Thursday, September 10, 2015

Inserting and Formatting a Table with a Formula in MS Word

I was recently teaching a MS Word workshop and ran out of time to teach about inserting a table, so here is that lesson.  I was going to use it as an introduction to Excel, with a subtitle: why-tables-are-easier-in-Excel-than-Word.  Sometimes, though, you just need a tiny table in the middle of your document without inserting a spreadsheet, so Microsoft has included some basic table functions in Word.

First, let’s define a table using spreadsheet terms.  This will help when we transition to Excel. A table is a grid of cells laid out in rows and columns.  Rows go across horizontally and columns go up and down vertically. Memorize that while I wait.

Insert and Create your Table

Ready, now place your cursor where you want the table.  You’ll be able to move it later, so just give it a good guess for now.

On the Insert tab>Tables section>select the drop-down arrow below Tables. The Insert Table window menu will appear.  Drag your cursor through the squares to select your number of cells in rows and columns.  For this exercise, use two columns and five rows.  Word automatically puts in you “Drag” mode, so you don’t have to hold down the mouse button.  Drag through two horizontal squares (columns) and five vertical squares (rows) as shown.

The arrow in the illustration points to the text above the grid.  It will change from “Insert Table” to a description of your table, 2x5 Table, when you have our chosen layout selected. When you click on the grid square two columns and five rows down, Word inserts a two column, five row table in your document.

All columns are spaced evenly between the current margins and the rows are spaced evenly based on your current line spacing.

Add Text and/or Numbers

Let’s add data to your Table.  You may click, tab, or cursor to go from cell to cell.  (A not-so-subtle reminder that numbers have to be checked for typos.  Spell-check doesn’t help here.)

I recently moved to a new town, so I’m going to use US Census Bureau population estimates from the neighboring communities.  Just type the information, starting with a descriptor in the top cells; we’ll format it later.

2013 Est Population
Prescott Valley
Chino Valley

Formatting your Table with Table Styles

Now let’s make it easier on the eyes with some formatting.  When making changes to the format of your entire table, always select the table first.  When selected, a small “Move” arrow group will appear on the top left corner.   Select your table, then on the Home tab>Styles section> select No Spacing to get rid of any strange formatting, like double-spacing.  Do this as a matter of habit.

Hopefully, you noticed that when you select your table, the Table Tools tab appears with two tabs:  Design and Layout.  Let’s select a pre-designed style.  On the Tables/Design tab>Tables Styles section>click the more choices drop-down arrow.   Let’s pick a simple and bold style today.  Scroll down to the black header, horizontal borders, with no vertical lines inside.

Resize and Move your Table

To resize our table, select and drag the bottom right corner handle to the left until “Dewey-Humboldt” goes to two lines.  Stretch it back until it is only one line.

Now grab the “Move” arrow on the top left and drag your table to the right side of the page.  Your words will automatically wrap around it.

Align your Text or Numbers within your Table

In a table, you can set each cell, each row, or each column so that is aligned up, down or center, and right, left, or center.  Click on the “City” cell.   In the Table Tools>Layout tab>Alignment section>there are nine alignment choices.  For “City,” select Align Bottom Left icon.

Numbers and their headings should always be right-aligned.  So we want the entire right-hand column aligned to the right, right?  Hover your mouse over the right-hand column until a small black down arrow appears.  That is the Select Column arrow.  Click your mouse when the arrow appears. (You may also drag through the right-hand column from top to bottom.)

Your column will be selected.  In the Table Tools>Layout tab>Alignment section>select Align Top Right icon.  Your column heading and the numbers will move to the right of the table.

Add a Totals Row with a Formula

These four towns are called the Quad-Cities, and inquiring minds want to know the total population, but we don’t want to get out a calculator.  Word has a few built-in formulas for our table.

First we need to add a row for our total.  Click anywhere on the bottom row of our table.  Right-click and select Insert>Insert Rows Below. A blank row of similar size and shape will be added below.(Notice you can also delete and shift cells or rows from this right-click menu.)

In the City column of our new bottom row, type “Quad-Cities Total.”  Tab over (or click) to the bottom row of the Population column.  In the Table Tools>Layout tab>Data section, select Formula
and the  Formula window will appear.  The default formula is “equal” to the “sum” of the column “above” so the formula is filled in for you as “=SUM(ABOVE).”  Click OK and the total will appear.

