Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Are we there yet?

When I start talking to people about finding documents on their systems, I find that lots of people do not understand the navigational tree structure that is used to present documents in Windows. They get frustrated when they’ve saved a document and lost it. They start clicking on the tree while muttering some very unkind words about computers, programmers, and Microsoft.

I have a similar problem at work. I have long lists of documents with cryptic names that meet a standard naming convention for my department. Knowing that I’m meeting the naming convention doesn’t help me one bit when I’m rooting around for a document and I have someone breathing down my neck while I do it. It’s like dealing with a four-year-old as they repeatedly ask, “Are we there yet?”

One thing that I’ve learned to do to make my life easier is to complete document properties. Properties are tracking elements that are built in to Word documents. After you complete properties for a Word document, you can display the properties when you begin to search for a specific document.

Adding Document Properties
1. Open a completed document.
2. Display properties.

In Word 2003, select File, and then Properties.
In Word 2007, select the Office button to display a menu, and then select Prepare, Properties. Document tracking properties appear at the top of your document and they match the fields shown in the dialog above.
In Word 2010, select File to display a menu, and then select Info. Look to the right and you’ll see a thumbnail of your document. Below the thumbnail are property fields that match the fields shown in the dialog above.
3. Complete fields. For example, enter the title and subject of the document. Enter comments; for example: In last edit I included the notes sent to me by cousin Ed.
4. In Word 2003, click OK to save your properties and close the dialog.
5. Save your document. In Word 2007 and 2010, updated document properties are saved when you save the document.

Using Document Properties
1. Open Explore. Right-click Start, and then select Explore or Open Windows Explorer. The navigation tree for your system appears.
2. Open the folder with your document in it. More than likely, you’ve saved your document in My Documents. If you’ve saved the document in a sub-folder, open that folder.
3. Display details. More than likely, your system will be set up to display thumbnails of your documents.

Select the Display options button, and select Details. Your display updates to a table display that includes properties; for example, Name, Size, Type, and so forth. You can change the properties (columns) that appear.

4. Right-click in any column title to display a pop-up menu, and select the property fields you completed; for example, author, title, or comments. Select the More option to see more properties that you can display; for example, subject.

Be sure to click this graphic. You can see how Avery Dennison uses properties to add a copyright statement to their templates.
5. Move your cursor over a document name that includes properties. A pop-up appears with property information.

Adding properties to documents takes just a few seconds but it can save you lots of searching and frustration. You can build in all sorts of hidden text using properties, and there are many additional uses for these properties. However, you can’t explore those uses if you don’t know about properties and don’t complete properties for each of your documents.

1 comment:

  1. Another helpful article, Pam. Thanks so much.