DO NOT copy paste data from browser. Use Power Query.

This is a common activity. Go to a browser page, find some tabular data or report and copy-paste it into Excel. Now you waste a lot of time cleaning up the unwanted things which also got pasted.
If you have Excel 2010 or above (Professional Plus or Office 365 edition),
you have a miraculously simple method available now : Power Query

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Continue reading

Copy paste – Part 14 – Paste Special in Word

Copy paste goes wrong often while working with multiple word documents. Here is how to get it right – every time.

Question. Do you use styles in Word?

If the answer is NO, then we need a quick primer. If you already use styles, skip this section. Remember one general rule about using Office efficiently.

Office is created to help us. We are not born to help Office!

Sounds funny? It is not. Read on …

When we create Word documents, there is regular content and then there are topics and subtopics (headings or sub-headings). We usually format these topics manually to make them look prominent. That is a complete waste of time. That is what I call “we are trying to help Word”. Why? Because we think it is not capable of understanding what we want.

Trust me – just expect a little more from Word (and Office). You have no idea how much effort has gone into creating the product. Even the smallest and rarest inconvenience is taken care of.

To cut a long story short, just type the heading and click Heading 1 in the Styles dropdown in Home tab.

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There are up to 9 levels of headings. If you use styles you get many benefits like automatic navigation pane, table of contents, automatic numbering, ability to rearrange document just with drag drop of headings, ability to create a presentation automatically and so on. I will write a separate series on Styles.

But for now just start using styles instead of manual formatting.

Copy paste in Word

Word works like this. There is the copied content (from source) and the destination where you are pasting it. If there is no style used in either, then it keeps the source formatting. If styles are used, it tries to merge the styles.

Copy paste without usage of styles

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Now if you select and copy something from source to destination – what do you expect? It should adjust to the blue surroundings. Unfortunately, the default is – Keep Source Formatting. Therefore, this is what happens.

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The answer is obvious if you have read the Copy Paste series of articles.

If not, notice that small little icon. Click on it.

Merge Formatting merges the paragraph level formatting and keeps the character level formatting (Bold, Italic, etc is applied and remembered at character level).

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Choosing Keep Text Only (A) achieves the desired effect because it only pastes the raw text so that the local formatting is fully applied.

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This is how it works – even across documents where styles are not used.

Remember that you can use the keyboard shortcut CTRL T.

Copy pasting when styles are used

This is relevant only while copy-pasting across different documents.

If source style is different than destination style, then the default option is
Use Destination Style. The logic is simple – the pasted text looks uniform.

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The source Heading 1 style (brown) was adjusted to match
the destination Heading 1 style (blue). Notice that the formatting manually applied to the paragraph was retained. You will have to handle that separately.

If you want you can choose other options Keep Source Styles, Merge Formatting, Keep Text Only. But in case of style conflict, the default option works best.

Setting default paste

Word is a very sophisticated word-processor. Therefore, it provides very granular control over copy paste. Click the Set Default Paste… option and see for yourself.

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There are four possible options. You can change the settings independently. I suggest that you try changing the first two options to Keep Text Only if you do lot of cross-document copy paste without using styles. The third and fourth option defaults are usually appropriate.

Try how it impacts your copy paste effectiveness. If it is not satisfactory, you can tweak the settings as required.

For IT professionals

I have not checked this personally. But I think you can set these defaults using group policy for Office 2013. Yes. In case you have not noticed it, Office has been providing full Group Policy integration using ADM files since 2003. High time you explored and used it to improve efficiency. Will write an article about it later.

In the next article I will discuss more Copy Paste settings available in Word

Copy Paste – Part 8 – Opening a collateral file during a presentation

The Location

Writing this blog sitting under this beautiful Auckland Sky Tower… Lovely weather.

