Justifying Text + Saving Email to a Disk|
+ More on Using the Concatenate Command in Excel
Buck Jordan called to say his "Justify" icon in MSWord wasn't working. He said, however, that his Align Left, Align Right, and Align Center icons were working fine. When I suggested trying Ctrl+J, he said that failed as well.
It then occurred to me that Buck might have been trying to justify text copied from an email in which arbitrary "carriage returns" (pressing Enter) had been inserted, thus making it impossible to justify. That's when Buck explained that he'd been pressing Enter near the end of each line he'd typed, in an attempt to make the lines easier to justify. Well, justifying works only on text that's been allowed to "word-wrap" from one line to the next.
(There is no need to do a carriage return at the end of each line like we used to do with a typewriter.)
By the way, if you have any malformatted "long and short line" email that needs fixing, a handy program called StripMail can be freely downloaded from
As for justifying (having all lines of text the same length) it's something I rarely use. I think a "ragged right edge" (like you see in this newsletter) is "friendlier" and easier to read, as opposed to the "boxy" look of full justification. However, if you happen to think only full justification looks "professional," notice how much non-justified text is used in today's magazines and books such as instruction manuals. Even newspapers are using it more and more.
Back to MSWord, did you know it's possible to expand or condense a line of text, such as a headline? After typing the headline, highlight it and go to Format, Font, Character Spacing, Scale. Choose one of the percentages listed (33% to 200%) or type in a percentage you prefer and press Enter.
While in Format, Font, you can choose your favorite font style and have it always available by clicking the Default button. A number of folks have written to ask how to change the default font in their email programs. Well, AOL users can go to Settings, Preferences, Fonts to do this while Outlook Express users can go to Tools, Options, Compose, Font. Space here doesn't allow listing options for all email programs, but you can go to Help and type FONT into any Index search box.
Saving Email to a Disk
A lot of folks have also asked how to save emails to a floppy disk. Well, Outlook Express users can double-click My Computer to display the A-Drive icon, and then drag their emails directly onto it (assuming a disk is in the drive). Be aware, however, that dragging files onto another disk will COPY the files rather than actually MOVE them.
AOL emails cannot be dragged like this - they have to be individually saved using Save As and given a file format such as HTML. Having been thus saved, they can be dragged onto another disk. Again, space doesn't allow for explaining all email back-up options, but the Save As procedure works in all programs, with HTML being a file format which can be read by any PC user.
Beyond this, any email message can always be highlighted and COPIED with Ctrl+C, followed by using Ctrl+V to PASTE it into any word processing document.
More About EXCEL
In a recent column about Excel I misspelled the word CONCATANATE. I can't imagine how it slipped by my spell-checker, but Eric Fletcher and Kevin Hayes each wrote to offer several additional uses for the command. Excel aficionados can find Eric's and Kevin's very informative and helpful letters here:
More Excel Tips.
Ken Jelden wrote to ask how to stop a printer that's in the middle of a print-out. Well, different printers have different controls for this, and my experience has been that HP printers are the hardest ones to stop. In any case, click the printer icon in your System Tray (near the clock at the right end of your Taskbar). This should list a number of options, including one for canceling the print job. If you don't see the option you want, try right-clicking the icon.
Beyond this, you can turn off the printer, although HPs will often start printing again as soon as they're turned back on. If anyone knows of a foolproof method for stopping an HP print-out, I'd love to hear it.
Some Spreadsheet Tips Using CONCATENATE|
+ Sorting Chapter Names in MSWord
Kevin Hall called to ask if I knew how to combine a column of first names
with a column of last names in an Excel database, in order to create a
column with both names together in their respective cells. When I said this
was beyond my area of expertise, Kevin did some research and sent me the
solution he found; namely that Excel has a "CONCATENATE " command which makes
this very easy to do.
If you have an Excel file with, say, JOHN in cell A1 and ADAMS in cell B1,
you can place your cursor in cell C1 and type the following formula:
=CONCATENATE (A1,B1). Press Enter and JOHNADAMS will appear in cell C1.
Substituting (A1," ",B1) or (B1,", ",A1) will generate JOHN ADAMS or ADAMS, JOHN respectively. Assuming that A1 and B1 begin columns of first and last names, the little black square in the lower right corner of C1 can be
dragged down to effortlessly "fill" the other cells with the combined names.
