Software

Office Q&A: Three easy fixes for frustrating problems

This month, Susan Harkins solves a couple of Word mysteries and helps another reader remove unwanted Outlook categories.

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Most readers require only a gentle nudge in the right direction, even though their problems are quite perplexing to them. They simply don't know where to find the solution. A few months ago, three readers received easy solutions to frustrating problems. This month I want to share three more:

  • How to display (or not) Word fields by default
  • How to print a Word document's background color
  • How to remove an unwanted category in an Outlook IMAP account

I'm using Office 2016 on a Windows 10 64-bit system. The Word options are available in old versions; the Outlook problem exists only in the newest versions that default to IMAP accounts. You won't need a demonstration file—you can use any Word file you like.

Seeing things

Barbara has several documents that contain web and email addresses. Recently, Word began displaying those addresses oddly. Specifically, Word enclosed the addresses in brackets with the word HYPERLINK. Of course, that's not what Barbara wants to see or print. Fortunately, the solution is a simple setting. While I can't help Barbara determine why the setting changed, I can help her reset it.

First, let's look an example of what Barbara experienced. Figure A shows my email address in its expected format and as a hyperlink. Word stores email and web addresses as hyperlinks using the {HYPERLINK} field—something you might not realize.

Figure A

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The {HYPERLINK} field code formats email and web addresses as hyperlinks.

Fields are placeholders, but they're dynamic placeholders. There's an option that lets you toggle the way Word displays fields. By default, the setting isn't checked, and Word displays a field's evaluated results. But if you're seeing the field codes instead, you can hide them by doing the following:

  1. Click the File tab, and then click Options.
  2. Choose Advanced in the left pane.
  3. In the Show Document Content section, make sure that the Show Field Codes Instead Of Their Values option (Figure B) isn't selected.
  4. Click OK.

Figure B

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Check this option only if you want to see field codes instead of their results.

For the most part, you won't want to select this option unless you're reviewing field codes for a reason, but it's available if you need it. This setting is an application-level setting. It exposes all fields in all documents until you change it; once you're done working with exposed fields, be sure to reset this option. Barbara doesn't know how the setting was changed, but if it happens again, she'll know what to do.

You can learn more about Word fields by reading the following articles:

Not seeing things

Nikki worked hard on an interpretive sign for an education center. She used the Page Color option on the Design tab to color the sign's background green. Everything printed in color as expected, except for the background color. Nikki's problem is a simple setting.

Many users print several drafts before finalizing a document. Printing the background color for drafts is expensive! For better or worse, Word disables the background color by default when printing. Word's trying to help, but if you don't know this, you might not know how to print the finished document with the background color. To do so, just reset this option as follows:

  1. Click the File tab.
  2. Choose Display in the left pane.
  3. In the Print Options section, select Print Background Colors And Images (Figure C).
  4. Click OK.

Figure C

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Check this option to print a document's background.

This option is an application-level setting; be sure to set it to the state you use most often.

Don't want to see it

Sarah read Reclaim Outlook categories for IMP accounts and was glad to put categories back to work after upgrading. However, she ended up with a few incorrect categories that she couldn't delete. In older versions that still support categories directly, you can right-click the categories square in the message list and delete it. That no longer works in the new versions that require a bit of trickery to support categories.

When working with categories in IMAP accounts in the newer versions of Outlook, you'll need to open the messages to manipulate categories. You can't manipulate them in the message column or the Reading pane. Double-click the message to open it in a message window. Then, right-click the category bar and choose one of the clear options from the resulting submenu, shown in Figure D.

Figure D

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Choose a clear option to remove an unwanted category.

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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