Build Automatic Return Addresses in Word

SAN FRANCISCO (03/20/2000) - The envelope and labels dialog box in Microsoft Corp.'s Word 97 and 2000 (Tools*Envelopes and Labels) automatically fills in a return address for you. But where does that address come from? And what if it isn't the one you want to use? You can select it and type in a new address each time you use that dialog box, but if you want to change the default address for some reason (say you move or you've inherited the PC from another employee), you'll have to take a different route:

Select Tools*Options and click the User Information tab in the Options dialog box. Type the new return address information in the 'Mailing address' field, deleting the old address if necessary. Then click OK.

Hint: You can also change the return address in the Envelope and Labels dialog box itself, especially for a temporary change. Just be sure to click the appropriate button when asked whether to save the new address as the default after you click that dialog box's Print button.

Insert Dates Posthaste

Need a date in your document? You can insert one with a menu command (select Insert*Date and Time, then choose further options from a dialog box). But if you're fond of keyboard shortcuts, there are alternatives.

Word 97 & 2000: Put the cursor where you want the date and press Alt-Shift-D.

There's a twist to this approach: The date you get is a dynamic date field that will update each time you load the document. To make the current date permanent, click the field once, then press Ctrl-Shift-F9. To change the default appearance of dates you have entered in this manner, select Insert*Date and Time, choose the desired format, click Default, and confirm the change.

WordPerfect 8 & 9: Place the cursor at the desired position and press Ctrl-D to permanently insert the current date. To insert a date code that will automatically update itself, press Ctrl-Shift-D. (Hey Microsoft, see how easy it can be?)Switch Column Formats MidpageYou may often need a two-column format for one part of a page and a one-column format for the rest--especially in newsletters or other graphical documents.

But Word doesn't clearly indicate how to do this. Here's the quick, foolproof way to handle such formatting in Word 97 and 2000.

Position the pointer at the end of the text that will precede your new format or on a blank line that will begin the new formatting area. Select Insert*Break. In the Break dialog box, select Continuous under 'Section breaks' and click OK. A gray section-break line will appear. Select Format*Columns, then choose the desired number of columns and click OK. Other column options will be correctly set automatically. Repeat these steps each time you need a different column layout.

While editing, keep an eye on the gray section-break lines so you don't backspace over one. If you do, press Ctrl-Z or click the Undo icon to correct the error.

Note for WordPerfect 8 and 9 users: No section breaks are needed to insert multiple column layouts anywhere on a page. Just select Format*Columns whenever you want to create a multicolumn layout, and use the Columns dialog box to set the number of columns and other measurements. To return to a single column layout, just select Format*Columns and then click Discontinue.

Find additional tips at Send questions and tips to We pay $50 for published items. George Campbell is a PC World contributing editor. You can reach him on his Web page at

Edit themes in Word 2000

I see that there are "themes" for formatting Web pages in Word 2000, but I cannot find a way to modify the existing themes or create new ones. How do I do this?

Elena Polonskaya, Kiev, Ukraine

Unfortunately, you can't modify Web themes--or design templates--within Word 2000. While the program can apply themes to Web documents, it doesn't include tools for altering them. However, FrontPage 2000 will let you modify existing Word 2000 themes, all of which are stored in a directory that is shared by the two applications. In FrontPage, open a new Web page and select Format*Theme.

Choose one of the included themes, then click Modify. Use the buttons and dialog boxes to alter graphics, fonts, and so on. Then save the changes with the same filename, or as a new theme. You'll be able to access the new or altered themes in Word 2000 and apply them to your Web documents.

Delete Unneeded Word Backups

Word 97 and 2000 can automatically create backup copies of your open documents (select Tools*Options*Save*Save Autorecover info every:). It's a great idea that can save your bacon should you need to revert to a previously saved version. However, once the document is in its final form, these automatic backups just take up precious disk space. To delete them, select Start*Find.

Type *.wbk in the Find dialog's Named field, and select My Computer from the 'Look in' list. Now delete the ones you no longer need.

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