For more tips on using this handy command,
Speaking of the "little black square" in a spreadsheet cell, it can be used
to do some remarkable things. Type JANUARY into any Excel or MSWorks
Spreadsheet cell. Grab its little black square and pull in any direction. If
you pull down or right, FEBRUARY, MARCH, APRIL,
etc. will appear in the corresponding cells. Pulling the square up or to the left will generate the
month names in reverse order. Try this also with the name of a day of the
Next try typing ITEM 12 into any cell. Pull the cell's black square to see
ITEM 13, etc., appear sequentially - or ITEM 11, depending on which
direction you pull. Now what do you suppose will happen if you type 100 into
a cell, followed by pulling the little square? 101, 102, etc. Right? Wrong.
The number 100 will be repeated no matter which direction you pull.
Don't ask me to explain this, but you can still generate sequential numbers
if you do the following: Type 100 into any cell and type 101 into an
adjacent cell. Highlight the two cells and then grab the black square in the
cell containing 101. Pull it in the direction opposite of 100 and watch the
sequential numbers fill in.
Beyond this, any number can be repeated in increments of one by simply
preceding it with an alpha letter or symbol, i.e. #100 or W-100.
Back to beginning a sequence with two highlighted cells, try this: Type 5
into any cell and 10 into an adjacent cell. Select both cells and drag the
square in the "10" cell away from the "5." Notice how the newly selected
cells fill with 10, 20, 25, 30, etc.
Sorting Chapter Titles
Mary McIntosh asked why the chapter titles of a book she's writing are
displayed in alphabetical order on a backup disk, even though she copied the
files onto the disk in their chronological order. She said "Australia" is a
middle chapter in the book, but it's always displayed first.
Well, files and folders placed on a disk, or inside a folder, will always
display alphabetically by default. However, if Australia is, say, the 14th
chapter, naming it "14-Australia" would cause it to be listed sequentially
after, say, "01-FirstStory" and "02-NextAdventure."
Why do I suggest "01" rather than just "1"? Well, computers use two methods
for sorting (alphabetizing) numbers; they can be treated numerically or as
text. When combined with words, as in the example above, they're often
sorted as text; meaning that "10" will come right after "1" while "2" will follow "19."
Yes, recent versions of various Windows programs are often smart enough to
sort "text-numbers" numerically, but it pays to experiment to see how your
Working with "windows" in "Windows"
+ More on Working with Tabs & Columns
I've gotten a number of questions recently about manipulating the windows
(sometimes called frames or boxes) in which we perform our various computer
tasks. Well, one of the fundamentals of using Windows is that everything is
done in these windows.
Any window can be made to fill your screen by clicking the square in its
upper right corner, whereupon the square changes to a pair of overlapping
ones, which, when clicked will return the window to its previous shape and
The larger square is called the "Maximize" button while the
overlapping squares constitute the "Restore" button. The little dash is the
"Minimize" button, which, when clicked, removes a window from view, but
which lets you know the file is still open by appearing as a button on your
If you're using multiple programs at the same time (i.e. "multitasking")
each application will have its own window. When in the "Restore" condition,
multiple windows will overlap one another with the most recently accessed
window being in front. A single click on the edge of any other window will
bring it to the front. Any window can be moved by grabbing the "Title Bar"
along its top edge.
Beyond all the above, most any window can be reshaped by simply grabbing any
edge or corner and adjusting it with your mouse.
If you're using MSWord and have multiple documents in progress, the one
currently being used will normally cover the others. To switch documents,
click on Window to choose from the list of other open files.
If you have multiple Word documents open, but only see one button on the
Taskbar, you can go to Tools, Options, View and choose Show Windows In Taskbar to have all open files displayed there.
If you'd like all open document windows to show at once, click on Window and
choose Arrange All. This will stack the pages one above another. If you'd
rather have them arranged side by side you can grab their corners to change
their shapes and "tile" them in any order you prefer. When multiple
documents are displayed, the one currently being accessed will have its
toolbar displayed at the top. When you click another page, the toolbar moves
from the previous page to the newly active one.
