commission for this recommendation.)

The most common question they apparently get is about different headers and footers on the left and right side of booklets. As you know, the headers and footers in Word are normally the same on each page. But it is really simple to specify that odd-numbered pages have a different header and footer from even-numbered pages.

Here’s how:

  1. Double-click anywhere in the header or footer area of an odd page (1, 3, 5 etc.).
  2. Select the Different Odd & Even Pages check box in the Options group.
  3. In the Header & Footer group click on the Header or Footer button.
  4. Select the preferred style from the dropdown list (some are specifically for odd or even page layouts) or click on Edit Header or Edit Footer and type your own.
  5. Click on the Next button in the Navigation group.
  6. Select the preferred style from the dropdown list or type your own as described in step 4.
  7. Double-click anywhere in the body of your document or click on the Close Header and Footer button.

There are a lot of other clever things you can do with headers and footers such as numbering on pages in landscape orientation, but you’ll need to work with section breaks for that.  More about that some other time.

Related tips
Add the file name and path to the header or footer
Temporarily hide page breaks, headers and footers

Tame your computer – avoid email overload

9 Jul

With the holiday season upon us, I felt it was a good idea to dust off the tip on how to prevent email overload upon your return from holiday …

Doesn’t it sound tempting to set up a rule that will send all your email received during your time off straight into your bin? Far-fetched? The German company Daimler encouraged setting up the following automatic reply:

I am on vacation. I cannot read your email. Your email is being deleted. Please contact Hans or Monika if it’s really important, or resend the email after I’m back in the office. Danke Schoen.

(See http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-28786117 if you want to read more about this novel idea.)
As it probably isn’t very likely that you’ll be able to get away with this where you work, herewith five top tips to prevent email overload upon your return:

  1. Switch on your Out of Office message a day early, so you can clear out your inbox before you leave.
    1. Click the File tab.
    2. Click Automatic Replies.
  1. Forward your mail to a colleague.
    1. Click the File tab.
    2. Click Automatic Replies.
    3. Click Rules, and then click Add Rule.
    4. Tick the Forward check box and enter the name of your colleague who has agreed to keep an eye on your email in your absence.
    5. If necessary, click on the Check Names button.
    6. Consider clicking the Delete check box. (You can always rummage through your recycle bin upon your return.)
    7. Click OK three times.
  1. Automatically move messages where your name is in the Cc box to a folder named when I have time to read this.
    1. Right-click any of your messages.
    2. Select RulesCreate Rule.
    3. Click on Advanced Options.
    4. Tick where my name is in the Cc box (11th from the top).
    5. Click Next.
    6. Tick the first check box (move it to the specified folder).
    7. In the Step 2 box, click on the underlined specified link.
    8. Click on the when I have time to read this folder you created earlier or click on New to create a folder “on the fly”.
    9. Click OK.
    10. Click Finish.
  1. Agree with colleagues they all mark messages about meetings or events to expire after a specific date.
    1. Create the message as normal. (CTRL+N, anyone?)
    2. On the Options tab click on the dialog box launcher  (the tiny arrow) in the More Options group.
    3. Tick the Expires after check box.

Upon your return, any messages about meetings or events that happened during your absence have a strike-through the subject line and will be easy to spot for you to delete.

  1. Send out a message to your main contacts one or two weeks prior to your holiday.

Wishing you all a relaxing, stress-free break.

Tame your computer – find a formula

2 Jul

A function is a special type of formula that “returns” a specific result.  Excel provides more than 400 functions and new ones seem to get added with every release. Functions allow you to perform calculations that would otherwise be difficult, if not impossible, to achieve. Popular functions you might have heard about (or use) are SUM, AVERAGE, IF, AND, OR, LOOKUP, TODAY, NETWORKDAYS, TRIM …

But let’s stick to today’s topic … how to automatically complete formulas.

To make it easier to enter functions and minimise typing errors Microsoft introduced “Formula AutoComplete” in version 2010. If you are not a “hunt-and-peck” typist and look at your screen rather than your keyboard when you type, you will have noticed that as you type the function, suggestions pop up. But did you know there is also a fast way of opening the bracket?

Here’s how:

  1. Type = (equal sign) and the first couple of letters of the function.
  2. Keep typing or use your downward arrow to select the desired formula.
  3. Press TAB.

By the way, if for some reason you cannot bear Formula AutoComplete you can turn it off. Here’s how:

  1. Select Options from the File tab.
  2. Type an F (or click on Formulas if you must).
  3. Untick the Formula AutoComplete check box.
  4. Press ENTER (or click OK).

With thanks to Emma for the tip inspiration!

