In the last post, I had posted a quiz. We already have a winner (Nicholas) and the gift will be sent to him.
The question was the difference between SQUARE and TIGHT wrap around a picture or object in Word.
If the picture is rectangular – which most pictures are – there is no visual difference.
But if the picture has an irregular shape, TIGHT option wraps around the shape and SQUARE wraps around the rectangle.
Here is the difference…
Things are much simpler if it is an irregular shaped clipart…
Question: How do you create a picture with irregular borders?
Most pictures have rectangular border. If the picture has a transparency around an object, it has irregular borders. Most standard pictures, captured from cameras or downloaded from Microsoft Clipart are rectangular with NO transparency.
So how do you create transparency to retain what we want?
Here is an example. The original picture in the above logo was like this – with a white background. (I have put a border to illustrate the boundary of the picture)
The white area around the actual logo is unwanted – and therefore, should be transparent. How do we do that?
Click on the picture (double clicking the pictures opens the menu)
Choose Picture Tools menu
Choose Remove background (Office 2010 and above)
Now PowerPoint attempts to guess what could be the foreground and what should be removed. It indicates the outcome as an altered image as shown below. The pink portions would be removed (make them transparent) and rest would be kept.
Readjust the inner rectangle to enclose the logo completely within it. Click on Keep Changes Button.
Now it is a transparent picture. Whatever was shown in pink color has been converted to transparency.
Now using the TIGHT option wraps text around the irregular shape.
Refine the wrapping with Edit Wrap Points
We will cover the amazing Remove Background feature of PowerPoint in detail.
Our Copy Paste series is not yet over. But I am starting another one based upon feedback from readers. In this series, I will cover common problems and solutions, starting with perhaps one of the most common irritant: Text and Picture layout problems in Word.
There are already many such sites for quick troubleshooting or Tips and Tricks. That is like spoon-feeding. This blog is not a quick fix.
Therefore, after giving the immediate solution, I will also explain the concept behind it and related features. This way, you learn something specific as well as something larger and generic. It amplifies the benefit and makes you more capable and confident.
Problem 1 – Text does not wrap around a Picture
When you insert a picture which is smaller than the width of the document it just stays there and space around it is wasted. If you type something before it, the picture moves. Very irritating! You want the text to wrap around nicely.
Click on the picture.
Picture Tools menu appears in the Ribbon.
Click on it. Choose Wrap Text dropdown
If you realize that you need to set the Square option often, click on the last option Set as Default Layout. Now onwards, when you insert a picture, the desired layout is applied automatically.
Text and Picture Layout Knowledge
When a picture is added, it behaves as though it is text – because that is the default setting In Line With Text
It basically means that the picture is treated as text (like a large font text).. Therefore it moves around when you edit the text before it
There are two modes in which pictures (or other objects) can be treated by Word
As text or as a floating object
Clicking on SQUARE option makes it a floating object and also specifies how it interacts with the document text.
Word is smart enough to wrap the text around
If you move the picture, the text will readjust
Try different modes and see how it behaves. You will learn the usage.
More Picture Layout Knowledge
Look at the dropdown.
First option is treat the Image as text.
Next section (from Square, Tight, Through, Top and Bottom ) controls how the text wraps around the text.
The third section (Behind or In Front) decides the object position with respect to the text. Behind text is like having a paper on which you put a sticker and then printed the text on it. In Front of text is like you printed the text and then put a sticker on top of it.
More options of course give you more sophisticated options. If you need to do precise arrangements in layouts like newsletters, professional reports, case studies, brochures – you must know every option there. You will be surprised to know how sophisticated it is.
Final option is obvious. If you have changed the settings and you like them, then set those as the default.
Win Prizes: Answer this Quiz question
Question: What is the difference between Square and Tight and when is tight option practically useful?
Post your answers as comments to this blog.
First right answer will get the gift voucher by mail.
Please mention your email id in the reply.
You can redeem it against any Amazon.Com purchase. It never expires.
