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Technology Q&A.

Pick from a multiple-choice list ... How to print a watermark ... Use Outlook's contacts to address and format letters ... A fast way to add boilerplate to a document ... Sound alarm when Caps Lock key is on ... Get Excel to speak to you ... Add a comment to a spreadsheet cell ... A better way

Key to Instructions

To help readers follow the instructions in this article, we use two different typefaces.

Boldface type identifies the names of icons, agendas, URLs and application commands.

Sans serif type indicates instructions and commands that users should type and file names.

WORD

Q. I want to send a document that contains a multiple-choice drop-down menu. How can I do that?

A. What you want to do is create an AutoTextList field. It will offer readers a multiple-choice list when their cursor passes over it and they right-click on it.

Start by creating the entries for the multiple choices-say, Red, White and Blue. Type the fist, pressing the Enter button after each word

Red White Blue

and then highlight the words.

Now either click on Insert, AutoText, New or press Alt+F3. Either step will bring up tins screen:

Type the AutoText code that will evoke the drop-down list. The code we'll use is Pick one, for that is our instruction to readers.

The next step is to create the AutoTextList field in which the AutoText will appear. Place your cursor where you want the drop-down list to appear and press Ctrl+F9. That will insert a pair of field braces { }. Then between the braces type

{AutoTextList "[Pick one]"}

and with your cursor still within the braces, press F9; that will collapse (hide) the formula, leaving this:

[Pick one]

In your document, instruct readers to position their cursor over [Pick one] and right-click to bring up the multiple choices.

Red White Blue

WORD

Q. How can I print a watermark on a document?

A. Go to the document in which you want the watermark to appear and click on Format, Background and Printed Watermark.

As you can see front the screenshot above, you can use a picture or text as a watermark. To customize the watermark message, type the text of the watermark to be printed next to the Text box. You have the option of lightening the text image by checking the box next to Semitransparent. You also can print the text on a 30-degree slant or horizontally and in many sizes and colors.

If you use a color printer, this is what will appear in light red ink in the background of the document:

WORD/OUTLOOK

Q. I keep all my contacts--names, addresses, phone numbers and e-mail addresses--in Outlook. But I can't find a way to use that information to automatically address letters. Can you help?

A. I understand your frustration. Sometimes Outlook gets "cranky" when you ask it to provide address information for Word I use the Letter Wizard. and it works for me.

When you're ready to write a letter, click on Tools. Letters and Mailings and Letter Wizard.

To customize the letter, click on the Letter Format tab, creating this screen:

You can order the wizard to include the date, handle preprinted letterheads and format the letter in other ways. Now click on the Recipient Info tab and on the icon of the open book. That will generate a drop-down menu of the possible places your contacts are stored. Click on the appropriate one.

Finally, after clicking on OK, the basic format of the letter will be produced.

WORD

Q. I often have to add large blocks of boilerplate to current documents. I have the boilerplate saved in separate documents, and while it's not very hard to open them, copy the material and then paste it into nay current document, I'm sure there is a faster way.

A. Your instinct is correct--there is, and it involves creating fields and using the IncludeText function.

Set up each boilerplate file with a descriptive name that is easy to remember because you don't want to waste time looking it up every time you want to use it.

When you come to the place in your document where you want to add the boilerplate, insert a pair of field braces { } by pressing Ctrl+F9. Then, within the field braces type IncludeText followed by a space and the full path name of the boilerplate document. So, if you named the boilerplate file c:\contracts\XY contract.doc, the formula is

{IncludeText "c:\contracts\XY contract.doc"}. However, if both the file you want to add the boilerplate to and the boilerplate itself are in the same folder (subdirectory), you can simply call it XY contract, omitting the full path. Now press F9 to update the field, and the boilerplate will pop into the document, replacing the formula.

WORD

Q. I'm a fast-touch typist, and occasionally I accidentally engage the Caps Lock key. Isn't there a way to alert me when that happens so I don't have to go back and uncap a host of words?

A. Word contains an alarm for this problem. In fact, it also will alert you if you mistakenly (or purposely) engage the Num Lock or Scroll Lock key. To engage the alarm, click on Start, Control Panel and Accessibility Options. Under the ToggleKeys section, place a check next to Use ToggleKeys and click on Apply and then on OK.