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The need

  • Let us say you are presenting  sales performance by month
  • In a particular month, the sales is very low
  • Someone asks you to show details of the transactions

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  • You have to now open the original Excel file which contains the raw data.image
  • How do you do it?
  • You have to stop the presentation, open Explorer and figure out where the file is
  • Many things are against you right now:
  • You are under stress… You may not find the file or find an outdated version
    Worse still, you may open some unwanted folder

Common mistake: Stuffing raw data into PowerPoint

We want to avoid such trouble during a presentation. Therefore, we try to solve the problem by trying to copy pasting the raw data into PowerPoint. Unfortunately, large amount of data cannot fit into the limited space available on the slide.

This is not really a limitation of PowerPoint. It is just that you are using the wrong approach. Here is the correct way…

The solution: Be Prepared

When you suspect that someone may question you on your summary data, you need to be prepared. How do you do that? You already know.

First step is to get the context of the original file into the slide.
Use Paste Link, Embed or Insert Object

In either case, WHILE EDITING the presentation, you can write click on the pasted object and open the Excel file. What we really want is to have the same ability DURING THE PRESENTATION.

To understand how it is done, we need a small detour.

PowerPoint Presentation = Trigger + Action

I will cover this in detail in another article. But here is the shorter version.

A presentation contains slides. Each slide has various shapes and objects on it. When you run the presentation – PowerPoint shows the first slide and waits. When you click it goes to next slide … again waits … then you click – next slide … and so on till you end the presentation.

Is this a problem in word as well?

The CLICK is called the TRIGGER and MOVING TO NEXT SLIDE is the ACTION. In our case when we click on the slide containing the summary data, it simply goes to the next slide. If you right click, the menu now shows presentation related controls. The open worksheet command is missing.

This is the time we change the default behavior of PowerPoint and ask it perform a DIFFERENT ACTION when we click on the Summary object. How to do that?

  1. Click on the Excel object (it could be Paste Link or Embedded or Inserted Object icon)
  2. Open Insert tab on the ribbon and choose ACTION
  3. As you can see the default action is DO NOTHING (which means do nothing special – do the default action – which is going to the next slide)
  4. Choose Object action and select OPEN
  5. Click Ok

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Now run the presentation and see what happens. On this slide, if you click anywhere outside the Excel data, it will just go the new slide as expected.

However when you move the mouse cursor over the Excel data, the cursor shape changes to indicate that it is a hyperlink. Click on it to open the Excel file.

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Show the details and then press ALT TAB to come back to the presentation. It is still running undisturbed.

Next article: PowerPoint and Psychology

Although this method works with inserted objects, there is a practical problem there. In fact there is a psychological problem.

What is the problem?

Inserted Object is shown as an icon. Therefore, your audience knows that you have a collateral file. So even if they have no reason to trouble you, they may just ask you to show the file. You don’t want that to happen. Why ask for unnecessary trouble?

We will handle that interesting situation in the next article.

Copy Paste – Part 7 – Insert Object

Please read the Intro post and the Embedding post before reading this article.

Insert Object embeds an existing file or new file into your document. In that sense it is like Embedding – which we discussed in the previous post. So what is the difference?

The starting point is different. In case of Embedding we first open the source document, highlight some portion of it and then paste it into destination while choosing EMBED option.

In case of Insert Object, we first go to the destination and then choose the ENTIRE FILE to be embedded. Therefore, we do not get any control over which part of the inserted file will be shown after it is added to the destination.

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If you choose an existing Excel file and Insert it into PowerPoint it tries to show the contents of the Excel file in PowerPoint. Excel file can contain many worksheets. Which worksheet to show? PowerPoint does not know that because we never mentioned that – we just selected the file to insert. Therefore, PowerPoint shows you the contents of the sheet which was active when the Excel file was closed the last time.

If this sheet happens to have large amount of data, the Insert Object command may take a very long time to complete and the results will be very deplorable.

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The solution

The solution is simple. We just need to specify that there is no need to show anything from the inserted file. Just show it as an icon. That option is shown in the Insert Object dialog itself :

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Now the Inserted file looks like this.

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It is a good idea to change that default description to something more business context specific. Click on change icon and change the title. Also note that there are many icons available. Choose the one which suits the content type.

