It’s the holidays again, and I’d like to celebrate by thanking my readers for their continued support and kindness. The messages I receive are overwhelmingly polite and gracious. You truly are a wonderful bunch of folks, and I consider myself lucky to have gained your trust. As another year closes, I’d like to mention a few reader comments that added a great deal of value to an article or technique and to thank each for taking the time to share their expertise.

1: Annotating Outlook messages

The article Five ways to add a note to an Outlook email message is about annotating an Outlook email message. Outlook itself offers no easy way to do this. Plaw65 suggested a combination of efforts. Specifically, he jots down notes using Outlook’s Notes feature. Then, he edits the message by choosing Edit Message from the Actions dropdown in the Move group. With the email in edit mode, he clicks the Insert tab, and clicks Outlook Item in the Include group. In the resulting dialog (Figure A), he selects the note he wants to attach to the email. You can copy the note’s text to the message or attach the note. He goes one step further by including a check box custom field, which he uses to denote whether an email has a note–pretty slick, if you ask me.

Figure A

Select the note you want to attach to the email message.

SEE: Make Office 2016 work your way by changing these default settings (free TechRepublic PDF)

2: Email do’s and don’ts

DittoHeadStL suggested #13 after reading 12 do’s and don’ts for communicating effectively via email. He created a rule that delays all outgoing email for eight minutes. That gives him enough time to delete the email or make a last-minute change. I don’t do this myself: I send and receive email manually. However, a rule gives you a bit of time and sends the message without further effort on your part.

To create a delay rule, do the following:

  1. Click the File tab.
  2. Click Rules And Alerts.
  3. Click New Rule in the title bar.
  4. Select Apply Rule On Messages I Send in the Start From A Blank Rule section and click Next.
  5. Check the On This Computer Only option (and any other conditions you want to apply) and click Next.
  6. Check the Defer Delivery By A Number Of Minutes option.
  7. Click the link in the bottom pane and enter the number of minutes (Figure B).
  8. Click OK and then Finish.
  9. Click Apply and OK and then return to the mail window.

Figure B

Specify the delay time in minutes.

3: More flexible macro

Disabling the screen update feature is an easy way to make a macro more efficient, as I noted in Two ways to speed up Excel macros. Jd_lark agreed but offered a more flexible way to use the ScreenUpdating property. I set it to false at the start of the macro and reset it to True at the end.

Application.ScreenUpdating = False
Application.ScreenUpdating = True

Setting the property to False at the beginning is fine–it’s what you what. Resetting it to True at the end assumes that the property was True before you set it to False and that might not be the case. If it was False beforehand, you’d want it to remain False (disabled). Jd_lark suggested this method:

OldScreenUpdating = Application.ScreenUpdating
Application.ScreenUpdating = False
.... macro code
Application.ScreenUpdating = OldScreenUpdating

This subtle improvement guarantees that you restore the property to its pre-macro state instead of assuming that it was True. The explicit False statement is harmless if the property is already False.

SEE: 30 things you should never do in Microsoft Office (free TechRepublic PDF)

4: One return only, please

10 things you should never do in Word generated some good conversations. goyta agreed that users shouldn’t press Enter twice at the end of a paragraph, but went a step further by offering a Replace trick to remove the extra line:

  1. On the Home tab, choose Replace in the Editing group or press Ctrl+H.
  2. On the Replace tab, enter ^p^p in the Find What control and enter ^p in the Replace With control (Figure C).
  3. Click Replace All or Replace.
  4. Click Close when you’re finished.
  5. The ^p string represents a hard return, so you’re replacing two hard returns with one.

Figure C

Replace two hard returns with one.

5: My PowerPoint toolkit was incomplete

11 tips for delivering a glitch-free presentation offers no-nonsense suggestions for getting through a presentation successfully by expecting the unexpected. Officetrain had a few items to add to the toolkit: HDMI and VBA cables and adapters for connecting to a laptop or television or even an old-fashioned projector if that’s all you’ve got.

Thank you!

If you’ve tried to contact me and didn’t receive a response, I apologize. Either I had no solution to offer or your message fell through a crack. I no longer take consulting work from readers, but I can help you find a good developer or consultant. Thank you all for your support and thoughtfulness this past year.

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

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