Quiz closes on 11:59 PM, 19th November 2013 Indian Standard Time.
Copy paste goes wrong often while working with multiple word documents. Here is how to get it right – every time.
Question. Do you use styles in Word?
If the answer is NO, then we need a quick primer. If you already use styles, skip this section. Remember one general rule about using Office efficiently.
Office is created to help us.We are not born to help Office!
Sounds funny? It is not. Read on …
When we create Word documents, there is regular content and then there are topics and subtopics (headings or sub-headings). We usually format these topics manually to make them look prominent. That is a complete waste of time. That is what I call “we are trying to help Word”. Why? Because we think it is not capable of understanding what we want.
Trust me – just expect a little more from Word (and Office). You have no idea how much effort has gone into creating the product. Even the smallest and rarest inconvenience is taken care of.
To cut a long story short, just type the heading and click Heading 1 in the Styles dropdown in Home tab.
There are up to 9 levels of headings. If you use styles you get many benefits like automatic navigation pane, table of contents, automatic numbering, ability to rearrange document just with drag drop of headings, ability to create a presentation automatically and so on. I will write a separate series on Styles.
But for now just start using styles instead of manual formatting.
Copy paste in Word
Word works like this. There is the copied content (from source) and the destination where you are pasting it. If there is no style used in either, then it keeps the source formatting. If styles are used, it tries to merge the styles.
Copy paste without usage of styles
Now if you select and copy something from source to destination – what do you expect? It should adjust to the blue surroundings. Unfortunately, the default is – Keep Source Formatting. Therefore, this is what happens.
The answer is obvious if you have read the Copy Paste series of articles.
If not, notice that small little icon. Click on it.
Merge Formatting merges the paragraph level formatting and keeps the character level formatting (Bold, Italic, etc is applied and remembered at character level).
Choosing Keep Text Only (A) achieves the desired effect because it only pastes the raw text so that the local formatting is fully applied.
This is how it works – even across documents where styles are not used.
Remember that you can use the keyboard shortcut CTRL T.
Copy pasting when styles are used
This is relevant only while copy-pasting across different documents.
If source style is different than destination style, then the default option is Use Destination Style. The logic is simple – the pasted text looks uniform.
The source Heading 1 style (brown) was adjusted to match
the destination Heading 1 style (blue). Notice that the formatting manually applied to the paragraph was retained. You will have to handle that separately.
If you want you can choose other options Keep Source Styles, Merge Formatting, Keep Text Only. But in case of style conflict, the default option works best.
Setting default paste
Word is a very sophisticated word-processor. Therefore, it provides very granular control over copy paste. Click the Set Default Paste… option and see for yourself.
There are four possible options. You can change the settings independently. I suggest that you try changing the first two options to Keep Text Only if you do lot of cross-document copy paste without using styles. The third and fourth option defaults are usually appropriate.
Try how it impacts your copy paste effectiveness. If it is not satisfactory, you can tweak the settings as required.
For IT professionals
I have not checked this personally. But I think you can set these defaults using group policy for Office 2013. Yes. In case you have not noticed it, Office has been providing full Group Policy integration using ADM files since 2003. High time you explored and used it to improve efficiency. Will write an article about it later.
In the next article I will discuss more Copy Paste settings available in Word
No I am not joking. There are many ways of opening files which we don’t know about – and that leads to lot of inefficiency. So here it is.
Open a file with the intention of saving it as a copy
This is a common problem. Let us say you have a presentation with some notes or links. You want to send it to a customer. But you don’t want the notes and linked data to go with the file. So what do you do?
Open it with the intention of saving it as a copy
As soon as you open it you get distracted into removing notes and links
Then suddenly you realize that you are doing all this to the original file
Then you panic and suddenly save the file as a reflex action
Now you have deleted stuff in the original file itself!
What was wrong? You should have first created a copy and opened it for editing. We don’t do that. We just go to File – Open – Choose the file and click Open button.
This is a common mistake.
