Software

Office challenge: How would you sort columnar blocks in Word?

See if you have the best answer for this week's Office Challenge: How would you sort columnar blocks in Word?

This week, I pondered more over the title than the actual challenge. By columnar block, I mean list items that comprise more than one line, as in a list of multi-line addresses.

Margaret Peacock

4110 Old Redmond Rd.

Redmond, WA 98052

Nancy Davolio

20th Ave. E.

Apt. 2A

Seattle, WA 98122

Janet Leverling

722 Moss Bay Blvd.

Kirkland, WA 98033

Andrew E. Fuller

908 W. Capital Way

Tacoma, WA 98401

A similar request came in late last week after I'd suffered a small technical crisis of my own and I wasn't in the mood to play. My first response was to export the list into a database or spreadsheet, sort it, and move it back into Word. The user wouldn't play along, insisting that she needed a Word solution. I found one, albeit ugly.

The challenge is to sort the above address list by last name in Word. If you're familiar with Northwind, you're familiar with the names, but I gave Andrew Fuller a middle initial—just to make things interesting! If you don't want to fool with that part, just delete it, but chances are, you'll run into that problem sooner or later.

If you're not familiar with sorting in Word, you might read Quick sort for Word lists. It'll get you started in the right direction.

Last week we asked…

Can you foil Word's AutoCorrect setting that capitalizes the first word in a sentence? In the challenge, I asked for a solution that does not disable the feature, but rather gets around the change with specific recurring phrases. Lfloyd suggested adding the word or phrase to the AutoCorrect exceptions list. Add an item to the exceptions list, as follows:

  1. Choose AutoCorrect Options from the Tools menu. To find AutoCorrect in Word 2007 or 2010, click the Office button or File tab, respectively. In Word 2007, click Word Options; in Word 2010, choose Options from Help in the left pane and then choose Proofing. Click AutoCorrect Options in the AutoCorrect Options section.
  2. Click the Exceptions button.
  3. Click the First Letter tab. (The Other Corrections tab works only with misspelled words in the Dictionary.)
  4. Enter the word or phrase in the Don't Capitalize After control.
  5. Click OK twice.

This tactic works well, but for the current file only, but sometimes, that's all you need!

Artlife was the first to suggest the solution I had in mind: Use an AutoCorrect replacement that can bypass the AutoCorrect's capitalization setting. This solution works in all documents, not just the current file. Here's how to add an AutoCorrect replacement:

  1. Choose AutoCorrect Options from the Tools menu. To find AutoCorrect in Word 2007 or 2010, click the Office button or File tab, respectively. In Word 2007, click Word Options; in Word 2010, choose Options from Help in the left pane and then choose Proofing. Click AutoCorrect Options in the AutoCorrect Options section.
  2. Click the AutoCorrect tab (in necessary, as it's the default).
  3. In the Replace control, enter a few characters to represent cc:. Artlife suggested [c. You must start the replacement phrase with a non-alpha character to bypass the AutoCorrect capitalization rule. (See SirWizard's post for a thorough explanation of how this feature works.)
  4. Click Add, and then click OK.

When you want cc:, enter [c instead. AutoCorrect will replace [c with cc:. It seems like a lot of trouble to go to, but that depends on how often you use such a phrase, and your own level of tolerance!

About Susan Harkins

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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