My Places

In the Open, Save, and Save As dialogs in recent versions of Word, there’s a large vertical toolbar on the left-hand side of the dialog. The toolbar has buttons on it that make it easy to get to such places as My Documents and Desktop. Appropriately enough, the name of the toolbar is “My Places.” Or maybe that’s not so appropriate, since in any version of Word before 2002, there’s no way to modify this toolbar–at least no way I’ve been able to find.

But in Word 2002 there is a way to add places (folders) to the toolbar. Why should you care? Because doing so will give you quick and easy access to your latest editing projects without having to navigate all over the place. Here’s how to add a folder you want to use:

1. Click the “File” menu and then click “Open,” “Save,” or “Save As.”

2. In the dialog that opens, navigate to the folder you want to add to the My Places toolbar.

3. Click the folder so it’s active.

4. Click the “Tools” menu at the top of the Save As dialog.

5. Click “Add to My Places.”

That will add the folder to the My Places bar. You may need to click the down arrow at the bottom of the bar to see the folder you added. However, you can move the folder up in the list by right-clicking it and then clicking “Move Up.” (You can also move it down by clicking “Move Down.”) If you want to remove the folder from the bar, right-click it and then click “Remove.” You’ll notice that you can’t remove the existing folders, such as My Documents. They’re there to stay.

If you eventually accumulate too many folders to handle, you can better manage them by reducing the size of their icons (which, by default, are *huge*). To do so, right-click one of the folders and then click “Small Icons.”

Thanks to Michael C. Coleman for suggesting this article.

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READERS WRITE

I’ve received so many great tips from readers that there’s just not room to include them all in a single newsletter. So if your tip isn’t here, please be patient. I’ll be including it soon.

The previous newsletter included a tip for editing in Print Preview. A number of readers wrote to say there’s an easier way: click the Magnifier button (it looks like a magnifying glass over a piece of paper) on the Print Preview toolbar. You’ll then be able to edit away. The Magnifier button is a toggle, so after you’re through editing, you can click it again to return to Print Preview. Many thanks to all who sent this tip and the others below. Keep those email messages coming!

Bill Rubidge sent some additional tips for working in Print Preview:

You can invoke print preview with a macro, and set yourself to edit mode, with this bit of VBA:

ActiveDocument.PrintPreview

ActiveDocument.ActiveWindow.View.Magnifier = False

You might also use this bit of VBA to set a page-width zoom:

ActiveWindow.ActivePane.View.Zoom.PageFit = wdPageFitBestFit

I also believe you can enter full-screen view with this:

ActiveWindow.View.FullScreen = True

Full screen view is nice if you want to edit in a true WYSIWYG mode, without distraction from any tools, and if your computer is powerful enough or your document simple enough that editing in this mode works fast.

You also have access to all the standard Word commands in print preview mode, even if you can’t see the icons and the menus. I avoid using the mouse and icons as much as possible, and just invoke the commands I want using the keyboard shortcuts for the menu bar.

One final suggestion–if you have a document set up to print on both sides of the page, so that you will have facing pages in the final bound document, you can set print preview to show you two pages side by side. If you use full screen view, you can usually read the documents, if you have a big enough display and set the resolution to a good size like 1024 x 768. This view in edit mode is especially useful if you are trying to do nice layout in Word. You can adjust your page breaks to balance your layout across pages. (I recommend fixing page breaks with keep-with-next paragraph commands and start-new-page paragraph commands, rather than page breaks. That way, you won’t have as much to undo if you make text edits and the content gets pushed around.)

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Phil Rabichow wrote:

Just thought I’d mention something in follow-up to your article on Document Preview. You would think that if you open a document, go to File > Properties, and check the “Save preview picture,” then you would have a picture as you describe in your article–one that you can see, read, and scroll through.

However, it’s just the opposite! If you check that box, two things happen:

1. The file size grows.

2. You only see a snapshot in preview mode in the File > Open dialog box–and you can’t scroll. The snapshot is so small (in Word 2000, anyhow), you can’t read anything. Moral: never check that box.