You can also display a "double" view of any MSWord document by going to
Window, Split. This is handy if you have a multi-page document and want to,
say, have Page 1 showing while you make entries on Page 5. To return to a
single page view, pull the Split bar off the page.
Speaking of Word, I find the most practical "View" to be in is "Page Layout"
a.k.a. "Print Layout." This lets you see the edges of each page along with
the actual margins the page will have when printed. The "Normal" view allows
more text to be displayed on your monitor, but doesn't show the page's edges
or margins. Also, if you're using Format, Columns, you need to be in the
"Page/Print Layout" view for the columns to display properly.
I explained recently how Tab Stops can be established in a word processing
document by simply clicking them onto the ruler at the top of the page.
MSWord makes choosing which kind of Tab Stop (Left, Right, Center, Decimal,
Bar, etc.) easier by placing a little "L" at the left end of the ruler.
Clicking this symbol changes it from "L" (for Left) to other symbols
representing the different types of Tabs.
Bear in mind, however, that Tab settings affect only the paragraph(s)
currently selected. If you find your Tab settings have gotten messed up, go
to Format, Tabs and choose Clear All to start again.
Another advantage of MSWord is being able to have as many as nine recent
filenames displayed when you click on File. (Most programs just allow four.)
Go to Tools, Options, General, Recently Used File List and choose the number you want.
Setting TAB STOPS in Word Processing Documents
Let's talk about setting Tab Stops in a word processing document, such as
those used in a food menu. You type a few items down the left side of a page
like, say, Hamburger, Salad, Coffee and Apple Pie. Now you want to show the
price of each item for a Small, Medium and Large serving.
If you were doing this on a typewriter, you'd start by typing in the serving
sizes on the right half of your page, having gotten there by pressing the
spacebar a number of times. You'd then do a carriage return and type in
Hamburger. Then you'd use the spacebar to line up under Small, where you'd
type, say, 1.00. You'd repeat this to line up under Medium and Large, where
you'd type, say, 2.00 and 3.00.
Back when we used typewriters with mono-spaced characters (each letter,
number and symbol being exactly the same width) it was easy to keep all your
items and prices lined up in straight columns. If you knew how to set your
typewriter's "tab stops" you could do this by simply pressing your Tab key.
If you've tried using your spacebar to line up columns with your computer,
however, you've very likely found that the resulting printout showed columns
that were anything but straight. Here's how to fix this.
Your word processor, by default, has a tab setting every half inch. Press
your Tab key a few times and watch the cursor move to the right in half inch
increments. Well, you can change these settings to suit your own needs. If
you don't see a ruler along the top edge of your page, put one there by
going to View, Ruler. Click anywhere on the ruler to set a Tab Stop on it.
Do this a few times to get the feel of it, then go to File, New to start a
For the moment, we'll bypass typing the sizes (Small, etc.) and go straight
to the menu items. Type the word Hamburger and then click a Tab Stop onto
the Ruler about where you want the Small price to show. Press your Tab key.
Click the next Tab Stop onto your ruler and then press Tab. Type 2.00 and
repeat these steps to enter the 3.00 price. Finally, press Enter to begin a
Now type Coffee or Chef's Salad or whatever. Use your Tab key to get to each
"size" column and type in the appropriate price. You can repeat these steps
as many times as needed to create a menu where everything lines up the way
you want it.
Okay, let's assume this all looks good, except that you want to move one of
the price columns slightly to the left or to the right. Do Ctrl+A to Select
All of your document. Mouse-grab the Tab Stop you want to adjust and move it
in the direction needed. The whole column of prices will move with the Tab
If you forget to do Select All, however, moving a Tab Stop will move only
the price in whose line the cursor happens to be at that moment. Beyond
this, if you have multiple lines selected, all of their prices in a given
column will follow the Tab.
Anyway, all of the above was done by setting "Left" tabs, meaning each
column of prices will line up on its left edge. This is fine if none of your
prices exceeds 9.99. The ideal way to do this, however, is to use "Right"
tabs, which will make prices align correctly no matter how many digits each
So how do you set "Right" tabs? One way is to go to Format, Tabs and choose
Right. In this area you'll also be able to choose your Ruler settings in
inches, and even choose a "Leader" to connect your various items and prices,
i.e. a series of dots (periods) or dashes.