The obvious solution is to first make a copy of the file and open the copy. But that is additional work. So Microsoft created a very nice feature to help you.
Have you ever noticed the dropdown next to the Open button? Try it and you will be surprised.
Just choose Open as Copy. That’s it.
Most of the options you see there are obvious. Some of them require an explanation.
Open in Protected View
This is a new feature for Office 2013. It allows you to view a file without running any potentially dangerous code. So even if you don’t have an anti-virus application loaded, you can safely view this file. This view is default for downloaded files or mail attachments. But if you suspect any file – you can open it in Protected View.
Open and Repair
This option has been there for a long time. This is used to recover text from corrupted files – files which refuse to open because they are damaged.
Open with transform
When you are opening an Extensible Markup Language (XML) file and you need to apply an Extensible Stylesheet Language (XSL) Transformation file to the XML file, click Open with Transform and browse to the XSL file that you need.
Making it easier to open common files and folders
Office 2007 onwards has pin options in the File – Open dialog. If you notice that you are opening the same file frequently, you can PIN it to the open file list. That way, it will not disappear if you open more files.
Remember that folders can also be pinned.
Taskbar also allows common files to be pinned. The benefit is that clicking on a pinned file opens the application as well as the file.
In the last post we saw how to customize the Quick Access Toolbar. I am sure you will add useful buttons there. Notice that the toolbar buttons and the file name share the same title bar.
Here is a quick dose of some terminology you need to know.
Problem: Too many Quick Access Toolbar buttons – file name is cut off
When you add more and more buttons, the file name gets pushed to the right. At some point, long file names will not be seen fully.
Solution is simple. Right click on the QAT and choose Show the Quick Access Toolbar below the Ribbon
Now the toolbar moves below the ribbon and the filename is not disturbed.
For the curious reader… The question is, why did Microsoft not place the QAT below the ribbon by default? That is because, most people don’t understand what QAT is and never customize it. In that case, the extra space which the QAT would occupy below the ribbon would be a waste of precious screen space.
In the previous article we saw the need for having keyboard shortcuts for commonly used buttons which do not have a built-in keyboard shortcut. Add those buttons to QAT and then customize QAT to rearrange them so that the most commonly used buttons are in the first nine positions. Remove the three default buttons (Save, Undo and Redo) because they already have keyboard shortcuts.
Now press and release the ALT key and see what happens…
All QAT items get a keyboard shortcut key. Press 5 in this case to enable (or disable) Guides. This is how we get a keyboard shortcut for keys which do not have a keyboard shortcut – without programming.
Sharing custom toolbars with your team
Now that your custom toolbar is helping you, others in your team or department may also benefit from it. So how do you make them efficient?
One method is to ask them to read these articles and customize their own toolbars. But on second thoughts, why not give them your custom toolbar save them some trouble?
This is how you share your customized toolbar with others.
Right click on the toolbar – Customize Quick Access Toolbar – Export – Save a file.
Send the file to your team. Ask them to import it. That’s it.
For IT professionals
In case you are wondering, you can use a combination of Group Policy and a login script to deploy custom toolbars automatically for users. Refer to this MSDN article for details.
This is a digression from the Copy Paste series – but it is an extension of the previous post about the Paste Special shortcut (CTRL ALT V).
Problem: We don’t actively try to be more efficient
Here is an example. Try this exercise for two hours when you are working on your PC next time. Start observing which buttons you click on most often. I am sure you already know some of these. But start observing it consciously. I am sure you will find many such buttons across Office tools.
Everyone knows that using a keyboard shortcut is faster and healthier than taking your hand all the way to the mouse and moving and clicking the buttons.
Anyway, now that you have noticed the commonly clicked buttons, the next thought is… can I prevent these mouse clicks by using a keyboard shortcut?
The next question is … does the button have a keyboard shortcut? How do you find the answer to this question?
NO NO. NOT by going to Help and searching for the
Keyboard Shortcuts topic!
The answer is much simpler.