Related tips:
Find out how many working days are left this year
Countdown to your special day: anniversary, birthday, wedding, retirement or Christmas

Tame your computer – set up a second signature

12 Jun

Last week I read a newspaper article on whether or not we should feel obliged to reply instantly to emails received outside working hours. Unless you work across time zones, there really shouldn’t be a need to check your emails in the evening or at weekends. Some companies (like one of my clients) even specifically state that you should only engage in work-related communication outside working time in exceptional circumstances.

But what if it suits you better to send it outside those hours? You could obviously schedule your message to be sent at your preferred date and time (see tip 503). But why not set up a second e-mail signature to make it clear to your contacts that you do not expect an immediate response. That way you can swap between your normal one (sent during office hours) and the one sent outside office hours

Here’s how:

  1. Create your e-mail message as normal. (CTRL + N springs to mind.)
  2. On the Message tab, in the Include group, click Signature, and then click Signatures.
  3. On the E-mail Signature tab, click New.
  4. Type a name for the signature and press ENTER (or click on OK).
  5. In the Edit signature box, type the text that you want to include in the signature.
  6. Click OK.
  7. In the e-mail message, right-click the existing signature and select the name of the signature that you want to use from the drop-down list.

One signature shared widely on social media reads: “I am sending this email at the weekend because it fits with my schedule this week. This does not imply an expectation that you respond outside your working hours.”

Related tips:
Schedule your e-mail message to be sent at your preferred date and time
Switch from one signature to another

Tame your computer – zero in on Excel

31 May

I love Excel but there are a couple of things that really annoy me. One of these things is that you cannot add a zero in front of a number, which I often want to use for telephone numbers and invoices. For example 01223123456 should not be turned into 1223123456. And James Bond’s code number should not be changed to 7!

Oh, and how about large numbers such as credit cards that are turned into some weird code?  For example 1234567898765432 being displayed as 1.23457E+15.

There are various ways you can tackle this, by means of custom formats and the TEXT Function. But if you never need to use the number in a calculation, there is a much easier way.

Here’s how:

  1. Type an apostrophe (‘) in front of the number.

Excel will treat the cell as text (hence the fact that you cannot use it to do a calculation) and the number will be left-aligned. You can obviously reset the alignment by clicking on the Align Text Right button.

Related tip

Tip # 193: Display your numbers with leading zeros

Tame your computer – ultrafast update

22 May

Long documents such as business proposals, technical reports or other big Word files containing several sections or chapters often require a table of contents. Perhaps you even included a list of all the figures or tables used in the document. Or you might have inserted cross-references to other pages or a list of keywords found in the document corresponding with the page numbers.

As you may know, these references are inserted into your document as a field, which means that you need to update them as the document progresses. You can obviously right-click the reference and select Update Field, but if you have used a variety of fields throughout your document this will be cumbersome. So why not ensure you update all references in one go?

Here’s how:

  1. Create your Table of Contents, Table of Figures, Cross-references, Index etcetera, as normal.
  2. Press CTRL + A.
  3. Press F9.
  4. If prompted to update the Table of Contents and/or Table of Figures, select the appropriate radio button and press OK.

To make sure that you don’t forget to update your fields before you print your document, you can set Word to update them automatically.

Here’s how:

  1. On the File tab, click on Options.
  2. Click on Display or type the letter d.
  3. Under Printing options, select the check box for Update fields before printing. If prompted, click on the relevant radio button.

Oh, and remember, if you use Word’s built-in Styles you can take advantage of quickly creating a Table of Contents and other fabulous options available in the navigation pane (see tip_415.php). And if Microsoft’s choice of formatting is not what you want, you can easily modify them.

Related tips:

Move or copy chunks of your document without using Cut and Paste or Copy and Paste
Applying and modifying Heading Styles to titles and subtitles

Tame your computer – with a double-click trick

1 May

Back in 2006 (no, this isn’t a typo!) I wrote a tip on how to quickly move to the end of a range of cells in a row or column using keyboard shortcuts. But as I know not everyone is a fan of shortcuts I thought I’d share a “double-click trick” that almost does the same.

Here’s how:

  1. Point to any of the borders of a cell and wait until the mouse pointer appears as a combination of an upward-pointing arrow and four-headed arrow.
  2. Double-click any of the cell’s borders – left, right, top or bottom.

Your cursor will jump to the edge of the range of cells. Simply double-click again to jump in your preferred direction.

Remember, blank rows make it difficult and messy to filter and manipulate data. If you use empty rows for visual purposes, use colours or borders instead.

Related tips:

Quickly move to the end of a range of cells in a row or column
Quickly delete empty rows