Now, if you want to add a shortcut to toggle the application on and off by holding the Num Lock key for five seconds, click on Settings next to Use Toggle Keys and check Use shortcut. Finish by clicking on Apply and on OK.

EXCEL

Q. I often proofread spreadsheet numbers. It sure would save time--and reduce the likelihood of errors--if someone could read the numbers aloud as I compare them with a source document. But because I'm a sole practitioner, rarely can I arrange that. Any ideas?

A. Well, you may be alone, but you're not without a helpful resource. Excel has a bulk-in function that can speak the numbers in a spreadsheet. Of course, you must have speakers for your computer.

To evoke the speech function, click on Tools, Speech and Show Text to Speech Toolbar, bringing up this toolbar:

Notice there are five icons in the toolbar; each controls a different read-back function. To see what each does, pass your cursor over the icons. Starting at the left, the first (see screenshot at right) orders Excel to read the numbers in the cell--hesitating a second or so between cells. If the cell contains a formula, it will not read the formula, just the resultant number, unless you press Ctrl+" (grave accent).

The second icon halts the process. The third and fourth icons control whether the automatic reading moves down a column or along a row. To program a cell to speak only alter you press Enter, click on the fifth and final icon (see screenshot at right).

EXCEL

Q. How can I add a notation to an Excel Formula without cluttering my spreadsheet with a bunch of those red comment triangles?

A. There are two ways. You can add a conventional comment and then hide it and the red indicator. To do that, click on Insert Comment and then add your notation inside the box that appears.

Then, to hide the comment and the indicator, click on Tools. then Options, next the View tab. and under the Comments section, check None see screenshot below).

When you want to see them again, go back to Options, where you can click on either Comment indicator only or Comment & indicator.

Another way--and for many experienced Excel users this is their preference--is to add a comment inside a formula. There will be no sign of the comment in the cell; instead, it will appear in the formula box at the top of the screen when your cursor passes over the cell. To do that, add + N("your comment") to the end of the formula. For example, the formula adding A1 through A3 and reporting that it came from Start looks like this:

=sum(Al:A3) + n("I got this formula from Stan")

And this is what it looks like in Excel:

A BETTER WAY ...

* Excel: In the August 2003 Technology Q&A column (page 80), I demonstrated how to print custom headers/footers. Several readers suggested another way to add them, which we actually had mentioned on several occasions in earlier columns: Just type into a cell: =cell("filename").

While that method is indeed fast and easy, it lacks customization power. But if all you want is a quick footer or header, that's the way to go.

* Operating system: In the May 2003 column (page 72) I described a way to stop a computer from interfering with a defragmentation operation by using the msconfig function to block some start-up applications. Several readers suggested a simpler way: Start the computer in Safe Mode, and then, when the defrag is finished, simply reboot. I concede my method is slow and clumsy, but what do expect from a guy who started in DOS?

And for those who don't know what Safe Mode is (or how to get your computer to open in it), read on.

The Windows operating system allows users the option of booting up with only the most basic files and drivers--mouse, monitor, keyboard, for example--so that various diagnostics can run without the interference of complex functions. Unfortunately, not all computer manufacturers adhere to a standard way to launch Safe Mode. To launch it in my Dell computer, I press the F8 key during the early boot up stages. Other computers use the Ctrl key. Check your computer documentation--or just experiment--to discover your Safe Mode launcher.

Do you have technology questions for this column? Or, after reading an answer, do you have a better solution? Send them to contributing editor Stanley Zarowin via e-mail at zarowin@mindspring.com.

Because of the volume of mail, we regret we cannot individually answer submitted questions. However, if a reader's question has broad interes, we will answer it in a forthcoming Technology Q&A column.

On occasion you may find you cannot implement a function I describe in this column. More often than not it's because not all functions work in every operating system or application. I try to test everything in the 2000 and XP editions of Windows and Office. It's virtually impossible to test them in all editions and it's equally difficult to find out which editions are incompatible with a function. I apologize for the inconvenience.
COPYRIGHT 2003 American Institute of CPA's
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Copyright 2003, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
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Publication:Journal of Accountancy
Date:Dec 1, 2003
Words:1759
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