Monday, August 30, 2010

Access vs. Excel

Here's a question I get asked a lot. When do I use Excel and when do I use Access. Thanks to the Crabby Office Lady, here is your answer.

When you want toUse this programWhy you should take Crabby's advice
... deal with a very large amount of data. (If you're a Kennedy, that's thousands of entries).AccessAccess is a handy-dandy organizer, accessing Cape Cod houses full of information in a quick and easy way. A few clicks of the mouse and you can make sense of all those toothy entries.
... manage a fairly small amount of data.ExcelIf you can simplify your life, by all means do it. Because once the big day hits, simplification will go right out the window. Don't use a database when an organized list will do nicely.
... spend less time plugging in the same information again and again, and more time playing around with it.AccessIf you want to make sure all your relations' variables are accounted for, create a relational database. One table can contain their names, and the other tables can contain seating, dietary, and lodging requirements. Each guest probably has more than one requirement, so you need a database that can cross-reference all of them.
... create a very simple list with limited amounts of cross-referencing.ExcelWhy get all tangled up in relationships if you don't have to? (Spoken like a true familial misanthrope.) You have a list of guests in one column, the corresponding "Yes, he's coming" or "No, she's banished" in the next column. Easy as pumpkin pie.
... rely on multiple external databases and run complex queries.AccessIf you need to compare the last decade's worth of information about seating arrangements, dietary preferences, and who ran for Congress in which state, don't even try this in Excel.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Word 2007: Convert text to a table or vice versa

When I create a document, I tend to change my mind after it is all done how I want to format it. I used to cringe at the thought of changing text to a table, it was a lot of work, until I learned there was a tool for that.
  1. Select the text that you want to convert. It should have a common delimiter (separating character) that will convert to columns and rows. Typically, tabs separate columns and line returns separate rows.
  2. On the Insert tab, in the Tables group, click Table, and then click Convert Text to Table.
  3. In the Convert Text to Table dialog box, under Separate text at, click the option for the separator character that is in your text.
In the Number of columns box, check the number of columns. If you don't see the number of columns that you expect, you may be missing a separator character in one or more lines of text.

To convert a table to text...

  1. Select the rows or table that you want to convert to paragraphs.
  2. Under Table Tools, on the Layout tab, in the Data group, click Convert to Text.
  3. Under Separate text at, click the option for the separator character that you want to use in place of the column boundaries. Rows are separated with paragraph marks.