Word Processing & Office Apps


Accents and Special Characters

Word has a built-in facility for producing accented characters. For example, to insert an acute accent over a, e, i, o, u or d press and hold Ctrl then press the apostrophe key, release both then tap the letter you want and you get á é í ó ú, and ð. There's lots more, here's a more or less complete list:


à, è, ì, ò, ù

Ctrl + ` (grave) + letter

á, é, í, ó, ú, ý

Ctrl + ' (apostrophe) + letter

â, ê, î, ô, û

Ctrl + Shift + ^ (caret) + letter

ã, ñ, õ

Ctrl + Shift + ~ (tilde) + letter

ä, ë, ï, ö, ü, ÿ

Ctrl + Shift + : (colon) + letter

å, Å

Ctrl + Shift + @, a or A

æ, Æ

Ctrl + Shift + &, a or A

œ, Œ

Ctrl + Shift + &, o or O

ç, Ç

Ctrl + , (comma), c or C

ð, Ð

Ctrl + ' (apostrophe), d or D

ø, Ø

Ctrl + /, o or O


Alt + Ctrl + Shift + ?


Alt + Ctrl + Shift + !


Ctrl + Shift + &, s


You can also insert a wide range of special characters and accents into Word, and most other Windows applications, including email messages, by pressing and holding the Alt key then entering a 3 or  4-digit code into the numeric keypad. However, in order for this to work you must press the Numlock key first to activate the keypad. The numeric keypad on laptops is usually nestled inside the normal keyboard – see your owner’s manual for details of how to enable and use it.


¤     Alt+0164

À      Alt+0192

†     Alt+0134


×     Alt+0215

æ      Alt+0230

¶     Alt+0182

Æ     Alt+0198

†     Alt+0135

ç      Alt+0231

—    Alt+0151

Ç      Alt+0199

–     Alt+0150

ê      Alt+0234

§     Alt+0167

é      Alt+0233

ˆ     Alt+0136

ë      Alt+0235

˜     Alt+0152

è      Alt+0232

«     Alt+0171

Ê     Alt+0202

»     Alt+0187

Ë     Alt+0203

¦      Alt+0166

É     Alt+0201

©     Alt+0169

È     Alt+0200

®     Alt+0174

ï      Alt+0239

™    Alt+0153

í      Alt+0237

á     Alt+0225

î      Alt+0238

à     Alt+0224

ì      Alt+0236

â     Alt+0226

Í      Alt+0205

ä     Alt+0228

Ì      Alt+0204

å     Alt+0229

Π     Alt+0206

Á     Alt+0193

Ï      Alt+0207

à    Alt+0195

ñ     Alt+0241

Ä     Alt+0196

Ñ    Alt+0209

Å      Alt+0197

œ    Alt+0156

÷     Alt+0247

Œ    Alt+0140

±     Alt+0177

ß      Alt+0223


Mathematical Signs and Operators

Alt + 45        -      Minus

Alt + 0215    ×      Multiplication

Alt + 0247    ÷      Division/Obelus

Alt + 37       %      Percentage

Alt + 0137    ‰     Per Thousand)

Alt + 40        (       Open Bracket

Alt + 41        )       Close Bracket

Alt + 35        #      Number/Pound (US)

Alt + 236      ∞      Infinity

Alt + 230      µ      Micro (mu)

Alt + 228      Σ     Sum  

Alt + 234      Ω     Omega



Alt + 47          /       Seperator

Alt + 0188      ¼      Quarter

Alt + 0189      ½      Half

Alt + 0190      ¾      Three quarters


Equality & Inequality

Alt + 61          =      Equals

Alt + 247         ≈      Approximately equal to

Alt + 60          <      Less Than

Alt + 62          >      Greater Than

Alt + 242        ≥       Greater than or equa tol

Alt + 243        ≤       Less than or equal to

Alt + 241        ±       Plus or Minus



Alt + 251         √      Square Root

Alt + 252         ⁿ      Power n

Alt + 0185        ¹      To the power of 1

Alt + 0178        ²      Squared

Alt + 0179        ³       Cubed


Angles and Trigonometry

Alt + 227          π     Pi

Alt + 248          °      Degree



Alt + 0164        ¤      Currency

Alt + 156          £      GB Pound

Alt + 0128        €      Euro

Alt + 36            $      US Dollar

Alt + 155          ¢      Cent

Alt + 157          ¥      Yen


In Word and Outlook Express you can also quickly add acute accents to AEIOU by pressing the Alt GR key (to the right of the spacebar, followed by the letter.


PDF Toolkit

The PDF or portable document format is a great way of handling documents. They can be read and displayed on almost any device plus it is easy, and safe, to send them by email but they can be a bit restrictive. It’s not always possible to convert them to other formats without a lot of fancy or expensive software, it can be difficult to split long pdfs into separate pages, and creating your own pdfs can be a struggle, so anything that makes handling them easier has to be worth having. PDF Shaper definitely fits the bill; it’s a collection of tools that includes a pdf to Word RTF, pdf text extractor, image to pdf converter and pdf to a .jpeg, .bmp, .png or .gif image, pfd page extractor, pdf page splitter, pdf merger, pdf encrypter and one for setting or adjusting pdf permissions. Don’t forget to pay attention during the installation as it comes with an assortment of pre-ticked extras, that you may not want.



Yet Another Office Alternative

As much as we love and rely upon good old Microsoft Office – especially pre 2010 editions – there’s no denying that it costs a pretty penny. The whole suite, comprising word processor, spreadsheet and presentation software, not to mention the extras, can be a bit over the top if all you are not going to make good use of all the other features, so we’re always on the look out for alternatives. Our long term favourite has been OpenOffice.org, and it’s more recent spin-off/update LibreOffice, which are both free office suites and fully compatible with MS Office programs, but here’s a new one to consider. It hails from Germany – don’t worry its in English/Multilingual – and it’s called FreeOffice, and as the name suggests it’s completely free. The package includes a Word-compatible word processor called TextMaker, PlanMaker, an Excel compatible spreadsheet and Presentations, which is the PowerPoint equivalent, in fact the only thing that’s missing is an Outlook substitute. If you are accustomed to Word, Excel and PowerPoint you’ll feel immediately at home, it looks and feels a lot like MS Office, in fact it’s dangerously close in places and no doubt under close scrutiny. We’ve been trialling it for a couple of weeks and so far so good, no major gripes so far, and the minor ones such as they are, are largely unimportant considering the price, so if you’re on the lookout for an Office alternative, this one is definitely worth road-testing.



Ultimate Spelling Tool

Unless you are some sort of super-brain there are words that no matter how many times you type them, never come out right, If you are like me there are dozens of them, and I spend a very fair chunk of my time spell-checking the stuff I right. Okay, some programs like Word can be taught to recognise and automatically correct common mistakes, but wouldn’t it be great if there was a way of automatically correcting your spelling mistakes in any Windows programs, whether it’s in an email or on a web page? Yes it would, and wouldn’t it be even better if you could enter words, phrases or strings of characters – an email address for example – simply by typing a few characters? Yes again, and there is a way to do it, and a lot more besides. It’s called Texter, it’s free and it has to be one of the most useful little applications you’ll ever use!



Write On Font Maker

Whilst most of us are perfectly happy with the wide selection of fonts that come with our PCs there are those who are just never satisfied. Well, here’s another one for them to add to their collections, and you can be sure that no one else will have it. That’s because it’s a font based on your own handwriting, and if that’s not enough to entice you, the fact that it’s completely free should convince you. Here’s how it works. Pop along to www.myscriptfont.com and download and print out a PDF form. This is your template, and all you have to do is fill in the boxes with your handwriting, scan the template, save it as a JPEG, TIFF or PNG file and send it back. They will then generate a font based on your handwriting, it only takes a minute or two, and you can then download the file and install it on your PC, the site has full instructions for all recent editions of Windows. It really is that easy, and there is no catch, though if you find it useful they wouldn’t’ say no to a small thank-you donation.



