If you have ever had to hand write a whole bunch of invitations then I am sure you have had the thought “There has to be an easier way”. Well, if you have Microsoft Office then you are in luck!
Here is how you can create and print your own personalized birthday party invitations in Word from a list of your friends compiled in Excel.
First, create your friends list in Microsoft Excel. It does not need to be anything fancy, just a straight list of names, but make sure you split the first and last names so you can address people by their first name if you want to add a personal note.
OK, the characters in Futurama aren’t really my friends, but you get the idea, heh.
Start creating a new file in Word and select the template you wish to use. Word will download any templates you select that you haven’t used before.
The template I selected allows you to print a folding invitation, so part of it is upside down. This feels a bit weird to edit but you can trust that it will come out ok on the printer!
Now go to the “Mailings” ribbon, press “Start Mail Merge”, and choose “Step by step mail merge wizard”
The mail merge side bar will open on step 1 of 6. Choose the type “Letters”, then click the link “Next” at the bottom
Now hit the radio button “Use the current document” and, again, click “Next”.
We want to “Use an existing list”, the list we created earlier in Excel, so browse for the file where you saved it on your machine and select it.
When you have browsed and found your Excel spreadsheet containing the names of your friends, choose the sheet from excel (sheet1), and click OK to load up the names into the Word “Mail Merge Recipients”.
If you look at the screen grab below, this is how Word sees our friends list. We could remove some of them if we don’t want to invite them to our party, by un-checking the box next to their name. Click OK when you are happy with the guest list.
To add a greeting line right before the invitation text, put your cursor above the text, and click “Greeting line” in the panel on the right of the screen.
You can customize the greeting line with various options and you get a preview before you commit yourself.
Before you complete your invites, you need to do some additional text modifications. There is some place holder text you do not want to publish (I don’t know who this “Stephanie” lady is, and it’s not 2004 anymore!). Click Next when you are done.
At this point you will see what the final product will look like. We can browse through the different invitations for each friend. If everything is all right, click “Next” again.
All that is left now is the final step, which is to print all the invitations!
Obviously we used an example that will be applicable to nearly everybody, but the same principle applies to all mail merges, from sales letters to other kinds of invitation.
Do you use Word mail merge? Please share your experiences in the comments …
This month Cogniview is celebrating the 4th Birthday of PDF2XL – our flagship PDF to Excel conversion product.
It’s not that we always had PDF2XL. You see, Cogniview started as an Enterprise software company that aimed to sell its Enterprise-Level software products to IT departments in large organizations.
We spent a lot of money on flamboyant marketing campaigns, well-dressed sales people and a variety of other time/money wasters.
After 4 years of struggles that resulted in a huge hole in our bank account, we woke up and realized we had to survive. So we turned to our customers who said: Make us a decent PDF to Excel converter – and that was how PDF2XL was born.
Since then, PDF2XL licenses were bought by more than 15,000 companies in a variety of industries all over the globe.
We are thankful to our customers, our employees, our partners and our blog readers who have contributed their time, energy and resources to help Cogniview achieve so many successes.
So, let the party begin!
And what’s a party without party gifts?
First a special Excel Productivity Guide that can help you save even more time when working with Excel.
We would be overjoyed if you would consider leaving PDF2XL a birthday greeting as a comment on this Blog post. The best 10 greetings will entitle their authors with a $15 Amazon Gift Card.
The best part is that the best greeting out of the top 10 will also win a Flip Mino camera!
So, we invite you to share your thoughts with us by leaving a comment on this post.
And once again – thank you!
Yoav Ezer, CEO
Cogniview Systems 2002
In this series we have already looked at Recency, Frequency and Monetary value as metrics for data mining and ranking your customers in Excel. RFM will tell you who the most rewarding customers are, but it will not tell you who is most-likely to be a tough customer, nor will it tell you how expensive those customers are.
To work out these additional factors, you need to record more data, and that is what I will reveal in this article.
Customer acquisition costs are familiar to any business but many companies do not track individual customers support costs and instead see customer service as an aggregated expense. This is a mistake because certain customers could be costing you more money than they bring in, meaning gaining more of these customers would actually hurt your business rather than help it. Another reason why “make it up in volume” is often a bad approach!
Depending on your systems you might be able to record support incidents either by counting “tickets”, or you might even be able to record time spent. Again, just like with the customer value, you want to use recency and frequency, although in this case high recency and frequency are “bad”!
What would you use instead of monetary value or margin? Well, in some cases you can place a cost on the total support a customer required. It’s not just a factor of time, although that is a cost worth recording, but also there may be additional expenses incurred such as travel, postage, returns, waste, custom work or additional purchases. A customer who demands you turn up at their offices hundreds of miles away with a brand new custom widget is going to be more of a financial burden than one who sends one email and receives a stock answer.
Along with customer ID, you will want to record the type of customer or the product/service the support was against. If customers have multiple products then do the exercise against customer initially but also run through another process for product or service.
Often, but not always, you will find the customers with the best RFM scores are also those who cost you least in customer support. The top 20% really are your best customers overall. Over and over the customers who pay you least are also the ones who cause you the most bother. Of course there is always the high-roller exception who is just demanding because, well, they can.
A friend around the millenium had a software product with service levels. Together we turned the business from a net loss into a hugely profitable company by first systemizing customer service, and then by removing the bottom rung of the offering entirely. We found the cheap product attracted customers who were both more likely to circumvent the copy protection, but also generated the bulk of the distractions in the form of groundless complaints, returns, support problems and bad PR.
You do not need fancy systems to keep this information. Using Excel you can record your customer service data very easily. Just make sure you record at least:
- Customer ID
- Problem Type (categories, such as “fault”, “usage”, etc)
- Problem Description
- Solution Type (categories, such as “replacement”, “FAQ”, etc)
- Boilerplate solution available (Y/N)
- Resolved Date/Time
You might well have suggestions or requirements for additional data, but essentially you want to know what the problem was, the cure, how long you spent solving and who for.
Once you have your data you can see if there is a way to make these problems go away, perhaps the issue is with documentation or customer expectations rather than product quality. If the problems can’t go away entirely, you can then work on making your customer service as easy as possible, with stock responses, procedures, and other systems. Of course failing all that, you are left with dropping the product, customer (or type of customer) or raising prices.
