Creating help files in Excel? (Take II)

Subject: Creating help files in Excel? (Take II)
From: Geoff Hart <ghart -at- videotron -dot- ca>
To: TECHWR-L <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Sun, 10 Sep 2006 08:54:56 -0400

Dick Margulis noted: <<Excel has a function, Insert > Comment, that places a small red triangle in the upper right corner of a cell, linked to a textbox that you can type into. When the end user floats a cursor over the triange, the comment pops up. The textbox is where you place the help text. The comment box initializes with the name of the logged in user in bold, as if you were going to enter a comment on review. However, you can delete the name and create whatever help text you wish.>>

It's a useful function, but obscure, particularly on a high- resolution display (the comment markers are tiny and difficult to see, at least in my opinion). If you use this approach, make sure to alert users to the existence of the comments. You'd be tempted to think that this is unnecessary, but I recall attending an STC presentation (possibly by Scott DeLoach?) that provided clear statistics on the surprisingly large number of users who weren't aware of the Help menu or how to use it. I can't provide statistics, but at a former employer, we greatly reduced the number of tech support calls by including a "how to use the Help system" module in our documentation and training.

Once the user understands that these comments exist, they provide embedded help right next to the appropriate field and thus offer an efficient way to provide help. Unfortunately, I'm not aware of any easy way to get external text (e.g., written in Word) into the comments, other than through copy/paste. Possibly someone who really knows Excel (definitely not me) can say how?
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Geoff Hart ghart -at- videotron -dot- ca

(try geoffhart -at- mac -dot- com if you don't get a reply)

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Creating help files in Excel: From: Gary Robinson
Creating help files in Excel?: From: Geoff Hart
Re: Creating help files in Excel?: From: Dick Margulis

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