Issue #46 November 25, 2003

1. Best Fit for columns

If you need to resize a word table column or an Excel column, here is a quick tip on how to set the column width to fit the longest text in the column. Place your mouse on the right column border and the cursor will change into a double arrow, with one arrow pointing left and one pointing right. Double click the left mouse button with the cursor in the double arrow mode and the column width will automatically change to fit the width of the data in the column. This works in both Word and Excel. Of course if you do this and realize that due to one very long string your column is now far too wide, remember that you can click the undo button (the button in the toolbar that looks like an arrow swooping counter clockwise) or click on the Edit menu and click on Undo to return the column to the previous width. Then you can manually move the right column border by dragging it to the right so the column is a more acceptable width.

2. PowerPoint Custom Show Bug

I think that the Custom Show feature in PowerPoint is one of the most useful features in the whole program. To recap, what it allows you to do is to create a new show from the existing slides by selecting which slides you want to show and in what order. I use it all the time to create customized versions of key presentations. But I recently ran into a bug that can really mess up your custom shows. If you have an existing custom show and you delete a slide from the file that was in that show, you can no longer reliably edit the show. You won’t be able to move any slides to new positions or add new slides into a certain spot. I had to recreate a 180 slide custom show twice because of this bug. I am using PowerPoint 2002/XP, but my guess it that it may happen in earlier versions as well. The best solution I have come up with is to never delete a slide you no longer need, just move it to the end of the file. You can remove the slide from the custom show with no problem, the problem is when you delete it from the file.

3. Useful Resource – Free text faxes by e-mail

When I was searching the web recently for fax to PC services, I came across an interesting site and the service they offer. Click on over to and you will discover a service that allows you to send a text only fax via an e-mail. You follow their instructions as to how to format the e-mail address, which contains the recipient name and the fax phone number. Then you send a plain text e- mail and they deliver the fax to the recipient. I tried it out last week and it looks like a neat service to use in a crunch if you need to get something to someone in hard copy or need to print some text and only have a fax machine available. There is a limit to how many faxes you can send each day and each week, which I guess is to stop fax advertisers from using the service, but as a backup it seems to be a good idea.