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Tame your computer – spot the difference

29 Sep

Like lots of companies I recently had to change my business plans. Not what I had expected to do, but you have to adapt and pull yourself together and develop easy to understand and fun ways to tackle time-consuming and frustrating day-to-day tasks … using webinars. Over recent months lots of people told me that one of the best Word tips was about comparing two copies of a document. At the time it was written (May 2005) the steps applied to version 2000; so time to dust it off and write how to spot the differences between two documents using Word 2007 onwards.

Here’s how:

  1. Open the documents that you want to compare. (Not really necessary, but I find that the easiest way.)
  2. On the Review tab, in the Compare group, click Compare.
  3. Select Compare from the drop-down list.
  4. Select the first version from the drop-down arrow under Original document.
  5. Select the modified document from the Revised document drop-down list.
  6. Click OK.

A new third document will list all modifications as tracked changes and the two documents that were compared are unchanged.

If you want to compare changes from a number of versions, select Combine rather than Compare in step 3. (Note to oneself … write a tip about this at some point.)

Top tips – as nominated by you!
Speaking of favourite tips like this one … Helen Percy says hers is CTRL + K. (“My all-time favourite – a quick way to put links into emails. I use this literally every day at work. It saves so much time” she wrote the other day.) Katherine Wiid told me she uses CTRL + 1 and CTRL + 2 to toggle between Outlook’s inbox and calendar, along with CTRL + N to create a new email message and CTRL + L in PowerPoint. And Mandy Allen wrote her favourite PowerPoint tip is converting an existing bulleted list to a SmartArt graphic.

What are yours? I would love to hear from you so that I can put a Top-Tips-As-Nominated-By-You together. (The top 5 as nominated by you back in 2007 can be found here.)

Related tips
Quickly spot whether change tracking is on or off
Warn before printing, saving or sending a file that contains tracked changes or comments
Show changes and comments inline instead of in balloons
Make reviewer names anonymous
Inspect your document for tracked changes
Remove – not just hide – tracked changes  
Comparing two copies of a document

Tame your computer – clear the clutter

22 Sep

Have you ever inherited a file where someone has tinkered so much with the formatting that you might as well start from scratch? As you probably know, there are various ways to clear the formatting of your document…

In Microsoft 365 there is a prominent Clear All Formatting button in the Font group on the Home tab, which in previous versions is a bit more hidden under the More button in the Styles group or accessible from its dialogue box launcher, as described in tip 436.

But if you like using keyboard shortcuts, you can clear all the formatting from the selection, leaving only the plain text. Check out the following and find your favourite.

Here’s how:

  1. CTRL + SHIFT + Z or
  3. CTRL + SHIFT + N or
  4. CTRL + Q

For me CTRL + SHIFT + N and CTRL + Q don’t work in Word 365 so I’ve embraced CTRL + SHIFT + Z as it makes me think of a more powerful version of the go-back-to-where-I-was-happy (aka Undo) keyboard shortcut CTRL + Z.

Related tips
Clear all formatting and styles from selected text
Undo several actions in one go
Reveal, select and modify all text with similar formatting
Applying and modifying Heading Styles to titles and subtitles
See what styles are applied in a document

Upcoming Word webinar
If you want to take editing and formatting beyond the basics why not join my 60-minute webinar and discover hidden features and functions that will save you time in Word and Outlook?

The next one is scheduled for Wednesday 14 October from 15:00 – 16:00.
The webinar is £24 (which includes VAT) and can be booked and paid for using this link.

Tame your computer – recycle and reuse Quick Parts

26 May

CleverclogsTipTime2The other day I had to change the text of one of my “Quick Parts” and realised it wasn’t as intuitive as you might think. So here’s a tip, giving me the opportunity to remind all of you of this underutilised feature to create reusable bits of preformatted text or pictures and logos you frequently use in Word or Outlook.

Here’s how:

  1. If necessary, remind yourself of the name you gave the Quick Part entry or temporarily add the old text. (On the Insert tab, in the Text group, click Quick Parts. Or perhaps you stuck the Quick Parts button on your Quick Access Toolbar as suggested in tip 335?)
  2. Modify and select the text or picture.
  3. On the Insert tab, in the Text group, click Quick Parts, click Save Selection to Quick Part Gallery.
  4. Enter the same name to identify the entry, which can also be used for shortcut purposes.
  5. Press ENTER or click OK.
  6. Press ENTER or click Yes.

