Monday, May 23, 2011

The Power of SmartArt Graphics

I don't consider myself an avid PowerPoint user, I find people don't prepare slides correctly, to much text not enough graphics or images.  But PowerPoint has tools that can help add that pizazz, add an element of style that will energize your audience.  The feature was first introduced in PowerPoint 2007, the tradition continues with a few more additions in PowerPoint 2010.  SmartArt Graphics can help you convey your information/content with style and flair and it is easier than you think.

A. Using existing text to Create a SmartArt graphic:

1.  With the text box selected, from the Home tab, within the Paragraph group, click on the Convert to SmartArt Graphic and mouse over options to preview. Click on an option to add to your slide.

B. Using the Text Pane to reorder/edit text and images:

1.  With the SmartArt graphic selected, within the text pane select the text to be moved.

2.  From the Design tab, within the Create Graphics group, use the Move Up and Move Down commands to reorder text. 

C. Add additional shapes or bullets:

1.  From the Design tab, within the Create Graphics group, use Add Shape command to add another shape to the SmartArt graphic.

2.  From the Design tab, within the Create Graphics group, use the Add Bullet command to add additional bullets to the SmartArt graphic. 

Note: The Design and Format tabs are contextual tabs, only visible when a SmartArt graphic is selected.

D. Change Layout and apply SmartArt Style to SmartArt graphic:

1.  With the SmartArt graphic selected, from the Design tab, within the Layout group, select More Layouts from the drop down menu.  Select from the list of over 130 SmartArt diagrams and the addition of the Picture category. 

2.  With the SmartArt graphic selected, from the Design tab, within the SmartArt Styles group, choose a style to apply from the drop down menu. In addition, the Change Colors command will provide extra customization.

E. Change a shape, shape styles, along with additional formatting options:

1.  With the SmartArt graphic selected, from the Format tab, within the Shapes group,click on the Change Shape command and select a shape from the drop down menu. 

Additionally from the Shape Styles group; change the shape style, fill, outline, and apply an effect. 

Microsoft has provided a wide selection of diagrams they have also given you the ability to Convert Shapes allowing you even more choices in Excel and PowerPoint 2010.   From the Design tab, within the Reset group, click on the Convert command. 

Now you have a group of shapes that you can customize and move using the drawing tools.  Apply custom animations to the graphics making the possibilities almost endless. 

The best way to learn is to play, get in there and start using SmartArt graphics, hope you find the changes and additions easy to understand.  Start putting these amazing graphics to use in PowerPoint or other Office applications and let me know if you have any questions.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Formatting problem - How can I format zip code merge field to add hyphen if zip + 4?

Another great question inspired a deeper look into formatting Word Fields when working in a mail merge document.  Google is my friend and a found a site or two for assistance, but pictures speak louder than words, so here is my attempt to clarify how to accomplish the task.

You can format the contents of a field  inserted into a document, using a "switch" Alt + F9 will allow you to edit a manually inserted merged field and Ctrl + F9 will insert Field Boundaries { } needed to convert/change the merge field.

Senerio:  Your data source, in Excel the zip codes are either 5 or 9 digits.  Formatting the cells to add the hyphen (Format cells-->Special-->Zip+4) appears to correct the issue but a closer look at the formula bar reveals numbers only with no hyphen.  For a mail merge document using this data source the zip code will not have a hyphen in the mailing address field. 

Applying a number format that will convert all ZIP codes to ZIP + four format.  i.e., 451253589 will be changed to 45125-3589. Using a conditional field will apply appropriate formats even if the field has five or nine digits.  So lets give this a try...

1. Manually adding an address fields to letter/labels will show what a merged field looks like, previewing displays the zip code without formatting.

2.  Press Alt + F9- allowing for conditional formatting, click within and at the beginning of the MERGEFIELD Zip field and press Ctrl + F9** field boundaries have to be inserted not typed from keyboard, using Ctrl + F9 is the correct way to insert { }(field boundaries). 

 3.  Enter:

4.  Press Alt + F9 and preview letters/labels resulting in the formatting of a hyphen for the zip code field.

Additionally, if you wish the + 4 not to appear then use the following switch when formatting the field:

Feedback appreciated, let me know how it worked -RS

Other Web Resources:

Formatting Word Fields:

MS Office Forums: