Don Edrington's  PC Chat   nct-3.gif
Computer Tutor Don appears twice weekly in San Diego's North County Times & in Riverside County's The Californian.

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Aug 4, 2002 More Tips on Setting Tab Stops in Word Processing Documents
Aug 6, 2002 More on MSWord's "AutoCorrect" Features
Aug 11, 2002 Info on MIDI & WAV Sound Files + Changing Text Size in Browsers & Email
Aug 13, 2002 Printing Gridlines, Borders & Shading + Some Database Fundamentals
Aug 18, 2002 More on Printing Gridlines + Some Spreadsheet Fundamentals
Aug 20, 2002 Multiple Copy & Paste Feature of MSOffice Programs + Using Help Files to Learn OCR + Shortcut Icon Info
Aug 25, 2002 Reinstalling Outlook Express, Reinstalling a Windows Game such as Solitaire
Aug 27, 2002 Backing Up Messages & Addresses in Outlook Express Folders + Printing the AOL Address Book
Tuesday
Aug 27
Backing Up Messages & Addresses in Outlook Express Folders + Printing the AOL Address Book
   Charles Monica called to ask how to make copies of his Outlook Express messages and place them in a separate folder or folders. Well, the textbook way is to click the folder containing the target messages, such as, say, "Sent Items." Next go to File, Folder, Compact. Follow the prompts and the folder's messages will be compressed into a "coded" file named "Sent Items.dbx." This file will be totally unreadable outside of Outlook Express.
   Should you later want to retrieve these messages, you would launch OE and go to File, Import, Messages, and follow the prompts, whereupon a folder named "Sent Items" would be created, containing all the messages restored to their original legible state.
   What I suggested to Charles, however, is that he simply create one or more folders on his desktop and copy the target messages into them. Here are the details:
   Right-click your desktop and choose New, Folder. Give the folder a name corresponding to the Outlook Express folder whose messages you want to copy. Launch OE and click on the appropriate folder. Now you can simply "drag and drop" the messages from the OE folder into your Desktop folder (or folders). Using Edit, Select All, you can move all the messages at once. If, however, you want to pick and choose certain messages, simply drag and drop them individually. You can also select multiple messages for group-moving by clicking each one with Ctrl held down.
   You'll notice that dragging and dropping the messages does NOT physically move them; they are COPIED into the Desktop folder, leaving the originals in their OE folder. The end result is a folder of messages in their legible ".EML" format, which can be copied onto another disk for backup purposes, or whatever.
   Here's a copy of the email I received the following morning regarding the above suggestion:

   Thanks for your advice on the telephone today. Backing up data is usually pretty simple until we get into one of those areas like "Outlook Express" folders and sub-folders that just don't seem to want to be copied. One minute on the phone with you and my question was answered after having invested hours in trying to research the subject in the 9 inches of Microsoft manuals I usually use. Computers are like steel doors we can't penetrate unless we have that little golden key.
   Usually I already know a lot of the things covered in your column, however without exception, I ALWAYS learn something new from reading your articles! Thanks again.
   Charles Monica, Temecula

   You can also use the above instructions to backup your OE Address Book entries. The copied addresses will have a ".VCF" extension which, when double-clicked, will be displayed in their "Rolodex" format, showing all the contact information.
   One final word: OE folders can NOT be dragged and dropped as described above; only the messages they contain can be thus manipulated.

Copying the Address Book in CompuServe & AOL
   C. Marshall called to ask if there's a way to copy his CompuServe address book to a disk. Unfortunately, neither CS nor its parent AOL offer a way to copy their address books, although Version 7.0 of these programs will let you PRINT the addresses, by going to Write/Create Mail, Address Book, Print. A sharp printout could then, conceivably, be scanned and made editable with OCR (optical character recognition) software.