Next time you are about to click on a familiar button –
Wait for ONE SECOND – hover the mouse there.
A tooltip will appear and display the shortcut – if available.
How often have you used format painter? Did you know these shortcuts?
Now that you know about CTRL ALT V and the ergonomics behind it, it is no surprise that this one uses SHIFT key along with CTRL!
Homework: Notice keyboard shortcuts and use them
Try this for the next few days and see how convenient this method is. If you find it useful, do post some feedback. That way, I will also gather some live proof of the effectiveness of my simple method of improving efficiency.
What if there is no keyboard shortcut available?
Do you give up? Absolutely not. Right click on the button and choose Add to Quick Access Toolbar.
Now it will be added next to the Save, Undo and Redo buttons.
So what did we achieve? As of now, that button is available to you ALL THE TIME. You don’t have to worry about thinking which menu (Tab) it belongs to. Fine – but you still have to click that button using the mouse. Where is the keyboard shortcut?
Well – here is what you do next. Press and release the ALT button
Notice what happens now. All these buttons and the menu tabs show some shortcut keys.
From now onwards
means Format Painter
Homework: Create your custom toolbar
Which buttons should you add to Quick Access Toolbar?
Those which you click on often and those which do NOT have a built-in keyboard shortcut.
Over next few days create your custom toolbar.
Post your feedback to let me know if you find it useful.
Also notice that there is a small drop down next to the last button on QAT. Open it and see .. it has something you always wanted!
Warning: You will soon run into various problems
Although this method is very good for creating a custom toolbar and a set of custom keyboard shortcuts, you will have issues soon.
Alt E S keyboard shortcut
This was the older (2003 or before) version shortcut – Alt E = Edit Menu, S was the hotkey for Paste Special
Open the dropdown of Paste in Home tab in the ribbon and choose Paste Special
Right click – Paste Special
A better shortcut
Although all these methods work, Microsoft added a NEW shortcut since Office 2007. Most people don’t discover it. The shortcut is
Why should you use this shortcut?
The reason is simple. Paste Special is a variation of Paste. Paste shortcut is CTRL V. For Paste Special CTRL ALT V is more intuitive. It is definitely better than using mouse anyway.
But there is more to it.
Compare the actual act of pressing the older shortcut –
On the fact of it, there are three keys to be pressed in either case. So what is the difference?
Let me show you the difference using a keyboard layout.
You try pressing Alt E S using left hand and see the position of fingers.
Now compare it with CTRL V and CTRL ALT V
Usually we press CTRL key using little finger and V using index finger. The middle finger is anyway resting near ALT key. Look at the photo on left side – I have intentionally flexed the middle finger to expose the Alt key.
You just have to decide is it Paste or Paste Special at the last moment. If it is paste, don’t press the middle finger, if it is paste special – just press the middle finger (right side photo)
Another alternative is little finger for Ctrl, Index finger for V and thumb for Alt – which is also convenient. You try it out yourself and choose the method which is most comfortable to you.
This is ergonomics!
Imagine the amount of effort the Office team is taking to make our life easier and healthier…it is just that we simply don’t notice these things and therefore are not able to utilize the products effectively.
By the way, the shortcut works across ALL Office products. Including Project and Visio.
No Paste Special option in OneNote. Why?
It does not work for OneNote because OneNote does not have Paste Special functionality at all. It does not mean that you cannot choose the paste format in OneNote. It does offer four paste options as expected:
In that case, the question is – why did Microsoft not choose a default format for paste and provide Paste Special in OneNote (like all other products)? Just to avoid a Paste Special dialog? That does not sound like a good reason.
This is my guess but I think that is the logical explanation.
The reason OneNote does not have two separate options – Paste and Paste Special – because :
OneNote is used for various types of copy paste from diverse sources. And it is a comparatively new product – and most people don’t even know that it exists – even if they have it installed! Therefore, Microsoft did not / could not finalize a default format based upon common user behavior pattern.
