Archive for the ‘Software’ Category


Endnote notes

September 16, 2017

These notes are for me, and were taken while I was attending an Endnote workshop prior to the IPEd conference in Brisbane, Australia, in September 2017. I’m documenting them here as my ‘brain dump’ as I know I won’t be able to read my handwriting after a few days! They may not be of use to anyone else.

  • Authors may put data into the wrong fields and therefore get an incorrect bibliography.
  • Authors may have chosen the incorrect reference type for the material (e.g. book, instead of journal article).
  • You can create your own style for your organisation. The easiest way is to display the refs list in an existing style  (e.g. Harvard), then click Edit > Output Styles > Edit ‘name of style’, then immediately do File > Save As and give your new style a name. THEN you can modify it to suit.
  • If the new output style doesn’t have a bibliography template for the reference type, copy the one from the closest to it (e.g. from Book), then click Reference Types and choose the new type from the list. Paste in the template formatting, then modify.
  • To add a new citation into an existing group of citations (e.g. ‘2, 5, 7, 8’), first convert citations to unformatted, add the new one, reformat, then update citations and bibliography.
  • To change the font etc. Word uses for the bibliography (by default it seems to be Times New Roman), do this in Word: Go to the Endnote tab, click the dialog launcher button in the Bibliography group, select the Layout tab, change the font etc.
  • You can have multiple libraries open at once but only the topmost one is the active one. Make sure if you have more than one Word doc open that you are using the correct Endnote library for the correct Word doc (ask me how I know this….).
  • Multiple docs can use refs from the one library.

Excel: Convert hours and minutes to minutes

August 2, 2017

Converting hours and minutes (hh:mm) to minutes in an Excel spreadsheet is actually quite simple, once you know what to do. But I had to do quite a bit of trial and error and Googling to get it to work.

To convert hours and minutes to minutes, you have to multiple the hh:mm value by 1440 (which is 24 [number of hours in the day] multiplied by 60 [number of minutes in an hour]), AND make sure you set the formatting correctly for the both the hh:mm cells and the resulting minute cells. This is where I got caught — I didn’t have the correct formatting applied to the cells. Once I got that right, it all worked.

Here’s how…

  1. Enter elapsed times in hours and minutes (using the format hh:mm) in Column B. (Yes, those non-stop flights to/from Sydney to Dallas Fort Worth are killers!)
  2. Set the format for this column to Custom > h:mm. (To format the column, select the column header, right-click on it, select Format Cells, select Custom on the Number tab, then select h:mm from the list of types. Click OK.)
  3. Insert a new column (C) and called it Minutes.
  4. Set the format for the cells in this new column to Number with no decimal places — this formatting is critical for the formula to work. (To format the column, select the column header, right-click on it, select Format Cells, select Number on the Number tab, then change the Decimal Places value to 0. Click OK.)
  5. Put the cursor in the first cell in the new column that pairs with a cell in the hh:mm column. In my example, that was C3, which pairs with B3.
  6. Type =B3*1440 in the formula bar, then press Enter to convert the hours and minutes into minutes.
  7. Click in the C3 cell and ‘grab’ the bottom right handle of the cell marker (it turns to a + sign when you’ve grabbed it correctly) and drag it down the other cells in column C. (See below for how to apply it to ALL cells in the column.)

  8. When you release the mouse, all those cells you dragged this formula over will be converted to minutes and seconds.

To apply this formula to the entire column:

  1. Copy (Ctrl+C) the result in the first cell with the formula (C3 in my example).
  2. Select the entire column (column C in my example) by selecting the column header.
  3. Paste (Ctrl+V).
  4. You’ll have to rename the column back to Minutes, but you’ll have that formula now applied to every row of your spreadsheet for that column.

These sites helped me figure out what to do:

See also:

[Links last checked August 2017]


Tagging photos

July 12, 2017

I’m slowly scanning some of my old photos to convert them into digital format — I’ve started with photos of family and friends, ignoring the scenic ones at this stage. I was very good back in the day — when I received an envelope of photos from the photo processing place, I labelled the backs of almost all my photos with dates (sometimes just month and year, but it’s a start) and names of people and places. I’m very grateful for the organised past me!

I decided to add these notes to the properties (metadata) of each scanned photo in Windows, just to preserve the information. But it’s tedious. It’s easy enough to add metadata for a few photos, but not for hundreds or potentially thousands of them. While you can select multiple photos and apply the same metadata to them, there are always individual photos where the metadata is different (a new person in a photo, for example). And because I didn’t really know what I was doing, I only added data to the title, subject, date taken, and comments fields, not realising that much of this wouldn’t be visible in photo manipulation software or online services such as Flickr, and that adding tags would have been a better strategy. It’s a lot of typing with much potential for typos.