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File size

File size does increase as much as the original size of the file. While embedding files, make sure you are choosing the new file formats. If you embed older formats (XLS, PPT, DOC), the file size will be much larger.

Note that you can use any file in the Insert Object dialog. It need not be Office document. It could be any type of document.

Resizing the embedded Icon

The default size of the icon is very small. If required, you must manually increase the size of the icon to make it visible during the presentation.

Remember, if you make the icon visible enough, you are also taking a risk. Anyone from audience may ask you to show the contents of the file and then you must do so.

In fact that is the topic of our next article:

Next Post: Problem and Solution

You are presenting some summarized data – say – sales performance by month

  • In a particular month, the sales is very low
  • Someone asks you to show details of the transactions
  • You have to now open the original Excel file
  • You have to stop the presentation, open Explorer and figure out where the file is
  • You are under stress
  • You may not find the file, find an outdated version, open some unwanted folder… all sorts of things can and will go wrong

Do you want an easier solution?

Now that we know Paste Link, Embed and Insert Object, there is an easy solution. If you think you may have to show details during the presentation, use one of these approaches to make sure that you have the file either linked or embedded.

Now the question is – how to tell PowerPoint to open the file – ON DEMAND?

That is what we will discuss in the next article.

Copy Paste – Part 6 – Embedding

In the previous post, we saw how linking of files works. Now let us understand what Embedding means.

We will continue with the same scenario to simplify things. You have copied some data from Excel. Now you paste it into PowerPoint and choose the EMBED option.

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It is still showing the Excel range you copied. It behaves like a picture if you try to resize it. But it actually made a copy of the ENTIRE EXCEL FILE and stuffed it into your PowerPoint presentation.

If the original Excel file was, say, 20 MB in size, the presentation size will also grow by 20 MB.

When to Embed?

If you want to package the Excel file with PowerPoint presentation, then this is the best option. The benefit is, you can still show specific summary data on the slide.

If you want to send the presentation with collaterals – this is the best way.

How to open the embedded file?

While editing the presentation, just right click on the object – Choose Worksheet Object and Select Open.

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DO NOT choose EDIT. If you do, it tries to give you Excel editing capabilities in the small area in which you have pasted the data. The ribbon automatically changes to Excel options rather than PowerPoint options. This is called in-place editing. But most people get confused with it. If you want to expand the range of selection, this is a good option to use.

In either case, the Excel file which it opens is NOT the original file. It will have a name like worksheet in Presentation3. This file now lives inside the presentation (in geek language, it is called OLE File System).

Removing the embedded file

For any reason, if you feel that you should not have embedded the file, how to manage the situation? I am sure you will know this answer if you have read all the Copy Paste Series posts.

Copy the Embedded object, Paste it as Picture and delete the original embedded object!

Next post

We will explore the Insert Object feature in the next post. It is similar to Embed but with a small difference. In fact Insert Object and Embed are interchangeable!

Copy Paste – Part 5 – Linking and Embedding – Introduction

Linking and Embedding is extremely useful. But most of us have not fully understood it. I am going to split this post in to multiple parts because I want to keep individual post short.

The need

Let me list down common requirements.

  1. Eliminate repetitive manual copy paste from the same Excel file
  2. Show summary from Excel and attach an Excel file as a collateral and send it along with the presentation
  3. Just attach an Excel file to a presentation as a collateral – without showing any content from it.

These three requirements translate into three different methods of Copy Pasting from Excel to PowerPoint. Paste Link, Paste Embed and Insert Object.

All these Copy Paste methods work between all Office products. Excel to PowerPoint is just an example scenario.

Eliminate repetitive copy paste with Paste Link

We often have summarized version of data in a worksheet. For example, you are showing YTD results (cumulative) across the year. The data is updated every month. You need to copy paste the current month status into PowerPoint for monthly review presentation.

Every month you copy paste SAME range in the SAME worksheet in the SAME Excel file.

In this case you can save yourself the trouble by linking the Excel data to PowerPoint. Thereafter, PowerPoint will keep the data updated automatically.

