Office Training

Sunday, August 23rd, 2015

Take a look at google for the price of training courses. Frightening numbers! And of course they will stick to THEIR training plan. Which is fine, but may not tell you what YOU need to know. My introductory offer in and around the Stevenage area is just £15 for an hour of training geared to what YOU want to know. One on one training. Training at your pace, and your place. With your machine (or mine if it is easier). Training on YOUR version of MS Office. Contact me to book – any evening that suits!

Turning the tables

Thursday, August 13th, 2015

well, not strictly turning them, but it seemed a good title for blog entry! You never stop learning about Microsoft Office, and today was no exception – in Word, tables can be very useful, but a strange thing happened when I was helping redesign a document laid out with a number of tables – we had to completely change one, and I suggested due to the quantity of changes required, we’d be better to do the table all over again from scratch – this was done in a blank document, then the original table was deleted – so far so good – and then the new one pasted in – and suddenly all the existing text moved location to “help” with the layout! NOT what we wanted – so what was going on? WELL, and I’m not sure WHEN or indeed WHY it was introduced, there is now an option (which of course is ON by default) to “float” tables in the same way that pictures do – so if it won’t fit, the text moves around – solution therefore is to uncheck this option – but if you didn’t know it was there in the first place, it might take you a while to solve it too – so hopefully after this post, you know!

Complex formulas simplified

Wednesday, August 12th, 2015

In excel, sometimes you need a formula that is quite difficult to write. As always, the BEST way to write these is to simplify – in this case, that means doing one step at a time. As an example, I was recently asked for a formula to convert a cell which contained two dates which looked like 05/04/15 – 06/07/15 BUT the output was to be 05/04 – 06/07

PART of the problem here was that they may not have the leading zeros, and this made the length of the date field differ – so how to handle it?

Lets assume that our date is in A1

in 5 other cells we can enter
=SEARCH(” – “,A1) (in A2 in my example)
=LEFT(A1,A2-4) (in A3)
=RIGHT(A1,LEN(A1)-A2-2) (in A4)
=LEFT(A4,5) (in A5)
=A3&” – ” &A5 (in A6)

NOW – the formula we have in A6 returns the values we wanted BUT I’ve taken 5 formulas to achieve it – HOWEVER, if you now start to replace references to cells with those formulas you will arrive at

=LEFT(A1,SEARCH(” – “,A1)-4) & ” – ” & LEFT(RIGHT(A1,LEN(A1)-SEARCH(” – “,A1)-2),5)

which might have been a little tricky to write in one go, not least due to the number of brackets. The formula can then be used wherever you need it to be, and you can delete the formulas you used to help build up the big one!

Word and default settings in the Normal template

Monday, August 10th, 2015

In word 2007 onwards, the normal template is called normal.dotm – older versions simply used It’s a file often overlooked by Word users, but it is perhaps the most important file that you have in Word – it is the document which sets the look and feel of every blank document you create – so if you don’t like the margins, the font, or any aspect of the style – you can easily fix that by modifying the normal template. To do this, there are a number of ways – I would SUGGEST that if the change is to something you can do via a ribbon option (so style & page setup both come come to mind) you do it from any blank document. For styles, right click the style name from the style ribbon, change the settings as you wish and ensure you click the “documents based on this template” option. For page setup, use the “Set as Default” button.

IF you want to add a standard header/footer to your document, then you will need to open up the normal template itself and make the changes there – the method varies a bit depending on version, so contact me if you need help with this!!


Sunday, August 9th, 2015

If you have ANY form of question, there is a free site that has been going for over 20 years – I’ve been an expert there for a LONG time – it’s – ALL the people who answer questions offer their services for no reward, save that of knowing that they have helped people – you will find me there in the Word and Excel categories. Feel free to ask me questions there – no charge, though donations are appreciated (!) but if your question requires extra help, then why not contact me direct – I will spend as long as you need and I keep my rates at a VERY affordable level!


Friday, August 7th, 2015

I’ve been asked many questions about Excel over the years, and it is amazing how often the answer is “vlookup” – if you look on the home page of this site, you will see I’ve put the youtube video there which gives a quick look at how it works. MOST of the time, data is already laid out in the right way for the function to work – you need the value you are looking up in the first column of the data table (doesn’t matter which ACTUAL column that is though). When it’s not laid out that way, it’s often easy to add a blank column to the left of the data and then use that to repeat the value you want to look up. There is a more advanced method of doing lookups which involves combining the INDEX and the MATCH worksheet functions – perhaps I will give you a guide to that method one day!!

Busy Week

Thursday, August 6th, 2015

Sorry for the lack of updates – it’s been a busy week – I start a 3 month contract on Monday with Hertfordshire Regional College, and as a result, Flame Enterprises is now a limited company. With all that goes with that! This doesn’t stop me providing the support I’ve promised to individuals and small businesses as a lot of that can be done outside the normal 9 till 5 day – via email etc! So please DO continue to contact me with your Office support questions – happy to help anyone I can!

Web Pages

Monday, August 3rd, 2015

Flame Enterprises can help you with your web pages – I’m NOT a designer by training (though I did go on a design course for viewdata pages many years ago – viewdata? That would be Ceefax, Oracle and Prestel (if you remember that) – or in France, MiniTel) BUT I have had to design a large number of documents in my full time work – I can help by making it easy for YOU to set up your own page, and show you how to easily arrange hosting and update it – remember that a website is a living thing and will work best for you when it has regular updates – paying a designer to do it for you will usually mean paying for the updates too – I PROMISE that you can update everything yourself, when and where you want to! If you have an existing website, I’m VERY good at spotting grammar and spelling mistakes (ask my dad! but that excludes my own – as if so often the case for businesses – you read what you THINK you have written) and making suggestions about layout – so often I’ve seen colour schemes that SOUND really nice, but when viewed online can result in red text on yellow background, or almost white on white – NOT good when you want to get YOUR message to YOUR customers. Remember, your website may be the FIRST contact your customers have with you – you DEFINITELY don’t want it to be the last! As always, my costs are kept low (starting at £15) so why not contact me – no charge for an email!!

When Things Go Wrong

Sunday, August 2nd, 2015

When things go wrong in Excel it can be hard to work out what to do – there are some common errors, and I’ve covered the ones I could think of in this video – most common is the failure to use the ROUND function with calculated values – this can result in sums not being as accurate as you might like!

Keyboard Shortcuts

Thursday, July 30th, 2015

Keyboard shortcuts can be very useful – if your fingers are on the keys, why would you move to the mouse just to set bold text, left justified, underlined – three keystrokes will do that (ctrl b, ctrl l, ctrl u). Of course, if you have to stop and think, and take your fingers away from the keyboard, then using the mouse makes a lot more sense. There is never ONLY one way to do things! What you MAY not know is that Word will happily produce a document for you containing ALL the keyboard shortcuts currently available – simply press Alt F8 (which will bring up the macros dialog), change the “macros in” to show “Word Commands” and scroll down (or type) ListCommands – run this, answer the dialog box and you will get a document with the keyboard shortcuts!