Word Rescue

Although there are plenty of excellent alternative word processors most of us end up using the devil we know, namely Microsoft Word and to be honest, for all of its faults, it’s still the best. But every now and again it throws a wobbly, or a file you’ve zipped won’t open and you have a corrupt and unreadable document on your hands. The chances or recovery are slim so when a dodgy document absolutely refuses to open you need to bring out the big guns, and here it is, it’s called Corrupt Office Extractor. It’s designed to work on Office 2007 and later (docx, xlsx and pptx) and it can test and repair zipped files, there’s also an advanced view that lets you poke around inside corrupted xml files, and there’s a built in text editor for opening recovered files. Even if you don’t need it right now it’s worth keeping a copy in your toolbox, just in case…



The Phrase that Saves

How much time do you waste typing the same words or phrases over and over? You’re probably thinking not a lot, but this can be anything from Dear Sir, thank you in advance, the time, date, your address, a signature or signoff. There, you see it all starts to add up, so if you want to save yourself several seconds and dozens of keystrokes each day, try  PhraseExpress. It sits quietly in the System Tray, next to the clock and springs to life, inserting your chosen phrase in any text entry field (word processor, email etc.) when you enter a simple keyboard shortcut, or right click the program’s icon. It easy to add your own words or phrases, and these are in addition to a fairly substantial library of common phrases, time and date, salutations, buzzwords, famous quotes, you can even teach it to open programs on your PC and frequently visited websites.



Never Lost For Words

Most word processors and email programs have built-in spell-checkers, which would be a good thing if people used them, but that’s another story. However, when it comes to defining words, or finding alternatives, things start to get a bit patchy and decent dictionaries and thesauruses (or should that be thesauri…?) are harder to find. Personally I still use a ten year old copy of Microsoft Bookshelf, but I might well be tempted to switch to a freeware Dictionary and Thesaurus called TheSage. It’s jam-packed full of tricks, and you can use it from almost any application, including word processors, email programs, browsers that has text entry, simply by highlighting a word and pressing a hotkey combination (by default Ctrl + right-click mouse), or clicking TheSage icon on the taskbar. It then opens, telling you everything you need to know about the word, alternatives and quite a lot more besides. You can also do it the old fashioned way by manually entering the word on TheSage mains screen. You can even ask it to speak the word, just in case you’re not sure how it sounds. I would like to think that it will put an end to poorly spelled or awkwardly worded emails, it might even help me…



Free and Easy with Libre

LibreOffice is a new spin-off from the hugely popular OpenOffice suite of programs. For those of you unfamiliar with OpenOffice, it’s an integrated collection of office applications, available for Windows, Mac and Linux that includes a powerful word processor, spreadsheet, presentation tool, drawing program plus a math’s equation editor. The key feature or Open Office, and now Libre Office, apart from the fact that it is free, it that it is compatible with and can exchange files with the equivalent programs in Microsoft Office, like Word, Excel and PowerPoint. LibreOffice is largely based on the most recent version of OpenOffice, but it has been repackaged by a splinter group of OpenOffice.org members. The reasons for doing so are a bit involved, and partly political but it is basically intended to keep it free and in the public domain, and it will now be bundled as standard with a number of Linux distributions. There are some new features, though, and these include compatibility with docx format files, the facility to import and edit svg files and improved support for Lotus Word Pro and MS Works files. All you need to know, though, is that it’s comparable with MS Office in almost every respect, except the price…



Open all Documents

Once upon a time the Word .doc format was the de facto standard for word processing. Then Microsoft went and mucked it up with Word 2007, which introduced the XML based .docx format. To be fair it is an improvement on clanky old .doc but it also meant that older versions of Word were unable to open document written in Word 2007 or later.  Again, to be fair, there is the free Compatibility Pack available from Microsoft, but what if you haven’t got Word, and you get sent a .docx file? Well, there’s always OpenOffice or you could download the free Word Viewer, but this is an old program and it has a number of limitations. There’s another alternative, how about TextMaker Viewer 2010. It will not only open password protected .docx files it also handles OpenOffice documents and a number of other popular word processor document formats. Needless to say you can’t edit documents but they can be printed and exported as pdfs. There’s no catch, it’s free, though there is an annoying ‘nag screen’ but this can be disabled after the third time the program is opened by ticking the ‘Do not show again…’ box.



Staying Compatible With Word

Now that Microsoft Office 2007 is out in the wild users of older versions of Office and Word may encounter problems opening Word, Excel and PowerPoint files from Office 2007 users. The new suite introduces new file formats, called Open XML. Frankly it’s a nuisance but there is a solution so if you are having trouble with '.docx' files you need to download the Office 2007 ‘Compatibility Pack’. It is for users of Word, Excel and PowerPoint 2000, 2002 and 2003 and once installed you’ll be good to go. The only exception is documents written right-to-left and complex script files created in Word 2007, in which case you need to read MS Knowledgebase article 925451 for details of fixes and workarounds.



Write Stuff

I am a great admirer of Microsoft Word and have used it, in all of its incarnations since day one. True, it has it’s foibles and versions after 2003 onwards are bit flashy for my taste so I am happy to stick with 2000. It does everything that I want, and a whole lot more, and that is why I was rather impressed by FocusWriter. It’s an Open Source word processor (Linux and Mac versions also available) that simply works. It’s billed as distraction free, and that just about sums it up. When the program opens all you see is an empty screen, no toolbars of menus, just a blank sheet of virtual paper on which to pour out your thoughts. Of course the toolbars are all there, just move the mouse to the top of the screen and up they all pop. It does all the things you expect of a regular word processor; you can fiddle with fonts and colours, count words, cut, paste, spellcheck and so on. The are also timers, so you can set goals and keep track of your progress and one of it’s top tricks is a facility to change the background, with an image of your choice to inspire you. The only thing it can’t do, and this is a real shame, is open Word documents. But if all you want is to get words onto paper, with a minimum of fuss, and at absolutely no cost, then this is well worth a look.



Extend Your Office

If you’ve bought a new PC recently there’s a fair chance that it included a trial edition of Microsoft Office 2010. The deal is that you get to try it for 30-days for free, after which you either pony up for the licence or it stops working. What you may not know is that it can be re-activated or ‘rearmed’ a further 5 times, giving a total of 180 days or around 6 months free use. The rearming trick is not a hack but a hidden feature, probably put there for the benefit of corporate users, but in order to use it you’ll need a little freeware utility called 2010 Trial Extender. All you have to do is remember to click the Rearm button the day before each trial period expires. Note that this only works with 14.0.4706.1000 versions of Office 2010.



Document Digger

If you have a lot of documents on your computer then searching for one particular piece of text can be quite a struggle, and take a long time. Yes, Windows (Vista onwards) and word processors like Word have their own search facilities and sooner or later they will probably find what you are looking for but DocFetcher is a dedicated document search too, and it’s not just confined to Word either, it’s compatible with other popular word processors, like OpenOffice and AbiWord as well as Excel, PowerPoint and it’ll even scan through HTML files, pdfs and any text documents you might have on your PC. It recognises most common search parameters (+/-, wildcards etc), it’s light on resources and there’s even a Linux version.



Fill Your Boots With Freebie Fonts

Can you ever have enough fonts? Personally I seem to be able to get by with around half a dozen but I know that many of you are real font freaks and can never have too many of them on your computer. So here are hundreds more of them, in a package called  EZFonts, to add to your collection, and of course they are all free.


There are far too many of them to list here, a lot of them are unique and there are plenty of really eye-catching and wacky designs to perk up your paperwork. So all you need to do now is click on the link, download the file, install the fonts on your PC – and they will be automatically recognised by most major applications, including MS Office and so on, and you are all set to get creative!



Called to Account

Since going freelance, more than 25 years ago, I have learned a thing or two about keeping accurate financial records and my best advice to anyone thinking of going self-employed is don’t mess with the taxman and VATman…


Over the years I have tried numerous accounts packages and finally settled on Quicken, which although obsolete, continues to do everything that I need.  I’m sticking with Quicken because I don’t like learning new tricks but if I was looking for a simple to use accounts manager to keep track of my household expenses. I would definitely take a long hard look at a freeware accounts program called jGnash. It’s Open Source, a little US-centric, and the author has the occasional problem with spelling but it’s highly configurable, works happily with good old pounds sterling and is nothing, if not comprehensive. Like most accounts packages it’s only as good as your ability to keep it fed with information on your income and outgoings, and it’s a bit lightweight for business accounts but otherwise it stacks up well against the commercial offerings.



