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Microsoft Office 2004

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Office's Common Ground

by Rob Griffiths

You may appreciate the little touches in Office 2004, such as the translucent Formatting Palette and the ability to use more than 31 characters when naming a file. But that's not all: there are a few bigger features in every Office application that you won't want to ignore. They're all accessible through a palette in Word, Excel, and PowerPoint (click on the red Toolbox button).

The Projects Palette

Starting in Entourage, you use the New Project Wizard to set up project basics such as deadline, name, and description. But you can also use that data in Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. Just click on the Projects tab in the Toolbox palette. Here you can see and change schedules, create tasks, open associated project e-mail messages, add the current file, assign contacts, and keep ongoing notes about the project. A tabbed window keeps the interface clean and uncluttered. The ability to add any file to the project is a real time-saver.

Compatibility Report

Also in the Toolbox palette is the Compatibility Report panel. It ensures that others who have different versions of Office will be able to use your files. A pop-up menu lets you specify which version(s) of Office to test against; then your file is checked for feature compatibility with those version(s).When it's done, the Compatibility Report not only tells you what's not compatible, but also offers a one-button Fix command.


If you have text and graphics that you use over and over (your company's logo and tag line, for example), the new Scrapbook fea-ture in the Toolbox will save you tons of time. (In Entourage 2004, it's under the Tools menu.) To use it, copy something to the Clipboard, open the Scrapbook, and then click on Add. You can then assign keywords to the object and assign it to a project. You can even search for previously filed items. Once in the Scrapbook, the object is available for easy pasting across the Office suite.

A Sweet Suite

The new suitewide features of Office 2004 help tie its programs together into a true suite. You may just find that these features offer you a productivity boost as well.

Keep It Together The Projects Palette makes all of your project's information available from any Microsoft 2004 application.
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