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TECHNOLOGY Q&A
The incredible shrinking font  
By J. Carlton Collins
November 2012

Q: In Excel 2010, the font tool allows me to select from a font size ranging from 8 points to 72 points, but I’m sure that I’ve seen others use a smaller font. Can you tell me how this is done?

A: Even though Excel’s font size tool offers font sizes ranging from 8 to 72 points, you can type in point sizes ranging from 1 to 409. For example, in the screen image below, I have entered a font size of 3.5 points, and Excel 2010, 2007, and 2003 will accept this smaller font.

 


TECHNOLOGY Q&A
Custom calendar  
By J. Carlton Collins, CPA
November 2012

Q: Is there a quick way to create or paste a calendar into a Word document that can be edited, without having to create one from scratch?

A: Word includes a tool called Quick Tables, which provides several options for inserting calendars into a Word document, as follows. From the Insert tab, select Table, Quick Tables, and click on the calendar design you want to appear in the Word document. Once the calendar is inserted into Word, you can edit each day of the month, as demonstrated in the picture below.

 


TECHNOLOGY Q&A
Lost Excel file  
By J. Carlton Collins, CPA
November 2012

Q: Help! I was working in Excel 2010 on an important file for several hours when the unthinkable happened. I meant to close a single workbook, but I accidentally closed all of my workbooks without saving. Hoping that there was an undo feature to recover the file, I selected File, Recent, Recover Unsaved Workbooks, but the file with my changes was not there. I checked to make sure that my AutoRecover and AutoSave options were properly enabled (and set to save my file every 10 minutes) and they were, so I don’t understand why a copy of the file with my changes was not saved. Can you explain what went wrong so this doesn’t happen again?

A: The backup file you wanted was there (assuming you did not disable Excel’s AutoRecover and AutoSave functionality), but you looked in the wrong place. Instead of searching under Recover Unsaved Workbooks, you should have searched under Manage Versions. Excel’s AutoRecover and AutoSave options are often misunderstood, and they work differently depending on whether you are working in a newly created workbook that never has been saved as opposed to a previously created workbook that has been updated, but not resaved. Here’s what you need to know about these tools:

AutoSave. The AutoSave tool saves new files that have been created but never saved (e.g., you close the file without saving or the power goes out). To access AutoSaved files, select File, Recent, Recover Unsaved Workbooks, and double-click to open the desired file.

AutoRecover. The AutoRecover tool saves files in two ways. First, AutoRecover saves versions of the current file as you work (at intervals you specify, with 10 minutes being the default interval). This enables you to revert to any prior version of the workbook. To access AutoRecovered file versions, from the File tab, select Info. Next, look beside the Manage Versions button for a list of the AutoRecovered versions of the document, an example of which is pictured below.

AutoRecover saves at regular intervals, but only if changes have been made between intervals. Therefore, (assuming 10-minute save intervals) a workbook that has been open for one hour might have six AutoRecovered versions, but only if you edited the document every 10 minutes. Otherwise, there will be fewer AutoRecovered versions (which explains why the image below the previous paragraph does not display AutoRecovered versions at regular intervals).

Second, AutoRecover also saves a version of the workbook that you previously created, reopened, and updated, but did not resave. When this happens, reopen the old version of the workbook file, and this older version automatically will include any newer unsaved versions of the workbook file. To view a newer, unsaved version of the workbook file, select File, Info, then look beside the Manage Versions button for a list of the AutoRecovered versions of the document with the phrase (when I closed without saving) next to each version’s date and time, as pictured below.

Launching these versions opens a snapshot of the workbook as it appeared at that particular date and time according to your AutoRecover settings, even if you failed to properly save the workbook when you closed it (this is the solution that applies to your situation). To revert to the newer, unsaved version of the workbook file, click the Restore button located in the Recovered Unsaved File box at the top of the workbook, as pictured below.

 


TECHNOLOGY Q&A
The case has been solved  
By J. Carlton Collins, CPA
November 2012

Q: Excel provides several functions (=LOWER, =UPPER, =PROPER) for changing character case; does Word have similar capabilities?

A: To change the character case in Word, highlight the word, sentence, paragraph, or document, then press Shift+F3 to toggle between lower, upper, and proper case.


TECHNOLOGY Q&A
QuickBooks job costing  
By J. Carlton Collins, CPA
November 2012

Q: We are planning to convert our accounting system to QuickBooks next month, and we plan to use QuickBooks primarily for job costing. Do you have any recommendations related to our setup that we should consider?

A: You are asking the right question at the right time. I sometimes find that companies using QuickBooks job costing do not obtain the results they desire because the default job-cost preferences were not set up correctly.

So that your implementation of QuickBooks provides all of the job-costing capabilities and functionality QuickBooks has to offer, activate the following eight QuickBooks preferences:

1. Estimates. Enable estimates from the QuickBooks menu by selecting the Edit, Preferences, Jobs & Estimates, Company Preferences tab, and then select the radio button labeled Yes in the Do You Create Estimates? box. This setting will enable you to link estimates to your jobs.

2. Progress Invoicing. Enable Progress Invoicing by selecting the Edit, Preferences, Jobs & Estimates, Company Preferences tab, and then select the radio button labeled Yes from the Do You Do Progress Invoicing? box. This setting will enable you to invoice part of a job based on either the job completion percentage or the completion percentage applied to each line item in the estimate.