Primitive Insight

Originally designed for SEOs (Search Engine Optimisers), the folk who attempt to increase the profile of your web site on popular search engines, Primitive Word Counter should appeal to anyone who spends a lot of their time creating word processor documents. The main feature is a word/phrase frequency analyser. This is very useful for extracting keywords, but it is also really handy to stop you repeating yourself in long documents.




Most of us have been on the receiving end of portable document files or pdfs, either downloaded from the Internet or as instruction manuals, supplied with software and hardware, but how, exactly, do you go about making your own? Some applications make it easy, OpenOffice.org, for example, has the facility built in, otherwise you’ll have to shell out for a commercial program, like Adobe Acrobat, or seek out a freeware utility. Here’s one you should definitely consider. It’s called NovaPDF Lite and it’ll take you about 30 seconds to learn to use. Just download and install the program and that’s it. When you want to create a pdf from a Word document, Excel spreadsheet, or indeed anything your can see on the screen simply go to your application’s Print menu and on the drop-down menu select NovaPDF, click OK and you’re in the pdf making business. It’s that easy!



OpenOffice on the Move

OpenOffice.org, as you may know, is an open source office suite, and just because it’s free doesn’t’ mean it isn’t any good. Quite opposite in fact and in terms of functionality it rivals Microsoft Office. However, like Office it’s a bit chunky, but now there’s a new slimline alternative. It’s called OpenOffice.org Portable and at only 86Mb (installed 240Mb) it fits comfortably onto USB drives and space-poor mini notebooks and netbooks. It’s all there, the word processor, spreadsheet, presenter, drawing program and database, and as before they’re all compatible with MS Office applications.



WordPad on Steroids

As you know Windows comes with a basic (and I mean really basic…) word processor called WordPad. It’s fine for simple jobs but it comes seriously unstuck when you need to edit files created by MS Word – the industry standard WP, or create Word documents. Well now you can, using a little freeware WP program based on WordPad. It’s called Jarte (pronounced ‘jar-tay’ and no, I don’t know what it means either…). Anyway, Jarte can open, edit and save Word .doc and .docx files, it has an easy to use tabbed interface, it opens in an instant, there’s a multi-lingual spellchecker, it’s small and can be run directly from a USB drive, you can send documents to email and there’s an adjustable zoom. There’s much more besides but the best thing you can do is take a look at it and see for yourself!



Repair Kit for Word

Microsoft Word is still the only game in town when it comes to word processing, though on a personal note I have to say that most recent versions are horrible and until MS comes up with something better I’m going to stick to my trusty W2000. Which is just as well because otherwise I wouldn’t be able to use Repair My Word, a freeware program that only works with older versions, up to W2003. Basically it’s a data recovery program dedicated to Word document files. It’s the sort of thing you’d wished you had when you last saw the dreaded message ‘Word cannot open the document’ or ‘The document name or path is not valid’, or worst of all, all you see is a screen full of garbage. Simply run the application, navigate to the iffy file, open it and the program will do its best to sort it out, and if it succeeds it can be re-saved as a bone-fide Word document.



The Phrase That Pays

If you do a lot of typing then you can be pretty sure you constantly repeat yourself, especially when writing letters or replying to emails. Here’s a way to save yourself a few seconds each day, so you don’t have to keep typing things like Dear Mr…, it was a pleasure to meet you…, thank you for the… ,  and anything else you can think of. Phrase Express integrates seamlessly with your word processor, text editor and email programs, inserting common phrases at the click of a mouse or simple shortcut, it expands abbreviations, auto completes phrases with predictive text, enters dates and times, even a quote of the date if you so wish and as an added bonus it checks your spelling. It’s easy to use, highly customisable and yes, before you ask, it is free for personal use.



Noisy Word Alternative

You might think that Microsoft Word is the only word processor in town but as regular visitors will know, this is simply not the case and there are some excellent free alternatives, including AbiWord and Open Office Writer, and they’re both Word compatible.


Here’s another one, called Atlantis, and it’s free to try for up to 30 days and it can open, edit and save files in Word’s ‘doc’ format. Those accustomed to Word will find it very easy to use, the layout and menu options closely resemble the MS program and it has all of the features most users need, most of the time, including word count, spellchecker, a full set of formatting options, HTML integration, columns, and much more. There’s even a set of really wacky sounds that you can assign to most actions, from typing noises from a manual typewriter to a hooter for error messages. It’s small too, under 4Mb, so you can carry a copy around with you on a memory stick, and if you need further proof, all of today’s items were written on it, and I didn’t even notice I wasn’t using Word. Registration costs a very reaosnable $35, a fraction of the cost of a copy of Word.



ZoHo Online Office

Have you seen the price of a decent office suite? Why bother when you can get everything you want for free, and much more besides. ZoHo is the latest online office suite to hit the headlines and this one really piles it on thick with a very well specified word processor, spreadsheet, presentation tool, Wiki tool, note taker, groupware mail client, project management program, CRM (Customer Relations Management) software, web conferencing, online database, organiser and chat facility. There’s also a website monitor, viewer and lots more besides and it’s all free.



Tell Word What To Do

Quite literally, this freeware utility, called Natural Word, lets you take command of Word with simple typed commands. For example, rather than hunt around the menus if you want to increase the size of a word or change the colour simply highlight the word or characters and type ‘make 12pt’, or ‘make blue’. There’s no need to memorize the commands, Natural Word will try to understand what you want. It works with any version of Word (from W2000 onwards), and once installed all you have to do is hit the Tilde key (‘~’) and a box asking what you want to do opens, or just type the command into a box that appears on the Toolbar. The program is still being beta tested, so expect a few gaps in its understanding and maybe the odd glitch (you need to change the tilde key assignment as it is set up for an American keyboard) but it’s being improved all of the time and if this taster is anything to go by, it will make Word a lot more friendly and easy to use, especially for newcomers daunted by the programs apparent complexity and awkward Help screens.



Stop Repeating, Repeating Yourself?

One of the occupational hazards of writing is constantly repeating yourself. The trouble is, when you’ve written and re-read a long document several times, you become blind to your mistakes, so if you do a lot of writing, you use Microsoft Word, and you suspect you’ve used certain words a bit too often here’s a simple little trick to find out.


Got to Edit > Replace and in the ‘Find What’ box enter the word you want to check up on, now in the ‘Replace With’ box enter the following ^& (that’s upward pointing arrow and ampersand, you’ll find them on shift 6 and 7 respectively). Click the Replace All button and Word will tell you how many instance of the word occur in the document. It also says it has replaced them with ^&, but don’t worry, it hasn’t, that combination of characters is ignored by Find and Replace and no changes are made.





Make Insert Key Do Something Useful

Regular Word users who haven’t developed touch-typing skills will know only too well the scourge of the Insert key. It happens when you accidentally brush the ‘Ins’ key, you’re bashing away on the keyboard and it’s only when you glance up at the screen that you realise that the text you’ve been entering has been replacing or overtyping the words you’ve already written. If that sounds familiar there’s a couple of things you can do. You can permanently switch off the Overtype mode, or you can make the Insert key do something useful.


To kill the Overtype function right-click on an empty part of the Word toolbar and select Customize.  Click the Keyboard button and in the Categories box select All Commands. In the Command box highlight Overtype then hit the Remove button. Alternatively, you can make the Ins key carry out the Paste command (normally Ctrl + V). It’s easy, just go to  Tools > Options and select the Edit tab and check the item: ‘Use the INS key for paste’.



Recovering Corrupt Word Documents

If you have ever been faced with a Word error message saying that ‘The document cannot be opened’ or …may be corrupted’ you’ll know how frustrating this can be, but there may be a solution. Often the document will contain readable data, it’s just that Word cannot open it, so here’s a little trick, using the Work ‘Linked Document’ facility that might just help.