Hooked on Laptop Computers
   I'd like to tell you why I like "laptop/notebook" computers and why I doubt that I'll ever buy another "desktop" PC. Yes, the laptops are more expensive, but here's why I feel they're worth it. For one thing, a laptop can be used as a desktop by simply attaching a separate keyboard, mouse, and monitor. Yet everything can be quickly unplugged so you can take the laptop with you on a trip, giving you the best of both worlds.
   One distinct advantage of using a laptop as a desktop is that you have a built-in battery backup, in case you lose power. Yes, a UPS (uninterruptible power supply) battery for your desktop will protect it from outages, but it only gives about 20 minutes of standby time - enough to do a proper shut-down, with little to spare. If you lose power to a laptop, you still have two or more hours of battery time.
   When using a laptop on your desk, an add-on mouse and keyboard make it "feel" like a desktop -- but how does one deal with the cramped keyboard and uncomfortable "cursor" device when away from the desk? Well, on an airplane I just make the best of it. However, sitting on a sofa or recliner (which is where I do most of my work) here's how I compensate:
   I've made a corrugated cardboard "laptop base" which is just wide enough for both the computer and a full-size mouse pad. (Actually, I use an optical mouse and my "mouse pad" is a piece of plain, white cardboard.) Also, my corrugated "laptop base" is three layers of cardboard to give it extra strength - yet it weighs practically nothing - and it all works great!

Sunday
Aug 25
Reinstalling Outlook Express, Reinstalling a Windows Game such as Solitaire
   Frank Strange wrote to ask if there is a way to reinstall Outlook Express. OE normally comes with Internet Explorer, which can be reinstalled by downloading a copy from www.download.com. However, OE can be downloaded separately by going to www.microsoft.com/windows/ie. This is a Microsoft site that's loaded with all kinds of helpful information and free downloads.
   Speaking of which, my assistant Mary Hanson is constantly going to Microsoft's Knowledge Base in search of answers to questions asked by readers of this column. However, you can save time and "eliminate the middle-man" by going to www.microsoft.com and typing "Knowledge Base" into the Search box. Be aware, however, that literally thousands of subjects are covered at this Web site, and patience is often required to work one's way through the seemingly endless options.

Reinstalling a Lost Windows Game
   Bob Dickey wrote to ask if any of the games that come with Windows can be installed separately from one's original Window CD. No, they can't. However, copying a game from one person's computer to another can easily be done since the games tend to be single-file programs. For instance, "sol.exe" is "Solitaire" and the file can be found in one's Windows or System32 folder, from where it can be copied onto a 3-1/2" disk. Alternatively, the file could be sent as an e-mail attachment. Either way, be sure the file is copied from the same version of Windows into which it will be placed.

Maintain a Medical History for your Doctor
   I recently wrote that one of my uses for a PC is to maintain a list of medications taken, along with a history of surgeries, which can be given to medical personnel in an ER or doctor's office, should the need arise. A reader wrote to say she downloaded a program from www.mymedhistory.com, which she says makes creating such a document easier to do. However, the program costs $40, and I have trouble imagining how it would be an improvement over typing the information in one's word processor, as I did.

More about Doing "Multiple Copies, Cuts, & Pastes"
   Rich Richardson wrote regarding my recent column on Word's ability to handle multiple "Copy and Paste" items. He said he uses a shareware program from www.scriptsoftware.com, which allows one to do this with a number of different programs, and that it also works with Macintosh software.
   Also regarding that column, Karol Freed wrote to say my description of how to Copy and Paste multiple items works a little differently in Word 2000. Karol said to go to Tools, Customize and to check Toolbars, Clipboard. The Clipboard will open as a miniature window, with four spaces empty.
   As items are copied or cut (using Ctrl+C or Ctrl+X in any open document) the spaces will fill in accordingly, allowing a maximum of 12. When you want to Paste one of the collected items into a document, choose an insertion point by left-clicking it with your mouse. Finally, left-click any of the collected items, whereupon it can be Pasted into the target insertion point. A little experimenting will show you how to choose other options, such as Delete or Insert All. Once the miniature Clipboard window is closed, however, cutting, copying and pasting will revert to handling one item at a time sequentially.

