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Last week I introduced the idea of scenario-based Help and asked for input on what might work best for you. On further reflection, the post was a bit jargony and stilted so I'm trying again.
Most Help is written for a specific feature or procedure, such as this article on cropping pictures in Publisher 2007. But this shows only part of a larger task, which might include inserting a picture, cropping it, adding captions and effects, aligning it on the page, and so on.
Here's an example of a roadmap style article on manipulating images in Publisher 2010 that does start with inserting the picture to cropping, to adding to a shape, and finally resetting the image to remove any formatting you've added.
In the next version of Office we plan to deliver more of the Help content in workflow formats, little scenarios that show an end-to-end process that spans multiple procedures to get basic tasks successfully finished.
These workflow scenarios might take several forms. They might be little stories with characters, sort of like my author parodies only with more emphasis on the procedures. Help scenarios might be roadmaps of Help articles, like this Access 2007 roadmap for creating a form, a collection of links to separate Help articles for each of the procedures in the workflow. Or they might be given in video form like the Office Intervention series.
Explaining a whole task from beginning to end can be challenging, especially if the way the task is explained doesn't match what the reader wants.
So, my poll question to you is:
If you've got any other ideas please log-in to the comments to let me know.
-- Bob deLaubenfels
How about the story idea, but each element is individual and you can opt what you want to do next. Kind of like the create your own story idea - you start with a general idea like Bob wants to create an office newsletter, and then allow the user to pick different elements of making an office newsletter and the guide goes to that section to show Bob (user) how to do that task and then asks if they want to add more or finish, etc.
I like the article format of the current Office help system but I do think it could be more blog like with video mixed in.
The bigger issue in my opinion is discovery and ease of use.
Discovery: Whenever I click on the Office 2010 help icon, it always comes to the same / static master page...it is totally unaware about my active workspace, active ribbon area (ex. Mailings), template, cursor location (ex. footer, ex. in a table cell), selection (ex. picture) and past couple document changes. This non-identifing data could be used to pre-query and present more relevant initial help screen. Interestingly, clicking on help while in various "backstage" areas does seem to do just that. That is time saving. Now you just need to carry that through for the main application area.
Ease of Use: If there is some solution/article that I find useful I end having to toggle between the help screen and the active document. Not very friendly. It would be more efficient if this could be displayed somehow next to the active document..
Just to be clear, I don't want an over engineered help system. I would much prefer resources spent in streamlining and improving the application UI.
To add to JohnCz’s comment re: discovery, Help has become near useless to me within the Office applications. For instance in Word, if you’re in the Page Setup window and press F1/hit the help icon in the titlebar, it dumps you to the main help page. If you think you’re going to then search for page setup within Help you’ll be in for a surprise, as your top results will be about page numbers, page breaks, 32 vs 64-bit Office and the OpenDocument format.
So you bring up your web browser, use the search engine of your choice to search for “page setup word” and end up with relevant results there with top results pointing to office.microsoft.com. So, it seems search really needs an overhaul within the built-in Help. Although if you set the Help to search office.com you’ll get similar results as a search engine, but AFAIK that isn’t the default setting.
Also as a side note, there is some context in some of the dialogs. For instance, bringing up the Paragraph window and hitting F1 will give you a relevant article immediately on line spacing.
I would like to create the equivalent of a pie chart using a dollar bill. The premise would be to show what portion of contributions' dollars go to what specific activity/function. For example," out of each dollar you contribute, $.33 goes to outreach, $.12 goes to pastor's salary..." I assume this would be done in Excel. Any suggestions?
My business email is Microsoft Outlook Web Access and it has only 250 MB of storage capacity. I need to archive important documents such as contracts for years. Is the best solution to Microsoft Outlook Office or is that overkill when all I need at this point is a large file cabinet? Shirley
Robyn - Great idea about the create your own story idea. Check out this blog post (Mail merge in Word and Publisher made easy) for an example of this type of interactive help: blogs.office.com/.../mail-merge-in-word-and-publisher-made-easy.aspx.
Shirley and Karen - I, being a Publisher specialist, don't have answers to your support questions. But, you can probably get help by posting your questions at: www.facebook.com/Office. Check out Joannie's post on this new FaceBook HelpDesk service: blogs.office.com/.../office-help-goes-social-on-facebook.aspx.
John and Trekie - Thanks for your feedback. Search on Office.com and the F1 Help experience are high on our list of known issues that we are working to improve.
I'm new to this and am not sure how to post a question. May I post it here? I'm stumped with my Publisher 2003 edition If this is wrong, please let me know how to post properly and accept my apologies!
I'm having a problem right now that I need help with. I have a template I've created for a quarterly and someone has submitted material for it in Publisher rather than Word ,like they usually do. The person was new to publisher so she submitted each page as a separate file. Is there an easy way to pull all of the content on these pages into one Publisher document, using my template (which is just a decorative frame with Volume/Issue and Date text boxes)? I can't seem to figure out how to do this apart from copying and pasting each element over from her pages to my template. I'm thinking that can't be the easiest way--very time consuming for a long document. I also have a submission that's long and involved from Word--is there a way to easily merge that w/o cutting and pasting every bit of text, art, etc.? Help!
Hi Cara - Regarding taking the one page per pub file into a single pub, My suggestion is to open one of the one page pubs, press CTRL+A to select all the objects on the page, then copy/paste them into a new page in your single pub. This is still copy/paste, but you do the whole page at a time rather than each object on the page separately.
For importing Word docs into your pub file I suggest using the Insert > Text File > select the Word file and allow Publisher to create the text boxes, pages, and autoflow of text/objects between the text boxes on each page.
I have created a program book using Publisher 2010 and I have a header. How do I tell publisher not to show the header on the first (outside front cover) page and last page (outside back cover)? Also, I have page numbers, is there a way to start the page numbering on a different page than the first?
Appreciate any asistance
Valmont - For the header/footer question, use a different Master Page for the first and last pages of your publication and don't add the header/footer.
For the page number question, after the first page insert a section by right-clicking on the second page and select Insert Section. Then go to the last page and do the same thing. Now, on the Insert tab in the Header & Footer group click Page Number, then click Format Page Numbers. In the Page Number Format dialog choose Start this section with 1.
I need to create a caption stlye containing an outline-numbered beginning. Ex. Figure 2.1. the image. The "2" in the caption represents the section number of the heading 1 secion that this caption resides under. So this caption may reside under any of the following sections : 2. Overview; 2.1. Detailed Overview; 2.2.2. Very Detailed Overview
Rene - Are you using Publisher 2010? 2010 introduced captions, but not the kind of auto-formatted numbering you're looking for, that you'll need to enter by hand. For information on captions and the other picture tools see:
Help please! I am trying to insert a .pdf document into a Publisher document. I have tried two different ways:
Insert/Object/Create New/Adobe Acrobat Document/finding the file on my hard drive/open = document appears with diagonal gray lines through it.
Insert/Object/Create from File/finding the file on my hard drive/open = .pdf icon with the document name below.