In future simply type the name of the Quick Part and press F3. If you prefer or cannot remember what you called the Quick Part, click on the Quick Parts button on the Insert tab – or (by now) from your Quick Access Toolbar.

NOTE: When you have added or modified building blocks and you close down Microsoft Word or Outlook, you will be asked whether or not you want to save them for future use. Unless you want to follow the steps described above again, click on Save.

Related tips

Tame your computer – a TABulous tip

28 Mar

CleverclogsTipTime2There are various ways to insert rows and columns in a table. Come to think of it, I might list them at some point in a future tip. (Watch this space.) But time and time again I notice people don’t know about what I believe is the fastest way to insert a row at the end of a table, underneath the last row.


Here’s how:

1.       Click anywhere in the last cell of the table.

2.       Press TAB.

If you have the total row switched on in a table in Excel, make sure you click in the last cell above the total row.

Simply hold down the TAB key (no need to release it) to add multiple rows.

Finally, I want you to know that I plan to continue to publish my tips during these tricky times. I hope you find them helpful and a welcome respite among all the information about the evolving COVID-19 (coronavirus) outbreak. Stay safe!

Related tips
Quickly jump between the start and end of a row in a table (MS Word and Outlook)
Keyboard shortcut to move rows in a table (MS Word)
Quickly jump between the beginning and end of a document or email (MS Office)
Total the data in a table (MS Excel)

Tame your computer – bring Quick Parts to the table

14 Mar

CleverclogsTipTime2Preparing a new Word training module (more about that later), I fell in love all over again with “Quick Parts”. If only Microsoft had given it a different name, I’m sure it wouldn’t be such an underutilised feature.

I’ve already written tips about how to use it for text and graphics in Word and Outlook, but did you know you can also save tables or part of a table as a “building block” (another unintuitive term, given by Microsoft)?

If you regularly use tables with particular text and formatting you probably copy and paste them from somewhere else. But why not save time and add it to the Quick Tables gallery in Word or Outlook for quick retrieval?

Here’s how:

  1. Select (part of) the formatted table.
  2. Click on the Table button on the Insert tab.
  3. Hover over Quick Tables and click on Save Selection to Quick Tables Gallery at the bottom of the dialogue box.
  4. Type a name to identify the reusable table. This name can also be used for shortcut purposes, so keep it short and memorable.
  5. Click OK or press ENTER.
  6. If the name you typed in step 4 already exists and you do not want to overwrite the existing table, click on No.

To reuse the table simply type the name you identified in step 4 and press F3. If you prefer or cannot remember what you called the table, click on the Table button on the Insert tab and scroll down the list of Built-In Quick Tables to find yours.

NOTE: When you have added or modified building blocks and you close down Microsoft Word you will be asked whether or not you want to save them for future use. (I cannot see a reason why you wouldn’t click on Save.)

Finally, as mentioned at the start of the tip, I’ve added a new Microsoft Word module to our course portfolio, handpicking the most popular topics from the Intermediate and Advanced training.

You probably think “I have been using Word for years and I can make it work to meet my day-to-day tasks.” If you are a “stuck in a rut” user you might want to work smarter rather than harder. But if you don’t have the time to sift through the fast amount of information that’s out there, this new module is for you! Come along on 17 April and discover overlooked and underused tools that can help you save time and streamline your workday. (Team discounts are available and training can also take place at your premises.)

Related tips
Create, store and insert frequently used text and graphics (Word and Outlook)
Create and insert frequently used text and graphics (Outlook)
Tricks and shortcuts for selecting blocks of text (Word and Outlook)

Tame your computer – improve your table manners

5 Feb

CleverclogsTipTime2Do you use tables in Word? It’s a great alternative to using tabs (or – heaven forbid – spaces) and can be very useful when trying to align pictures in your document.

Similar to Excel, you can move from cell to cell in a table in Word by pressing TAB or the ARROW keys. This saves you having to pick up your mouse to click in a cell.  But did you know Word also provides a shortcut to quickly jump between the start and end of your table row?

Here’s how:

  1. Press ALT + HOME to jump to the beginning of the row.
  2. Press ALT + END to jump to the end of the row.

If you don’t have your cursor in a table, these shortcuts won’t do anything.