Tuesday
Aug 20
Multiple Copy & Paste Feature of MSOffice Programs + Using Help Files to Learn OCR + Shortcut Icon Info
   Tom Loebmann wrote to ask if it's possible to copy multiple items in MSWord and then to later paste them individually into other places. Yes, this can be done with MSOffice programs, versions 2000 and XP.
   Although it's always been axiomatic that any COPY or CUT will replace the item currently being held on the "invisible clipboard," Word will let you go to Edit, Office Clipboard, and open up a window where as many as 24 items can be stored to be "pasted" later on.
   With this Office Clipboard window open, anything you COPY or CUT from any open program will automatically be added to the list of items therein. If you exceed 24 items, a new item copied or cut will replace the oldest item in the list. Meanwhile, you can click on any item in this window and PASTE it anywhere into your current Word document. Furthermore, all these items will continue to be available for subsequent pasting.
   Furthermore yet, this feature is not limited to text. As an experiment, I used Windows PaintBrush (Start, Programs, Accessories, Paint) to draw a couple of simple "happy faces," naming one Jack.bmp and the other Jill.bmp. Then I wrote a short story in Word, where the names Jack and Jill appeared throughout.
   Next, I clicked on Edit, Office Clipboard to open up this special window. Going back to PaintBrush (aka Paint & PBrush in different versions of Windows), I selected one of my cartoons and did Edit, Copy, whereupon a miniature of the drawing appeared in the Office Clipboard window. I repeated this with the second drawing. Finally, I went back into the story and placed my cursor just behind each occurrence of "Jack" and "Jill" and pasted in the corresponding cartoon from the Office Clipboard window.
   For a second experiment, I repeated all of the above, except that instead of pasting a cartoon "next to" each name, I "replaced" each name with a cartoon by double-clicking it before choosing PASTE from the Office Clipboard window. Furthermore, like any other graphic pasted into a Word document, each cartoon could have its size changed by moving any of its "handles." Beyond this, double-clicking any graphic brings up a "Format Picture" dialog box, where you can do even more things with the image.
   Admittedly, the above exercise may not be the best example of a "business" application of the Office Clipboard, but it will hopefully encourage you to experiment with more practical uses of the feature. If you'd rather read than experiment, click on Help and type Office Clipboard into the search box.

Do Yourself a Favor - Use Your HELP Files!
   Speaking of which, using the Help tools that come with today's programs can often be the quickest and most efficient way to find answers to your questions. Here's an example:

Look for OCR in Your Help Files
   I continue to get questions asking why text which has been scanned from a magazine or newspaper page can't then be "edited" like any other text document. I've written about this before, but here's the bottom line: When text is scanned, the result is a "picture" of the text, not an editable text file. However, most scanners come with software that includes OCR (optical character recognition) capabilities. There are dozens of OCR programs, and there is no way I can give a tutorial on each one in this column. The solution? Click on Help in your scanning software and type OCR into the search box.

Placing "Shortcut Icons" on Your Desktop and/or Taskbar
   Gladys Giedd wrote, asking how to put Shortcut icons on her Taskbar. First, let's review what a "Shortcut" icon is. Any program accessed on a regular basis can be launched faster by using one. If, for instance, you use MSWorks regularly, do this: Go to Start, Search/Find, Files & Folders and type in msworks. When a file named msworks.exe appears, right-click it and choose Create Shortcut. This will put a "shortcut" icon on your Desktop named msworks.exe with a little arrow in its lower left corner. Double-clicking it will immediately launch the program.
   To place a copy of this icon on your Taskbar, right-click the Taskbar and choose Toolbars. Be sure Quick Launch has a checkmark. Now any Shortcut icon can be dragged onto the Taskbar Quick Launch area, whereupon it can be single-clicked to launch the target program.

Sunday
Aug 18
More on Printing Gridlines + Some Spreadsheet Fundamentals
   When I goof my readers really let me know about it.
   I've lost track of how many emailed to say that MS-Excel has a command for printing gridlines (File, Page Setup, Sheet, Print Gridlines) in reply to my saying that gridlines in various "table" programs can be printed only after selecting them and then going to Format, Borders.
   Well, this revelation got me to doing some additional research and I found that in the Spreadsheet and Database programs in MS-Works one can find "Print Gridlines" by going to File, Page Setup, Other Options.
   WordPerfect's Quattro users can go to File, Page Setup, Options, to find Print Gridlines.
   As for the "Table" utility in MS-Word, any Table created will automatically display and print 1/2-point thick black borders, unless you've gone to Format, Borders & Shading and changed these default settings. You can also click Table, Hide/Show Gridlines, which will affect only the screen display of the gridlines.

