Even Word Has a Calculator

Yesterday I mentioned the Windows Calculator and Google Calculator. Did you know that Word has a calculator too? To use it, you can add a button to a Word toolbar, then select numbers, and click the Calculator button, to see the total.

To add the button to a Word toolbar:

  1. In Word, click the Tools menu, and click on Customize
  2. Click the Commands tab, and click the Tools category.
  3. Scroll down the list of commands, to find Tools Calculate
  4. Drag that button to one of your Word toolbars.
  5. To show a picture, instead of the text, right-click on the button in the toolbar
  6. Click on Default Style
  7. Right-click on the button again, and click on Change Button Image
  8. Click on the Calculator icon.
  9. Close the Customize dialog box

To use the Calculator button:

  1. Select a column or list of numbers in Word, or type and select a formula, such as 19*10/14.
  2. Click on the Calculator button.
  3. Look in the Status Bar, at the bottom left of the Word window, to see the result . The total is also automatically copied to the clipboard, so you can paste it in Word, or somewhere else.

Calculator at Your Fingertips

Most of the time I do my calculations in Excel, but occasionally I reach for a calculator instead -- and it's never where I left it. Fortunately, my keyboard has a button that launches the Windows calculator, so I can do quick calculations there.
The Calculator key is at the top of the keyboard, just above the ScrLk key, buried under a layer of dust and crumbs.  Fairly well hidden, but it's nice to have.


Another way to do a quick calculation is in Google. Type a formula in the Search box, then click Google Search, or press the Enter key, to see the result.

Find Office Files with Keywords

When you save a Microsoft Office file, you can store keywords to help you find that file later. For example, when you're creating an estimate for a client's Excel project:

  1. In Excel, click on the File menu, and click on Properties
  2. On the Summary tab, enter Estimate, Excel in the Keywords box, then click OK.


Later, you can use one or more keywords to find relevant files:

  1. In Excel, click the Open button on the toolbar.
  2. At the top right of the Open dialog box, click the arrow on the Tools button
  3. Click Search
  4. In the Search dialog box, click the Advanced tab.
  5. From the first drop down, select Keywords
  6. Enter a keyword in the third box, and click Add
  7. Enter more keywords, or any other search criteria, including location.
  8. Click the Go button, to start the search.

Tidy Up Your Charts

If you've created several reports in an Excel workbook, you might want to line them up and make them all the same size before printing. Instead of doing this manually, you can download and install Jon Peltier's free Align Chart Dimensions utility. There are installation instructions on Jon's site. 
After you install the add-in, you can select specific charts, or let the utility align all the charts on the sheet. Check the options to align and resize the charts, then click OK, and your report is ready.

Repair an Excel File

If you're having problems with an Excel file, using the built in repair feature might fix the problem. This can help when data validation drop down arrows don't appear, or there are other signs of corruption.

  1. Close the file
  2. In Excel, choose File►Open
  3. Locate and select the file
  4. Click the arrow at the right of the Open button
  5. Click on Open and Repair
  6. When prompted, click the Repair button.


This might save the file, and if not, you can follow the same steps, but click Extract Data instead, to retrieve as much of the data as possible. And remember to make backup copies of your work!

Change a Comment’s Shape

To add some visual interest to a worksheet, change a comment's shape from its default rectangle.

Here are the steps to change a comment shape in Excel 2003:

  1. Right-click the cell which contains the comment.
  2. Click on Edit Comment
  3. Click on the border of the comment, to select it.
  4. On the Drawing toolbar, click the Draw button
  5. Click on Change AutoShape, and click on a category.
  6. Click on a shape to select it.
  7. When finished, click outside the comment.

In this example, the Cube shape was selected from Basic Shapes. It looks a bit like a "big box" store!

change comment shape

I wouldn't change the shape of too many comments on a worksheet, or it could be very distracting and possibly confusing. Just do this for one or two comments, that you want to stand out from the others.

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Clean Up Your Dictionaries

While rushing through a spell check in Excel, you accidentally added an incorrect word to your custom dictionary. Now that it's in there, how do you get it out?
If you're adventurous, you can use a text editor, such as NotePad, to modify the dictionaries, which are found in:
 C:\Documents and Settings\YOUR_NAME\Application Data\Microsoft\Proof
Or, you can modify the list in Microsoft Word, which I find easier:

  1. In Word, choose Tools ► Options
  2. On the Spelling & Grammar tab, click Custom Dictionaries
  3. Select a dictionary in the list, and click Modify
  4. Scroll through the list, and click on the word you want to remove
    (to select multiple words, press Ctrl and click)
  5. Click the Delete button
  6. When finished, click OK
  7. Close the dialog boxes

Free Consumer Publications

The Federal Citizen Information Center (FCIC) web site offers a wide variety of consumer and business publications that you can order for a nominal fee, or view many of the publications online. You can find tips on everything from computers to tree pruning to international travel. The web site also lists scams and recalls, and has links to other consumer and business resources.
It's a good place to start if you're researching a new topic. For example, here's the page on small business publications. 

Open Folders Quickly


When saving or opening a file in Excel or Word, you might have to navigate through several layers of folders to find the one that you need. To make it easier to open folders that you use frequently, add them to the My Places bar. To do this in Excel:

  1. Click the File menu, and click Save As
  2. Locate and select the folder that you want to add to My Places
  3. At the top right of the dialog box, click Tools
  4. Click Add to "My Places"

 My Places

The folder will appear at the bottom of the My Places bar. To reposition it, right-click on the folder icon, and click Move Up.
For Excel 2000, you can download the Places COM add-in from the Microsoft web site, to customize the My Places bar. There's information and a download link in the following Knowledge Base article:
  http://support.microsoft.com/kb/260190/EN-CA/