Animated GIFs and Video for Social Media Using PowerPoint

Exported PowerPoint Image

The latest version of PowerPoint allows you to export your presentation as an animated GIF. Animated GIFs are great for catching the eye on social media.

Redcliff Library Board Member Promotion - as an animated GIF
Redcliff Library Board Member Promotion – as an animated GIF

There are of course, lots of animated GIF sofware packages available, many are free. But none are as useful as PowerPoint when it comes to incorporating imagery that you already have on hand. Remember to keep the size of the file down, as Twitter limits animated GIF size to 5MB.

If you want a little more room or sound, remember that you can export your PowerPoint presentation as a video in mp4 format.

You notice some differences between the video and GIF versions of this little social media piece. This is to optimize file size for the animated GIF.

The beauty of creating this in PowerPoint is that it is easily accessible for updating by the client.


Like what you see? Drop me a line, and lets’ make something fantastic for your next social media promotion. A reusable something fantastic!


Music:

Path Of The Fireflies by AERØHEAD | https://soundcloud.com/aerohead

Music promoted by https://www.free-stock-music.com

Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported

https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/deed.en_US

A Summary Sheet In Excel

Why?

A summary sheet can be used to quickly view key details from multiple sheets in a large workbook. A correctly formatted summary sheet can be used as the basis for a mail merge in Word.

How

This morning’s client help call came from a client using Excel to track employee performance reviews. Once the reviews are completed, they will use Word’s Mail Merge feature to generate individual checklists for each employee.

This process starts with a well-designed Excel workbook.

A view of the Summary Sheet
This summary sheet can be used for many purposes, including as the data file for a mail merge.

In the example above, there is a summary sheet which pulls the critical information from each individual employee’s sheet. Regardless of the scenario, a summary sheet is frequently used to present critical information at a glance.

Breaking out the individual sheets in the workbook
Each employee sheet has a similar layout.

Copying and pasting information or creating individually linked formulas is tedious. Instead; try creating a named formula.

=REPLACE(GET.WORKBOOK(1),1,FIND("]",GET.WORKBOOK(1)),"")

The GET.WORKBOOK function is a leftover from the old Excel 4 macro language. This is why the file needs to be saved as a macro enabled file. Even though there is no VBA in it. Finding documentation on GET.WORKBOOK is hard, since Microsoft doesn’t officially support it anymore. But a kind soul has posted here https://answers.microsoft.com/en-us/mac/forum/macoffice2011-macexcel/getworkbook-help-in-macro-language-in-excel-2011/a359708d-b5b7-48ba-8d1e-c4114d4642d2

The GET.WORKBOOK functions cannot be entered directly in a cell, instead you must place them in a named formula. Here is what it looks like, using the Name Manager dialog box. The named formula can be called anything. Here I’ve used ListSheetsFunction as the name.

Adding a Named formula through the Name box
Using GET.WORKBOOK will mean your file will need to be saved as a Macro-Enabled workbook.

Once the named formula has been created, it can be used in conjunction with the INDEX function in the following formula:

=INDEX(ListSheetsFunction,ROW())
Demonstrating how the named formula captures the sheet name
After creating the formula in cell A2, copy it down column A for as many rows as there are sheets in the workbook.

You can see how the formula captures each sheet name as it is copied down the column. Note (this formula doesn’t always recalculate automatically, you may need to close/reopen your workbook or recopy the formula to force recalculation after editing sheet names).

Now that the list of sheet names is in the first column, you can use that to build the formulas that will give you the summary of each sheet in the workbook.

=INDIRECT(ADDRESS(2,COLUMN()-1,1,1,$A2),TRUE)
Adding the INDIRECT/ADDRESS formula to link to the key cells in the sheets
Depending on the layout of the detail sheets, you can copy one formula to the rest of the summary sheet.

In this case I copied the formula into cells B2:E4. Now as the fields are updated in each individual sheet, the summary will update. If new sheets are added, the formulas from the previous row can be copied down.


There are hundreds of formulas available in Excel; the trick is to cut through all the options and find the one that does the job you need done.

If you are interested in becoming a My TechGenie client, give me a call at 403-581-1275 or send an email to catharine@mytechgenie.ca. Practical, everyday technology is our specialty!

Making a Zoom Background in PowerPoint

You can make a professional looking Zoom background quickly in PowerPoint. Just be sure to use a 16 x 9 dimension slide.