Some Spreadsheet Fundamentals
   Getting back to "spreadsheet" programs, I've found that although most computer owners have one, many have no idea of what to do with it. Well, spreadsheets were originally designed to simplify the solving of various mathematical problems, but they can do many other things as well. Voluminous manuals can be found on how to use these programs, but here are some brief, simple examples:
   Launch your spreadsheet program and you'll see a large grid whose rows are identified as 1, 2, 3, etc., while its columns are identified as A, B, C, etc. The intersecting boxes are called "cells" which are identified by their column and row positions, with "A1" being the cell in the upper left corner.
   As an example of a simple "addition" task, type some numbers into cells A1 through A3. Click on cell A4, where we'll want the total will appear. In order to display the total, a formula needs to be entered into A4. You can type in the formula "=SUM(A1+A2+A3)" or "=SUM(A1:A3)" -- but the beauty of spreadsheets is that all kinds of shortcuts are available. Rather than type either of these formulas, click on A4 and then click on the "sigma" symbol ( ) in your toolbar. Press Enter to see your total (sum).
   Now let's try a simple "subtraction" problem. Type 500 into cell B1 and type -300 into B2. Click on B3 and again click the ( ) "autosum" symbol. Press Enter and the answer 200 will appear in B3.
   OK, let's try multiplication, using 12x4 as an example. Type 12 into E1 and 4 into F1. Now type this formula into G1: =E1*F1. (The asterisk is the "times" symbol in computer mathematics.) Press Enter and 48 will appear as your answer. Had you wanted to divide 12 by 4, your formula would have been: =E1/F1 (with the forward slash being the "divided by" symbol) and your answer will have been 3.

Super Simple Examples to Get You Started
   Yes, I realize you could have done all the above examples faster in your head, but try multiplying and/or dividing some large numbers, as well as adding up a list of, say, 100 numbers.
   But spreadsheets aren't limited to numbers. Try this. Go to File, New, and start a blank spreadsheet. Type your first name into A1. Now type some other names into A2 and the cells below. OK, let's rearrange these names in alphabetical order:
   Excel users will click on the gray "A" cell and go to Data, Sort, Ascending, OK to accomplish this. Works spreadsheet users will go to Tools, Sort and follow the prompts.
   The purpose that spreadsheets are probably most used for, however, is to set up, say, a table of income and expenses which can be charted over a period of time to show profits and losses or whatever. These tables are often broken down into individual months. Well, to avoid having to type in all the various months' names, try this:
   Type January into any cell. Look for the tiny black square in the lower right corner of the selected cell. Place your cursor over this square and, with the left button depressed, drag your mouse several cells to the right. February, March, and the others should have filled in accordingly.

Tuesday
Aug 13
Printing Gridlines, Borders & Shading + Some Database Fundamentals
     Bonnie Marona wrote to ask how make the grid lines in a spreadsheet print out and how they can be formatted so they look just the way she wants. Well, a couple of definitions will make this question easier to answer. "Gridlines" are the dividing lines used by all programs that generate "tables" such as those found in spreadsheets and databases, and are usually a pale blue or gray. In most programs these gridlines never print on paper; they are visible only on the screen to help you keep track of where you are when working in a table.
   In Excel, however, one can go to Page Setup, click the Sheet tab, and then check the Print Gridlines box.
   In other programs these gridlines can be converted to "borders" that will print on paper and which can be formatted to appear in different line thicknesses, in solid or dashed lines, and in a variety of colors. This is accomplished by going to Format, Borders. Format, Shading will allow you to choose different colors for the "cells" that are created where gridlines (borders) intersect. In some programs, such as MS-Word, these options are grouped under Format, Borders & Shading.
   Doing Ctrl+A (Select All) will cause the whole document to be uniformly formatted, but you can mouse-select different borders and/or cells to be formatted individually. Generally speaking, selecting an entire row or column for a particular Border and/or Shading format is pretty easy to do. However, picking and choosing a "patchwork" of cells for different formatting effects may take a little practice.
   For instance, if you tell a particular cell to have a "thick" border, and then tell the cell just below it to have a "thin" border, the line (border) that connects the two cells will have been given conflicting instructions. In any case, going to File, Print Preview will let you see exactly what your printout will look like so you don't have to waste paper and ink while experimenting.