I knew about products such as MP3 Tag for doing mass metadata changes to music files, so went hunting for something similar for photos. There’s very little out there, which surprised me. Most photo software has the ability to add tags etc., but doing so doesn’t write that info back to the file as viewed in the Windows properties, which is what I wanted; yes, I tried several software apps I have on my computer to test this out. Why do I want these tags preserved with the file? Because if I send/share the files with family etc., I want them to be able to view the metadata too, just like they would if they turned over the real photo.

I did find one piece of software that allows you to write your metadata back to the file, AND keeps a list of tags you’ve already used so you don’t have to retype them – just choose from the list as you type the first letter of a name. That’s Adobe Photoshop Elements (I’m using version 13.0). You use the Organizer functions to add the tags, then select all the files in a folder and go to File > Save Metadata to File (or Ctrl+W) to populate the Tag properties in the Windows file. Done!

It may not be the best solution, but it’s one that works for me.


Word: Add padding to a character style

May 29, 2017

My client wanted the button text in the user manual I was writing to look similar to the buttons in the app. For this app, blue, green, and orange background colours were used for the buttons, with white text.

Easy enough to do — just set up three Word character styles, one for each colour, have different coloured shading for each, and bold white text for the font. Make it simple for both writing and future updating by assigning keyboard shortcuts for each style. Done.

But, while my client liked what I’d done, he was concerned that the first and last letter of the button text butted up against the edge of the coloured shading (see image below), and wanted to know if we could add some padding.

I was pretty sure I could do that to a character style using borders the same colour, but then I ran into an issue I’d never seen before. When I applied a border of any weight or colour, I lost the background shading for the text. In the example below, you can see that the area inside the blue border has white space inside it, not blue shading with white text as I expected.

No matter what I did, I couldn’t get it to work. I explained the situation to my client. Fortunately, he’s a programmer and knows a bug when he sees one :-) He did a little bit of experimenting and came up with the solution, which was to reapply the background shading to the character style AFTER adding the border.

It worked, and here’s the end result (it has a 1.5 pt border, just enough to add a bit of padding to both ends of the text, but not too much that the top and bottom padding adds too much gap between lines in a paragraph):


Word: Copy AutoCorrect entries to another computer

May 3, 2017

Did you know you can copy your AutoCorrect entries from one computer to another? You might want to share yours with a work colleague, or you might have a new computer and not want to set them all up again.

Beware: Copying these files to another computer WILL overwrite the AutoCorrect files in the destination computer, so if you’re copying them to a colleague’s computer, make sure they have listed their own AutoCorrect entries first (see


Your AutoCorrect entries apply to all programs in the Microsoft Office suite, and are stored in *.ACL files under your user profile on your computer. When you copy them, you’ll put them in the same place but under the other user’s profile on their computer.

  1. On your computer, go to: C:\Users\[your_user_name]\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Office.
  2. You’ll see a suite of ACL files listed. The MSO numbers in each file name indicate the language/locale; e.g. MSO0127.acl = Math, MSO1033.acl = English (US), MSO2057.acl = English, (UK), MSO3081.acl = English (Australia). (For a full list of locale numbers, see: Hint: Look at the date last modified — the ACL files with the most recent dates are likely the ones your installation of Office uses.
  3. Copy the ACL files you need (or copy them all if you’re not sure and they’re going to a new computer).
  4. On the destination computer, go to: C:\Users\[user_name_of_other person]\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Office.
  5. Paste the copied files into this folder, saying yes to overwrite the existing files.

[Links last checked May 2017]


Word: List keyboard shortcuts, autotext, and autocorrect entries

May 3, 2017

There are many things you can do to help automate the writing and editing process. Power users of Word use keyboard shortcuts extensively — either the in-built ones that come with Word (e.g. Ctrl+s to save, Ctrl+c to copy etc.), or ones they’ve created themselves. Power users also use AutoText and AutoCorrect to speed up inserting commonly used text, tables, etc. (See the links below for some of the blog posts I’ve written on all these.)

But how do you know what you’ve got available to use? Some of the more obscure in-built keyboard commands are difficult to find listed anywhere, and how do you remember which ones you’ve created for your own use? How can you get a list of these shortcuts, and a list of your AutoText and AutoCorrect entries? Of course, once you have a list you can then save it or print it out to refer to at any time.

I used Microsoft Word 2010 for Windows when writing this blog post — the same (or very similar) information should apply to later versions of Word for Windows. Mac users — you may be able to do this too, but as I don’t own a Mac, I can’t test on a Mac or write about Mac stuff.

List all in-built Microsoft Word keyboard commands

  1. Open a blank Word document.
  2. Go to the View tab and click the large Macros icon.
  3. Click the drop-down arrow for the Macros in list, then select Word commands.
  4. Select ListCommands in the top box.
  5. Click Run.