Oh, and flip your logo or any text on the slide. Yes, it will be mirrored. But when uploaded to Zoom as a virtual background, it will read properly for your audience.

Where to go to reverse images
Don’t forget to reverse images

After creating your slide, save it as a jpeg and then upload it to Zoom.


Looking for help with getting the most from your presentations?
Contact me at catharine@mytechgenie.ca

Flash Fill

Flash Fill was introduced in 2013, but I have clients who are just upgrading to 2013 this year. This is the kind of feature that makes upgrading worthwhile.


Flash Fill is a new tool introduced in Excel 2013. Its a simple tool to handle a frequent problem. You have a small set of data and you need to break it apart into separate columns or join separate columns of data together.

Previously, I would have handled it with a series of text functions in Excel (LEFT, RIGHT, MID) combined with FIND and LEN if the data was complex enough. But if the data set is small, writing a formula sometimes seems like an overly complicated answer to a simple problem (why not just retype?).

Now Flash Fill is stepping in to help you handle this problem. If you give it a series of data (column orientation only) and an example of the pattern you want to extract, it will extract the data for you.

Flash Fill in action
Flash Fill captures the first names only from the adjacent column

You can see once the second name is typed in the column adjacent to the list of full names, Flash Fill is able to see the pattern and offer all the first names in the list. Pressing enter autocompletes the action and the names are filled in. To do this, there can not be more than two blank columns between the source data and the resulting column. You can use the Ctrl + e shortcut to start flash fill.

Flash Fill Icon
Note the Flash Fill Icon displaying after the Ctrl + e shortcut was used.

You can click the Flash Fill icon to display the menu, accepting the suggestions will have all the names autocomplete.

The Flash Fill menu will display if the icon is clicked
The Flash Fill Menu

Here is an even trickier scenario, in the list above some names have two middle initials. Using the “default” flash fill means only the second initial will display in those names. However if I return to any of the names on the list (with two initials) and correct the example to two initials, all of the two initials examples will be extracted.

Two initials with Flash fill
Flash Fill double initial example

I find that seriously impressive.

I can split data in a cell into multiple columns and I can also use Flash Fill to join multiple columns of data together.

Flash Fill concatenation
Joining separate columns using Flash Fill

The same technique used above. Note that I’ve been able to add commas and periods to the text as well.

Formatting via Flash Fill
Using Flash Fill to apply formatting

In the same way, I can use Flash Fill to apply formatting, in this case putting a space between the first and second part of a postal code. You can also use it to format telephone numbers and date information.


I was (and still am) excited to share Flash Fill with my favourite clients. If you are interested in becoming one of my clients, drop me a line at catharine@mytechgenie.ca

Excel: Multiple Cell entry

Here’s a quick keyboard tip, instead of copying and pasting the same information in multiple cells (too many steps!), try the following.

  1. Pre selecting the cells you want to enter data in.
  2. Enter the data – BUT instead use the Ctrl + Enter keyboard shortcut to confirm the data. This will duplicate your data entry to every cell you have selected.

The toughest part of this shortcut is remembering to use it!

Excel: Find the Weekend

In a previous post I showed how I entered a column of repeating dates when building my Social Media spreadsheet. The next thing I like to do, is colour code those dates so that I can see at a glance when the weekend dates are. For this I use the WEEKDAY function in Excel.

Weekday Function Example

Point the WEEKDAY function at a date and it will return a number from 1 thru 7 indicating what day of the week the date is. In this case the formula reads =weekday(A2,2)

The 2 in the above formula is the return type, and here indicates that the week starts on Monday. This means that Saturday and Sunday will return values of 6 & 7.

This is perfect for using with conditional formatting.

If I plug the following formula into the conditional formatting dialog box
=(WEEKDAY(A2,2))>5

I am testing for values above 5, namely the weekend. So I can use this to put a colour fill in those dates so that they stand out.

Weekday function with Conditional Formatting

Obviously, the Results column isn’t needed because the formula is actually residing in the Edit Formatting Rule dialog box.

This is the second post discussing using Conditional formatting with a Social Media spreadsheet. Check out this previous post for another example of using conditional formatting.


