Archive | February, 2016

Tame your computer – put the flags out

27 Feb

Do you ever send an email message where you ask for feedback by a specific date? If so, you probably type it in the message, perhaps in bold. You might even add it in the subject line.

But did you know you can set a flag that will remind recipients to follow up the email on the date you specify?

Here’s how:

  1. Create the new message, as normal. (CTRL + N, anyone?)
  2. On the Message tab, in the Tags group, click Follow Up, followed by Custom.
  3. Tick the Flag for Recipients check box.
  4. Select an action from the drop-down list or type your own instruction.
  5. Tick the Reminder check box (or press TAB and the SPACEBAR).
  6. Press TAB and type the date (e.g. 1/3 or today, tomorrow, next week, next month).
  7. Press TAB and type the time (e.g. 3PM).
  8. Press ENTER or click OK.

Mail messages with a follow-up flag have a flag icon in the Inbox listing. A flagged email also appears in the To-Do Bar. When the reminder becomes overdue, the normal Reminder box is displayed.Dismissing reminders only removes the reminder, not the flag.

To remove the flag, right-click the item and select Mark Complete.

See tip 103 and tip 67 for additional information related to Outlook reminders.

* Unless stated otherwise, these tips were written for Microsoft Office 2010.

Tame your computer – make an exception

22 Feb

As you have probably noticed, Microsoft Office automatically corrects typical capitalisation errors. For example, it will automatically capitalise names of days and capitalise the first letter following a full stop or exclamation or question mark.

But what if AutoCorrect makes an unwanted correction? You can obviously undo it by pressing CTRL + Z (or the Undo button if you insist).

But if you use a lot of specific acronyms or an abbreviation with punctuation at the end of it, why not work with an exceptions list? (In Word and Outlook, when you undo an AutoCorrect, the unwanted corrections that you undo are automatically added to the list of exceptions.)

Here’s how:

  1. On the File tab, click on Options.
  2. Click on Proofing or type the letter p. (In Outlook, click Mail, and then click Editor Options.)
  3. Click on the AutoCorrect Options button.
  4. On the AutoCorrect tab, click on the Exceptions button.
  5. Type the word – including the punctuation; for example, Cambs. – in the relevant box on the relevant tab and click on Add.
  6. Select any of the exceptions you want to remove and click Delete. (OK, I’m not a native English speaker but as far as I know, if an abbreviation consists of the first and last letters of a word, you don’t need to use a full stop at the end, so you might want to delete certain exceptions such as Mr. and Dr.)
  7. Click OK (three times).

And here’s something nice for a change … the exceptions list works across MS Office. So once you’ve done it in Word, you don’t have to do it in Outlook or Excel. (That said, they don’t seem to end up in the list in PowerPoint.)

Finally, over the years I’ve encouraged you to use AutoCorrect for words you typically mistype, create abbreviations for words you use a lot or add words that contain international characters. See tips 27, 127 and 229 if you want to have another look.
* Unless stated otherwise, these tips were written for Microsoft Office 2010.

Tame your computer – helpful highlighting

13 Feb

The other day somebody asked me to help him find anything that was formatted in the colour red in an email message he had received. The sender was unaware that the recipient was colour blind and that he could not see the difference between the text formatted in black and that in the colour red. As red was used to emphasise what needed to be amended, it was crucial for him to find it.

Apparently colour blindness (colour vision deficiency, or CVD) affects approximately one in 12 men (8%) and one in 200 women in the world, so today’s tip is how to make text look like it was marked with a highlighter pen, which the recipient above would find easy to spot.

Here’s how:

  1. Select the text you want to highlight. (You might want to have another look at Tip 50 and Tip 51 for tricks and shortcuts for selecting blocks of text.)
  2. On the Home tab, in the Font group, click on the Text Highlight Color button, not its drop-down arrow. (In Outlook the Text Highlight Color button can be found in the Basic Text group on the Message tab.)

You can also highlight existing text by clicking on the Text Highlight Color button and by dragging the mouse pointer over the text.  Click the button again or press the Escape button on your keyboard to turn the highlighter attribute off.

See Tip 401 for help how to find (and replace) highlighted text in Word. Tip 108 explains how to find text in an email message.

* Unless stated otherwise, these tips were written for Microsoft Office 2010.

Tame your computer – slice and filter data

6 Feb

If you’ve been using PivotTables you probably have had the need to temporarily remove unnecessary and unrelated data. (If you’ve never worked with PivotTables, but use Excel as a database, you’re missing out. Don’t be put off by its complicated name!)

In earlier versions of Excel, you could only use report filters to filter data in a PivotTable report, but it was never easy to spot what you were actually filtering on. Since Excel v2010, you have the option to use Slicers, providing simple, intuitive buttons. In addition to filtering, slicers also make it easy to understand what exactly is shown in the report or chart. You can also use the slicers as “dashboards” on a separate sheet, which can be very helpful if you work with large workbooks.

Here’s how:

  1. Click anywhere in the PivotTable report for which you want to create a slicer.
  2. On the Options tab, in the Sort & Filter group, click on the Insert Slicer button. (In Excel 2013 the button can be found on the new Analyze tab.) If the button is greyed out, you might have opened an Excel file that was created in an earlier version of Excel.
  3. In the Insert Slicers dialogue box, select the check box(es) of the PivotTable fields you might want to filter by.
  4.  Click OK.
  5. In each slicer window, click the field name you want to filter by. (To select more than one field, hold down CTRL, and then click the fields on which you want to filter.)

To clear the filter, click on the Clear Filter button in the top right hand corner of the filtered slicer window(s). (Look out for a funnel with a red x next to it.)

Finally, if you’d like to learn more about analysing your data using Excel’s PivotTables, rather than complicated formulas, why not join me for the next half day Excel Further Use course, planned for the afternoon of 22 February. £97 only!