1. Spicing up PowerPoint Charts

An article I saw recently at PC Magazine talked about how to make Excel charts look more fun by adding graphics (such as a picture of a hamburger) as the fill color for bar charts. This allows you for example to show a stack of burgers the height of which represents the data value. It turns out that the same techniques work for PowerPoint charts. To use a graphic as the fill for a bar or column chart, first create the chart using the chart tools and accept the default fill colors. Then, right click on the chart and select to edit the chart from the popup menu that appears by clicking on Chart - Edit. Click on the data series you wish to change (may need to click on it more than once to select the data series). Now right click on that data series and choose to Format Data Series in the popup menu. On the Patterns tab, click on the Fill Effects button to open the Fill Effects dialog box and click on the Picture tab. Now you can use the Browse button to find the graphic image you want to use as the fill character. Also select the Stack or Stack and Stretch option in the Format portion of the dialog box to get the stacking effect. If you have 3-D bars or columns, you can choose to apply it to all or less than all of the sides of the bar or column. Then click OK to return to the Format Data Series dialog box. The Sample picture shown at the bottom of the box is not the way it will really look, so don't worry that it may look really squished. Now click Ok and check out the results on your graph. This tends to work best with images that have a transparent background as the effect is more dramatic. This can give new life to a chart you have to present and can give your presentation that neat new look. If you use charts in your presentation, consider how this technique may improve your message by using different graphics for each bar to show the relative amounts of each data series instead of using a legend. For example, you could show the relative sales of two products by using a picture of the product as the fill symbol for each bar and it is crystal clear to the audience what each bar represents. If you want to see the article that inspired this tip, you can click on: http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,4149,1476585,00.asp

2. Print Multiple pages on One Sheet in Word

Last week was Environment week in most of North America, and here is a tip that will cut down on the paper you use when printing documents in Word. There are utilities you can buy to print multiple pages on a single sheet of paper, but instead of spending money on those utilities, first check out the feature already built into Word (this may not exist in older versions of Word). When you click on the File menu and click on the Print menu item (or press the Ctrl+P key combination), you bring up the Print dialog box. In the lower right section of the box is an area titled Zoom. Here, you will find a drop down box for Pages per sheet. The default is of course 1 page per sheet, but if you drop the selection box down, you see options for 2 to 16 pages per sheet. I have found that most people can read a document with 12 point font quite well when printed at 2 pages per sheet. Once you go to 4 or 6 pages per sheet it gets more difficult to read. Even printing some of your documents at 2 pages per sheet will cut down dramatically on the paper you use, the impact on the environment and saves a bunch of money as well. If you routinely print documents from Word to save in paper files for possible reference later on, this technique can save you space on filing and money on the paper you use.

3. Useful Resource - Guide to Graphics File Formats

There seems to be a lot of questions about what graphic file format should be used for different purposes. PC Magazine had a great article that explains what each file format is and when you would want to use it. Their conclusion is consistent with my suggestion that a JPEG or compressed TIFF file is good for web sites or presentations (the TIFF allowing transparent backgrounds and the JPG does not). For higher resolution applications such as printing, a high quality JPG or TIFF is required. If you have wondered about some of these file formats you see when dealing with graphic files, I highly recommend you check out this article at: http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,4149,1524991,00.asp