This post is originally from 2016. If you want help with the newest and classic features in Excel drop me a line at catharine@mytechgenie.ca

Excel: Sequential Dates in Multiples

The Fill Series Dialog

When I’m setting up my Social Media spreadsheet in Excel, I like to limit the number of scheduled Facebook entries per day. Over time, I’ve come to think that 4 Facebook entries per day is a reasonable maximum. This lets the librarian post “live” when things are happening in the library without clogging up our follower’s feeds.

So I want to create a column of dates that looks like this:

Each date is repeated 4 times
Each date is repeated 4 times

The quickest way to do this with minimal typing is to use the Fill Series dialog box. Since Excel 2007, you can find it under the Fill menu on the  Home tab.

Finding the Fill Series Dialog
Finding the Fill Series Dialog

To use the Fill Series dialog, select the range of cells you want your dates to be entered in. Make sure the first cell in the range has the starting date. Then select the  Fill button and choose Series .

The Fill Series Dialog
The Fill Series Dialog

Enter a  Step value. In this case, because I want 4 repeats of each date I’m using .25 as the Step value. If I wanted 5 repeats, I’d use .20 (and so on).

If you don’t feel like calculating how many cells to select when doing this for a date range that spans a couple of months; try using a  Stop value . With a  Stop Value, the series will stop at the first instance of the date entered into the field. Otherwise, the series will fill the entire selected range. ( In the picture above the full date is not displayed in the field, it was actually 06/01/2016.) Using a <em><strong>Stop Value</strong> </em>allows you to make a rough selection (say 500 cells) and Excel will stop when the series runs its’ course.


This post is originally from 2016, however Filling a series is still as useful in 2020 as it was then.

If you want help with the newest and classic features in Excel drop me a line at catharine@mytechgenie.ca

Home On The Range

Sometimes, when you’re teaching, its not about the complexity of the subject. Sometimes its a very simple piece of information that students get the most “mileage” out of.

When I’m teaching students MS Excel, the simplest thing that I teach them about is Named Ranges. Its the simplest thing to talk about, but the uses for ranges go on and on.

Excel Spreadsheet Example
A plain spreadsheet.

Above you see a standard Excel spreadsheet. Adding a range name or two (or ten) can help make it much easier to work with.

Adding a Range name to the Cell Address box.
Type the range name into the Cell Address box. Press Enter when done.

A range name can refer to a single cell or a group of cells, here I’ve selected the cell containing the total for the six month period (H11).

Click into the Cell address box (circled in red) and type in the desired name. There are some simple rules about naming ranges; the name can’t start with a number, can’t look like a cell reference (imagine how confusing that would be) and can’t use spaces and special characters (notice I’ve used an underscore to separate words). But after that it is up to you, to make your range name meaningful.

Adding a range name to a group of cells
Adding a range name to a group of cells.

If you are going to add a range name to a group of cells, select them and type the name into the cell address box. The most frequent mistake students make at this point, is that they forget to press the Enter key to confirm the range name.

Now, how do you use these range names?

Navigating your spreadsheet using range names.
Navigating your spreadsheet using range names.

First, you can quickly jump to your named ranges by using the drop-down menu. When you click on the drop-down menu in the cell address box, you’ll see a list of all the ranges you’ve added to your spreadsheet. Regardless of what sheet they are on. So you can use this to quickly jump to those cells that you work with again and again.

Range Names can replace cell references in formulas
Range Names can replace cell references in formulas.

Second, you can replace cell references in a formula with range names. Does =SUM(January) seem easier to read and understand than =SUM(B2:B10)? Then a formula that uses range names will make your spreadsheets easier to read.

Third, you can use range names in conjunction with all sorts of other Excel tools. As an example, try using range names with the Data Validation tool.

A Named Range provides the source for this data validation list.
A Named Range provides the source for this data validation list.

In the sample above, a range name provides the source list for a drop-down list.

Data Validation Result
Data Validation Result

Resulting in this drop-down list. The list will update as the list of animals changes on Sheet1.

This is a more elegant solution for using drop-down lists, since it means your source lists can be kept on another sheet, and not clutter up the working area. This is something that is impossible to do, without using a range name.

So faster navigation, easy to read formulas and access to more powerful features in Excel. What’s not to love about range names?


Looking to make a powerful spreadsheet or do you want me to make it for you? Drop me a line at catharine@mytechgenie.ca

Social Media Spreadsheet – Conditional Formatting

I’m a big fan of Excel’s conditional formatting feature. I use it a lot in my spreadsheets to check on the quality of data, find errors and many other tasks. Here is the first of a couple of examples of how I’m using conditional formatting in my social media spreadsheet.