Bottom line, without data you would only be guessing. So long as you have actionable information then you can actually make some decisions. If you are not recording support information, you had better get started!
So many people told me that they struggle and fight with Excel I thought I would offer you the opportunity to decide what should go in the next one! I will do my hardest to get answers for all the best or most popular questions.
- Is there something you would like to be able to do with Excel?
- What area of Excel do you want to get more out of?
- Are you confused with anything Excel related?
- What would you find most helpful to know about?
- Have you got a Excel problem you need a solution for?
- If there was one thing about Excel you would like to learn, what would it be?
Just add your suggestion, question, idea or problem in the comments.
Also if you particularly like a suggestion anyone else makes, just point it out in the comments too!
We have Excel experts on hand to supply me with the answers, so get asking your Excel questions in the comments
I don’t use Excel very often so when I do I have to remember or research all the keyboard shortcuts and functions that I normally use, even the most basic ones.
Rather than keep writing and losing post-it stickies I thought I would put this cheat sheet together, and because I figured I wouldn’t be alone in this, I thought I would share it with you too.
This cheat sheet shows the major keyboard shortcuts and a list of useful formula functions. Stick it up near your monitor so you will never need to Google that keyboard shortcut again!
Download the Free Excel Cheat Sheet
Excel is a powerful numbers tool, no question. Most of the time when we talk about spreadsheets we are focusing on the mathematical side, rather than how the results look.
Thing is, spreadsheets are a tool for creating content to be read also. In fact, I would go as far as to say a spreadsheet is an influential tool of persuasion, when used correctly.
On top of that, many business rely on Excel for their business forms, such as invoices, expenses, time sheets and all kinds of paperwork.
It is possible to not only have your spreadsheets make you more productive, but also look good.
In this series I want to show you how you can beautify your spreadsheets without requiring any real design skills.
Formatting Reports With Spreadsheets
Although the features available in the latest software surpass anything that came before, this use of spreadsheets is not a new thing, can you remember the old Lotus 123 and Supercalc days?
Even back then, spreadsheets were used to make data more presentable, more professional, and less, well, like it had come straight off a music-ruled dotmatrix report, which was often the main alternative.
Of course back then a lot of the data was retyped, causing inevitable transcription errors. Now Excel can read in data exported from numerous systems natively, and also understand common open formats, even down to interrogating live databases directly through ODBC.
So this is not just about spreadsheets you create form scratch, Excels presentation abilities can help you with presenting any kind of data that Excel can import.
Things have come a long way. In the past you were pretty much restricted to having lines, boxes, bold and italic. If you were lucky. Now Excel has features only previously found in desk top publishing packages.
Excel’s graphic features are both a blessing and a curse.
Yes, you have a huge amount of freedom and functionality to create the look you want, but the downside is a lot of people over use these features and make their spreadsheets look like a Nascar, and reports appear to be a page from a comic book.
Let’s focus on some basics!
10 Tips for Avoiding Excel Formatting Horrors
Excel Design Tip 1: Less is More
When working with the formatting and design features of Excel please do not treat it like a kid in a candy store!
Restraint is important if you want to provide the best possible result.
Excel Design Tip 2: Comic Sans has no place in business
Sometimes I wish I could build a time machine so I could go back to whichever lunatic was presiding over the meeting when Microsoft decided to bundle Comic Sans with their operating system and give them a sound thrashing.
If there is one thing that will reduce the professionalism of your spreadsheet it is the inclusion of any kind of comic font, but in particular Comic Sans. Just don’t.
Excel Design Tip 3: WordArt can kill your design
WordArt is a nice and flexible feature that has been an addition of Office for years. Many people are comfortable with it. But does it ever look cheesy! Just look at the header image of this article – geeky, no?
You know where we agreed restraint was important a few paragraphs ago? That goes one hundred fold for when using WordArt. In fact, if in doubt, leave it out!
Excel Design Tip 4: Clipart Clichés
Photography or illustration can bring a page to life and stop it being a sea of text and numbers, but if the clipart looks over-used, out of place, hackneyed or just plain BAD, then you are only doing damage. I would recommend instead of the default clipart to look to outside sources such as Istockphoto, but there is a similar risk in using those also!
Excel Design Tip 5: Careful with colors
Color is essential in aiding clarity of your data, providing of course you are going to view the spreadsheet on screen or your printer can output color. What often happens though is people get carried away and the end result is a rainbow mess of clashing, garish, neon. Excel is not the best at allowing color flexibility, so make the best of a bad set of colors by selecting muted tones that go well together, such as grays and blues.
Excel Design Tip 6: Templates are your friend
Rather than starting from scratch, especially if you are design challenged like me, consider trying one of the many freely available pre-built templates out there. You can find everything from invoices to timesheets. There is a great list in our Excel Wizardry article.
Excel Design Tip 7: Use grid lines selectively
Just because you are working in a spreadsheet does not mean you have to show your grid lines. In many cases it is easier to only add the lines that aid legibility, and switch off all othes. In Windows you can find the option to turn off gridlines in the view tab, or in older versions tools, options. In Mac, look in the preferences.
Excel Design Tip 8: Background images can lift or distract
A tasteful background image can work well. Unfortunately all too often the images used are busy, detailed and when combined with columns of numbers, just make your eyes water. Go for something plain and delicate, such as a subtle graduated tint or a slight drop shadow..
Excel Design Tip 9: Align your text
Another legibility tip is for you to not just accept Excels defaults when working with your text. For example did you know you can format your cells and select to align your text at the top and to wrap around?
Excel Design Tip 10: Use appropriate font sizes
Your basic font needs to be large enough to be legible without an electron microscope, plain enough to read (step away from the “handwriting” font!), and there should be a clear visual hierarchy. What do I mean by that? While most people in their wordprocessor will use headlines and subheads, for some reason fewer people think to do this in a spreadsheet, but breaking up a report in this way can really help get your point across. So if you are using 10-12 point body text you might make your subhead 14-16pt and your main headline 18pt.