If you have started right clicking instead of Paste or Paste Special – as recommended in my earlier article, you will realize that the demarcation between paste and paste special is simply irrelevant.
Although the Copy Paste series is far from over, I will deviate from it and show you how to find useful keyboard shortcuts and reduce the damage to your wrist and tendons (which can happen due to excessive usage of mouse, among other things).
We often write in the order in which it comes to our mind. We then tend to reorder content by copy pasting it. There is a better method.
Just remember these very powerful shortcuts
Shift Alt Up / Down Arrow
Whenever you write content or text with paragraphs, in any Office product, you can use the Shift Alt Up and Down arrows to move it up or down.
This works with:
Word paragraphs. DO NOT select the paragraph. Just click inside and use the shortcut
Word Tables – reordering table rows is extremely painful if done manually. Try this shortcut and you will curse yourself for not knowing it for so many years!
Word Outline view to reorder entire Headings or Sub-headings (provided these are collapsed)
PowerPoint SmartArt Text Editor
Outlook (because it uses Word as the editor)
It does NOT work with PowerPoint tables. Because these are more of graphical elements and not formal tables.
Excel is a grid – therefore this method does not in Excel as well.
Shift Alt Right and Left Arrow
This is even more powerful.
In case of Word, by pressing Shift Alt Left arrow, you actually promote the heading style – or apply Heading1 Style.
If you use Shift Alt Right arrow, it demotes the style (and outline level)
This is the fastest way of creating documents with styles. No need to click on styles or use keyboard shortcuts which are more complex (Ctrl Alt 1 2 or 3).
Like Word, it can be used for promoting and demoting bullets.
Usually to create sub-level bullets we use TAB key. But that works just after a fresh new bullet is added. If you are somewhere in the middle of a paragraph, pressing TAB key will actually insert a tab and increase spacing.
However, Shift Alt Left / Right arrows work irrespective of where your cursor is.
Now the most powerful usage in PowerPoint is to edit hierarchical information in SmartArt Editor. Try to insert a SmartArt of type – Hierarchy – choose some Org Chart and then go to the editor. You can easily promote or demote items very quickly using this shortcut key.
Try these simple yet powerful shortcuts. Let me know your feedback. If you find more uses for this shortcut, do let me know.
In the earlier post, we saw how to get up to 24 clipboards. But why would you need so many of them?
On the face of it, this sounds like an overkill. We are happily using ONE clipboard for years. So it is looks like a useless feature.
Key Learning: There is nothing like a useless feature
This is a very important thing to remember. Adding a feature is a very complex and costly process. Microsoft is not going to add a new feature if it was not serving any purpose.
Those of you who understand programming know that behind every feature there is a need, a problem or a use case. Unfortunately, when you use a product developed by someone else, the feature is visible first and the underlying need may not be apparent.
So what do we do? We do it in two steps.
First, we learn the functionality – what does it do? In this case we already know that. At this stage you know the technical feature. But that is NOT called knowledge. That is partial knowledge.
The next step is more important. You must find the underlying need or problem it is trying to address. Why do you care? Simple! Because it may be your need. If you do not discover the need, you may never use the feature in spite of understanding how it works technically.
Finding your needs behind every feature is called Applied Learning!
Of course, there may will be features which you do not need in your current context. But in any case, if you know when they are useful, you will be able to use them if the need arises in future.
Multiple Clipboards: Usage Scenarios
Word: Executive Summary
Executive Summary contains key sentences which summarize details from the document. We write Executive Summary AFTER the rest of the document is created. Here is how you can do it faster.
Write the document
Activate Office Clipboard
Move through the document, select key sentences and copy
Continue the process till end of the document (or 24 clipboards)
Go to Executive Summary and choose Paste All
Each copy will be a separate paragraph
If you want to combine these paragraphs into one paragraph, follow this sub-task
Select all the Executive Summary
Press Ctrl H (Find – Replace)
Type ^p^p in the Find textbox
Type ^p in the Replace textbox
Click Replace All
We will discuss how this works in a separate article (Word Find and Replace is a treasure. Very powerful, but very rarely used appropriately)
Now your Executive Summary is ready
Excel: Combine Tabular Data
Very often we get tabular data from multiple files or sheets (regions, locations, months,etc). How do you combine this into a single master data sheet?