Begin by opening a new blank document then type in a single word, I suggest something simple like ‘Recover’ Click Save and use the default name (i.e. ‘recover’). Next, highlight the word and press Ctrl C.  Open a new blank document and go to Edit > Paste Special and select Unformatted Text then check the item ‘Paste Link’ and click OK. No go to Links on the Edit menu and select your original ‘Recover’ document and click the Change Source button. The Open dialogue box now appears, navigate your way to your corrupted document. Select it, click Open then OK and with a bit of luck if there’s any recoverable data in the corrupt document it will appear. You can now save the recovered text as a new document file.



Text in Blank Document

If when you open Word, instead of a blank sheet you find text from a previous document then you have somehow managed to mess up your ‘Normal.dot’ document template, which is the file that Word uses to create blank formatted documents. The solution is to edit Normal.dot, and remove the rogue text. To do that go to Find on the Start menu and search for Normal.dot; in Windows 98 it should be in the Templates sub folder and in Windows XP it lives in C:/documents and settings/<yourname>/application data/microsoft/templates and in Vista it can be found in C:/users/<yourname>/application data/roaming/Microsoft/templates. When you’ve found it do not double-click on it, as this will just open a new blank document; instead right-click on the icon and select Open, and it will be opened in Word. Delete the text; click Save and normality will be restored…


Reader’s Tip -- Label Printing In Word

I am indebted to Diana Rolland who came up with this great tip for label printing in Word. As anyone who has tried it will know it can be a bit hit and miss, and invariably the first sheet is wasted due to alignment problems. One solution is to print them out on a sheet of ordinary paper first, then try and line it up with a blank sheet of labels underneath but it can be hard to make out the edges.


Diana’s tip is to flip the label sheet over and do a test print on the back. That way you get a very accurate indication of the alignment, without waste. Brilliant! By the way, if you want to know how to produce a sheet of different labels then have a look at this Top Tip.



Bizarre Borders In Word

I am probably doing you no favours by telling you this but Word has a little-known feature that lets you make your letters look really yucky (or delightful, depending on your point of view...). You can, for instance, surround your carefully crafted words with little ice-cream cones, Christmas trees, Cherries or cream cakes.  Please don’t do it, or at least do not send any disastrously decorated documents in my direction but if you want to know how it’s done, purely out of academic interest, then go to Format > Borders and Shading and click the Page Border tab. At the bottom of the dialogue box there’s a drop-down menu labeled simply ‘Art’ click the down-arrow and you’ll see what’s available in all of its ghastliness. Incidentally, I’m sure you know this but you’ll only see the border when Word is in Page or Pint Layout View



High Visibility Word Icons

Even those with 20-20 vision can have trouble with the icons in Toolbar Microsoft Word. They’re pretty small to begin with but they becoming increasingly indistinct on larger screens at higher resolutions so if you find your self squinting or switching to precision mouse mode to avoid mis-clicking then try this simple little tweak.


Right click into an empty part of the toolbar, click Customize then select the Options tab. Under Other check the item ‘Large Icons’ and the toolbar icons will double or even triple in size, depending on your screen settings. Finally click Close to exit the Customize dialogue box. One point to watch out for, this change affects all MS Office programs, so be prepared to see some big icons in Excel, Outlook and so on.



Word Backup Macro

My recent travails with Microsoft Word left me with what was effectively a new installation and I quickly discovered that one of most frequently used features was missing. It’s a macro, called Allsave and I have relied on it for at least the past seven or eight years to make regular backups of the document I’m working on. In days gone by they were sent to a floppy, nowadays they go to a UDF formatted CD-R, which works just like a giant floppy. Fortunately I kept a record of the macro, so for anyone who is interested here it is again:


To install it all you have to do is go to Tools > Macro > Macros in the Name box type Allsave then click the Create button. The Word Basic window opens and you will see a flashing cursor after the words 'Sub' (and before the word End Sub), copy and paste the following commands:


Sub Allsave()


' Allsave Macro

Dim Pathroute

Pathroute = ActiveDocument.FullName

ChangeFileOpenDirectory "D:\"

ActiveDocument.SaveAs FileName:=ActiveDocument.Name, FileFormat:= _

wdFormatDocument, LockComments:=False, Password:="", AddToRecentFiles:=True, _

WritePassword:="", ReadOnlyRecommended:=False, EmbedTrueTypeFonts:=False, _

SaveNativePictureFormat:=False, SaveFormsData:=False, SaveAsAOCELetter:= _


ChangeFileOpenDirectory "C:\"

ActiveDocument.SaveAs FileName:=Pathroute, FileFormat:= _

wdFormatDocument, LockComments:=False, Password:="", AddToRecentFiles:=True, _

WritePassword:="", ReadOnlyRecommended:=False, EmbedTrueTypeFonts:=False, _

SaveNativePictureFormat:=False, SaveFormsData:=False, SaveAsAOCELetter:= _


StatusBar = ActiveDocument.Name & " saved in active directory and on backup drive"


End Sub


In this example the backup drive letter is D: if yours has another assignment simply change the letter in the line: ‘ChangeFileOpenDirectory "D:\"


To assign the macro a button on the toolbar (or keyboard shortcut) click on Customize on the Tools menu, select the Commands tab, scroll down the list in the left hand window and click on Macros.



Draw Vertical Line in front of Text

To draw attention to a block of text or paragraph you can insert a vertical line in front of it, and unlike the alternative method, drawing a line using the Drawing Tool, this one is visible in all Views. The trick is to use Tab Stops. Start by highlighting the block of text then click and drag the left Tab Stop a few millimetres to the right, to indent the block of text. Now go to Format > Tabs and in the Tab Stop box enter 0 (increase if you want to indent the line), under Alignment select Bar, click the Set button, then OK and it’s done.



When Word Goes Bad -- Some Helpful Hints

Having just spent the best part of a day wrestling with a corrupt copy of Microsoft Word I thought I would pass on a few things I’ve learned from the experience. I’m still not sure what the fault was, it finally disappeared after the third reinstall and a System Restore but one thing I wish I had done was to have made regular backups of the ‘normal.dot’ document template file. This contains all of your Word preferences, macros, AutoText entries and so on. I did have a backup but it was well over a year old and lacked the many changes I had made in the intervening period.


In XP you will find your normal.dot file in C:\Documents and Settings\<yourname>\Application Data\Microsoft\Templates. Copy it now, whilst Word is working properly, keep it in a safe place and resolve to update your backup every few weeks or months, depending how much you use and tinker with Word settings.


Tip number 2, when Word goes bad it does so spectacularly and rather than waste hours trying to fix it -- like I did -- just make sure your document backups are safe, then uninstall. Before you reinstall rename your existing normal.dot file to 'normal.old'. When you reinstall Word a new normal.dot will be created and you can tell straight away if the problem lies with Word, or normal.dot.



Revealing Word’s Hidden Secrets

As you may know Microsoft Word documents are not always what they seem. They can contain a wealth of hidden information and every so often this forgotten privacy and security flaw is forgotten as someone -- usually a smart journalist -- disassembles and finds something embarrassing inside a Word document sent to them on disc or in an email. There are several different types of data concealed in documents and one of the easiest to remove is Metadata. This contains information about you, your PC, document revisions, comments and all sorts of other things. If you are using Word 2000 you should read Microsoft KB article 237361 for Word 2003 users the place to go is KB 825576.


Your documents could also be concealing Field Codes and links so you might want to have a look at a little freeware add-on called the Hidden File Detector. This adds a new command to the Tools menu, and when you’ve finished work on a document, simply click on ‘Detect Hidden Files’ and you’ll see straight away is there’s anything lurking between the lines that shouldn’t be there.