List all custom keyboard commands

  1. Open a Word document that is based on the template where you know the custom keyboard commands are stored (if stored in Normal, just open a blank Word document).
  2. Go to the File tab and select Print.
  3. Under Settings, change from the default Print All Pages to Key Assignments.
  4. Choose your printer (e.g. PDF if you want a document to save), then click Print.

List all AutoText entries

  1. Open a blank Word document.
  2. Go to the File tab and select Print.
  3. Under Settings, change from the default Print All Pages to AutoText Entries.
  4. Choose your printer (e.g. PDF if you want a document to save), then click Print.

List all AutoCorrect entries

Use the macro described here:

See also:

[Links last checked May 2017]


Word: Macro to add a value at the beginning of each row of a table

May 2, 2017

I had a strange request — someone had a really long table in Microsoft Word (some 50+ pages long…) and wanted to add an asterisk (star) in front of the first character in each row, no matter how many rows and columns there were in the table or what the original first character in each row was (some first characters were numerals, but most were upper or lower case letters). Doing this manually was going to take hours, and he had several tables across various documents that he wanted to do this to.

My first thought was a find and replace with wildcards routine, but I quickly figured out that I didn’t have enough knowledge to do that, even if it was possible. My next thought was to add a new first column, populate it with asterisks, then merge the first and second columns of each row — the problem was that merging required selecting each pair of 1st and 2nd column cells for EACH row, then merging, then removing the added paragraph mark created by the merge process. That was going to take as long or even longer than adding the asterisks manually!

So I contacted my friend Dave Gash (, a US-based programmer/tech writer, to see if he could help. His forte isn’t VBA, but he does know programming logic (and he knows what to search for), and by the next morning he had a solution for me. Actually he had a solution that was TOO good — his first solution (Macro 2 below) added the asterisk to the beginning of all rows in ALL tables in the document. But that’s not what my client wanted — he wanted to add asterisks to all rows in a specific table, not every table. A bit of tweaking and Dave came back a few minutes later with the solution that suited my client (Macro 1 below). When I ran it in test mode, the changes were almost instant, but they took about 5 mins on the 50+ page table! That was still many hours less than it would’ve taken manually. I owe Dave a beer or three!

Macro 1: Add an asterisk to the beginning of all rows in a specific table

Sub AddAsteriskToTableRow()
   ' From Dave Gash April 2017 '
   ' Collapse the range to start so as to not have to deal with '
   ' multi-segment ranges. Then check if cursor is within a table. '

   Selection.Collapse Direction:=wdCollapseStart
   If Not Selection.Information(wdWithInTable) Then
      MsgBox "You can only run this when your cursor is within a table."
      Exit Sub
   End If

   ' Process every row in the current table. '
   Dim row As Integer
   Dim rng As Range

   For row = 1 To Selection.Tables(1).Rows.Count
      ' Get the range for the leftmost cell. '
      Set rng = Selection.Tables(1).Rows(row).Cells(1).Range

      ' For each, insert asterisk in leftmost cell.'
      ' Change value in quote marks if you want something other than an asterisk. '
      rng.InsertBefore ("*")
End Sub

Macro 2: Add an asterisk to the beginning of all rows in ALL tables in a document

Sub AddAsterisksToAllTables()
' From Dave Gash April 2017
' Loop through all tables
For tbl = 1 To ActiveDocument.Tables.Count
    'Set up row and range vars
    Dim row As Integer
    Dim rng As Range
    'Loop through rows in current table
    For row = 1 To ActiveDocument.Tables(tbl).Rows.Count
        ' Get the range for the leftmost (column 1) cell
        Set rng = ActiveDocument.Tables(tbl).Rows(row).Cells(1).Range
        ' Insert the asterisk before the text in leftmost cell
        ' Change value in quote marks if you want something
        ' other than an asterisk.
        rng.InsertBefore ("*") 
    Next row 
Next tbl 
End Sub


  • The examples above use an asterisk as the added character, but you can make that character anything you want — one or more letters or numbers or standard punctuation symbols (or a combination), with or without a space. Just change the value in the double-quotation marks in the macro to what you want (e.g. you might have a list of product numbers that need to have ‘MQ’ added in front of them — change “*” to “MQ” [or “MQ-” or “MQ “]). You might want to change the name of the macro too, to reflect what you’re adding (e.g. AddMQToTableRow).
  • Don’t run this twice in the same table, otherwise you’ll end up with two asterisks!
  • Dave asked me to add this acknowledgement: ‘My source was from a StackOverflow (the coder’s friend, believe me!) member (apparently also from Western Australia!). … I modified the code I found there for your purposes.’ Source:

[Links last checked May 2017]