Tech Tip: Use Word's e-mail themes/Excel case models/Prevent blank fields in Access

Learn how to use Word's themes, create a best- and worst-case model in Excel, and prevent blank fields in Access.

Use themes to spice up your e-mail

Word offers themes that you can use to send attractive announcements and invitations as e-mail messages. This feature automatically formats background colors, graphics, headings, body text, hyperlinks, table borders, bullets, and horizontal lines around a coordinated set of styles.

To add a theme to a document, follow these steps:

  1. Open the document, and go to Format | Theme.
  2. Select a theme from the Choose A Theme list box.
  3. Click the Vivid Colors check box to brighten the colors.
  4. Click the Active Graphics check box if you want to display the document as a Web page and show animated bullets. (Animated bullets are visible only when you open the document in a browser.)
  5. Click the Background Image check box if you want to display a background.
  6. Click OK.

The document now assumes the styles and background of the chosen theme. Backgrounds are visible only when you view the document electronically and not when you print it.

To send the document as an e-mail, go to File | Send To | Mail Recipient. When the mail client opens, it displays and formats the document according to the selected theme in the body of the e-mail message.

Develop best- and worst-case models with Scenarios

Excel's Scenario Manager lets you develop best- and worst-case models of your data. For example, let's say you want to show what your monthly payment would be for a $10,000 loan if your current 6 percent interest rate falls to 5.9 percent or rises to 6.1 percent.

First, create a model for the current interest rate. Follow these steps:

  1. Go to Tools | Scenarios, and click the Add button.
  2. Enter a name in the Scenario Name text box (for example, "Monthly payment under current 6 percent rate").
  3. In the Changing Cells section, enter the address of the cell that contains the interest rate.
  4. Enter any comments in the Comment text box, and click OK.
  5. The Scenario Values dialog box will display the current rate next to the address of the cell that contains the interest rate. Click OK.

To create the best-case model, click the Add button to return to the Add Scenario dialog box, and repeat Steps 2 through 5, but change the rate displayed in Step 5 to 5.9 percent. To create the worst-case scenario, change the rate displayed in Step 5 to 6.1 percent.

To view the scenarios, follow these steps:

  1. Go to Tools | Scenarios.
  2. Select a scenario from the list, and click Show. The values in the spreadsheet will change to reflect the value set in Step 5.
  3. To display a second scenario, select it, and click Show. The values will change accordingly.
  4. Close the Scenario Manager when you're finished viewing each model.

To retain the original worksheet values, return to the current value scenario before closing and saving the worksheet.

Prevent blank fields with field properties

Access provides two special field properties that can ensure users will never leave a field blank. For example, suppose a Customer database includes a Fax_Num field. If this field is blank, it can mean that the customer doesn't have a fax number or that the number wasn't available during data entry.

To prevent a blank entry, follow these steps:

  1. Open the table in Design view, and select the Fax_Num field name.
  2. In the Comments field, enter "If the fax number is not known, indicate reason." (Access displays these comments in the status bar in Datasheet view during data entry.)
  3. Under the Field Properties, set the Required property to Yes.
  4. Set the Allow Zero Length property to No.

Now, users won't be able to leave the Fax_Num field without entering a value—even if it's "Customer does not have a fax machine."

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