Yes, much of this will be seemingly obvious, but if you go into any Excel using business I guarantee at least one and probably more of these excel formatting crimes are being committed right now.
Got Excel design tips? Please share in the comments, and look out for part 2 of this series!
Are you working with Excel and want take your Excel skills to the next level? Or do you want to learn Excel and don’t know where to start? Check out these 70+ tips and shortcuts that will help you make Excel Magic.
Online tutorials & videos
The following online tutorials are mostly free and will teach you quite a bit about Excel. In fact they are better than some of the expensive classroom training courses.
- Online introduction to Excel: If you are just starting to use excel, this is the perfect resource for you. Here you will find dozens of audio courses that take a step by step approach to learning excel.
- DataPig Technologies: The guys from Data Pig Technologies made a comprehensive collection of videos that explain almost every aspect of Excel. From basic Excel concepts to VBA programming. And most of the videos are free!
- Online Charts Tutorial: Jon Peltier is an Excel-charting superstar. You can use his online tutorial to get you started on Excel charting and also as a reference.
- Basic Formulas Guide: This excellent tutorial will help you master Excel formulas in no time.
- Common uses for Formulas: This collection of samples will help you understand what can be achieved by using excel formulas.
- An introduction to Pivot Tables: The Pivot Table is an amazing tool, but people often shy away from it because Pivot Tables seem complicated. The first page of this PDF contains a clear description of Pivot Tables and how they can be used.
- Creating a Pivot table: A 7-minute video shows you how to create and work with Pivot Tables.
- Pivot Tables in Excel 2007: Excel 2007 Pivot Tables are much easier to use. If you use excel 2007, check out this slightly promotional yet excellent introduction to Pivot Tables.
- Practicing Pivot Tables: This step by step tutorial from Microsoft will help you sharpen your Pivot Table skills.
- Microsoft Excel help / 2007: When all else fails, Microsoft Excel Help is a good source to try.
In order to harness the full power of Excel, shell out a couple of book bucks. The following books are packed with information and real-world know-how.
General Excel Books
- Excel Bible 2003 / 2007 version: The “Excel Bible” was written by the renowned Excel expert, John Walkenbach. It explains everything from basic formulas and functions to data validation, and Excel programming. If you have only $30 to spend on Excel training, buy this book.
- Excel Charts: This book is a comprehensive, yet easy to understand, guide to Excel charting. It’s a useful resource for both beginner and experienced excel users.
- Excel Formulas: Formulas are the lifeblood of spreadsheets and “Excel Formulas” from John Walkenbach will teach you everything about them. This book covers all things formula, from custom worksheet functions to financials formulas and more.
- Pivot Tables and data analysis / 2007 version: One of the most useful yet most feared features in Excel… the Pivot Table, is tackled gracefully by Bill Jelen (aka Mr. Excel) and Michael Alexander. Well worth the read.
- Excel Programming: By far, the best guide to Excel programming. The book also outlines a programming methodology for Excel. The only downside to this book is that it assumes a bit of programming knowledge.
- Report programming with Excel: If you plan to build a reporting system based on excel, this is the book for you. It shows how to use Excel to build a reporting/data analysis environment and shows how to properly work with SQL databases.
Excel Tips and case studies
- Excel case studies: While not for the beginner, this book contains valuable, real-world advice on how to make Fxcel do what you want it to do. Make sure you check out the “Making things look good” chapter.
- Excel Tips: A highly recommended Excel tip book from Mr. Spreadsheet himself.
- Some more Excel Tips: A compendium of Excel tips. This is not the first book you should own, but I often find that I return to this book when I’m stuck.
- This isn’t Excel it’s Magic: Bob Umlas is probably the foremost expert on formulas. The things this guy does with formulas will make your hair stand on end. If you are serious about Excel, than buy this book.
Specialized Excel books
- Principals of finance with Excel: This highly recommended book will help you understand the applicability of Excel in financial environments. It is loaded with real world examples and can help both the financial expert and the techie.
- Statistical Analysis with Excel: Using plain English and real-life examples, this book provides information that helps with statistical analysis. The book covers samples and normal distributions, probabilities and related distributions, trends and correlations, as well as statistical terms like median vs. mean, margin of error, standard deviation, permutations, and correlations.
- Business Analysis with Excel: Running a business is complicated. Understanding issues like cost of goods, inventory, sales forecast, tax statements is crucial to success. Business analysis with Excel explains these issues and shows how to tackle them using Excel.
- Sales Forecasting with Excel: This book shows you how to use Microsoft Excel, to predict trends and future sales based on… numbers. Use data about the past to forecast the future. Excel provides all sorts of tools to help you do that, and this book shows you how to use them.
- Excel for Chemists: While most of this book is a general introduction to Excel, it is filled with Chemistry oriented examples. The book also contains a complete chapter that shows how Excel can assist chemists in research.
Forums, News Groups and Mailing Lists
No matter how tough or silly your question is, the experts in the following sites/mailing lists will answer it. They will do it for free and usually within a couple of hours. Don’t be shy. Join these communities and ask.
Note: The online Excel community is one of the nicest communities that I have ever had the pleasure of joining.
- Mailing Lists: Wow. This is the jackpot. The Excel-G mailing list is monitored by the best Excel experts in the world. They answer every question. If you post an interesting enough problem these Excel gurus will compete among themselves to answer first and give the most elegant solution.
- Mr. Excel Message Boards: A very friendly forum whose members will usually provide you with an answer within 3-5 hours. A bunch of Microsoft MVPs (including the Mr. Excel gang) monitor the forums. And, of course, it has a pure html interface which makes it easier to use.
- Excel News Groups: If you prefer USENET groups to mailing lists or Message boards, than you’ll love the Microsoft Excel groups. Most questions asked will be answered within 12 hours.
- ExcelForum.com: ExcelForum.com provides a web interface to the Excel News groups. If you do not want to be bothered with the USENET interface, this site will is a useful alternative.
Some Excel projects are too big/difficult to tackle alone. Here is a (short) list of some of the best hired guns in the Excel Field (If you know other top-notch Excel experts, drop a link to their site in the comments).
- Jon Peltier: If you have a charting project/problem, I would recommend working with Jon. Jon brings to the table over 20 years of Excel experience A PhD from MIT and is a Microsoft Excel MVP.