Here are the steps:

  1. Copy from Excel as usual
  2. Choose Paste Special in PowerPoint (Alt E S or Ctrl Alt V)
  3. Choose Paste Link
  4. Choose the first option and click OKimage
  5. Save the Presentation
  6. Now make some changes to the data in Excel
  7. Come back to the presentation. Notice that the changes are automatically shown.
  8. Changes to data as well as formatting are automatically reflected.
  9. This is called Paste Link
  10. If you right click on the linked item, you can actually see this menuimage
  11. Using the Open option you can even open the related Excel file from right within PowerPoint

Real-life scenario

In the above example, both files were open at the same time. However, in real life, you will usually edit the Excel data across the month and at that point of time, you presentation is not going to be open.

Similarly, when you open the presentation to prepare for the end of the month review, the Excel file is unlikely to be open.

But you don’t have to worry. The PowerPoint presentation remembers that there is a link and it manages that link for you. Whenever you open the presentation, it will ask you if you want to update the link. If you choose Continue, it will find the Excel file and open it (behind the scenes) and update the data.

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This dialog may look a little different depending upon your settings and version of Office.

Link information

In the File – Info page of PowerPoint, you can view and edit the links.

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Links are not good for others – break them!

Who benefits from the linking? You – the creator.

If you send this file to some other person, they don’t really need this automated linkage. They are unlikely to have access to your original Excel file. When they open the file, the update dialog will still appear – confusing them unnecessarily.

Therefore, when you send the presentation to others, it is better to break the links.

But wait! Don’t remove links from the original file. Make a copy first.

Go to File – Info – Edit Links, Select the links and choose Break Link.

Now the linked items just become pictures.

Remember, linking a file does not increase the size of the presentation.

The disadvantage

The PowerPoint file has information about the linked Excel file. But the Excel file has no clue that there is a presentation linked to it.

Therefore, if you rename or move the Excel file, PowerPoint update may fail. If you know the new name or location of the file, you can choose it again and the link will be re-established.

In the next article, we will see how to Embed a file.

Copy paste – Part 4 – XL to PPT – Step by step

In the last  post, we saw the video. It was a fast paced video. In this post, I will explain the same thing in a step by step manner – with some additional details.

The objective is to copy from Excel, Paste it in PowerPoint, Edit it in PowerPoint and then display it properly (in adequately large size) on the slide.

The concept is simple. Pasting data can be done in many formats. Table format allows editing, and Picture format allows easy resizing of the image. We have to use both these formats in this case.

Steps

  1. Copy the data from Excel as usual
  2. Paste it in PowerPoint and choose – Keep Source Formatting option
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  3. The data looks very small in PowerPoint and you cant edit it.
    Why so? Because in Excel we usually use a higher level of ZOOM and in PowerPoint we have a lower level of ZOOM. While copy pasting the ZOOM level is NOT copied. That is why it looks so small and unreadable.
  4. This paste is in Table format (Look at the top menus and notice Table Tools tab)
  5. Zoom in to the table by using CTRL and Mouse wheel
  6. Edit the content and zoom out
  7. Run the slide show to notice that the size of the data is still small
  8. We need to increase the size of the data. However, it is still a table. and it will not resize properly
  9. Now we need a picture.
  10. That is simple. Copy this edited table first.
  11. Paste it and choose Picture format
  12. Now you can resize it (remember CTRL and drag from corner)
  13. That’s it. We got best of both worlds

In case you want to edit the data again, you cannot use the picture. Delete the picture. The edited table is still available there. Edit it and repeat the process.

Remember, Copy Paste is about answering two questions:
Where to Paste ? and How to Paste?

If you answer these questions correctly, Office will give you the desired results immediately. If you do not provide clear instructions while copy pasting, Office uses default behavior which may not be what you intended.

In the next article we will see when to use Paste Link, Embed and Insert Object.

If you have time, view the video in the previous post and tell me which method you prefer. Video (short and crisp) or step by step instructions (takes longer to read).