We want to emphasize the total line, so let’s change a Border in our Table.  With the table selected, go to Table Tools>Design tab>Border section.  The default border is 1/2 point.  Change the border to 3 point for an emphasis line.  Now your mouse has changed to an Ink Pen icon.  With this ink pen mouse, draw through the line above your totals row.

Review, Proof, and Update your Table

We are almost finished.  Always review your table for readability.  Does it give the information we want at a glance?  Is there any confusion?  Remember the priority is to make your information stand out.  Colors and fonts can be distracting.  Use a critic’s eye and double-check your numbers for typos.

Now, go learn Excel, it’s much more fun and faster.  Why?  If you make a correction to your numbers, your total will not automatically update in MS Word.  You need to click on the total number, right-click and select Update Field to adjust the total.  (Excel does this automatically.)

Monday, August 31, 2015

Adding my Signature to a Letter for Emailing

What’s a Signature Block?

To create this, at the end of your letter, drop down two lines with one or two Enters depending on your current Style.  Type “Sincerely,” and press enter 4 times to create room for a signature or emphasis for your name.  Type your name as you sign it, for our example I will be “Joan Smith.”

Isn’t a typed name good enough?

A typed signature block is acceptable to recipients of most emailed letters.  Sometimes you might want to use a script font to retype your name in the middle of the blank lines above the name typed in the normal font.  Some script fonts are smaller, so use a bigger size for emphasis and legibility.  For example here is a Freehand font in 24 point size:

What about a Real Signature?

Let’s say you need a “real” (actual a digital) signature. Take out a piece of plain white paper, regular 8 1/2 by 11 size white letter paper – the paper you use for a copy machine.  Using a black Sharpie, create a large signature in the middle of the page.  The large size will make the file more clear and legible when you resize it.

Use your scanner to create a black and white .jpg file.  (Most office stores such as Staples or Office Depot have a print shop that can scan this for you for a small fee if you don’t have a scanner.)  Save in a central, easy to find location.  Save as Your Name Signature.jpg.  Open the signature with photo editing software and crop it so that the empty edges of the white paper are left out, but your signature is still there.  Resave the image.

To use your scanned signature, start with your cursor in the blank area of your signature block.  On the Insert tab>Illustrations section>select Pictures.  Browse for your scanned signature, then click Insert.  Select the image of your signature, and grab a corner handle to adjust the size of your signature.  When you click on your image, a small Layout Options box appears next to its top right corner.  Click the Layout Options and select the bottom right choice, In Front of Text.

Now you may drag your signature image all over the page without affecting the text spacing.  Drag and move your signature above your typed name.

If your signature has white space around it and blocks out the text, you need to make the white space transparent.  In the Picture Tools tab>Color section>click on the Color drop-down arrow.   From the menu, select Set Transparent Color.  Your cursor will turn into an ink pen.  Using the cursor, click on the white background of your signature.  The white background will turn transparent and your text will show through it.  Readjust size and location of your signature if necessary.

Now you can save your document as a pdf (File tab>Save as… File Type PDF).  Your signature is there and no one can edit your document.

How do I sign a PDF?

If someone emails you a pdf, you can sign the document with the free Adobe Reader software.  Open the document with Adobe Reader.  Simply click on the “Fill & Sign” tab on the upper right, and then “Place Signature.”  The first time you do this, you will need to browse for your signature image.  After using it once, Acrobat Reader will remember where your signature is until you change it.

Once you save this pdf, it will automatically add “-signed copy” to the end of the name.  If you have pdf editing software, such as Adobe Acrobat, editing will not work on the saved document.  You will need to edit the original, before the signature was added – so don’t delete that one.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Using Shortcut Keys to Select A Range

Microsoft has developed several standard ways to select bits of text, objects, or files in most of their products.  The methods below are specific to text but apply to other objects as well.  After getting used to them in MS Office, try using them out to rearrange your desktop, or move multiple files from one folder to another.