Comment Using the Spoken Word

If you use Microsoft Word then you may be aware of the Comment facility that lets you add helpful notes to your documents, but you may not have spotted a little extra facility, for embedding ‘spoken’ comments. It’s really easy to do and all you need is a microphone connected to your PC. Open your document and click the mouse on the spot where you want the Comment to appear, now go to Insert > Comment and on the split frame toolbar that appears beneath your document, click the tape cassette icon. (in later versions of Word got to Inert > Comment and select Voice Comment from the drop-down menu). This opens the Windows Sound Recorder utility, click the Record button, say your piece and press Stop. The voice comment will now appear in the document as a speaker icon or sound ‘object’ and clicking on it replays the recording. 



Hidden Table Feature in Word

Here’s a weird little feature in Word that you may not have come across. It’s a way to create a highly configurable single and multi row table. It’s different to the Create and Draw Table tools on the Table menu (or the Toolbar Insert Table icon) in that each cell can be as little as one character wide. All you have to do is type the plus symbol (‘+’) followed by one or more hyphens (‘-‘), followed by another plus sign. Repeat for as many columns as you require, then press Enter. So, for example, a five-column table would look like this:




and produce this:








Adding extra hyphens between the plus signs varies the cell spacing, so this:




produces this:








If you want to add extra rows place the cursor at the end of the table and press Tab or Enter as many times as necessary.



Remove Manual Formatting from Word

If you’ve ever copied and pasted chunks of text into a Word document from a web page or another document, you may have noticed that both the new text and old text can sometimes start to behave oddly, changing size or font, for example, for no apparent reason. The unexpected changes are caused by hidden formatting commands interacting with the existing document’s formatting.


Here’s a couple of tips that are worth remembering if you do a lot of copying and pasting, and the first one is to remove as much formatting as possible by using Word’s Paste Special feature. Simply highlight and copy (Ctrl + V) the text you want to paste in to your document, but instead of pressing Ctrl + V (Paste) go to Paste Special on the Edit menu, or click the Paste Special icon on the toolbar (it looks like an open book, next to the Format Painter ‘paintbrush’ icon, and on the drop-down menu that appears select Unformatted Text.


You can strip out any manual formatting in a piece of pasted text by highlighting the item then pressing Ctrl + Spacebar. This should then force the highlighted text to take on the formatting of the document or paragraph it has been inserted into.     



Free Pirate Font and Much More Besides

Arrr, me hearties… What with all this Pirates of The Caribbean stuff doing the rounds at the moment I though you might like to know about the Kallot True Type Font, which includes all of the skull and crossbones and skeletons motifs and you’re ever likely to want or need. Kallot is just one of hundreds of free fonts (for personal use) available from the dafont website. There’s some really imaginative and eye-catching designs, check out the furry Barrio or the gothic Kingdom Hearts, and the flouncy Sweetie Hearts is just the job for your next amorous missive. Simply download the zipped font file onto your PC, extract it into your Windows/ Fonts folder and click ‘Install New Font on the File menu and it’s instantly available for use in Word and any application that uses text.



Printing Sheets of Different Labels

Word has a specialised label printing tool, which is easy to use but it’s not obvious that it can also produce label sheets made up of different addresses. Go to Envelopes and Labels on the Tools menu, click the Labels tab then the Options button and select the label type (make, reference number or custom dimensions etc.) from the list. It is important to double-check the dimensions by clicking the Details button and compare the measurements (margins, pitch etc.) against your label sheet. You should also verify that your printer settings are correct (paper size etc.) from Page Layout on the File menu.


To produce a label sheet made up of different addresses open the Label dialogue box again and check the item ‘Full page of the same label’ (and no, it doesn’t make sense…) then click the New Document button. The label sheet will now be displayed (if not select Print Preview from the View menu), and you can key your addresses into the boxes, and since it a Word document you can vary font, style and size. When you are finished click print and the alignment should be perfect. Save it as you would a normal Word document and it will be ready for printing or updating. 



Most of us have played with secret writing and invisible ink at some point and there are plenty of recipes for making your own (lemon juice and urine are supposed to work quite well…) but here’s a few ways to save and send secret messages using MS Word, without making a mess or using lighted candles.


The absolute simplest method is to write your message as normal, then highlight it, click Font on the Format menu, change the Font Colour to white and hey presto, your words will disappear from view. The only problem with this method is that hidden words buried in a document can be difficult to find but highlighting everything (Ctrl + A) and selecting black font colour will make them reappear once again. A slightly more elaborate method is to highlight your message then go to the Font drop-down menu and change it to Wingdings 3, It’s pretty obvious and you don’t need to be James Bond to see through this one, though changing the Font colour to white as well should keep snoopers guessing. The last trick is to highlight and resize your secret text to 1pt italics. On most screens the characters will merge together and appear as a thin slightly ragged line and in this way you can disguise quite large chunks of text as underlines or break lines in copy.




Contrary to popular belief Microsoft Word doesn’t have an automatic backup facility, features like Save Auto Recovery info (Tools > Options) merely save your document as a temporary file, which may get you out of trouble if Word or your PC crashes, and you know where to look for it, but it is not a backup and the recovery files are automatically deleted when Word, or the document are closed.


There is no substitute for manually saving your work every few minutes, and the Ctrl + S keyboard shortcut is easy to remember, but there is a better way. A small freeware utility (actually it’s a Word Macro) called SaveReminder can be set to remind you to do a manual Save every few minutes, or if you prefer, do it for you automatically. Simply download and extract the zip file into your Word Startup folder and the configuration menu will open the next time you launch Word. You will find the location of your Word Startup folder from Tools > Options > File Locations (On Windows XP it’s usually C:\Documents and Settings\<yourname>\Application Data\Microsoft\Word\STARTUP



When working on long or complex documents in Word the jumble of toolbars, menu and status bars can be a real distraction, as well as taking up valuable screen space. Word has a facility to make them all vanish and display your document full screen, you may even have come across it before, it’s on the View menu.


When selected a small button appears on the page so you can switch back to normal view. However, even that can quite intrusive but it’s actually a toolbar and you can move it out of the way by ‘docking it to one of the sides of the screen where it becomes a skinny toolbar. You can also make the Full Screen view a toolbar button. Just right-click onto an empty area of the toolbar and select Customize then the Commands tab. Scroll down the Categories list to View then locate the Full Screen icon on the Commands list and drag it onto a toolbar. If you don’t like the look of the button you can change it by selecting Customize again, then right-click on the button and select Change button image. You can also remove the button when the Customize dialogue box is displayed, by dragging the button off the toolbar. 


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Here’s a couple of quick and nifty tweaks for Microsoft Word. The first one is Reverse Printing, which is probably not what you think. This is a way of setting Word to reverse the order in which documents are printed. BY default it’s set to print in the order they appear on the screen, i.e. page one first. The trouble with that is when you print a long document you have re-collate the printed pages so that page one is on top of the pile. To switch on Reverse printing, so that the last page prints first, go to Tools > Options and select the Print tab and under Printing Options check ‘Reverse Print Order’.


The second tip is a way of printing text backwards, or ‘mirror’ printing. In fact this function isn’t built into Word, but you can trick it into doing it in small batches of a line or two. Open the Drawing toolbar (View > Toolbars > Drawing) and click where you want the Mirror text to appear on your document. Next click the WordArt icon (slanty capital letter ‘A’ on the Drawing toolbar), select the plain style in the top left hand corner and compose your text. You can also set font type and size from this box. Click OK and it’ll appear at the insertion point. You can change to a solid colour from the Fill Colour icon on the Drawing toolbar, and change any other attributes you feel necessary. When you are happy with its position and size click the Draw drop-down menu on the Drawing toolbar, select Rotate or Flip, then Flip Horizontal and hey-presto, backwards writing.  For larger blocks of copy the only solution is to copy the page to a drawing program, mirror the image and paste it back into the document as a non-editable picture.



It’s difficult not to be repetitive when writing long documents and all too often when you go back and read something you’ve just written, you can easily miss repeated words or phrases, but Word can help avoid repetition. Go to Find on the Edit menu and select the Replace tab. Type the word you want to check in the Find box then in the Replace box type the command ‘^&’ (without the quotes, the ^ character is Shift 6 on a UK keyboard). This tells it to find but not to replace the word. Now click the Replace All and the number of times the word has been used will be displayed.




