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Tips & Tricks I

Tips & Tricks for end users

Quickly create an Outlook contact from an email message

The Contacts folder is the best way to keep track of email address, phone numbers and other important information about the people you do business with. A quick way to create a contact item for a person is by using an email sent from that individual. To do this, open the email from the person for whom you want to make a contact item, then right-click on the contact's name after the From: field. In the resulting shortcut menu, choose Add To Contacts. A new contact form is opened and the email address is already filled in for you. Just complete the contact's information and click on Save And Close.

Perform what-if analysis by dragging chart points

Although you likely use charts most often to analyze existing data, you can also use them to project hypothetical results. Just as changing the source data in a worksheet cell adjusts the graphical representation shown in the chart, manually moving charted data points adjusts the underlying data. To see this firsthand, enter the headings 2001 and 2002 in cells B1 and C1. Then, in the range A2:A5, enter the row headings North, South, East, and West. Finally, enter some random numbers in range B2:C5 to complete the sample data.

At this point, select the data range and click the Chart Wizard button. When the Wizard opens, click the Finish button to generate a standard column chart. Then, click on one of the columns, which will select the entire data series. Wait a moment, so as not to accidentally double-click, and then click on the column again. Now only the column you clicked on is selected. Click and drag the sizing handle found on the column's top edge up or down. As you do so, a label appears to show the value that the resized column represents. When you release the mouse button you'll see that the related value in the worksheet cell has changed accordingly. Note that although we used a column chart in this example, you can apply this technique to other chart types as well.

Store disposable templates within easy reach

(97/2000/2001/2002) If you need to use a special document template for a one-time collaboration project, you don't need to install it in Word's template directory in order to use it. Why bother installing it if you're just going to toss it when you've finished your project? Instead, store the template on the Desktop (or in an easy-access folder) while you're using it. To create a new document based on the template, simply double-click on it. When you've finished your project, and you no longer need to work with documents based on the special template, you can easily delete the template from your system without needing to scrounge around for Word's elusive template directory. When you delete the template from your system, the documents you created with it will be unaffected. However, keep in mind that any custom macros, toolbars, and AutoText entries that were stored in the template will no longer be available once you remove it from your system. On that note, make sure you'll no longer need to use these items before you delete the template.

Quickly accessing the Master views in PowerPoint 97/2000/2001/2002

If you're used to the quickly changing views using the shortcut view buttons (located by default near the bottom right corner of your screen), you may wonder why there aren't shortcut buttons to access any of the Master views. Well if you're looking to quickly switch over to either the Slide Master view or the Handout Master view, you're in luck. To access the Slide Master view, hold down [Shift] as you click the Slide View button. To switch to the Handout Master view, hold down [Shift] as you click either the Outline View button or the Slide Sorter View button.

Aligning elements relative to the slide in PowerPoint

PowerPoint aligns text and graphics based on their location. For instance, if you select two drawing objects using [Shift]-click method, and then choose Draw | Align Or Distribute | Align Left, PowerPoint moves the element that is farther right and lines it up with the element that was farther left. PowerPoint uses one element as a guide for lining up the other element. So, if you used the Align Right command, the element to the right would be a guide for lining up an element located farther left. To align an object in strict accordance to its position on the slide, choose Align Or Distribute from the Draw menu and make sure the Relative To Slide option is selected.

Fill in the gaps when charting empty cells

If you create a chart based on a range containing blank cells, Excel leaves gaps in your charted data series by default. Although this may be exactly the behavior you want in many cases, there may be times when you'd like to accommodate for the missing information. For instance, let's say that you have a line chart and a piece of data is missing from the middle of the series. Rather than show a break in the middle of the line, you may want Excel to continue the line using an estimated value, or you may prefer that a value of zero is used instead. If so, you have both options available to you. To change how empty cells are handled, select the chart and choose Tools | Options from the menu bar. Then, click on the Chart tab. Next, select the appropriate Plot Empty Cells As option you want to use: Not Plotted (Leave Gaps), Zero, or Interpolated. Finally, click OK.

Speed up form and report setup with custom AutoFormats (97/2000/2002)

You may be familiar with built-in AutoFormats through the form and report creation wizards. AutoFormats are saved collections of attribute settings for such elements as fonts, colors and object borders, and picture property settings. If you find yourself repetitively making the same formatting changes to form and report controls, you can save time by saving your formatting preferences as a custom AutoFormat.