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Eric Fletcher wrote:

I’ve been away for a bit and just caught up on the last few newsletters. I see you’ve been delving into one of my favorite features of Word: the document properties dialog.

Several years ago we had a huge job coordinating publication of ~300 publications in three languages from numerous authors. Each publication would be in any of several different phases at any time so I knew document management was going to be critical. To deal with it, I set up a template with a “cover page” consisting of styled fields to show information from the document properties, then very fastidiously followed a rigorous naming convention with the “Show document properties when saving” option set on.

I’ve attached a sample document so you can see what I mean. [Editor’s note: To maintain privacy, I have not made this document available, but you should still be able to get an idea of what Eric is talking about from his comments.] Here are a few of the features:

1. The cover page has fielded info from the Summary part of the properties dialog. Title, subject, keywords, and comments are styled to display. The “comments” field has a running history of where the file has been. Our procedure copies the subject each time the file is saved with a new name (actually, it migrates through sets of folders; in our case, CHP-A through CHP-D as it moves through various set stages) and appends it to the end of the comments field so I keep the history with the file.

2. Some of the other fields are in the statistics tab: pages, words, creation date–and even some math to show things like average number of words per page (for our client’s purposes originally but now very useful for quoting on similar work).

3. I set up a custom field “Default language” to identify the default spelling dictionary and display it on the cover page. We often do work in English, French, and Spanish, so it is helpful to be able to see at a glance what language is set as the default. The value and the setting is managed by a custom macro. (Custom fields can be very useful but the feature is poorly documented.)

4. Since we include the cover page for the client, we type any notes they need to see here so they can send the document off to their author without the notes if they choose. The page number references are fields referring to bookmarks, so we can be quite specific without having to worry about pagination differences. (Sometimes the files are sent electronically and printed at their site.)

5. Although this is a bit removed from the properties dialog, I’ve included sample portions of the proforma table of contents for the styled headings (we provide all levels at the interim stages so they can see the structure of their work–often handy for reducing confusion without having to be a heavy!) and the ToC for figures. The latter is seldom used in finals but we’ve found it helps a lot in author reviews since many of them are most keen to see that aspect of the text rather than re-reading the entire content.

I’ve cadged together various macros to generate summary documents using the properties fields: for example, I can list all files in the CHP-B stage in French and show the number of words. Such macros usually end up being job-specific, but they can be real lifesavers if there are large numbers of files. Of course, a well-thought-out naming convention is critical as well–but if you use the properties, you can greatly extend the number of variables to uniquely identify a particular file.

Oh, and a final tip: since I never use the Insert key, I map the File > Properties command to it. So, to see my properties dialog, I just hit Insert. (And if your finger slips going for Delete or Home, having a dialog pop up is pretty harmless–and reminds one of the usefulness of the feature!

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RESOURCES

MyInfo is an outlining and organizational tool I’ve been using for the past few weeks to keep track of all kinds of ideas, notes, and projects. The program’s Web site describes it as a “tool for individuals who need a better way for storing and working with their personal and business information,” noting, “It was designed to help you organize documents, ideas and projects easily.”

The program certainly does that, and it has a number of features that I think sets it apart from other such organizers:

* Customizable, sortable columns. For me, this is the big one. It means I can sort my many notes by category or deadline or status or just about anything else I can dream up. I can even create my own drop-down list of items to choose from. This is a *nice* feature that I’ve seen nowhere else.

* Item cloning. If I have a note in one folder, I can have a duplicate in another folder, and whenever I make a change in either one of them, that change is also made automatically in the other. In effect, I can file a note under many different category folders at the same time. If I have a note about creativity, for example, I can store it (cloned) under “Thinking,” “Writing,” and “Inventing” without worrying about keeping the clones in synch.

* Save options. You can save all or selected items in RTF format using all kinds of slick options, such as automatic item numbering, custom dividers, and comments.

* Fast, intuitive navigation.

* Usability. MyInfo has one of the cleanest program interfaces I’ve seen, making even its most advanced features simple to use.

If you’re looking for an easy, effective way to organize your projects and your life, you’ll definitely want to look at this program. You can learn more (and try it!) here:

http://www.milenix.com/myinfo.php

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