- Chip Pearson: Mr. Pearson is a renowned Excel expert and while his fees are not low, he is one of the best. If you need an urgent solution or have a critical project, I would consider asking Chip for help.
- Mr. Excel Consulting Services: The Mr. Excel team is probably the largest Excel consultancy in the world. Their ranks include numerous excel MVPs and they have an amazing amount of Excel Knowledge.
- JMT Consulting: A consulting service from two respected Excel MVPs: Masaru Kaji and Andrew Engwirda.
Excel Blogs and Tip Sites
Tips sites and Excel blogs will usually send you a daily Excel tip. Many Excel professionals register to these sites and read the daily tips to keep their Excel skills sharp. They also serve as repositories for thousands of Excel case studies.
- Daily Dose of Excel: A blog managed by Dick Kusleika and authored by many Excel Experts and MVPs. “Daily Dose” is updated several times a week and profiles tips, tricks and news from the excel Industry. Highly recommended!
- ExcelTip.com: Over the years ExcelTip amassed hundreds of tips and solutions to real world problems. You can either use the categories or the search function to find the information you want. You can also register to a tips newsletter. The site is managed by Joseph Rubin.
- Official Microsoft 2007 Blog: The Official Excel Blog. Written by the Excel product managers/programmers. It contains a lot of information and how-to articles about Excel. The level of articles on this blog varies from “useful to everyone” to “only for hardcore excel services programmers.”
- Vital News Excel Tips: Very similar to ExcelTip, this site contains hundreds of tips sorted into categories and offers a weekly newsletter.
- Chip Pearson Newsletter: A new service from Chip Pearson. Each issue of this newsletter contains a thorough examination of a technique or of an Excel function. For those of you that wish to gain deep knowledge of Excel, this is an excellent resource.
- Excel User: Excel User contains a “Visitor Question” section and many high quality articles. This site was created and maintained by Charles Kyd.
- Andrew’s Excel Tips: Andrew Engwirda writes one of the best Excel blogs. What separates Andrew from the flock is his vast amount of Excel and programming experience.
- Codswallop: Although we are not a strictly an Excel-centered blog, we plan to bring a lot of Excel goodies in near future. Don’t hesitate … subscribe now!
- Smurf On Spreadsheets: Simon Murphy is an Excel programming master. If you are into Excel Programming, this blog is perfect for you.
- The Ken Puls Blog: Ken’s blog is neither Excel centered nor frequently updated. However, when Ken does blog about Excel, it’s pure gold. Definitely worth checking out.
- XL Dennis: Dennis Wallentin writes about developing Excel centered solutions with the .Net framework.
- Excel Hero: Daniel Ferry’s blog is full of Excel tips and advanced topics intended to inspire you and make you the Excel Hero at your workplace.
Templates can be a huge time saver and odds are that the spreadsheet you are trying to build already exists. We’ve divided Microsoft’s huge template repository into useful categories so you’ll be able to find the right template for you.
Business Related Templates
- Budget Templates: Whether you are managing your personal budget, your Wedding budget or your gardening budget, you’ll find a template for it here.
- Balance Sheets: You can find almost any kind of balance sheet here.
- Expense Reports: Unexpected expenses can have a nasty effect on your bottom line. Use these templates to record and control expenses (including traveling expenses).
- Business Forms: Here you can find all types of different forms, from a traveling advance request form to a car mileage log.
- Inventory Templates: Manage and track you inventory with these templates.
- Invoices, Work Orders, Packing Slips: This is a real time saver. Whether you work in retail or services, you will find the right invoice/work order template here.
- Purchase Orders: Not only will these templates help you get the exact the items you need on time and delivered to the right place, they also come in a variety of colors.
- Receipts: A variety of receipt templates.
- Time Sheets: Use these templates to track employee work time. You can choose a template that will sum the employee and overall working hours on a daily, weekly or even monthly basis.
- All kinds of Reports: Different financial and management reports.
Excel is the ultimate killer app. But there are cases where even Excel needs a little help. Here are some Excel Add-ins that can double your effectivness.
- Asap Utilities: Probably the best known Excel productivity add-in. Asap utilities contains advance selection options, advanced browsing capabilities, better formula handling and much more.
- Send Mail: This cool little freebie from Ron de Bruin that allows you to send an email with the contents of a workbook, a single sheet or even a selection area.
- Excel Sentry: Use the Excel Sentry to prevent your business data from falling into the competition’s hands. The Excel sentry allows you to encrypt your spreadsheet in such a way that only you or your employees/coworkers can use it.
- XL Statistics: A free statistics package that expands the existing Excel functionality.
- Palo: A free (open source) OLAP server for excel. On-line Analytical Processing servers usually cost hundreds of thousands and sometimes even millions of dollars. Jedox (the company that made Palo) is giving it away. Definitely worth checking out.
- PDF to Excel: One of the most stubborn sources of data for Excel is PDF files. Whether they are scanned or not, PDF2XL will extract the data for you.
- FlorenceSoft: This cool little app allows you to easily find the differences between two different sheets.
- Excel Password Remover: Do you have a terribly important sheet you encrypted and then forgot the password? The Excel Password remover is your locksmith.
- Tree Plan: A set of data analysis tools from Mike Middleton.
- DPlot: Create 2D and 3D graphs and plots with DPlot. Especially suited for Engineers and scientist that need expanded charting and plotting functionality. DPlot contains unique chart types such as, the Polar Chart, The triangle plot and more.
- DigDB: Another well known Microsoft Excel productivity add-in.
Additional Excel Resources
- Excel User Conference: The Excel user Conference, run by Daemon Longworth (MVP), is by far the best venue to advance you Excel skills. You will learn high-end Excel tips and tricks from the best Excel experts (all the instructors are Microsoft MVPs). Plus, everyone is extremely friendly and you’ll get a bunch of laughs and even a couple of beers.
- Charts by Jorge Camoes: A site dedicated to Excel charts and charts add-ins. Also runs a chart centered blog.
- Excel funny videos: Who said Excel wasn’t fun?
- Excel games: And to top the list. I present Excel… the gaming platform.
