Five Ways to ...

Use Microsoft Packages More Effectively

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1Outlook will attempt to auto-complete the email fields Outlook - Removing Unwanted Email Addresses.
Outlook remembers every email address you type and will auto-complete them in the To:, Cc: or Bcc: fields. Whilst this is generally a very useful facility, sometimes you need to get rid of unwanted or invalid addresses. Here's how you do it;

  1. Create a new email message in Outlook.
  2. Start typing the name or address you want to remove.
  3. Use the Down Arrow key to highlight the entry you want to delete.
  4. Press the Delete button.

2Enter telphone numbers into ExcelExcel – Handling Telephone Numbers, Part Numbers etc. Excel thinks that any number typed in is a normal number which you might want to add up, but sometimes this is the wrong assumption, e.g. with telephone numbers. It removes the leading 0 which makes telephone numbers look very strange and sometimes causes problems, e.g. if you are loading the file into another system and want it to recognise the entry as a telephone number.

To avoid this, simply precede the number by a single quote when you enter it, i.e. ' 01270259740. Excel will leave the number exactly as you typed it in.

3Assign a name Excel – Storing Numbers for Regular Usage. You can store a frequently used, unchanging number in Excel spreadsheets (such as the VAT rate, or a mileage rate for expenses), to save you typing it out each time.

Simply highlight a cell with the details in it then go to the "Name Box" on the far left near the top of the screen. (As you put your mouse over it, it will display "Name Box"). Type in the name you want to use (it cannot include spaces) for this Cell – e.g. VATRate – and then press Enter. You have then assigned this name to this cell, so you can write a formula such as "=A3*VATRate" (i.e. multiply cell A3 by the VAT rate). This also makes formulae much more readable.

4From the Macros Box select Word Commands and ListCommandsWord – Using Shortcuts to Speed up Typing. Using the mouse to highlight a block of text to perform an action on it, such as copying it or making it bold, is not always the most efficient and fastest way to type. Word offers a number of shortcuts using keyboard keys which means you don't have to take a hand off the keyboard. For example, text can be made bold by pressing the Ctrl key and "B" simultaneously. Pressing Ctrl and B again will cancel the setting.

You can obtain a list of all available shortcuts as follows:

  1. In Word 2007, select View then Macros (in earlier versions of Word, select Tools, then Macro, then Macros).
  2. This will display a dialogue box called Macros. Where it says Macros in:, select Word commands from the drop-down menu.
  3. Next, Select ListCommands and then click Run.
  4. This will display another dialogue box with two options. Select Current menu and keyboard settings.

This will produce a document listing all available shortcuts from which you can pick out those which will be most helpful to you.

5To view hidden characters select the Show/Hide iconWord – Managing Line and Paragraph Breaks. When typing a bulleted or numbered list, Word will automatically give you a new bullet or number when you hit the return key – but this isn't always what you want. Sometimes you want to continue the previous item, rather than starting a new one.

You can get a new line by holding down the Shift key whilst you press Enter. This creates a "new line" character, rather than a "new paragraph" character.

Also, new line breaks can be created at inconvenient places, e.g. "John Smith" can have "John" at the end of one line with "Smith" at the beginning of the next. What you want is a "hard space" between the "John" and "Smith". To do this, you need to press three keys at the same time; Ctrl, Shift and the spacebar. The whole name "John Smith" will now be kept together and never separated.

"New line", "new paragraph" and "hard space" are known as hidden characters. If you want to see them on screen, press the ¶ icon on the toolbar, which can be very helpful when you get problems with formatting documents. Pressing the ¶ icon again will remove all the extra symbols displayed on the screen.

Please note that this information is provided for general guidance only and P&L cannot accept responsibility for any actions or consequences as a result of using these hints and tips.