Software

Office Q&A: Three simple problems with quick solutions

In this month's column, Susan Harkins sheds light on one Outlook problem and two Word frustrations--and explains the easiest way to resolve them.

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    Lots of problems are easy to solve if you know where to look. This month, three readers were perplexed when normally simple tasks didn't produce the desired results. Fortunately, the solutions for the following problems are simple:

    • Missing data in an Outlook view
    • A stubborn page break in document
    • Missing readability statistics in Word

    I'm using Office 2016 on a Windows 10 64-bit system, but these solutions will work in older versions. There's no downloadable demonstration file this month. None of these solutions applies to Office 365's browser versions.

    Displaying data for Outlook contacts

    Martha is frustrated because her list of Outlook contacts doesn't display their cities. She can search by a city but doing so filters the list. She wants to see all contacts with cities, not a list filtered by a specific city. She's in luck because this fix is simple:

    1. In the Contacts window, choose List from the Current View group. (This fix will also work with custom views.)
    2. Right-click any field header and select Field Chooser from the resulting submenu (Figure A).
    3. From the Field Chooser dropdown, choose Address fields (Figure B) .
    4. Drag and drop the City field from the Field Chooser list to the view's header row (Figure C).

    Figure A

    2016janqaa.jpg
    The Field Chooser displays available data fields.

    Figure B

    2016janqab.jpg
    Narrow down the fields.

    Figure C

    2016janqac.jpg
    Drag a field to the header row.

    After adding the City field to the view, those values will filter, sort, and group right along with your contacts. You can add fields to views in all windows—customize those views so they work for you! Unfortunately, Office 365's counterpart, Mail, doesn't currently offer much in the way of flexible customization.

    SEE: How to create and update Outlook contact groups the easy way

    When Word page breaks refuse to leave

    Thomas inherited a document and decided to revamp it a bit but had trouble removing page breaks—at least, he thought page breaks were the problem. Here's what was happening: After positioning the cursor at the top-left margin of a page, Thomas pressed [Backspace] expecting to delete a page break, thereby wrapping the text from the current page into the previous page. Instead, the blank area at the bottom of the previous page remained intact, and the last character on the previous page was deleted.

    The problem was indeed a break, but not a page break. Unless you know that, troubleshooting can be frustrating. The first step is to display formatting symbols by clicking Show/Hide in the Paragraph group (on the Home tab). This is a toggling option that displays and hides formatting symbols, such as page and section breaks. Once you do, you can see what's happening (sort of).

    To illustrate, the first page in Figure D shows a section break, not a page break, at the bottom of the text. If you position the cursor at the beginning of the second page and hit [Backspace], Word will delete characters from the previous page; it will not delete the section break (the ==== symbol at the bottom of page one). Word protects the break and proceeds to delete the text before the section break.

    Figure D

    2016janqad.jpg
    Pressing [Backspace] bypasses the section break and moves on to text.

    To delete the white space and combine the two pages, you must delete the section break. After exposing it by enabling Show/Hide, you can easily select the section break marker and press [Delete] to remove it. However, removing a section break can have unexpected results if it's being used to enforce section formats—you will lose those completely if you delete the section break. This behavior isn't inherent to Word's 365 browser version.

    SEE: Five Office 365 features on the horizon for 2017

    What happened to Word's readability statistics?

    After Word checks a document for spelling and grammar, it displays a set of readability statistics and a confirmation message. Joanne relied on those statistics... until they went missing. Suddenly, Word was displaying only the confirmation message.

    I was unable to help Joanne determine who or what changed her settings. Perhaps another user disabled the feature. Sometimes, add-ons can be the culprit. Fortunately, I was able to help her reclaim the statistics she needs:

    1. Click the File tab and choose Options.
    2. In the left pane, choose Proofing.
    3. In the When Correcting Spelling And Grammar In Word section, check the Show Readability Statistics option (Figure E).
    4. Click OK to return to your document.

    Figure E

    2016janqae.jpg
    A simple setting controls Word's readability statistics.

    This is an application-level setting; it's on or off for all Word documents. You can't set this option in Word 365's browser version, nor will the browser version display readability statics.

    Send me your question about Office

    I answer readers' questions when I can, but there's no guarantee. Don't send files unless requested; initial requests for help that arrive with attached files will be deleted unread. You can send screenshots of your data to help clarify your question. When contacting me, be as specific as possible. For example, "Please troubleshoot my workbook and fix what's wrong" probably won't get a response, but "Can you tell me why this formula isn't returning the expected results?" might. Please mention the app and version that you're using. I'm not reimbursed by TechRepublic for my time or expertise when helping readers, nor do I ask for a fee from readers I help. You can contact me at susansalesharkins@gmail.com.

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    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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