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Office 2010 - Overview

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It’s here!

The latest version of the premier office suite of applications has launched. This version takes the innovations introduced with the 2007 version and adds new functionality to help improve your productivity.

Available via volume license immediately, with general availability on June 15th this Office release is the best yet!

So what exactly is new?


First is a change to the line up of packages.

Microsoft have reduced the amount of packages to make things simpler.

For small businesses who buy Office via retails channels this give you two choices.

Office Home and Business - Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote and Outlook


Office Professional - Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Outlook, Pubilsher and Access

You'll notice OneNote is now available in both of these suites. You can get an overview of OneNote here.

Office Web Apps

New to this edition of Office is the ability to use a web based version of Office. If you're away from your desk and need to view or make a quick edit to a document you can do this within a web browser!

Product Improvements

Each product in the suite has gained some great new functionality.

Highlights include,

Word  - Improved image editing tools

Apply effects to improve the look of any image. Thumbnail preview saves time applying and removing effects until the desired one is found.

Background removal allows you to strip out elements of an image keeping only that which is relevant to the document.

You can read more about background removal here

Excel - Sparklines

Sparklines are small charts in a worksheet cell that provide a clear and compact visual representation of your data. You can use them to show trends in a series of values, such as seasonal increases or your monthly expenditures, or to highlight maximum or minimum values.

You can read more about Sparklines here

PowerPoint - Video Editing and Formatting

Allows you to edit videos right in PowerPoint 2010, no additional software required. You can even insert a video link from the Internet into your presentation to create rich, dynamic work but keep your file size manageable. And video controls let you pause, rewind, fast-forward, and stop audio and video content without leaving slide-show mode during your presentation.

PowerPoint - Broadcast Slide Show

Instantly broadcast your slides to a remote audience, who can view your presentation online and on any device that has a Web browser, even if they don’t have PowerPoint 2010.

Outlook - Conversation View

Improves the tracking and managing of related e-mails while saving valuable inbox space, letting you manage large amounts of e-mail with ease. It also hides entire conversations you no longer need and condenses them with just a few clicks.

All applications - Backstage View

Provides a single location for essential information about your document, such as permissions and version information – and increases sharing options for print, online, and e-mail. And printing is faster and easier than ever with the new Live Preview. Now you can see your document and settings automatically before you print, without multiple clicks.

This is just a snapshot of some of the new functionality available!

If you'd like to learn more please contact us today 


Products - OneNote

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Microsoft finally decided to make this application available to a wider audience!

OneNote has been around for years but generally found its way into the student package of the Office suite.

This is because OneNote is quite simply, a note taking application so it was felt students would make better use of it.

However it has plenty functionality that is of use in the work place.

Those notes could be for a meeting, while doing research for a customer proposal or just making a list of things to do.

OneNote stores all of it's information with a notebook.

Inside a notebook we can have pages, sections and section groups.

Pages hold the content while sections and section groups are used to help organise that content.

For example.

I could have a notebook called "Work Notes".

Inside that notebook I could have section groups called "Service Delivery" and "Products".

Within the "Products" section group I could have sections called "New Products", "Existing Products".

Inside the "Existing Products" section I could have pages called "Prices", "Sales Notes".

So you may thinking "So what? Can't I do the same thing in Word with documents and folders.

Yes you could. But because OneNote is geared towards note taking it has lots of functionality for making note taking quick and easy.

Some examples include,

Character Recognition.

If you have an image that contains text OneNote tries to make sense of that text so that you can search for it.

Imagine you were at a conference and met Tom Anderson, he could be an important contact that could bring you lots of work. Tom ran out of business cards and didn't want to give away his last one so you could take a picture of it with your mobile phone (store it in OneNote mobile!) and insert into your notes back at the office. OneNote would then index that card and next time you searched your notes OneNote would display his business card!

You can even do the same with audio! Use your phone to do an ad-hoc interview and insert it into your notes. OneNote can then index it for you so it shows up in search results!

Information Capture

OneNote allows you to quickly grab information without having to go to the hassle of cutting and pasting.

If you're in Internet Explorer there is an option called "Send to OneNote". Clicking on this will send the current page to OneNote and place it your current notebook!

What if you don't use Internet Explorer or have another application you want to grab information from?

No problem. OneNote installs the OneNote Printer Driver - you just print your document in the same way you print a hard copy and it'll create an image and place it into your notebook! Again character recognition will index the content.

You can also "dock" OneNote next to your currently open program. OneNote just displays the writing surface allowing you to drag and drop and quickly store notes without having to flick between applications.