Different Types of "Databases"
   Speaking of "database" programs, I'm often asked what the difference is between the database application found in MS-Works and the database program called "Access" found in the higher-priced versions of MS-Office. Well, the latter is a super-heavy-duty "relational" database of the type used by, for instance, manufacturers who need to keep track of all the various nuts, bolts and other hundreds of parts that might go into finished product.
   MS-Works, however, offers us an inexpensive "flat" database program, which can be used by the average computerist in many useful ways. In its simplest form, a flat database might be used to maintain a customer list, which would include items such as customers' names, addresses, phone numbers, email addresses, etc. These items are usually listed in columns called "fields" while the rows they form are called "records." The most obvious use of such a database would be to type in a customer's name, and see all of his or her pertinent data displayed on the screen.
   Another typical use is to have such a database print envelopes or mailing labels, where the customers' names and addresses would be used, but where their phone numbers and email addresses would be ignored. Beyond this, the Works database has "filters" available, which can make a print-out focus on even more specific items.
   For instance, let's say you have a long list of email contacts, and that you want to send a message to only those contacts who use, say, "nctimes.net" as their ISP. Well, you would simply open the Works database that contains all these email addresses and then do this: go to Tools, Filters. A box will pop up called Filter 1, and invite you to give the filter a different name if you want. Either way, you'll next be asked to choose the field you'd like to have filtered. Having chosen the target field, you'll now be asked to indicate what the chosen filter should do. These choices will include things like "is equal to," "is not equal to," "contains," "does not contain," etc.
   In this particular example, you would choose "contains" and type in "nctimes.net." Press Enter and you'll immediately have a list of all the email addresses that meet this criteria.
   This is just the tip of the MS-Works database iceberg. With a little experimenting you'll find many other valuable uses.

Sunday
Aug 11
More on MSWord's "AutoCorrect" Features
     Marian Smith wrote to say she can play the instrumental "MIDI" files found on my Web page, but not the vocal "WAV" files, and asked how to fix this.
   (Click for Don's Free Music Page)
   Well, first it might be helpful to review the definitions of MIDI and WAV, which are two different kinds of "sound" files. MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) files are musical sequences that have been played on an electronic keyboard directly into a computer recording system, and whose filenames end in .MID. As for WAVs, most of the "sound effects" you hear on a computer (welcome messages, pings, doors closing, etc.) are "waveform" files whose names end in .WAV.

Make Your Own WAVs
   WAV files are often recorded with a microphone, much like using a tape recorder. In fact, if you have a microphone attached to your computer you can make your own WAV voice messages, as well as attach them to outgoing emails. You can activate your computer's Sound Recorder by double-clicking My Documents, and going to File, New, Wave Sound.
   This will initiate a "recording session" and let you type in a name for the WAV you're about to record. After naming the WAV, press Enter. Next, right-click the WAV icon and choose Record. Now a miniature "Record & Playback Console" will appear on your screen. Click the Red Circle to begin recording; then click the Black Rectangle to stop. Click the "Rewind" and "Play" symbols to hear what you've done.
   For more tips on how to do this, additional instructions can be found at www.pcdon.com.
   Getting back to Marian's question, I have a Web page full of downloadable "oldies, but goodies," which include both MIDIs and WAVs. Here's why she can hear the former, but not the latter: If you SINGLE-click on the "speaker" icon in your system tray (near the Taskbar's digital clock) a "volume control" slide-bar will pop up, along with a "Mute" button. However, if you DOUBLE-click the speaker icon, a "multiple slide-bar device" will pop up, with each item having its own Mute button.
   Here it's not uncommon to find the WAV Mute button checked. This will keep WAVs from being heard, but will allow other sound files to play normally. Some folks prefer to have the WAV Mute thus checked. Why? Well, if you want to listen to a MIDI file or a CD on your computer, you may find the music being interrupted periodically by your PC's various "sound effect" WAVs. Having WAV muted will keep this from happening.
   One final word on MIDIs and WAVs; you very likely have several that you don't even know about. To check them out, go to Start, Find/Search, Files & Folders and type *.MID or *.WAV into the filename box. The asterisk (star) is a "wild card," which tells your computer to list ALL files with the applicable extension. Double-click any of the displayed files to hear what they sound like.