Okay, I know my timing is not too clever but you can always squirrel this tip away for later in the year, or use it now to make fancy month planners. Either way here’s how to use Microsoft Word’s little-known facility to make quite smart-looking calendars. Just go to New on the File menu and select the Other Documents tab, if Calendar Wizard isn’t shown then click ‘Templates’ in the Create New box. If Word says the feature isn’t installed you may have to dig out your Word or Office installation disc and load that, but it’s worth the effort. Click the Calendar Wizard icon and follow the prompts to choose a style, layout and whether nor not you want space for a picture, then set the start and end dates and the finished design will appear. You can fiddle around with it as much as you like, it’s simply a Word document, and when you are happy with it just click Print and it’s done.


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No doubt you have crossed swords with Word’s automatic Bullets and Numbering feature, which seems to pop up when you don’t want it. Nevertheless if you are a fan of bulleted and numbered lists then you may not known that you are not limited to the plain round bullets, in fact you can use just about any character or symbol you like for bullet points, you can even use clipart images or photographs. To make the change go to Bullets and Numbering on the Format menu, select a style then click either the Picture or Customize button. The former leads you into a clipart browser whilst Customize takes you to another dialogue box from where you can choose a bullet from the Symbol font lists. Once you’ve chosen your new symbol just use the Bullet or Number icon on the toolbar in the usual way. 




If you use Microsoft Word the built-in spellchecker is your best friend, automatically highlighting miss-spelt words and helpfully suggesting alternatives. One of its most useful facilities is to add words it doesn’t know to the Custom Dictionary, but here’s the rub. If you are in a hurry it’s very easy to add miss-spelled words to the Dictionary and thereafter Word will always ignore your mistake. So how to you correct the Dictionary? It’s simple, just go to Options on the Tools menu and select the Spelling and Grammar tab. Click the Dictionaries button and your Custom Dictionary -- and any others you might have installed -- appears in the box. Highlight the entry and click Edit and a list of all the words you’ve added appears. You can now edit the list like a Word document and when you’ve finished Save it as normal.




There is a little known and very well hidden feature in Microsoft Word that lets you create eye-catching watermarks that can be used to identify or distinguish your documents by lightly printing a background image or words behind your text. Start with the image or text that you want to use and make sure you know where to find it on your hard disc. Now go to the View menu and select Header and Footer, decide where you want the watermark to appear by clicking the cursor then go to Insert > Picture > From File and browse to your image, double click on it to insert into the page. You can now adjust the position using the sizing handles. Next double-click the image to open the Format Picture dialogue box, select the Layout tab and click ‘Behind Text. Select the Picture tab and on the Color drop-down menu choose Watermark; adjust Contrast and Brightness as necessary to vary the visibility of the image. Exit the Header and Footer toolbar and preview the effect on the View menu by clicking Print Layout.


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Yes, I know you can do this automatically in some versions of Word but here’s a simple little wrinkle that automatically displays the path and filename of the document you are working on in the toolbar and lets you put it anywhere you like in a document. Begin by right-clicking on an empty area of the toolbar, select Customize then the Commands tab; scroll down the Categories list and click on All Commands. Now scroll down the Commands list to Web Address, left click and hold on the icon and address bar and drag and drop it onto the end of your toolbar. Exit the Customize dialogue box and the web address bar will now display your open document’s path and filename. Now all you have to do is click on the line to highlight it then copy (Ctrl + C) and paste (Ctrl + V) it anywhere you want in your document.




Here are a couple of little-known tips for Microsoft Word (all versions from 97 onwards) that might come in handy one day. The first one is a way to create underlined spaces. These are useful for online forms or documents, to indicate where you want the reader or recipient to enter information, like this: Name:          .


A normal underline doesn’t work because as soon as you try to type on it, the underline disappears; try it and you’ll see what I mean. To make underlined spaces press an hold Ctrl + U + Shift then press the spacebar and the underlines will appear, it takes a little practice but you’ll soon get the hang of it.


Tip number two is how to avoid wasting ink by just printing the parts of a document that you actually want. This should also work with other MS Office applications as well. Most printers support this feature though one or two might not co-operate so give it a try, in case you ever need to use it in anger. Start by highlighting the block of text that you want to print then go to Print on the File menu and look for the ‘Page Range’ box and click ‘Selection’ then the OK button.


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Here is another of Word's handy hidden features. This one should be of particular interest to anyone who inserts pictures or graphics into their documents and needs to position them accurately on the page. The idea is you place the mouse pointer on the horizontal ruler at the top of the page then press and hold the left button. A vertical line appears, which you can move right or left, to line up with the edge of the object you want to measure or position. Now, whilst still holding down the left mouse button press and hold the right button and the ruler changes to a set of precise measurements, showing the exact distances the line is from the left and right margins. Clever huh?




You may know the hidden Word trick for creating paragraphs of ‘dummy’ text (a repetition of ‘The quick brown fox etc…’), in case you’ve missed it just enter =rand() anywhere in a document and see what happens (see also this Top Tip for refinements).


Anyway, the idea of dummy text is to help with document layout and it goes way back -- to the 1500’s -- and traditionally printers and typesetters have used paragraphs of fake (or is it..) Latin, which begins: Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua…’ and so on.


Handy though it is the dummy text generated by Word is repetitive and doesn’t look very natural, so is there a better way? Unfortunately Word cannot generate Lorem ipsum… but there is a website that can. Just tell Lipsum.com how much need then copy and paste it into your document or layout.


Tip-in-a-tip: if you are likely to be needing it on a regular basis you could save it as an AutoText entry and assign it to a keyword.


One last point, Word’s spellchecker will be seriously freaked out by this text so to save it from blowing a fuse highlight the copy then go to Tools > Language > Set Language and tick the item ‘Do not check spelling or grammar’.



ScreenTips are a common feature on web pages, they’re the little boxes that appear when you ‘hover’ your mouse pointer over a highlighted or underlined hyperlink, but did you know you can do something similar in Word? They can be really useful for explaining or defining a term and it’s bound to impress your boss or colleagues. Anyway, here’s what you do, highlight the word or words that you want to generate the ScreenTip then right click on it and select Hyperlink. Click the ScreenTip button at the top; type in the message that you want to appear in the box then click OK, to finish off give the ScreenTip a name in the ‘Type the file or web page name’ box and click OK




If you use Microsoft Word and work on a lot of long documents then this quick and simple little tip is well worth remembering. You can waste a lot of time trying to recall where you left off typing, especially if it was a while ago. There’s no need, Word has a feature called Go Back that automatically records the last thing that you did before a document was saved; all you have to do is press Shift + F5.


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This simple little tip for Microsoft Word creates a toolbar icon that lets you quickly apply colour to text in a document. Begin by right clicking on an empty area of the Toolbar and select Customize. In the left hand Categories pane scroll down the list and highlight All Commands then in the right pane select ‘Color’. Next, in the drop-down Color menu below select your colour, now go back to the highlighted Colour entry above and click, drag and drop it on to your chosen location on the toolbar and an icon will be created with the name of the selected colour. Click OK to close the Customize box. To use it just highlight a word or block of text and click the colour button. To remove the button just right click the toolbar again and select Customize, you can now click on the button and drag it off the toolbar and it will disappear.




Buried deep inside Microsoft Word is a neat little facility that lets you change and tinker with the design of the toolbar icons. To fire it up right-click onto an empty area of the toolbar and select Customize. Next right-click on the icon you want to alter and select either ‘Change button image’ or ‘Edit button image’. The former will present you with a small selection of alternative icons; simply click on the one you want and the change will be made. If you go for the Edit button image option you can fiddle with the design using the simple icon editor utility, changing the shape or adding colours to make them look more interesting. If you want to switch back simply repeat the procedure but this time select ‘Reset button image’ from the right-click menu.




This simple little tip creates a desktop shortcut that automatically opens Microsoft Word on the last document you were working on, saving you the trouble of going to the Open menu and drilling down through the file list. All you have to do is right click on an empty part of the desktop and select New > Create Shortcut. In the ‘Type location of the item’ box type or copy and paste the following command, according to the version of word that you are using.