Image 1 - Docked


Quick Editing

OneNote doesn't restrict you to how you enter content. Just click and type (or if you have a touch enabled device you can write!)

You can drag content around so it's organised exactly how you want it and there are a drawing tools that allow you to make quick edits. We've all drawn a big circle around an important meeting note

Image 2 - Draw

OneNote also allows us to do quick calculations on the fly.

If you type in a sum, use the equals symbol at the end and press the space bar the answer is filled in for you.

You can also tag information so it's easier to find. There are built-in tags and you can create your own.

Image 3 - Tags

These tags can then easily be found using the search functionality.

Image 3 - Tag search

Clicking on the icon takes you straight to the relevant page

Integration and Sharing

OneNote can also link into your Outlook data. A set of notes can be converted into a task which is entered into Outlook as part of your regular To-Do list.

You can also work with other collagues on notes by sharing them over a network. This allows many people to contribute to a set of notes (great for research projects!)

The latest version of the product can harness the power of the Internet. Notes can be stored in a shared location and accessed from anywhere OneNote is installed. Additionally Office Web Apps also has OneNote capability meaning notes can be quickly read and updated from any PC with an Internet browser!

This is just a very small set of the powerful functionality OneNote provides. Seeing it in action really allows you to understand how much more productive and organised the application can make you.

If you'd like a demonstration of OneNote please get in touch.


Outlook – Combining Calendars

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Organising events isn’t always a straight forward task.

While Outlook has some great features to help view other peoples availability there is nothing better than seeing everything in one simple view!

Fortunately Outlook has a trick up its sleeve that makes this really simple.

This feature is also available in Outlook 2007 but it's been given a lot more polish in Outlook 2010.

Here's the scenario.

I'm head of a sales team and I have access to the calendars of my team members, Jim and Tom.

Outlook allows me to view each team members calendar side-by-side but as the calendars get busy it's hard to see when the free time is. This can get even worse when you're dealing with a larger number of people.

So here are my calendars side by side. (We're using empty calendars to make it easier to demonstrate)

Image 1 - Side by side

While we're here I've also used two other new features in Outlook 2010

Calendar colours - Outlook 2010 let's me choose a specific colour for each calendar displayed. In previous versions Outlook choose this automatically for you.

Calendar groups - When dealing with a large number of calendars it can be hard to find the ones you need. Outlook 2010 lets you create a calendar group. I've created a group just for my sales team. This helps keep your calendars more organised. Notice how the calendar colour is also displayed here.

Image 2 - Calendar group

Right back to our calendars.

So while I've got a broad view of what's going on it could get tough to scheule a meeting between a large group of busy people.

If you look at the tab for each calendar you'll notice some arrows

Image 3 - Tabs

By clicking these arrows it allows me to place calendars on top of each other (this is called overlaying the calendar)

I can do this with just certain calendars or all of them!

So first I'll combine my calendar with Toms

Image 4 - Combine Tom

This allows me to compare our combined calendar with Jims

Next I'll overlay Jims calendar with the already overlayed calendar.

Image 5 - Combine All

Now we have one calendar with the whole teams appointments combined.

A couple of things to note here.

Each appointment has it's colour set to match the calendar colour. This makes it easy to see which appointment belongs to who.

The background colour is Blue - this is because my calendar is the primary calendar - you'll see my appointments are in bold with the others slightly dimmed.

I can set any calendar as the primary calendar just by clicking on it's tab

I'll make Toms calendar active

Image 5 - Tom Active

This helps emphasise a specific persons appointments over the others.

I can even make changes using the combined view - I could reschedule Jims meeting to free up some space. Any changes in the combined view are applied directly to the calendar underneath it.

Outlook has the ability to open calendars such other users mailboxes, team calendars, SharePoint calendars, internet based calendars, room booking  and resouce booking calendars.

If you'd like to know more about Outlook 2010 please contact us


Word - Image Backround Removal

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The saying “a picture is worth a thousand words” usually applies to business documents! Whether it’s illustrating a product or just making the document more visually appealing the ability to insert pictures into a document is something we do all the time.

However, working with pictures can be a time consuming process.

Luckily for us Word has some very powerful tools to help. Including one that in past would have required a graphic artist armed with a copy of Photoshop!

So once again let's imagine I work for Widgets Ltd and lets start by inserting a picture into a blank Word document.