Now it’s time to Excel.
Freelancer’s Hyper-Drive: 131 Productivity Boosters for Email, Instant Messaging, Word, Excel, and More
Freelancers often have to wear many hats: accountant, boss, quality control, marketing department, and beyond, which can leave you feeling like there’s just not enough time in the day to do everything you’d like. Fortunately, there are a number of tools designed to help you speed up the process of working. Check out these productivity boosters for documents, communications, and more.
Email itself is a productivity tool, but it often turns into a monster task that must be tackled. These tools will help you tame your inbox.
- ClearContext: If you have a hard time getting through email you’d rather ignore to get to the good stuff, ClearContext is about to make your life a lot easier. This information management system prioritizes your email, organizing it and assigning color codes. You’ll be able to identify your most important senders and let newsletters or less important senders get pushed down below your VIPs.
- Mail Templates: If you often reply to a number of emails on on the same few subjects, consider creating template responses for each one. You’ll save time and be consistent.
- copy2calendar: Appointment setting doesn’t have to be a time consuming process. With copy2calendar, you can automatically convert text containing appointment information into calendar entries.
- Actioneer: Use actioneer to speed up your Outlook actions like appointments, tasks, contacts, and mail messages.
- TimeToMeet: Arrange meetings quickly in Google, iCal, or Outlook using this easy program.
- Conversation Preview: Gmail users can view the first few lines of an email with Conversation Preview, even while they’re still in the message list view.
- iGTD: Mac users can take advantage of iGTD, a tool that organizes tasks straight out of your inbox and saves a link to the original email.
- CSV Exporter: Use CSV Exporter to import your address book contacts into Gmail.
- FlipMail: For email on the go, sign up with Teleflip’s FlipMail, a service that forwards email as a text message to your phone.
- Chilibase: Don’t spend 20 minutes trying to find that email Bob sent a month ago. Use Chilibase to see complete conversations from your contacts with a single click.
- l8r: If you’re working at 2AM but prefer that your client thinks you keep normal hours, you can use l8r to delay sending messages until a specified time. You can also use it to schedule emails that you know you’ll send, like reminders.
- SpamSieve: No one likes spam, especially when you have to wade through it to get to important emails. Combat this junk mail with SpamSieve, a program that zaps spam out of your inbox.
- Copernic Summarizer: If you find yourself wishing that your email correspondents would just get to the point, Copernic can lend you a helping hand. This tool summarizes mail messages and other documents, highlighting key concepts and sentences.
- Saved Searches: Check out this user script that allows you to save searches you’ll need to access frequently.
- Gmail Loader: If you’ve switched to Gmail, but still need to access your archives without going back and forth to your old email provider, check out Gmail Loader. It imports existing emails to your Gmail inbox so you’ll have easy access.
- Office Outlook Forum: Get quick answers to your pressing Outlook questions on this forum.
- emailStripper: To quickly get rid of email clutter that accumulates in long back-and-forth conversations, use emailStripper. Just paste your email into the tool, and it will clean up all extraneous characters.
- MailTags 2.0: This plugin for Mail.app allows you to add keywords and notes to your messages for quick retrieval.
- GmailThis: Send web pages quickly to anyone using GmailThis. The tool makes it easy to instantly send a message with a URL attached through Gmail.
- Getting Things Done Add-in: Productivity Leader David Allen has created an add-in that allows you to better accomplish his recommended workflow methodology.
- Microsoft Office Outlook Team Blog: Find out how to improve formatting, get rid of junk mail, organize, and more by reading the MSDN Outlook blog.
- Gmail Manager Add-on: Firefox users can take advantage of this Gmail add-on that displays email data at the bottom of your browser. This tool can show information from multiple Gmail accounts and is easy to customize.
- 10 Minute Mail: Save your real email for clients and other important people with 10 Minute Mail. This service allows you to sign up for a temporary email address that’s great for forums and other sign up forms that you think might sell your address to spammers.
- AmikaFreedom: Receiving email on your mobile device is convenient, but sometimes, you’re hit with an information overload. Use AmikaFreedom to trigger emails to forward to your wireless device when specified key words and phrases are used.
- Destroy beacons: Beacons are small images embedded in spam emails that, when downloaded by your email client, let spammers know they’ve got a hit. Avoid advertising your email in this way by blocking images from anyone not in your address book.
- Take Back Your Life Add-in: Get organized with templates, appointment prompts, and more functionality tools from Sally McGhee.
- Fuser: Use Fuser to consolidate your email accounts into one central place.
- ActiveWords: If you hate switching back and forth from Word to Outlook just to look up a contact, you’ll love ActiveWords. This tool makes Outlook “hot” in any Windows application, which allows you to look up contacts from a number of different programs.
IMs are a convenient communication tool, and there are a number of ways to improve their functionality. Read on to find out how you can share documents, schedule meetings, and send SMS messages using IMs.
- Acronyms: Use texting and chatroom acronyms to get your point across in fewer keystrokes. Of course, remember your audience: if you’re speaking to a client, you’ll need to tone down on the netspeak.
- Meebo: Share files with your contacts using Meebo’s IM.
- IMified: Access lots of web apps from one place using IMified.
- TodoBot: By setting up your own TodoBot, you can IM to do list items to yourself.
- Gaim: Use Gaim to chat on a number of instant messaging platforms at the same time.
- MyCyberTwin: Let a chatbot answer your IMs while you’re away.
- gTalk Sidebar: Firefox users can add on Google Talk as a sidebar, so you can chat while surfing web pages.
- AOL Mobile: With AOL Mobile, you can send a text message to SMS-enabled phones using the AOL Instant Messenger.
- Merge IM Contacts: Check out Lifehacker’s lowdown on how to get your AIM, MSN, Yahoo! and other contacts on Google Talk.
For most users, Word is a fairly simple tool to use, but when you’re drowning in lots of documents, revisions, and lots of editing, it can be a mess. Clean it up with these Word boosters.
