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

Add some punch to a worksheet by changing a comment's shape from its default rectangle.

  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.

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/

List Your Project's Next Steps

While working on a project, such as creating a database, or programming an Excel file, I make notes about the changes I'm making. Before quitting for the day, I add a few notes on what steps should be taken next. For example, "Create a data entry form" or "Add project codes list".

This makes it easier to get up and running the next time I resume work on the project. If you use this technique, you won't have to spend several minutes reviewing your work to figure out where you left off -- your "Next Steps" notes will jog your memory. Well, most of the time!

Close All Excel Files

While working in Excel 2003 (or earlier versions), you might open several files, to compare them, or copy and paste from one to another. When you're finished with those files, you can quickly close all of them, and leave Excel open. (Note: This tip also works in Word)

  1. On the keyboard, press the Shift key.
  2. In Excel, click on the File menu
  3. Click on the Close All command


In Excel 2007 you can add the Close All command to the Quick Access Toolbar. There are instructions for adding a command on the Microsoft web site, or look in Excel 2007's Help:
  http://office.microsoft.com/en-gb/word/HA102223271033.aspx