Making Text on Web Pages & in Email Easier to Read
   Do you have trouble reading the small print that often appears when using Netscape or Internet Explorer? Well, both browsers offer a "View, Text Size" option. IE even has a "Double-A" icon which displays these size choices with one less mouse click. However, these options don't work on all browser text; you have to experiment to learn what does and doesn't work.
   As for the built-in browsers found in AOL and CompuServe, there are no "View, Text Size" menu options. However, if you use a mouse with a wheel between its two buttons, you may find that you can adjust some text sizes by holding down your Ctrl key while rolling the wheel. This trick also works with some of the text found on IE and Netscape. Beyond that it works in email pages in Outlook Express, AOL, and CompuServe.

AOL Users Are NOT Limited to Using the Built-In AOL Browser
   Regarding AOL and CompuServe, I find that many of their subscribers are unaware that they can use Internet Explorer and/or Netscape to get on the Internet. Yes, AOL lets its users surf the Web, and even offers many proprietary features not available anywhere else; however, AOL and CS also have a number of limitations that can be circumvented by using IE, Netscape, Opera, Mozilla or any of the other browsers available to all Windows users.
   As for CompuServe, I've found that many of its users are unaware that it has an exclusive "adult" area that is very, very "adult."

Tuesday
Aug 6
More on MSWord's "AutoCorrect" Features
     B. J. Holub wrote to say that MSWord automatically capitalizes the first letter of each sentence he types, and asked how to get around this. Well, by going to Tools, AutoCorrect, you'll find a number of default "corrections" that MSWord imposes, any of which can be defeated by deselecting its checked box. It's worth noting, however, that although Word's "AutoCorrect" may often seem like more help than we need, it does serve one very important purpose: it corrects many common spelling errors as we type. For instance, "didnt recieve" will automatically be changed to "didn't receive" as you type.
   No, Word doesn't correct ALL typos; just the ones listed under AutoCorrect. However, you can add your own "problem words" to the list. For instance, I often see "parallel" misspelled as "paralell" or "parallell." These common typos are NOT in Word's AutoCorrect list, but you can add them yourself.
   Beyond this, you can use AutoCorrect to save yourself some typing. For instance, if you were creating a document that used the phrase "North County Times" several times, you could type "nct" into the Replace box and "North County Times" into the With box. From then on, if you type "nct" (followed by pressing your Spacebar or Enter key) "North County Times" will appear in its place. (Quote marks not needed - used here for clarity only.)
   Alternatively, you can use Word's "AutoText" feature to accomplish the same thing. Here you would type "North County Times" into the "AutoText" box and click OK. From then on, if you type "nort" (i.e.; the first few letters of the desired phrase) the actual phrase will appear in a little yellow box above your typing. This tells you that pressing Enter will convert those first few characters into "North County Times." However, if your intent was to type "north pole" you would simply continue typing, rather than hitting the Enter key. (Again - quote marks used here for clarification only.)

"OCR" Needed to Edit a "Picture" of Text
   Buck Jordan wrote to say that he periodically makes a "screen shot" of text he sees on the Internet, and wants to know why he can't edit the text after inserting the image into his word processor.
   First, let's review what a "screen shot" is. If you have an image on your screen that you'd like to save as a file, you can press your PrtScr key, which will "Copy" everything in view and store it on your "invisible clipboard." If you then launch an image-editing program, like Windows PBrush, you would use Edit, Paste to place the image on the PBrush "canvas" whereupon you could edit the picture as you would any other bitmap image.
   You could also launch your word processor, and do Edit, Paste to place the picture on a blank word processing page. However, neither of these procedures would give you a picture whose "text" could be "edited" in the usual way. For that you would need to use an OCR (optical character recognition) program. OCR programs are normally used with a "scanned" image, such as a page from a magazine, rather than an image captured as a "screen shot."
   Nonetheless, by way of researching a reply for Buck, I tried using my OCR program on a "screen shot" of some text, and it worked just fine. However, there is seldom a need to make a "screen shot" of text found on a Web page. Simply mouse-select the target text and use Ctrl+C to Copy it. You can then use Ctrl+V to Paste it into a word processing document, whereupon it can be edited like any other text.
   This brings me to a question from Mary Hanson. Mary likes to Copy and Paste recipes she finds on Web pages, but says they can be difficult to edit because they're often imbedded in "tables." Well, the table formatting can be eliminated as you insert the text into a word processing page. Instead of doing Ctrl+V, go to Edit, Paste Special, and choose "Plain Text."
   We'll talk more about formatting text with tables next time.