Just a bit of background on the spreadsheet. I use this spreadsheet to compose Facebook Posts and Tweets for the Redcliff Library. I also use it to schedule when the posts/tweets will be published. This allows me to sit down and plan a coherent sequence of posts/tweets.

I often take the Facebook posts and cut them down to shorter lengths and reuse them on Twitter. Twitter has a character limit of 140 characters. However, I don’t want to use all 140 characters if I can avoid it. Its’ generally recognized that the ideal tweet length is around 120 characters. This length allows others to retweet and add hashtags without having to edit the tweet.

So I have created 4 conditional formatting rules to help me meet this length limit.

  1. The background of the cell turns bright red [STOP] if the tweet is over 140 characters.
  2. The background of the cell turns dull red if the tweet is over 135 characters.
  3. The background of the cell turns bright orange [WARNING] if the tweet is over 125 characters.
  4. The background of the cell turns dull orange if the tweet is over 120 characters.

Why four rules? I could use 2 warnings only; at 120 and 140 characters respectively. In fact, that is where I started. But, writing tweets can be a tricky thing and I found I needed a little wiggle room to help me when I compose. The other thing to keep in mind is that the conditional format isn’t applied until I finish editing the cell (by pressing the Enter key or the checkmark). It is possible to have an interactive format applied using VBA, but those functions are memory intensive and slow down the whole spreadsheet. Since my writing process seems to involve a lot of pauses to think, stopping to apply the conditional format isn’t really a big problem for me.

So what does it look like in action?

Conditional Formatting Results
Conditional Formatting Results

As a result, I can quickly identify which tweets need to be edited. Here are the 4 rules as displayed in the Conditional Formatting Dialog box.Conditional Formatting Dialog

These are formula based conditional formats.

closer look at formula
The formula the conditional format is based on.

 

 

A conditional formatting formula must return a value of TRUE in order to fire. The following formula uses the AND, SEARCH and LEN functions

=AND(((SEARCH(“TW”,B1))>0),LEN(H1)>140)

If you were reading this formula in something like english it would read: “If the letters TW appear in column B AND the length of text in this cell is more that 140 characters the result equals TRUE”.

Why am I testing for the presence of TW in the subject column? Remember I said that I had both Facebook and Twitter posts in the same spreadsheet. I don’t want the conditional formatting to flag Facebook posts, which by their nature are longer.

Pro Tip:

When you are writing a formula for conditional formatting, do it in a cell in the spreadsheet first. The dialog for conditional formatting is really cramped and you don’t get any help features. After you are sure the formula works, you can then copy/paste it into the dialog using the Ctrl + V keyboard shortcut. Also, because I planned on apply this conditional format to the entire Description column ($H:$H). I had cell H1 selected when I built the conditional formula. That way the formula will adjust relatively to the entire column. Using absolute and relative references properly is another tricky part of building conditional formatting formulas.

applying the coloured background fill
applying the coloured background fill

Once I have my formula built. I can click the format button and select the background colour fill.

 

 

When I’ve built my first format successfully I can then use it for the basis of the subsequent formulas. Just changing the length of the text in the cell.

  • =AND(((SEARCH(“TW”,B1))>0),LEN(H1)>140)
  • =AND(((SEARCH(“TW”,B1))>0),LEN(H1)>135)
  • =AND(((SEARCH(“TW”,B1))>0),LEN(H1)>125)
  • =AND(((SEARCH(“TW”,B1))>0),LEN(H1)>120)
The order of the rules and the stop if true flags must be set.
The order of the rules and the stop if true flags must be set.

To make this really successful, the rules need to be placed in the proper order, with the Stop If True flags turned on. Now excel will check to see if the text exceeds 140 characters first, then 135, then 125 and finally 120. The Stop if True flag doesn’t need to be set on the final rule, because no other rules follow it.

Conditional formats can take time to build, but are extremely useful in many ways.



This post was originally published in 2015, and although the rules surrounding the length of a tweet have changed; my social media spreadsheet keeps chugging along. That is one of the things about a great spreadsheet. If you take the time to build it right, it will serve you well for years to come. Do you have a job that could be made easier with a well-designed spreadsheet? Drop me a line at catharine@mytechgenie.ca and let’s talk.