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Few things are more irritating than having to deal with a format that is incompatible with what you need it to do. It doesn’t matter if it’s a media file, document, or shoe size; it’s just plain frustrating. To make your life easier, check out this list of 101 tools that will allow you to convert just about anything.
|An important message: This list of converters took a very long time to prepare and I hope that it will be of use to you. If you find it useful and would like us to prepare more lists like this, please take a look at our commercial software. It’s not suited for anyone, but if you work in a business environment and receive a lot of data in PDF format then our PDF to Excel distiller might be just what you are looking for. Thank you.|
There are lots of specialized tools out there, but sometimes you just need one good tool to get the job done. These mega tools are great for general conversions.
- Zamzar: Zamzar does all sorts of conversions, ranging from documents and images to music and video. In addition to its versatility, this tool boasts the ability to do all of your conversions without downloading software.
- SUPER: This aptly-named tool offers a simple and efficient way to convert any multimedia file to any format you need. You won’t need to download any additional codecs or deal with any time or function limitations.
- CZ Document Converter: CZ Document Converter is a powerful batch document converter. It supports every popular document file you may need, including PDF, HTML, DOC, XLS, and WPS.
- Media Convert: This tool is another great all-around converter. It can take files from your computer or a webserver and convert them into pretty much any format. The tool is web based and full of versatility.
- Image Converter Plus: Image Converter Plus can professionally convert graphic files, photos, drafts, finance documents, and any image format. It supports more than 120 graphics formats and more than 800 dialects of these formats. You can convert files in a batch while also altering and enhancing images.
- Quad-Lock Unit Converter: The Quad-Lock Unit Converter does conversions for more than 650 units. With this all-inclusive library, you’re sure to find what you’re looking for.
If you use an MP3 player, download movies, or even just rip CDs, there’s a good chance you’ve had to deal with the frustration of having a format that’s incompatible with your device or software. These tools will make it all better.
- Audacity: Audacity is a great tool that can be used to convert tapes and records into digital recordings or CDs. Check out their site to see what else this audio powerhouse can do.
- RM to MP3 Converter: If you’ve got a bunch of Real Media files, but want to be able to listen to them on other players, check out this tool. It will convert RM files to MP3s individually or in batches. You can even save them with space-efficient VBR.
- OSS Audio Converter: This tool is an audio format converter with a high level of customization. Using the OSS Audio Converter, you can select the coding method for VBR compression, fine-tune settings, and choose a range of frequencies to filter.
- All Converter: Use All Converter to switch your files between popular formats like MP3, APE, AAC and many more. Files can be converted in batches, even if they’re not the same media or convert-to type.
- Audio Converter: Audio Converter has lots of formats for conversion, including AIFF, Vorbis OFF, MP3 and more. You can convert files one by one or do them in batches, all while editing options like volume normalization and silence removal.
- Intelliscore Polyphonic WAV to MIDI Converter: With IntelliScore, you can convert MP3, WAV, and WMA files to MIDI. It has lots of additional features, like vocal track removal and sheet music.
- Free WMA to MP3 Converter: With this tool, you can take any Windows Media file and turn it into an MP3 that can be used with a variety of different players.
- Zune Multi-Extension Support Mod: With this hack, Zune users can covert formats that the player doesn’t normally recognize, like AAC, DVR-MS and MPEG.
- FreeRIP: This freeware application allows users to convert files between MP3, FLAC, WAV and more.
- dBpoweramp Music Converter: The dBpoweramp can be used to rip CDs and convert audio files to pretty much any format you might need. This can all be done without altering tags.
- Acoustica MP3 to Wave Converter Plus: Acoustica’s converter makes it easy to convert MP3 files to WAVs so that you can create custom CDs or edit audio.
- Direct Audio Converter and CD Ripper: Music lovers can use this tool to convert music files to popular formats while keeping folder structures and tags intact.
- Koyote: This tool can covert FLV, DIVX, AVI and other formats to an iPod video format. That means you can download YouTube videos and put them directly on your video iPod.
- MediaCell Blackberry Video Converter: If you want to view videos on your Blackberry, check out this tool. It converts all popular video files to Blackberry video while maintaining a high standard of quality.
- Videora: With Videora, you can convert pretty much any video file into an iPod format. The tool includes an auto-resize feature that chooses the best resolution for you.
- VidDownloader: This simple tool allows users to save streaming video and convert then to DivX AVIs.
- Avi2Dvd: Avi2Dvd is a freeware program that converts AVI files to a format that works for DVDs, VCDs, and SVCDs.
- iSquint: Mac iPod users who want a way to convert videos to something that works for their device will be happy to find iSquint. This tool converts videos to the correct format and also optimizes their resolution.
- Any Video Converter: Using AVC, you can convert any video format to any other video format. The tool supports AVI, DIVX, FLV and more. You can create custom profiles that for devices like the iPod and PSP.
- Tube Sock: Tube Sock is for Mac OSX users who want to download, convert, and copy YouTube videos to their iPod, Mac, or PSP.
- Zune TVWatcher: Use this tool to convert recorded TV shows to a Zune-ready format.
- Grand Theft Auto Mission Converter: Use the Grand Theft Auto Mission Converter to convert GTA1′s INI mission to GTA2′s .MIS mission.
- Mplayer: Mplayer is an open-source video player, but it also has an interface called mencoder that allows users to convert between lots of formats, including TiVo’s tystream.
- Lathe: With Lathe, you can convert TiVo files to play on a variety of media devices, including Archos, PDAs, smartphones, and more.
- Hey!Watch: You can upload videos from your hard drive or online video sites to Hey!Watch, then use the tool to convert the files to pretty much any format you’d like.
- PodTube: Mac YouTube enthusiasts will love the convenience of PodTube. It allows users to point to a URL, then let the program get to work by downloading, converting and adding the file to your iTunes library.
- iTube: iTube is just like PodTube, but it’s made for Windows users.
- HandBrake: HandBrake is a free, open source application that rips DVDs to a number of different formats, including those supported by Apple TV, PS3, Quicktime, and more.
- MediaCoder: MediaCoder is a batch media transcoder. It can be used to convert to and from different formats as well as compress files.
Graphic designers, professional photographers, and point and shoot enthusiasts can all benefit from using these easy image conversion tools.
- Photo To Sketch: This program takes your photographs and converts them into black and white sketches or watercolor paintings. Using this functionality, you can make your own coloring book.
