Word and Excel – Get More Workspace

Programmer

This article is an extension of a previous post: https://www.yellowbearjourneys.com/beachreport/microsoft-office-toolbars/

System Level Settings

You need to be able to see more in your viewscreen. My current laptop screen size is about 8 inches high by 14 inches wide. That’s my total maximum workspace, if I could use all of it. That size is not really relevant. What is more relevant is the screen resolution. Mine is set to 1920×1080 pixels, which is the highest mine will go. The higher the resolution, the more I can view in my workspace. To change this in Windows, press Start, then Settings, then search for Display. And go to System settings.

Also, in my display settings, the size of text, apps, etc. is set to 150%. I can set it higher or lower. If I set it lower, I could see more on the screen. However, I won’t be able to make out what I’m seeing without much stronger glasses. And that’s not likely to happen, so 150% it is.

There’s another display setting which you can find by searching for Vision and choosing Ease of Vision settings. Here I could make my text bigger and reduce the amount of text that I see on a screen. I think 100% works well here.

On my screen, there’s a taskbar at the bottom. I keep mine limited to one line. I have a lot of apps that I want on my taskbar. To keep the taskbar to one line, I create folders in My Documents folder and place shortcuts to those apps in those folders. Then I right-click on the taskbar and add each folder. If I want to rearrange the apps in each folder on the taskbar, I open it from the taskbar and drag the apps to rearrange them.

But, how do you create shortcuts of your apps. The easiest way I’ve found to do that, is to start the app. Once it’s running, press Ctrl+Alt+Del. From that screen, click on Task Manager. On the Processes Tab, at the top, there will be a list of active Apps. Click the right-arrow to see more details about the app that you want to create a shortcut for. Right-click on the app and click Go to File Location. Once you’re at that file location, right-click on the app and copy it. (Or select it and Ctrl+c). Now, go to My Documents. Open the folder that you’ve put on your taskbar. Right-Click in that folder and Paste Shortcut. Now, right-click on the Shortcut to rename it. You don’t need Shortcut. You don’t need .exe (it’s just a shortcut name). I know that was several steps, but it seems to always work.

There may be a Scrollbar on the right-hand side that takes up a little bit of workspace when it’s visible. Microsoft decided to hide it. That’s great when you need it out of your way. But how can you tell that there’s a scrollbar to make visible without hovering over every inch of your screen to see if there’s a scrollbar there or not?

To make the scrollbars always visible in Windows, go to the Vision Display settings, and change the setting to Automatically Hide Scrollbars in Windows. Apps may override this setting. And you might have to hover over a Scrollbar to get it to display in the first place.

There are programmatic ways to make the Scrollbar skinnier. I don’t find those helpful. It’s hard enough for me to place the cursor on the Scrollbar as it is.

Word

At this point, you’ve gotten as much screen space as you can at the system level. Now, let’s talk about Word.

Word has a toolbar or banner at the top, right under the menu. To toggle this toolbar on and off, Ctrl+F1. If you need some of those tools handy even with the toolbar off, right-clock on the Customize Quick Access Toolbar. Then choose the tools that you want to always have available. This can be a little confusing the first time. The more you work with this, the easier it becomes. If your Quick Access Toolbar is below the menu (and banner), right-click on it to Show Above Ribbon. This will move the Quick Access Toolbar to the top of the screen, above the Menu. This space was already there, pretty much unused. So, moving your Quick Access Toolbar there will give you more workspace.

I like to see the Navigation Pane – this is a checkbox on the View Menu. I also like to see the Rulers (View Menu again). These take up space, but there helpful enough that I’ll keep them there. You can also view Gridlines, but I find that very unhelpful in Word. I you don’t use them, uncheck them. The Navigation Pane will show up if you Ctrl+F to Find something of if you click Find on the Home Menu.

There’s a down arrow at the top of the Navigation pane which will let you resize it. Or you can hover over the right-edge until you see a double-arrow for your cursor. And that will let you resize it. I like the default size.

I write books. For those documents, I set my page size to 6×9 and all margins to .5 inches. If it’s not a book, I set my margins to .25 all around. This gives me more workspace. This is on the Layout Menu.

Back to the View Menu. Word tries to default to Read Mode. This shows two pages per page. However, it closes the Navigation Pane. So, I normally use Print Layout.

There is Draft Layout which will hide heading and footing. It will also reduce the page break to a thin line. That would give me more workspace. However, especially when I’m writing books, I need to see what it’s looks like on the page.

On the Home Menu, there’s the font and font size. Word’s Default font is Calibri at 11 point. To me, Calibri is blurry. I much prefer Times New Roman, even though it’s a little bigger. I also can’t read 11 point easily, so I use 12 point. Calibri doesn’t have the little extra tics or serifs. Times New Roman does. I like heading fonts without serifs and text with.