This will get you started with the fundamentals of using Tab Stops. More details next time.
I explained recently that text can be columnized in MSWord by going to
Format, Columns. The same can be done in WordPerfect and the MSWorks word
processor. However, in Works a chosen column format will apply to the whole
document and can't be changed from one paragraph to another, as is possible
with the other two programs.
Creating Columns in a Table
Another way to place text in columns is to create a table. In Word and
Works, go to Table, Insert Table and choose the number of Columns desired.
In WordPerfect this is found under Insert, Table. The number of Rows chosen
isn't critical, since new Rows can be added at any time.
Furthermore, text entered into any cell will "word wrap" to additional lines
as needed and will adjust the Row's height as material is added or deleted.
The widths of Table columns can be adjusted by gabbing their upright
dividers and moving them left or right. The best way to learn about
additional Table formatting options is to create a Table and experiment,
knowing that Ctrl+Z will always undo any faux pas you might make.
Displaying & Not Displaying Table Lines
The dividing lines in any table can be made to show or not show by selecting
the target cells and going to Format, Borders & Shading in MS programs or by going to Format, Paragraph, Border/Fill in WP. Here's where you'll also find options for changing Line styles and colors. "Shading" or "Fill" colors for cells can also be chosen here.
Another formatting device often used for text is to double-space it. In Word
and Works, line spacing can be set to "double" by selecting the target text
(or by using Ctrl+A to select the whole document) and then by doing Ctrl+2.
Ctrl+1 will return you to "single" line spacing, while Ctrl+5 will set text
to "one and a half" line spacing. Beyond these options, you can go to
Format, Paragraph, and fine-tune line-spacing (a.k.a. "leading") even
More About Hotmail
My recent comments on how "free" mailboxes can quickly fill up, thus causing
one to exceed the authorized storage limits, generated a number of reader
One lady pointed out that Hotmail lets you click on any unwanted letter and
then choose "Block further messages from this address." What's not made
clear by Microsoft, however, is that there's a limit to how many of these
"blocked e-mailers" you can select, and that future messages from these
"blocked" sources go into a folder called "Junk Mail," which can continue to
count against your "allowable storage."
Furthermore, any mail you "delete" goes into a "trash can" which also counts
against your limit. Regular purging of these items needs to be done by
clicking on Manage Folders. These same limitations, by the way, apply to
other free e-mail services, such as Juno and Yahoo, although the folder
names may vary.
Saving Email Messages
The other way to stay below your storage limit is to Save incoming e-mails
to your own hard disk. While viewing any open message you can go to File,
Save As and give the message a name. The saved file will normally have an
.HTM extension and will be placed in your My Documents folder.
Of course, doing this will Save the entire e-mail, complete with all its
extraneous text. A more efficient method is to highlight (select) only the
text you're interested in, and then Copy it (Ctrl+C) and Paste it (Ctrl+V) into a page created with your favorite word processor. I often transfer two
or three dozen such messages onto an MSWord page before starting a new
Make Your Own Folders
I then place these documents into a folder named "Incoming E-mail," inside
of which I've placed other folders named for Month & Year or with the names
of individuals whose e-mail I want to save.
Don't forget that you can create all the special folders you want by
right-clicking the Desktop (or any folder icon) and then by choosing New,
Folder. Inside any folder you can go to File, New, Folder to create others.
For more computer tips you can go a wonderful "help site" created by San
Diego resident Daniel Weisser:
Dan the Techie Home Page.
Stopping Popup Ads, Pictures & Columns in MSWord & "Isn't Microsoft Rich Enough?"|
One of the things I get asked most often is if there's any way to stop the
popup ads that often accompany one's Internet activities. Well, I have a
list of downloadable free programs at
www.pcdon.com that claim to defeat
these ads. I've heard mixed results as to how well they work, but it costs nothing to try themn out for yourself.
Isn't Microsoft Rich Enough?
Personally, I generally find these popups to be only a minor nuisance since they can be immediately clicked off. Nonetheless, I must
confess to being annoyed by the endless invitations I receive to visit an
online gambling casino whenever I access a Microsoft site.