- Image Thumbnailer and Converter: Image Thumbnailer and Converter makes it easy to create thumbnail images, convert formats, adjust sizes, set folders, and create web pages automatically.
- GIMP: The GNU Image Manipulation Program is a great program for easily changing the format of images.
- Smart Converter: This multipurpose program allows users to convert, view and edit images, even in batch mode. You can apply over 100 image effects, watermarks, and use loads of supported formats.
- Easy Graphic Converter: Convert image files to lots of different formats while at the same time taking advantage of features like previews, 50 different effects and filters, simple editing and more.
- Advanced Batch Converter: Use Advanced Batch Converter to change the format of multiple graphics at once. You’ll also be able to do minor editing. This program supports about 90 file formats.
- Image Icon Converter: Convert images of various formats into Windows icons using the Image Icon Converter. You can also use this program to convert icons into popular image files and do basic editing.
- Image Converter .EXE: Take things a step further with Image Converter .EXE. This tool allows you to change the format of multiple files at once, plus apply affects to the files at the same time.
These tools make it easy to read and print all sorts of documents, so you can avoid having a difficult discussion with your boss about why you just can’t open his MS Works 1996 file.
- Adobe Online PDF creator: For quick PDF conversions, check out the official Adobe online PDF Creator. This tool converts a number of different formats, including DOC, JPG, WMF and more.
- ExpressPDF: If you need a high quality PDF output in a hurry, consider using ExpressPDF. Users can upload documents, choose an output quality, then receive an email with the new PDF. This is all done without downloading any software, so it’s great if you’re in a pinch on a borrowed computer.
- CC PDF Converter: Install this tool as a printer subsystem. It will enable you to print pretty much from any Windows application to a professional quality PDF document. It will also allow you to set the copyright terms for your PDF file.
- Scan to PDF: ScanToPDF is a simple tool that allows you to convert your paper based documents into PDFs. Just insert the pages into your scanner, press the scanning button and the paper document will be converted into a PDF file.
- Cogniview’s PDF to Excel Converter: If you get a lot of numerical data you need for your work in PDF format, Cogniview’s PDF to Excel Conversion tool is the best solution for you. Open your PDF file, mark the data you need and it will be instantly pasted into an excel spreadsheet.
- Solid Converter PDF to Word: With the Solid PDF Converter, you can open up PDF files in Word and edit text in the original document. Solid PDF will identify and maintain the formatting of the original document (tables, bullets and so on) which makes it perfectly suited for PDF to word conversion.
- Easy PDF Converter: The Easy PDF Converter tool, like many others, converts various document formats to PDF. What sets this program apart is its ability to convert an entire batch of files in one click, eliminating the need for lots of user input.
- PDF Converter Professional: Using PDF Converter Professional, you can convert static PDF files into fillable forms.
- PDF to Image Converter: You can convert PDF files to lots of popular image formats using PDF Image Converter. The program will convert detailed elements like text, color, images, ellipses, and more.
- RSS 2 PDF: Use this tool to convert your RSS or OPML newsfeed into a PDF file quickly. It creates a readable, formatted file that you can view offline.
- Docx Converter: The Docx Converter makes it easy to read Word 2007 files without having to upgrade your software. It extracts text and formatting from DOCX files and turns them into simple HTML files. You can even download their desktop widget for the tool.
- 3A PDF to Word Batch Converter: If you have a PDF file that needs text editing, you may have a hard time getting it to do what you want. Use the 3A PDF to Word Batch Converter to convert PDF documents into Microsoft Word, where you’ll be able to edit as much as you like.
- WordFast: This language translation tool can be used on any language that’s supported by Microsoft Word. You can also use it with external dictionaries and machine translation engines.
- MS Works Converter: With this converter, you can turn Microsoft Works files into Excel files, even in batches.
- Doc to Image Converter: This simple converter allows users to save Microsoft Word files as image file formats including JPEG, TIFF, BMP and more.
- Babel Fish: If you’re looking for a light, web-based translator, Babel Fish is for you. The translations aren’t always perfect, but you should be able to get a good idea of what’s being said. You can translate a block of text or an entire webpage.
- Excel to PDF Converter: This spreadsheet converter is very simple. All you do is select “Save as PDF” in Excel, and the converter will create a document that can be read by PDF viewers.
- XLS Converter: You can use this converter to take data from Excel files and turn them into formats like HTML, TXT, and CSV. It can be run in command-line mode, plus Excel isn’t required for it to work.
- ABC Amber Excel Converter: With the ABC Amber Excel Converter, you can turn Excel files into PDF, HTML, RTF, DOC and more, all without the use of the MS Excel program. This tool offers command line support and batch conversion as well.
- Presentation to Video Converter: If you’re tired of manually clicking through PowerPoint slides during presentations, you can convert them into a video that eliminates the need for your interaction.
- Convert PowerPoint: With Convert PowerPoint, you can turn PPT files into PDF, HTM, TXT and more. This application can be run on a command line.
- Universal Document Converter: Use this converter as a virtual printer to export any document to a raster PDF or image file. Doing so ensures that your document will be change-protected and viewed accurately. Universal Document Converter works with Adobe PDF, PowerPoint, AutoCAD and more.
- AutoDWG DWG to PDF Converter: If you’ve been sent an AutoCAD drawing, but don’t have the software to open it, use this program to view it as a PDF. It has lots of options, including merged files and batch creation.
- DWG2Image Converter: Convert DWG and DXF files to popular image files like BMP and JPG using the DWG2Image Converter. This program works without the use of AutoCAD.
- Any DWG: Any DWG has lots of specialized tools that allow you to convert between lots of file formats, including DWG, PDF, DXF and various image types.
- Raster to Vector Converter: Use this converter to take raster formats and create vector formats like DXF, ASCII, and AI. It will refine curves, create fine lines, and more.
- Universal CAD Converter: This handy tool makes it easy to turn AutoCAD drafting files into pretty much any format you like, converting between DWG, DXF, PDF and DWF without using AutoCAD. You’ll also be able to convert any of these formats to images.