Oh, and this tip also works when you use tables in Outlook.

Related tips
Keyboard shortcut to move rows in a table
Quickly jump between the beginning and end of a document or email
Quickly jump to specific parts such as pages, tables or pictures
Change column width without changing the width of the table
Calculate the totals for numeric entries in a table
Repeat a table heading on every page

Tame your computer – table matters

30 Nov

CleverclogsTipTime2Recently, the fabulous Møller Centre in Cambridge held another event for PAs and EAs. Once again I was invited as a guest speaker to share my time-saving Microsoft Office shortcuts and tips with the attendees.

One of the shortcuts I shared was ALT + SHIFT + UP ARROW and ALT + SHIFT + DOWN ARROW  to quickly move bullet points up and down in PowerPoint. When I mentioned this also works to move paragraphs in Word, one of the delegates told me she uses it to move rows around in a table.

Here’s how:

  1. Click anywhere in the row you want to move or select multiple rows.
  2. To move rows up, click ALT + SHIFT + UP ARROW or to move rows down, click ALT + SHIFT + DOWN ARROW.

You can even use it to move the rows out of the table. Simply keep pressing the keyboard combination and the selected rows will become the first rows of a new table.

With thanks to the delegate, whose name I forgot. Sorry. (Was it Carol?!)

By the way, if you want to organise a similar, one hour session for your colleagues in your office, drop me a line.

Related tips

Move text or bullet points with a single keyboard shortcut (Word and PowerPoint 2003-2010)

Tame your computer – keep on tracking

21 Oct

CleverclogsTipTime2Over the years I’ve written various tips about Word’s Tracking features, helping you to gather comments and changes about an initial draft of your document. You probably activate it by clicking on the Track Changes button in the Tracking section on the Review tab.

Well, I don’t know about you, but I find it difficult to spot whether it’s on or off and typically only find out by typing in the document. So why not stick an indicator on your Status Bar in Word?

Here’s how:

  1. Right-click anywhere in the Status bar at the bottom of the Word document.
  2. Select Track Changes.

You now have a button on the status bar that says Track Changes: Off. Simply click on it to activate it. No more second-guessing whether it’s on or off.

Related tips

Tame your computer – a Word of warning

5 Oct

CleverclogsTipTime2Back in 2013 I shared a tip to find and remove all unwanted comments and revisions, so that you do not accidentally send or store a document with potentially confidential or private remarks in it.

But if you want to take it a step further, you can set up a warning that will pop up every time you try to print, save or send a file that contains tracked changes or comments.

Here’s how:

  1. On the File tab click Options.
  2. Press the letter T or click on Trust Center.
  3. Click on the Trust Center Settings button.
  4. Press the letter P twice or click on the Privacy Options button.
  5. Under Document-specific settings select the Warn before printing, saving or sending a file that contains tracked changes or comments check box.
  6. Click OK twice.

Next time you print, save or send a document that contains tracked changes or comments, it will prompt you to confirm that you really, really want to do that.

Oh, and remember, if you want to share one or more files with somebody in your organisation it might be better to send a link to the item, rather than an attachment. First of all, the recipient is more likely to work with the most up-to-date document as you reduce the risk of them opening an out of date version of the document from the email attachment. Also, you don’t need to worry about the size of the file you want to send via email. And last, but definitely not least, if your organisation has protected the documents using permissions, you ensure the recipient can only access those documents that they have the right to see.

Related tips:

Tame your computer – put fields in the shade

9 Jul

CleverclogsTipTime2Long documents, especially those containing several sections or chapters, often require cross-references to a particular part of the document, making it easier to navigate through the file. For example, you might want to say where you can find a particular footnote or heading or refer to a picture on a specific page.

When you put your cursor in one of those “fields”, shading appears. But as soon as you select something else, it disappears. This can make it awkward to spot them, especially if you simply want to know whether a date was entered as a field (so that it updates automatically every time someone opens the document) or as text.

So why not change the setting in Word so that fields are always shaded, not just when selected?

Here’s how:

  1. On the File tab click Options.
  2. Press the letter A or click on Advanced.
  3. Under Show document content, select Always from the Field shading drop-down list.
  4. Press ENTER or click OK.

Remember to press CTRL + A followed by F9 to update all references in your document.

Related tip