  1. Drag:  Drag by clicking on the first part, then holding the mouse button down as you drag to the end of your selection.
  2. Double-click:  Double-click a word to select the word.  Sometimes a double-clicking an item, such as tab on the ruler or a menu icon, will open a new window with more formatting choices.  In Windows Explorer, double-clicking opens a folder or file.  
  3. Triple-click:  Triple-clicking a word will select the entire line of text or paragraph, whatever words fall between pressing "Enter" and pressing it again.
  4. Shift Click:  Hold down your shift button.  Start at the top of your range and click. Click again at the bottom of your range.  This also works bottom to top - it is simply telling the computer select everything between my two clicks.
  5. Shift Click with Cursor:  This is variation, if you don't want to use your mouse to drag.  It's especially handy in MS Excel.  Hold down Shift.  Click at the top.  Use the cursors or arrows on the right of your keyboard to move through your document.  Release shift when you have selected your range.
  6. Ctrl Click:  Select multiple items one at a time, with Ctrl click.  If you get one item by mistake, Ctrl click again to deselect.
  7. Select All:  Select everything in your document in most MS Office products from the Home tab>Select section>click the drop-down arrow next to Select.  On the Select menu, click Select All.  You may also Ctrl A for “All.” 

Thursday, June 11, 2015

PowerPoint Photo Album Shortcut

An office was putting on a spur of the moment open house and wanted the computer screens to show photos from the previous year.  By spur of the moment, I mean 15 minutes from now.  A problem?  Not with PowerPoint’s built in Photo Album shortcut.

To prep, get all your photos in one folder – I don’t think there is a limit.  The office I mentioned had over one hundred.  Also, pick some music if you have any mp3 files handy.  That’s all you need.  Oh, and a PC.  This shortcut is not available on Macintosh.

Open PowerPoint and save your document as Year in Review Photos or other appropriate name.

On the Insert tab>Images section>click on the Photo Album dropdown arrow.  Then select New Photo Album. 

The Photo Album window will appear. 
Click on the File>Disk button, and go to your photos.  Select all of them in the folder using one of these methods:

·         Dragging through them all
·         Ctrl click each one
·         Click on the first one.  Hold down Shift and click on the last one.  This will select the entire range.
·         Ctrl A to select all.

Now click Insert and PowerPoint will place the photos in the Pictures in Album section.  You may click on the photo you want to change and use the buttons to change the order, the orientation, the brightness or contrast.

Your photos are set, so In the Album Layout section, select how many photos per page.  If you want one photo per page and for the photo to fill up the page, select Fit to slide.  Frame shape is another option, although I usually use the default Rectangle.  In the Theme box, click browse and pick any theme.  You can change this easily later, so just pick the first one that catches your eye.

Now click Create and PowerPoint does all the tedious work for you.  You may need to add some text to the first slide.  Also, if you don’t like the Design, go to the Design tab and pick one you do like.

Every slide show needs a transition from slide to slide, so pick one.  I usually use “Fade” because it is professional and doesn’t draw attention to itself.  Depending on your slides, you may want to take this opportunity to use one of the obnoxious, er, I mean Dynamic Content transitions like Orbit.  To get to the unusual transitions, click the down arrow in the Transition to This Slide section.
We will not be sitting at the computer for this show, so we want the slides to advance automatically.  From the Transitions tab>Timing section, enter 5 seconds in the After box.  (Leave the On Mouse Click button checked in case you want to advance the slides before the automatic timing.)

The secret weapon in the Transitions tab is the Apply to All button.  Apply to All  - ALWAYS DO THIS LAST AND ALWAYS DO IT AFTER MAKING ANY CHANGES!  This applies your transition and timing to every slide.  Remember, you want people to look at your slides not your PowerPoint tranisitions.  Uniformity is good in this case.

Is it a little bland without background music?  One more simple step will fix that. 

Go to the first slide.  From the Insert tab>Media section, click on the arrow below Audio.  Select Audio on my PC.  Pick a song that sets the appropriate mood. Remember, earlier you saved your music in the same folder as your presentation.  Click insert and a speaker icon will appear on your slide and it should be selected (if not, select it). 

The Audio Tools tab will appear with the Playback tab.  In the Audio Styles section select Play in Background.  This will automatically change the settings to:
·        Start automatically with the current slide
·         Play Across Slides
·         Loop until Stopped
·        Hide the icon during the slide show

Review your Slide Show again by clicking Slide Show tab>Start Slide Show section>From Beginning.  You can always end the show with a right click.
Once you have done this a few times, you should be able to create a one hundred photo show in about five minutes.

Oh, and the office I mentioned, visitors loved the show and thought we spent hours on it.