One would think Microsoft is rich enough not to have to look for commissions
on an activity which some of us consider to be legalized robbery. Another
thing about Microsoft that bugs me is the endless stream of spam that comes
daily to my Hotmail email address. Every day I have to delete multiple ads
for things like "Reduce Your Debt by 60%," "How to Copy DVDs" and "Double
Your Money in 30 Days."
Aside from the obvious "buyer beware" appearance of this spam, Hotmail does
offer a certain amount of free storage space; but continually reminds you
that once the limit is reached you'll need to buy additional space. If you
don't clear out the incoming junk regularly you can quickly find yourself in
a position of having to buy extra storage or having your account closed.
Is it just a coincidence that, of five different email accounts I use, Hotmail
is the only one that has a large supply of fresh spam every day?
Drag a Picture into an Open Document
Here's a little trick that's handy if you have occasion to insert graphics
into an open document. Simply open the folder containing the graphic, and
then drag the image directly into your document. This trick doesn't apply to
MSWorks, but it works fine with WordPerfect and MSWord. It also worked with
all the email programs and with all the bitmap editing-programs I tried.
With MSWord you can actually drag multiple images into an open page at the
same time. Just hold down Ctrl as you click the target graphics. Beyond
this, if you first go to Insert, Text Box, and then draw a box into which a
graphic will be dragged, you'll be able to move the boxed picture to a
location of your choice on the page.
Be aware, though, that if your text box is larger than the graphic to be
inserted, the image will expand to fill the box. This can be fixed by
double-clicking the picture and choosing "Size" from the "Format Picture"
window that opens and by typing 100% into the size box. Other size and
proportion adjustments can be made by grabbing and moving the corner or edge
"handles" of the text box and/or of the image itself.
The text box's "Colors & Lines" option will let you put a colored border
around the graphic, or no border at all if preferred.
Many other editing options will also be available for both the picture and
the text box. Text in the document can be made to go behind, in front of, or
around a text box when you click on "Layout" under Format, Text Box.
Picture-Editing Options in MSWord
Back to formatting the actual picture, you can turn it into a "watermark" by
double-clicking it and changing its brightness and contrast levels. Using
"low contrast" and "high brightness" will make the picture very pale, giving
it a watermark appearance when text is made to print over it.
Speaking of MSWord, I receive a lot of questions about putting text into
columns. This can be done in a number of ways, but let's start with the
Using Columns in MSWord
Let's say you have a page of text that you feel would be easier to read if
it were in columns. Select all the text with your mouse and go to Format,
Columns. Choose the number of columns you want, along with the other
formatting options, such as width of the space between columns and/or having
a vertical line between columns.
In the "Apply To" box choose between "Whole Document" and "Selected Text."
If you have no text selected, your choices will be between "Whole Document"
and "From This Space Forward."
We're out of space now, but will discuss other "column" options next time.
Creating Your Own Default Folders + ScanDisk & Defrag for WinXP + Ctrl Key Tricks|
If you're a user of Microsoft programs, such as Word or Excel you know that any files you create will normally go into the My Documents folder when you use File, Save As. If you'd prefer your files to be saved elsewhere, however, you can create your own folders and send your folders to them very easily.
Right-click anywhere on the Desktop and choose New, Folder. Give the folder a name, say, Bob's Files. In Word you can then go to Tools, Options, File Locations and click the Modify button. Finally, navigate to Desktop and choose Bob's Files.
In Excel this is done by going to Options, General, Default File Location, where you can edit the path to lead to Bob's Files.
If you have multiple users of Microsoft programs, you can create one or more folders for each user inside the My Documents folder. Double-click the My Documents icon. Inside the folder go to File, New, Folder and give the folder a name.
You can also create other folders inside of the ones you've just created, thus giving you nested folders that could be something like, Bobbie's Files, Homework, English, Book Report, or whatever. Taking the time to create your own folders with meaningful names can save hours of frustration later on when looking for certain files.
The above examples were given for Microsoft programs, but the same steps can be used in whatever default folder your favorite program uses for saving files.
Changing Text Size in a Browser
I mentioned recently that the text size can be changed in various browsers by going to View, Text Size. If you have a "wheel" mouse you can change the text size in Internet Explorer by moving the wheel while holding down Ctrl. However, changing the text size only works if the Web page designer permits it. Some don't.