Image 1 - Full Clock

Here is a picture of a product I sell (let's call it a "Ticking Widget")

I've paid a photographer to take some nice product shots but now that I need to use it in a document that lovely off-white/grey background isn't needed.

I could try cropping it.

Image 2 - Cropped

It sort of works but i've still got they grey background which doesn't work well against the white of the document. This wil be highlighted even more when it's printed.

So what can we do about it?

Normally you'd need to fire up a graphics editing package such as Adobe Photoshop and remove the background. This requires a high level of skill as well as the costs involved with owning a copy of Photoshop.

Thankfully Office 2010 can help us.

One of the tools on the Picture Tools tab is called "Remove Background"

Image 3 - Remove Icon

When I click this tool look what happens

Image 4 - Initial remove

The purple areas are parts of the image Word has calculated to be a part of the background and need to be removed. Word has done a pretty good job on this image but it can only make a best guess though and you'll notice that parts of the clock are missing at the top and the bottom. We can give Word a helping hand to tidy this up.

The first thing is resize the box to fit closer to the edge of the clock. This tells Word that everything OUTSIDE that box must be background so we can ignore it

Image 5 - Box Resize

Then we use the tools to mark parts of the picture, telling Word what to keep and what to remove.

Image 6 - Tools

You can see the lines I've drawn across the clock to indicate how to deal with the areas it's not sure about. Once I'm happy I can click the "Keep Changes" option or discard the changes and start again.

Image 7 - Marked

This is what the finished product looks like!

Image 8 - Clock only

Now I can add some text to my document

Image 9 - With text

For added effect I'll also change the text wrapping option to "Tight".

See how the text fits around the shape of the clock now that there is no background!

 Image 10 - With text

Finally if I change the wrapping so that the image floats over the text you'll notice that we can even see the text through the handle at the top of the clock!

Image 11 - With text

As you can see it only took with a few minutes and a couple of mouse clicks to acheive something that in the past would have a required a much high level of skill and time.

If you're like to learn more about Microsoft Office 2010 and how you can use it in your business please get in touch.



Excel - Sparklines Introduction

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The spreadsheet is the one of first applications ever developed that made a computer a serious business tool. Used correctly it can enable to us to control complex sets of calculations and enable us to make important business decisions based on the information.

The latest version of Excel has a new feature that enables to quickly visualise data trends where we would have used a chart in the past.

So let's imagine I'm the owner at Widgets Ltd. I've got ten different types of widget and every month I record how many widgets I've managed to sell.

Image 1 - data

This table contains tons of information about my business but it's locked away as at first glance I have no idea how any of products are performing. I could could study the table and try and find some trends but I've got a computer to do that for me!

The obvious solution is to use a chart so we'll select the table and click the insert chart button 

Image 2 - Chart

We now have a chart that shows us our product sales trends!

Unfortunately the chart is so busy it's not an awful lot of use.

This is where sparklines can help!

So once again I'm going to select my table but this time on the insert tab I'm going to select a line based Sparkline

Image 3 - insert spark line

Excel will then ask my where I want to put my Sparklines so I'll put them at the end of the table (I could put them anywhere, next to the product name for example)

Image 4 - insert spark line

We now get our Sparklines at the end of the table.

Image 5 - spark lines

At a glance we can see the trends associated with each product.

I'll just set a couple of options to make this a bit more useful.

First I'm going to change the vertical axis so they are the same across all our SparkLines. This is so that we can see how each product performs compared the others. (note the difference between the two sparklines for the "Round Widget" as an example)

Image 6 - axis options

Next I'm going to add a bit of colour and add some marks to show the high and low points.

Image 7 - marker options

Our completed table looks like this

Image 8 - final table

Looking at some of the trends,

Our "Wiz Bang Widget" has shown a steady decline through out the year. The "Round Widget" remained generally steady while the "Big Widget" showed huge growth.

As well as the line based Sparkline we can also have a traditional bar graph

Image 9 - bar graph

and a win/lose graph which is used to analyse "binary" style data such as yes/no or profit vs loss

 This final table shows examples of all three

A catering company wants records the last five events they ran, what it cost, how much they were able to bill the client and what the difference was (profit/loss)

Image 10 - all types

The three different sparkline types are used to visual what happened

The trend spark simply shows if we made a profit over time

The bar/column type shows which event was the most profitable (green), which events we lost money on and how we performed on the others (the length of the bar)

Finally the Win/Loss type shows us which events were profitable and which events were not.

I hope this introduction to Sparklines was useful.

If you'd like to know more about Office 2010 please get in touch



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