To change the default, either click on the right-pointing down arrow on the Home Menu in the Font section, or Ctrl+D. Change the font, then click on Set as Default.

Word also defaults to leaving extra space between lines and paragraphs. I remove that. Click on the right-pointing down arrow on the Home Menu in the Paragraph section. You can also change the paragraph indentation here. Word defaults to no indentation. I set special to first line and .19 inches to indent the first line. I set this as a default. I then select a paragraph with this indentation and right-click on Normal and choose Modify, to change that style. Normal and No Spacing are similar styles. Normal has extra line spacing. No Spacing does not. I set them the same way.

Excel

Excel workspace can be increased in many of the same ways as Word. Toolbars work the same way.

On the View Menu, you can show / hide the Formula Bar, Headings, and Gridlines. The Formula Bar is handy for typing long text and formulas (long or short). There’s a down arrow on the Formula Bar which will expand it to the maximum size that you have set. When it’s expanded, that down arrow becomes an up arrow. Click on it, and the Formula Bar is reduced to one visible line. I have my Formula Bar expanded to six lines. You may not need that many. To expand the size of the formula bar, hover over the bottom until your cursor changes to a double-arrow. Then drag the bottom of the Formula Bar down or up.

Headings displays column labels (A, B, …) and row numbers. I have this checked as it comes in very handy for formulas.

Gridlines, help me see individual cells. I find this to be very useful in Excel and detrimental in Word.

There is a Ruler check box. That’s greyed out unless you’re in Page Layout View (from the View Menu).

There is no Navigation Pane in Excel.

You can set your font and font-size. However, this is in a different place. On the File Menu, click Options (or More… then Options). In General, change the Default Font and size under When Creating New Workbooks.

Sometimes in Excel, you’ll want to use a monospaced font, such as Courier New. However, for readability, you may not want to make that your default font. This will make text line up. I prefer Arial for the default font for Excel most of the time, even though it’s bigger than Calibri.

Excel does not have Paragraph settings.

General Guidelines

Before changing something to increase your workspace, ask yourself these questions:

  • How much space are you saving? Is it worth it.
  • Is the text still readable?
  • Is it too much trouble or too confusing?
  • Does it make me more productive? Or more importantly, can you get your work done faster so that you have more time to play. If you’re working faster and still don’t have time to play, something needs to change.

Excel Weekly ToDo Calendar

Programmer

I’ve got the Calendar in Outlook. I’ve got a Calendar for my travel in Excel – one row for each week. But I needed a weekly or rather 7 day todo Calendar. Yes, I could put my Tasks in Outlook. However, I think Excel is easier to modify. And since I’m a procrastinator, I tend to keep moving tasks later and later.

Here’s what I did. First open a new Excel Spreadsheet. Select columns A-H. Since I’m working on a laptop, I was able to set the Column Width for these columns to 20. Your column width may be different. Right-Click, Column Width, 20. Also change these columns to Wrap Text while you’re at it.

Select column I – set column width to 1. This way, if I tab out of H into I, it doesn’t cause Excel to shift to the next set of columns to the right. Column I is still on the main screen as A-H.

Label row 2 (I’ll get to row 1 in a second) Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, thru Saturday. Label H2 Other. That’s because I have items in the future or items without dates – ones I just get to as have time.

Label A1 with the date for the Sunday of the current week. I prefer the Short Date format dd/mm/yy in the US. That is not the default, so I have to change the format. Grab the lower right corner of A1 and drag to the right thru G1. Now all your columns have dates.

Bold the top two rows. Select the third row – View Menu, Freeze Panes, Freeze Panes. This will keep your first two rows frozen on the screen as you scroll down.

Now, here’s the tricky bit. Select A1 thru G1. Home Menu, Conditional Formatting, Color Scales, Other Rules. Change the minimum color to yellow and the maximum color to orange. This way the minimum date is highlighted in yellow. The other dates will get slightly more orange.

OK, but I’m in the middle of the week. That’s OK. Change the date for Sunday to whatever that will be. Then grab that lower right corner of A1 and drag to the right until you get to yesterday. This is called filling or drag filling. Every time a week changes you’ll need to replace the Sunday date. Every time the day changes, you’ll need to drag fill the previous date to today – or type in today’s date.

Now you’re set. Just fill in the tasks for the appropriate day. Have a task which doesn’t fit in the current 7 days, place it in the Other column. Have a lot of Other stuff, add another worksheet (tab) to this spreadsheet. That way you’ll be able to store that stuff until it’s time to place it on your main worksheet. The highlighting will focus you in on today. It will also allow you to easily see that the Wednesday stuff is next week rather than this week.

This ToDo Calendar really helps because, Just because I procrastinate, doesn’t mean I’ll never get around to it.