For Word 2000 use:

"C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office\WINWORD.EXE" /mFile1

Word 2002:

"C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office10\winword.exe" /mFile1

Word 2003:

"C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office11\winword.exe" /mFile1

Click Next, give the Shortcut a name (or keep the default Winword.exe) then OK and it’s ready to use.




When working on long documents it is sometimes useful to be able to see and edit other sections of the text at the same time. Word will let you do exactly that, though unless you stumble on the feature by accident you’ll probably never know it exists. It’s really easy to use, all you have to do is point, click and drag the tiny separator bar that’s immediately above the arrow on the vertical scroll bar. Drag it down to halfway and you have two separate views of the same document, each with their own scroll bars so you can move around both sections of the document independently. To revert to the normal single pane view just slide the separator bar back to the top of the screen.




Microsoft Word has a little known Preview facility that lets you view the contents of a document without actually having to open it. This is a handy time saver, especially if all you want to do is just check the first few lines or paragraphs in a long document


All you have to do is click the Open icon (or Open on the File Menu, or Ctrl + O), select the file you want to have a quick peek at then click on the drop-down Views menu, select Preview and a small Window opens displaying the contents of the document.


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Here’s a nifty way to spice up your Word documents -- add a sound file. Teacher will be impressed! There’s two ways to do it, if you would like to record a new sound or message simply go to the Insert menu, select Object then scroll down the list to Wave Sound and the Windows Sound Recorder box opens. All you have to do now is click the red Record button and speak into your PC’s microphone or play a CD. When you click Stop to finish recording a loudspeaker icon will appear in your document and when it is clicked the sound will playback. If you want to use a sound file you have already created it’s even easier, just copy and paste the file directly into your document and when it is double clicked it will open the PC’s selected media player and replay the file. You can change the icon by right clicking on it and select Package Object > Edit Package.




In MS Word you can assign frequently used commands to a simple and memorable two-key shortcut. For example, Word Count on my PC is Ctrl + \ (backslash). To create a shortcut all you have to do is right-click into an empty area of the toolbar, select Customize, and then click the Keyboard button. To create a Word Count shortcut highlight ‘Tools’ on the Categories list then click on ToolsWordCount in he Commands window. Click into the ‘Press new shortcut key’ box and enter your two keys. If it is already in use you will be warned so you can find another key combination or you can replace the old one if it’s not one you are likely to want to use again.




It’s all very well making your own home-grown keyboard shortcuts but if you don’t use them for a while it’s easy to forget the keystrokes. This tip will help you to remember them by printing out a list. All you have to do is go to Print on the File menu then in ‘Print What’ drop down menu select Key Assignments then OK




Generally speaking Microsoft Word is fairly reliable, but when it does go wrong it does so in spectacular fashion and in addition to closing itself down without warning, it can also take Windows with it. Word users plagued by persistent problems usually give up and re-install the program, only to find that nothing has changed. In those circumstances there's almost always a glitch in a file called 'Normal.dot' which contains all of the user's settings, which includes macros and other mischief-makers. If you are about to re-install Word for the tenth time, try this. Make a copy of your Normal.dot file, (just in case it's not corrupt) and save it in another folder, in XP it can usually be found in:


C:\Documents and Settings\<yourname>\Application Data\Microsoft\Templates


In Vista and Windows 7 look inC:\users\<yourname>AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Templates


In older versions of Word it's in:

C:\Windows\Application Data\Microsoft\Templates,


Delete the original Normal.dot and re-boot. Word will automatically create a new Normal.dot and return to its default settings.




Word has a useful hidden utility called the ‘Work’ menu, this lives on the Word Toolbar giving single click access to selected documents. To install the Work menu right-click in an empty area of the Toolbar, select Customize, then the Commands tab, scroll down the Categories list, select Built In Menus, go to the Command list, scroll down to Work then drag and drop it onto a Toolbar. To include a document on the menu open it and click ‘Add to Work Menu’. To remove an entry press Ctrl + Alt + - (hyphen), the cursor changes to a bar, go to the Work menu and click on the item you want to delete.


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You know the feeling, It’s late on Friday afternoon, you’ve been tapping away at the keys all day and the screen is starting to look a bit blurry. As you know in Microsoft Word you can change the text size display from the Zoom control’s drop-down menu on the Toolbar, but that’s too much like hard work… Here’s a super quick way to change the text size, but you will need a mouse with a scroll wheel. Simply press and hold the Ctrl button on your keyboard and spin the mouse wheel and everything will become a lot clearer...




In Word there's a useful unpublished facility called Random Word. Every so often you might want to create a block of text quickly, to test out your faxing or E-mail facilities, or produce dummy text to check a page layout. You can of course copy and paste text from another document but Random Word is far quicker.  Simply type in the following: =rand() and press Return. Word will then generate three paragraphs, each containing the sentence 'The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog', five times. You can alter the number of paragraphs and sentences by inserting numbers into the brackets. For example,  =rand(6,8) generates a text block of 6 paragraphs, each containing 8 sentences.




Not many people know this, but a Word table can be used as a spreadsheet, summing all the rows and columns. But beware -- it will only go as far as the first gap in whatever direction you're going, so if you want to jump across empty cells, insert a zero in these. It uses the same basic functions as Excel, to use it go to Formula on the Table menu.




The bright white text area of most word processors can become a quite tiring on the eyes after a few hours. You can of course jiggle the brightness and contrast settings on your monitor but a far better solution is to give your blank pages a light grey tint. Open your word processor and load a page of text, so you can judge the effect. Next, from the Start button select Settings, Control Panel and the Display icon. Select the Appearance tab and click into the area marked Window Text. Next click on the Color box and choose the Other option. This will bring up a colour palette, select grey or white from the block of colour options and use the slider to the right of the multi-colour panel to adjust the level. Click OK and if necessary re-adjust until you are satisfied with it. The tint only applies to the display and will not affect the way documents look when they are printed.




If you are constantly fussing over fonts for your documents then there's a very handy feature in Windows that allows you to quickly compare typefaces according to style and design. From the Start menu go to Settings, then Control Panel and double click the Fonts icon. Go to the View drop-down menu and click on 'List Fonts by Similarity'. Now all you have to do is click on the drop down 'List Fonts…' choose a font and you will be presented with list of comparable typefaces, ranked according to similarity.




If you’ve ever wondered why Word document files are so large it’s due to  ‘Metadata’. This is hidden information that contains the author’s name, summaries, revisions, hidden text, previous authors and so on. Metadata can still be recovered, even if the document is sent as an email attachment. If you are concerned you can remove Metadata by sending the document as a plain text file, or have a look at Microsoft Knowledgebase, articles Q223790, Q237361 and Q290945 (Word 97, 2000 and 2002).










Freeware, 1.5mb, Word 2000, 2002, 2003, www.wordtoys.com/

If you use Microsoft Word then you should definitely give this interesting little utility a test drive. It’s actually a suite of more than 30 tools and enhancements that let you personalise the way Word looks and operates. Highlights include a keyboard shortcut to accented characters, Double Save (saves a document to your hard drive and any other nominated drive), Folder Icon Manager, Favourite Everything -- customise your most frequently used functions, Document Recall (quickly find any document you’ve worked on, up to a month previously), Quick Numbering (numbers paragraphs in over 50 formats), Speed Sort (change the order of paragraphs) and Out Of Office, which leaves a message on your screen when you are away from your desk.


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Hyperlinks are one of Word’s most powerful features and invaluable for navigating around long documents or automatically linking to web page or other documents stored on the PC. To jump to another part of the same document highlight a word or block of text, go to Bookmark on the Insert menu, give the bookmark a name then go back and highlight the word or words that you want to link to it, right click and select Hyperlink, click the Bookmark button and select the Bookmark from the list. To Hyperlink to another document or web page highlight the word you want to turn into a link, right click and select Hyperlink then type in the web address or use the File button to browse to another document.