Sunday
Aug 4
More Tips on Setting Tab Stops in Word Processing Documents
     My recent column on setting tab stops in MSWord brought a number of additional questions. Before continuing, however, I should point out that the following "tab setting" conventions apply to WordPerfect and the word processor in MSWorks just as they do to MSWord.
     Pat Worden asked if there's a way to remove multiple tabs without having to drag them off the ruler one at a time. Yes! Mouse-select the target block of text and go to Format, Tabs, Clear All. You can also do Ctrl+A to "Select All" if you want to remove ALL the tabs in the entire document.
     Other frequent questions are:
  "I dragged a tab stop off the ruler - so why is it still there in other parts of the document?"
  or
  "I moved a tab - so why is it back to where I moved it from in the next paragraph?"
     The answer to both these questions is simple: Tab settings apply ONLY to the paragraph you happen to be in when you set them. However, people tend to have problems with this rule for one basic reason; they don't really understand what constitutes a "paragraph" in a word processing document.
     Here's the definition:
     Your very first keystroke always begins the first paragraph in a document. The first paragraph ends and a second one is begun as soon as you strike the Enter key. Subsequent "Enters" will continue to establish the endings and beginnings of additional paragraphs.
     Paragraphs are NOT determined by how many words and/or lines they may contain. For instance, type the letter "A" and then press Enter. Now type "B" and press Enter again. You've just created two paragraphs.
     The next rule that needs to be understood is that pressing Enter not only ends one paragraph and begins another, it carries forward ALL format settings from one paragraph to the next. In other words, if you type a line of text and format some tab stops BEFORE striking Enter, the tab settings will automatically be carried forward to the next paragraph (and to all subsequent paragraphs) each time Enter is struck.
     Sounds simple enough, but here's an example of where people get into trouble: Let's say you're preparing a lunch menu with the food items on the left side of the page and prices on the right. You type "Soup du Jour" and click a right tab setting onto the ruler, say, six inches from the left page margin. You now press your Tab key and type in the price of the soup.
     Press Enter to begin another line (paragraph) and type "Chef's Salad." Press the Tab key, and the salad's price will line up properly under the soup's price. Repeat this procedure for the whole page and you'll have a beautiful menu. However, if you decide the price column needs to be shifted a little to the right and you drag the six inch Tab marker on the ruler over accordingly, you'll very likely see that only one price moved with it.
     Why?
     It's because ruler tab markers only apply to whichever paragraph (line) your cursor happens to be in at that moment. If you then try to move the marker back to where it was, it will probably be off slightly and mess up your print-out. The trick is to do Ctrl+A (Select All) before moving a tab marker, thus making all the corresponding tabbed items move together.

MSWord's Automatic "Bullets & Numbering" Feature
     Another "default" feature that annoys many MSWord users is that they'll often be forced into "Bullets & Numbers" formatting whether they want it or not. If you begin a document by typing, say, "1" and then hit your Tab key before typing the message that goes on that line, you'll probably find that each subsequent Enter will start a new line with incremental numbering and with your cursor automatically tabbed over to conform to the appearance of the first line.
     If you'd prefer to do your own "Bullets & Numbers" formatting, you can defeat Word's default settings by going to Tools, AutoCorrect, AutoFormat As You Type, and UNchecking "Automatic Bulleted/Numbered Lists." You should also go to AutoFormat and UNcheck "Automatic Bulleted Lists." Finally, go to Format, Bullets & Numbering to set your own choices.

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