Office 2003's Research Pane shows up in several applications, including Internet Explorer (oddly enough). It's one of those features you might never use because you're just not use to researching from inside an application. However, it can be helpful, if you tame its more unruly options. The pane is supposed to help you get quick information, and it does. The response time is as good as your Internet connection, but sometimes, it just wastes your time.
To view the Research Pane, click the Research button on the Standard toolbar (just to the right of the Spell Check tool). To view options, click the Research Options button at the bottom of the pane. There are a few options that you might want to disable:
- Translation: Keep this option enabled only if you need help translating content. Otherwise, it slows things down when it can't find a word — usually a word you don't want to translate in the first place.
- eLibrary: This option has a knack for displaying titles that you have to pay for — lovely.
- Factiva iWorks: When there's nothing to offer, it still shows links. You must click the link to learn that Factiva has nothing for you. If it does find something, you have to pay to view it.
- MSN Money Stock Quotes: Even if you actually follow the market, are you going to follow it while working in Office?
If any of you are using the Research Pane successfully, I'd like to hear how you're using it.
Susan Sales Harkins is an IT consultant, specializing in desktop solutions. Previously, she was editor in chief for The Cobb Group, the world's largest publisher of technical journals.