3. Inventory warning. Enable a warning to display when there is not enough inventory to sell based on what’s available. To do this, select the Edit, Preferences, Items & Inventory, Company Preferences tab, then check the box labeled Warn if not enough inventory to sell and select the radio button labeled Quantity Available. This setting will create an alert when you create an estimate that includes goods not on hand so you can quote the customer a more accurate delivery time along with your estimate.

4. Use time and billing. If you use time and billing, go to Edit, Preferences, Time & Expenses and select the Yes radio button in response to the Time tracking box’s question Do you track time? This setting will allow timesheet users to record their actual time against jobs.

5. Create invoices from time and expenses. If you invoice using the time and material billing method, select the Edit, Preferences, Time & Expenses, Company Preferences tab, then check the box labeled Create invoices from a list of time and expenses. This setting reminds the invoice preparer that time or reimbursable expenses related to the job exist, and provides an easy method for including those costs on the invoice.

6. Reimbursable expenses. From the same tab, you can enable the reimbursed expense option by checking the box labeled Track reimbursed expenses as income. This setting will enable you to more easily post out-of-pocket job expenses (such as meals or travel) to your jobs for reimbursement purposes.

7. Charge payroll to jobs. If you use QuickBooks Payroll and charge payroll amounts to jobs, select the Edit, Preferences, Payroll & Employees, Company Preferences tab, then check the box labeled Job Costing, Class and Item tracking for paycheck expenses, and select either the Entire paycheck or Earnings item option. This setting enables employee payroll charges to flow directly to job-cost reports.

8. Subcontractor-provided items. When setting up new service items, make sure to check the box labeled This service is used in assemblies or is performed by a subcontractor or partner. Thereafter, when you pay subcontractors, make sure to use the items tab instead of the expenses tab to add line items to your estimates, because this will allow you to add a markup to each item when you create an estimate. This setting produces better organized job-cost reports, and it also collects the information needed for producing subcontractor Forms 1099 at year end.

It has been my experience that once these eight preferences are enabled, QuickBooks job costing works better for many job- and project-costing situations.

 

 

 

 

 

 



TECHNOLOGY Q&A
Five Twitter tips  
By J. Carlton Collins
November 2012

1. Use services such as Twitter Search (twitter.com/#!/search-home) to see if someone’s talking about you, your company, or your products. You can also sign up to receive instant notification in the event a tweet does mention you, your company, or your products.

2. Use applications such as TweetDeck (tweetdeck.com) or HootSuite (hootsuite.com) to organize multiple Twitter accounts and tweets by categories.

3. Twitter can sometimes be a good method for organizing and holding a quick meeting, generally referred to in the Twitter community as a “Tweetup.”

4. Feedback can be a powerful source of information for identifying areas that need improvement, and with Twitter it’s easy to solicit customer feedback. For example, Home Depot (@HomeDepot or twitter.com/HomeDepot) solicits feedback and posts stories about customer projects online.

5. Twitter can be used to build community around your company or products. Imagine a group of customers speaking to one another via Twitter to explore new and better ways to use your company’s products or services. As an example, organic supermarket Whole Foods Market (@WholeFoods or twitter.com/wholefoods) does a good job of serving up new recipes and dates and times for wine-tasting events.


TECHNOLOGY Q&A
Twitterfy me!  
By J. Carlton Collins, CPA
November 2012

Q: Does Twitter really serve a legitimate business purpose? All I see are people using it to gossip and to keep track of others’ personal activities and corny stuff such as new songs and concert dates.

A: Like the internet, Twitter can dish up both useful and useless information. It depends on how you use it. I might ask you whether a telephone has legitimate business purposes, and of course it does. However, a telephone also can be used to gossip and track others’ personal activities. Twitter’s primary value emanates from its ability to leverage the power of the computer and the internet (without requiring access to a computer connected to the internet) to produce one-to-many communications.

For example, consider a company with 15 sales representatives, each following the company and one another via Twitter. This arrangement enables the sales manager to tweet a single message, such as “The order of 36 desks has finally arrived,” to which a sales representative across the country might tweet back, “It’s about time, I just landed a deal to sell 12 of them.” In an instant, all 15 salespeople are privy to these messages, and, even better, those traveling sales reps can stay in the loop using only a smartphone with a data service plan—no computers or Wi-Fi connections are needed. The result is a new type of “status messaging” that enables quick and easy communication without requiring the recipients to carry heavier laptop computers or spend several minutes booting their computers and finding and connecting to Wi-Fi hotspots to check email. This type of communication also could be accomplished using email or text messaging groups, but Twitter’s setup is simple, and the limit of 140 characters per tweet eliminates verbose messages and results in communication that gets right to the point.

I predict that accounting systems soon will tweet useful messages to our pockets, such as “The quantity of six-gallon canisters on hand has reached its reorder point,” “The amount of cash on hand has fallen below $250,000,” or “Employee Benjamin Smith is due for a review.” In time, I also predict, our machines will communicate via Twitter as well. For example, your refrigerator someday may tweet the message, “You are out of milk.”


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