Other Great Document Tools
- QuickBooks Conversion Tool: If you’re switching your accounting software to QuickBooks, be sure to check out this conversion tool that imports your information from Peachtree, Microsoft Small Business Accounting, or Microsoft Office Accounting.
- Print2Flash: For users that need to convert large amounts of PDFs or other printable documents, Print2Flash is an excellent choice. You can use it for batch processing and document options.
- Google Docs: Google Docs features the ability to save documents in a number of different formats once you’ve opened them inside their software.
- Bookmark Converter: If you want to switch browsers, but don’t want to lose your bookmarks, use this program. It can be expanded to a remote version with multiple users and command-line conversion.
- Convert Doc: This tool is simple and easy to use, offering users a way to convert thousands of files into various file formats quickly. It also remembers your settings, so it’s great for users who do complicated conversions on a regular basis.
These conversion tools are useful whether you’re traveling, baking, or just buying some nice Italian shoes on eBay.
- Metric Converter: If you often need to do complicated metric conversions, use this tool to get the job done.
- FCC Conversion: This FCC webpage converts degrees, minutes, and seconds to decimal degrees in latitude and longitude, or vice versa.
- EZ Unit Converter Wizard: This unit converter is highly customizable. You can add or delete the units that you’d like to use, with more than 130 units to choose from.
- Unit Conversion: This tool does calculations for lots of different units, including Celsius to Farenheit and pounds to kilograms.
- Google Search: You can use Google to calculate currency conversions as well as units like gallons and liters. It’s great because you can get an answer by using a nationality if you don’t know the name of the currency.
- Universal Currency Converter: XE’s UCC performs forex rate calculations with live currency rates. They offer conversions for the top 85 currencies in the world as well as special units and precious metals.
- International Show Size Conversion Charts: These charts convert shoe sizes from Europe, Mexico, U.K. and more.
- Ring Size Conversion: Use this ring size tool to determine what your size is in the U.K., France, Switzerland and more.
- Women’s Clothing Conversion: With this tools, you can find out what size clothing you should buy for France, Italy, and a number of other countries.
- Men’s Clothing Conversion: This tool works the same way as the women’s tool, but it comes in men’s sizes.
- Time Conversion Tool: This utility from NASA makes it easy to convert from calendar dates and times to Julian dates, or vice-versa. You can also convert between featured world time zones and figure out what day of the week you’re looking at.
- Time Zone Converter: Use this tool to convert time zones between two cities. It accepts dates for the past or future.
These tools are great for converting between different script languages, databases, and more.
- User Script Compiler: With User Script Compiler, you can convert your Greasemonkey scripts into Firefox extensions.
- Advanced PDF to HTML Converter: Use this program to convert PDF files into HTML to make it easier for users to view them. It will preserve all graphics, hyperlinks, bookmarks and lines.
- Access to Visual Basic Object Converter: Use this program to quickly convert Access Objects to Visual Basic.
- Gmail: Using Gmail, you can convert most document formats into HTML. It’s as easy as sending an attachment to yourself and selecting the option to view it as HTML.
- IRun RTF Converter: The IRun RTF Converter makes it easy to put your documents online by converting RTF files to XML or HTML. You can even generate HTML with CSS.
- HTML to ASP Converter: This tool converts HTML code for use with ASP.
- XML Converter Standard Edition: This converter takes data from MySQL databases, MS SQL Servers and more and turns them into XML documents.
- IDN Conversion Tool: With the IDN Conversion Tool, you can translate an IDN or nameserver from native characters to RACE and Punycode or vice-versa.
- C to Java Converter: This converter automatically translates C code source files into Java classes. It supports standard ANSI C runtime and L&R C libraries.
These tools let you create ringtones for your device and convert while you’re on the go.
- Google SMS: If you need to get a short language translation or currency conversion on the fly, use your cell phone and Google SMS to get an answer. All you have to do is send a text message and you’ll get the information you need.
- Ringtone Converter: This tool allows you to convert ringtone files from one format to another, like MIDI to Motorola. Ringtone Converter works with most makes and models, plus you won’t need any cables to get the tone on your phone.
- Mobile Unit Converter: Do quick metric conversions on your Smartphone or PDA using Mobile Converter. It works for decides running Windows Mobile 5.0.
- Coding Workshop Ringtone Converter: With the Coding Workshop Ringtone Converter, you can convert ringtones from one format to another. It supports most makes and models of phones. You can also trim and compress files as you convert.
- Converter: Use your Palm to easily look up unit conversions like miles to kilometers on the fly.
In a previous post, I said that we would be developing a new purchase-order tracking system in Excel 2007. I started by interviewing the customers. I sat down with Inbal, our â€œaccounting department,â€ and this is what she said …
â€œToday, we have a licenses management solution [Nick named Hendrix]. Every purchase is entered into Hendrix, and the customer then receives an automated e-mail from Hendrix with his payment code and download and activation instructions.”
â€œWhen a purchase order arrives, it is entered into the system, so that a license will be issued to the customer. I also manage an Excel sheet with a list of POs to track.â€
Here is a sample of the Excel sheet that Inbal uses:
â€œPurchase orders are not paid immediately; they usually have net or net+30 payment terms. itâ€™s my job to see that all the payment orders are eventually paid,â€ Inbal added.
â€œSo, every week, I single out the POs that have not been paid, and according to how late the payment is, I either send an e-mail or mail, or I call the customer. When a purchase order is paid, I update the tracking sheet to reflect that, this way I know not to bother the customer.â€
I then asked her what she would like to the tracking system to do.
â€œI need to be able to define contact details for both customer and end user,â€ Inbal said. â€œThis is because sometimes (especially with POs), the customerâ€™s accounting department is ordering the software for their users. So I need to send the download and activation instructions to the user and work with the accounting department on payment issues. In any case, the customer has to be notified about the delivery of the software as well as the user.
â€œI want to be able to define the due date for each PO (net, net+30, etc.).”
â€œI want to get a weekly report of all the purchase orders that should have already been paid. If possible, I want to get it by e-mail.”
â€œWhen closing an order, I need a place to enter the payment date and some sort of transaction ID (check number, bank transfer ID, etc.).â€
And that was it.
If you have any ideas on how to make this system better, please, pretty please … add them as a comment to this post.