Office challenge: How can you apply different templates to the same workbook?

This week, learn the solution to last week's Outlook challenge and test your Excel skills with a new challenge.

Templates are a starting point—they supply common attributes and functionality to your files, so you don't have to. Generally, we think of templates as an all or nothing deal. In other words, you can work with only one at a time, but Excel is more flexible than that. You can use multiple templates in the same workbook. Do you know how?

Last week we asked…

How would you change the company names for several Outlook contacts? Joaquim Amado Lopes (Factis) was the first to answer with the solution I had in mind, but a few of you had other ideas, including exporting the information to Excel and an interesting macro (that I haven't tried). In my opinion, the grouping solution is the easiest:

  1. Open the Contacts window, click the View tab, click Change View in the Current View group and choose List. In Outlook 2003 and 2007, choose Arrange By from the View menu. Then, select Current View and By Company.
  2. Sort the list by Company (click the header cell).
  3. In the Arrangement group, choose Collapse All from the Expand/Collapse option.
  4. Select the group you want to update and choose Expand This Group from the Expand/Collapse option.
  5. Open a contact in the group, update the Company field and save the change. Doing so will create a new group.
  6. Collapse the original group and drag that group (the group bar) to the new group. When you see the Change Company Name To company, release the original group. Outlook will update the Company field for all the contacts in the original group.

Use this technique to update any common data, not just the Company field. It's simple enough that your users should catch on easily and be able to do this for themselves. Thanks to all who played!


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.

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