Copy – Paste to Master, Copy – Paste to Master, Copy – Paste to Master and so on.
Now you know what to do
Copy – Copy – Copy
Go to destination
PowerPoint: Collect Pictures and arrange them using SmartArt (Picture Layout)
This is a very powerful method. Let us say you are browsing for various products and you want to capture many images and put them on one slide. Another scenario would be logos of your customers.
Here is how you do it.
Go to browser and copy various images as required. Right click the image and choose Copy (CTRL C will not work here as it is a web page and the focus may be ambiguous)
In PowerPoint add a new slide
Choose Paste All
Unfortunately that does not solve your problem
All images will be overlapping one another
But don’t worry. PowerPoint knows your problems.
While all the pictures are selected, just choose Picture Tools – Picture Layout and choose a layout you want. (You can hover mouse over each to temporarily draw the picture layout and choose the best one. You can also do it later)
Now, depending upon the overall area occupied by all selected pictures, PowerPoint will layout the pictures automatically
Resize the area as desired
Now it is a SmartArt object
You can click on Design and change the layout if needed
Finally, you will need to add captions for each picture
DO NOT click in the textboxes to add them.. there is a small edit arrow (double or single arrow) on the left margin of the SmartArt bounding box
Click that and add titles
Can you think of more usage scenarios?
If you find more scenarios, please post them here. I will also learn something new.
There is more to copy paste and the series is not ending any time soon. But I am sure you want some variation. So next article will be something different. We will continue the Copy Paste series later.
All of us know that there is only ONE clipboard. WRONG! There are actually 24 clipboards if you use Word, Excel or PowerPoint.
When you copy something, whatever was already there in the clipboard gets overwritten. If you want to change that behavior you must activate these 24 clipboards.
Activating 24 clipboards
It is simpler than you think. Just click on that unseen, unnoticed yet extremely powerful arrow at the corner. Technically these guys are called Dialog Launchers. Why? Because these activate the dialog related to the name written next to it.
Just click on it and a new pane (docked window) will open on the left side of the application.
This shows the clipboard contents. If the clipboard has something in it, it will be shown. If not, the pane will be empty.
Now onwards, whenever you copy something, it will accumulate – it will NOT overwrite the existing clipboard.
Whenever you copy, notice what happens at the bottom right side of the screen – it shows you a small popup which counts how many clipboards are colledted (1 of 24, 7 of 24 and so on).
Try this NOW
Open any Word Document
Open the Office Clipboard
Select a paragraph (triple click selects a paragraph, in case you did not know)
Notice that it is shown in the clipboard
Now open an Excel file
Copy some data
We have not opened the Clipboard in Excel, but still it is active
You will see a notification at the bottom right of the screen (notification area)
Now open some web page
Now go to File Explorer and copy a file
If you feel like, open some non-Office products and copy something
Finally go to Word
You will notice that all these copied items are there
Now open PowerPoint – notice that we have not copied anything from PowerPoint
Open the Clipboard in PowerPoint
Notice that all the clipboards are available in PowerPoint as well
Go back to Word
Click on each item to paste it
Or choose Paste All and see that all the items are pasted in the order in which these were copied
Amazing! Is it not?
Some kind of copying cannot be added to the clipboard – like copying files. In that case the popup will indicate the problem.
Notice the options
There are a few options. I will discuss these options in the next articles. But why don’t you figure it out yourself, in the mean time.
I will also show you practical usage scenarios of this powerful feature.
Before you ask, it has been there for many years. It is just that nobody noticed it – like thousands of others!
Achieve more with less effort by using Office 365 platform efficiently. Learn from the Efficiency Guru, Dr. Nitin Paranjape @drnitinp