Here is a sure fire way to make sure that your documents, however long and tedious they might be, will get noticed. Word has a number of animated text effects that can make your words really stand out on the screen. Try this, open a new document and type a word or two, highlight it and make it really big, 36 point say, (and don’t forget Word lets you size text and characters up to 999.5 points – in 0.5 pt increments – simply by typing the number into the size box next to the font name). With the words still highlighted go to Font on the Format menu and select the Text Effects tab, now take your pick from the list, which includes ‘shimmer’, ‘Las Vegas’, ‘Blinking Background’ and ‘Marching Red Ants’. Warning! Use sparingly, otherwise it can get very annoying…




Take control of your Toolbars. The standard Word layout has a number of shortcomings and omissions. Try adding the Work menu icon. This gives you rapid access to documents that you open frequently. Right-click onto an empty area of the toolbar, click Customize, select the Commands tab and work your way down the Categories list to Built-In Menus. Select it then go to the Command list and scroll down to Work. Click, hold and drag it onto a toolbar and release and close Customize.  Click ‘Add to Work Menu’ to add any open document to the list. To delete entries press Ctrl + Alt + - (hyphen), the cursor changes to a thick bar, go to the Work menu and click on the item you want to remove.




Adding SaveAs and Document Close icons to the Toolbar are useful time-savers and putting them on the right side of the toolbar also reduces mouse mileage. On Customize select the Commands tab and click File under Categories. Scroll down the list in the Commands Windows and drag and drop SaveAs and Close onto the Toolbar. The SaveAs button doesn’t have an icon so right-click on it select Change Button Image and select something from the page. Other items you might want to add to your Toolbars include Insert Date and Page Number (on the Insert menu in Categories) and Word Count (Tools). To remove any icon or menu from the Toolbars open Customize then drag and drop the item onto the desktop. 




On the Font Size drop-down menu the largest value shown is 72 point but you can specify any size you like (in 0.5pt increments), up to a massive 999.5 points, simply by typing in the number.




If you want to exit Word quickly and you have a lot of open documents that all need to be saved press and hold the Shift key whilst clicking on the File menu. A new item, SaveAll will appear.




When faced with a document that contains several different styles or formats you can quickly apply your chosen format to any block of text. Highlight a portion of text with the formant you want to copy then click on the Format Painter icon (paintbrush). Now move the mouse pointer to the text you want to change and drag the paintbrush across it.


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Word users usually manage to find Word Count in the Tools menu; it may be more versatile than you think. As it stands it will count all of the words in an open document, but if you want to know how many words there are in a paragraph, or block of copy, just use the highlight function, then click on word count. You can create a simple keyboard shortcut to Word Count by going to the Tools menu and click on Customise. Select the Command tab; highlight Tools in the list of Categories and scroll down the list of Commands until you come to Word Count. Highlight it, then click on the Keyboard button, put the pointer into the Press New Shortcut field and press the mouse button. Decide which keys you are going to use (Ctrl and backslash ‘\’ are usually free) finish off by clicking Assign and Close.




If you habitually work with a lot of open documents in Word you will know how time consuming it can be to save and close each document separately, when you exit the program. There's a hidden set of commands that will speed things up considerably. All you have to do is hold down the shift key and then move the mouse pointer to the File drop-down menu. You will see that Close has changed to Close All, and Save is now Save All. To exit Word in double quick time click Save All, followed by Close All and watch those documents disappear! Incidentally, Word will prompt you to name any untitled documents, so there's no fear of losing track of anything.




If you frequently need to insert a word, line or block of text into MS Word documents you can easily automate the process with a simple keyboard shortcut. Highlight the text and press Alt + F3, to create an AutoText entry, then give it a name or accept the default that appears in the dialogue box that appears and click OK. Now go to the Tools menu; select Customize and the Commands Tab. Click the Keyboard button then AutoText in the Categories window.  Highlight your new entry in the Commands Window, click a cursor in the Press New Shortcut Key field, choose a key combination then click Assign. To remove an AutoText entry go to the Insert menu, click AutoText, then AutoText, select the AutoText tab, highlight the entry and click Delete.




There's a hidden feature in Word 97 onwards that automatically scrolls the page or document you're watching. It's really handy for reading long documents, or you can use it to turn your PC screen into a teleprompter or autocue, for displaying speeches and scripts. It was originally designed to be used with 'wheel' type mice but it works on any standard two or three button mouse. Click on Customise on the Tools menu, select the Commands tab, scroll down the list and highlight 'All Commands' in the Categories window. In the right hand Commands window find, single click and hold on Auto Scroll, drag and drop it onto a toolbar and a button will appear. Close Customise and click on the Auto Scroll button, you can vary the speed and direction using the arrows that appear in the left hand scroll bar.




As you may have discovered there is no master list of keyboard shortcuts in Word Help and tracking down a specific command -- there are more than 200 of them -- or finding out if a particular one even exists, can be a frustrating and time-consuming business. Wonder no more, here's an easy way to print out a complete list of Word shortcuts and commands, to keep by your PC for quick reference.


Go to the Tools menu and click on Macro then Macros. In the 'Macros In' drop-down menu select Word Commands, now move your mouse pointer to the Macro Name pane and highlight ListCommands, click Run and in the dialogue box that appears select Current Menu and Keyboard Settings and click OK. A new document will open, with a table showing all of the available commands and shortcuts. Just use Save As to give it a name and print it out. Be warned in its raw form it runs to around 9 pages (12pt text) but with a little judicious editing of the commands you'll never need or use it can be trimmed to a more manageable 5 to 6 pages.


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As you know you can insert pictures and graphics into Microsoft Word documents, but did you also know you can add sounds? Try it, it’s fun! It works on most recent versions of Word (97 & 2000).  Before you start select, create or record the sound you want to use with Windows Sound Recorder (Start > Programs > Accessories > Entertainment) or your preferred audio editing program and save it as a *.wav file. Open Word and position the cursor in the document where you want the sound to be then go to the Insert menu and select Object. Make sure the Create New tab is displayed then scroll down the list to Wave Sound and click on it. Press Okay and a speaker icon appears on the page and Windows Media Player opens. Go to Insert File on the Edit menu, select your audio file and it’s done. When anyone double clicks on the speaker icon the sound file will be played.




Here's an easy way to find out what the Function keys along the top of the keyboard do in Word 2000. Right click into an empty area next to the Toolbar at the top of the screen, and select Customize from the drop-down menu. Put a check mark next to 'Function Key display' and a new toolbar will appear at the bottom of the screen, with clickable buttons showing what each key does, plus their alternative functions, when you press the Alt, Shift or Ctrl keys.




Microsoft Word has lots of useful undocumented features, here’s one that will save you a lot of time and trouble. The next time you want to replace a chunk of text forget the backspace or delete keys, just highlight the block and continue typing. One click, that’s all, Word automatically places the cursor at the start of the highlighted section and replaces the text as you type.




Did you know that Word has a built in calculator function? Call up the Customize dialogue box (see tip 1) and select All Commands in the Categories menu then find and highlight ToolsCalculate in the Command list. Drag and drop it onto a toolbar and it’s ready to use. Enter in a sum, using the normal mathematical operators (plus +, minus - , divide / and multiply *, etc.) highlight the equation and click your ToolsCalculate button and the answer will appear in the left hand corner of the status bar at the bottom of the screen.




If you use Microsoft Word it’s worth remembering this very useful keyboard shortcut for quickly increasing or decreasing the font size of a selected letter, word, paragraph or even a whole document. Simply highlight the text then press and hold the Ctrl and Shift keys, to increase the font size (in 1 point increments) repeatedly press  ‘>’ (right-facing open arrow) and to reduce size press ‘<’. The size of the highlighted text will be shown in the toolbar display.




Excel users, here's a neat little trick that old hands are probably familiar with, but newcomers might find useful. If you have a column of numbers that you want to add up quickly, simply highlight them and the SUM of the numbers appears in the Status bar at the bottom of the screen. There's more, if you now right-click on the Status bar result you'll see a set of extra options, including Average, Count, Count Numbers, Min and Max.


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