Excel 07: Table Formatting

on Wednesday, September 30, 2009

A cool new feature in Excel 07 is the automatic formatting options available for tables.

If you go to the Insert tab, choose Table, and select the data you want to convert, the Table tools and formatting options will appear in the ribbon.

By default, Excel will band the rows and columns for easier reading. It will also add pulldown filter menus to each of the column headers, a total row at the bottom, and a pulldown menu in the bottom right to quickly get a minimum, maximum, average or sum of your total row. Each of these options can be easily turned on or off in the Table Styles Options section of the ribbon (see below).

Pagination in Word 07

on Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Paginating a specific section in previous versions of Word could be a frustrating process, and I suppose it's comforting to know that some things never change. Here's a tutorial on paginating a specific section of a document in Word 07.

First, you need to create a separate section. Go to the Page Layout tab, choose Breaks, then create a section break (in most cases you'll want a "Next Page" section break). This is shown in the screen shot below.

Next, choose a Header, Footer, or Page Number option from the Header and Footer section at the upper left (shown below).

Now, the crucial step: disconnect it from the previous section. This can be done in the Design tab by clicking the "Link to Previous" button in the Navigation section, to toggle OFF the link (shown below).

From there, it's simply a matter of going to the Page Number command, choosing Format Page Numbers, and choosing which numbering style you want, what number to start with, etc. The previous section of the document can be formatted with the same dialogue box. Or, if you don't want the previous section numbered, simple choose Remove Header or Remove Footer from the Header or Footer tab.

Creating Masks in PowerPoint

on Thursday, September 10, 2009

Sometimes you want to highlight a section on a graphic by masking out the rest of it with a semi-transparent mask. An example is below. Here's how you do it in PowerPoint.

1) Insert the graphic (Insert>Picture).

2) Use the drawing tool to draw a rectangle over the graphic (Insert>Shapes, then choose the rectangle tool and draw it).

Then, right click the rectangle, choose Format Picture and dial the transparency up to 25% or so.

It should now look like this:

3) Draw an oval over the bit you want to highlight. Use the Fill Color tool to make it a different color.

4) Select the oval, hold down Ctrl, and select the rectangle. Right-click, and choose Save as Picture. Name it "mask.png".

5) Delete the rectangle and the oval. Then insert the mask.png graphic you just made (Insert>Picture, and browse to "mask.png").

6) Click Recolor Picture. Select Set Transparent Color. Then click the oval. This will make it transparent.

To see a live demonstration of this process, and learn how to animate it so the mask dissolves in and moves from item to item, show up for next Wednesday's Connect session on PowerPoint 07, from 9 to 10:30 a.m.. There will be an announcement in Monday's email, or you can contact me at jeffrey.wood@colostate.edu.

ZScreen: Free Screen Capture Software

on Wednesday, September 2, 2009

I mentioned today in a Connect training session that I changed a Word document to a .jpg image by taking a screenshot of it, as Connect allows you to import .jpg's, but not Word documents. I did not explain how I did that. Personally, I use SnagIt (http://www.techsmith.com/screen-capture.asp) for these kind of screen captures, but it costs $50.

A free piece of open source software that works nearly as well is ZScreen (http://brandonz.net/projects/zscreen/index.html). You specify whether you'd like to capture the entire screen, a specific window, or a crop of your desktop. You can set the hotkeys for the capture to whatever you want (a screenshot - created with ZScreen - of that menu is below), choose what folders you want to put your images into, and whether you want to bring them up in a photo editor after capture.

ZScreen doesn't have all the bells and whistles of Snagit, but it is fast and fr`ee and good at what it does. If you bring your captures up in an image editor like Photoshop or GIMP to modify it, you can do anything Snagit can do.