Other CTRL Key Tricks
Another handy use for your Ctrl key is to hold it down while clicking anywhere in a sentence in an MSWord document. Doing so will cause the whole sentence to be selected. To select a single word (in any program) simply double-click it.
In many programs a selected word can be moved from one part of a document to another by grabbing it with your mouse and dragging it to the desired location. If you hold down Ctrl while doing this, the selected word will be "copied" to the new location, thus leaving the original word in place.
The above trick is not limited to single words, however. Any selected area of text can be moved or copied to another location in the same way.
Using ScanDisk & Defrag
John Walters wrote to say his attempts to run SCANDISK have never succeeded because the program keeps stopping prematurely.
Well, I've written previously about SCANDISK and DEFRAG, the two most important built-in Windows maintenance tools, and could again fill this newsletter with the ways to make these programs run successfully. However, I've described these steps in detail at
http://www.pcdon.com/page82.htm, and will only explain here how the procedures have changed for Windows XP.
In WinXP, the word SCANDISK has mysteriously disappeared and been replaced by the words CHECK, ANALYZE and/or CHKDSK (the latter being a throwback to pre-Windows DOS commands). In any case, they all mean your hard disk will be "analyzed" before you can run DEFRAG, the program which defragments your hard drive and realigns its files so they can be accessed more easily and efficiently.
Go to Start, All Programs, Accessories, System Tools, Disk Defragmenter. Click the Analyze button, and then click Defragment after the analyzing has been completed. However, if you click the Defragment button first, you'll be told your disk is being "analyzed," after which defragmenting will begin.
Another approach is to go to Start, My Computer, and right-click Local Disk C. Click Properties, Tools and you'll find buttons for Check Now and Defragment Now. Having done this, you'll be told that these programs can't run without rebooting your computer, and asked if you'd like to run them the next time you restart.
If this all sounds rather convoluted, there is yet another approach. You can go to Start, Run and type CHKDSK. Click OK and WinXP's equivalent to SCANDISK will commence in a DOS window.
Printer Margin Settings + Using WordPad + Ctrl Key Tricks |
Buck Jordan wrote to say that when he goes to print a document created in
MSWord a message appears saying the print area is too wide for the printer.
However, it also asks if he wants to print anyway, and the document comes
out fine when Buck clicks "Yes."
What's happened is that the document's margin settings are too narrow, thus
making the text area expand too close to the paper's edges. However, Word is
smart enough to make a margin adjustment that will let this document squeeze
through. The permanent fix, however, is to go to File, Page Setup, Margins,
and make the margins wider.
While in Page Setup, you can also go to Paper and choose from Standard or
Legal size, as well as from an assortment of other special sizes. You can
even choose Custom and type in the dimensions of a special-size paper. Under
Margins you can also choose Portrait (upright) or Landscape (sideways) page
The above Page Setup options apply to both MSWord and the MSWorks word
processor. WordPerfect's options are only slightly different, as are
WordPad's, and all can be found under File, Page Setup.
Speaking of WordPad, this is the "no frills" word processor that's always
come with Windows. (It was called "Write" in pre-95 versions of Windows.)
Since most PCs are sold nowadays with software that includes a more
full-featured word processor, many folks are totally unaware that WordPad
even exists. Nonetheless, I've received a number of questions about the
program recently, so I'm putting the answers here.
Let's begin with finding and launching the program. Go to Start, Run and
type in WORDPAD or WRITE. Click OK and a text-editing window containing a
menu and toolbar with familiar word-processing items will appear. I will
acknowledge that the editing options offered by these tools have improved
with each subsequent version of Wordpad, and they may provide all the
word-processing power some folks need.
However, there is no spell-checker, which, in my humble opinion, is one of
the most important tools in any word processor. Nor is there a thesaurus. Tab settings can be easily clicked onto the ruler, however - but only LEFT
tabs. I could go on, but suffice it to say that WordPad would never be
satisfactory for business applications.
Another feature lacking in WordPad is the ability to permanently change the
default font. However, I frequently get asked how to do this in MSWord. Go
to Format, Font and choose the font, style, size and color you want. Click
the "Default" button and the chosen settings will be in place for all
subsequent uses of the program. Click "Settings" in WordPerfect to change
the default font.
Managing Desktop Icons