Ms. Compy Fix-it – Dates Converting to Numbers

Hello again!
Today I encountered a really annoying problem in Excel. In switching between open files, suddenly some of my dates were converted to numbers. September 3rd, 2014, became 41885, and all my columns expanded. I knew I’d hit something by accident, but no amount of Undo would fix it, and even changing the column’s Number Format to Date didn’t make them appear as dates!

Turns out, I had accidentally hit Ctrl + ` instead of Ctrl + Tab to shift between open Excel files. This turns on Show Formulas! So simple, yet it took me a good few minutes to figure it out. So if you’ve searched for this issue and found this post, Ms. Compy Fix-it is here to tell you you’re not alone!

So, if you find your columns unexpectedly expanding, and weird things happening to your data, check to make sure you haven’t accidentally turned on Show Formulas!


Ms. Compy Fix-It vs. Excel 2007’s Horizontal Axis Issues

Hi everybody! (“Hi, Dr. Nick!”)

Ms. Compy Fix-It here, with another workaround for all you folks wrestling with Excel 2007’s quirks.  This one is to do with Excel ignoring your pretty horizontal axis and deciding to do its own thing……

So let’s start off with my chart:


This looks okay to me.  But say I’d done some resizing within my Whole Chart Area and things have moved around a bit.


Whoops, that looks ugly!  The horizontal axis label’s on top of the legend and we can’t have that.  So, I’m going to resize the Inner Chart Area to move it up, right?  Well watch what happens.

 excel Example Pic - Post 2 - 2.1
Wait, since when did my data become negative?

I initially thought it had to do with the way I resized it.  I even drew a chart to figure out whether it was the Inner Chart Area or the Outer Chart Area resizing that made it a problem.  Turns out the problem is partially about resizing and partially about this:
excel Example Pic - Post 2 - 3

Ugh!  So then I zoomed in to 100% and it fixed my chart……… but guess what?  My other charts started messing up their horizontal axis-crossing data!

So…… turns out I don’t know a fool-proof method for getting rid of this quirk.  However, I do know that sometimes altering the Inner Chart Area and/or the Outer Chart Area can fix it, and other times the Zoom can fix it.

If you know why this is and can help us all out, please leave a comment!

Ms. Compy Fix-It is Back! With an Excel 2007 Data Labels Workaround

Well hello there!  It’s certainly been a while.  I hope everyone’s been doing well and not having too many computer struggles.

I am happy to report that I have a workaround for that annoying (and completely inexplicable) Excel 2007 quirk of not allowing chart data label resizing.  I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve struggled with this, so I’m very excited to share my workaround with you, even if it’s not a complete fix.

(I’m working on making 3 charts fit in a very tiny space, so forgive the use and misuse of gridlines, titles, etc.. I’ve had to pare it down to barebones 🙂 )

See how ugly they are?!  Ugh!  Well read on to see how to force it to use that extra space around it, like the pretty last graph.

In order to describe it properly, I’ll have to define what I mean when I say certain things:
“Whole Chart area” – the area that includes the chart, its axes, the title, and the legend (see below)
excel Example Pic 3.1
“Inner Chart area” – the area that gets selected that includes the data and not much else (see below)

So, in my struggles with this, I’ve noticed a few things:

  • Excel changes the data labels when you resize the Whole Chart area
  • Excel doesn’t change the data labels when you resize the Inner Chart area
  • Excel will not reliably change your data label size when you increase or decrease your font size (sometimes it will even act differently from one chart to the next!  I’m still trying to figure that part out…..)

So!  If you want to adjust your data labels – say they’re crazy-thin like mine above:

  1. expand the Whole Chart area until your data label is as wide as you’d like
  2. shrink the Inner Chart area until your chart is the size you’d like
  3. select the Whole Chart area and ensure your background is “None” – as it’s now quite huge and will cover any other data you have beside it (if you wanted a nice border around your chart, you can always just draw a rectangle shape with no background and it’ll work almost as well)
  4. move around your axis label and title, as they’ll no longer be centred
  5. if you’d like the font size to be bigger/smaller, give it a try.  I found the data labels I adjusted in this way were able to increase/decrease font size after as well.  Who knows, maybe this frees them from their Excel-prison shackles!

excel Example Pic 5

Has this helped solve your problem?  Let me know in the comments!  🙂

Ms. Compy Fix-It: Tackling PowerPoint’s Manhattan Skyline

Hi folks!

Ms. Compy Fix-It here!  Come to your (potential) rescue once again.

Today’s topic is one I’m happy to say has been resolved: Manhattan skylines in PowerPoint Print Previews.

Never heard of them?  Well, some people have called them that because they are vertical bars that are not in your document, but suddenly appear when you print or hit Print Preview.  Depending how many you have, you can end up with quite a dramatic print job.

I encountered them when trying to print a coworker’s slide, and honestly was surprised they showed up in the Print Preview – I thought this might be one of those weird printer configuration/”it’s not us, it’s your printer” Microsoft kind of issues, but I was wrong.

I did some digging, and was surprised to not find very much that was helpful.  I looked closely at the bars and could see they all seemed to stem downward from a title.  Have a look below.  I deleted all but the titles, as the rest is irrelevant.


I thought maybe it had to do with text box fill, but that came up empty.  The clue that pushed me to the Ms. Compy Fix-It idea came from this link: from sharon_bloor.  She suggested it was a text issue, and although the font didn’t appear strange or particularly new, I thought it was worth a try to just Ctrl+A (highlight all) and change the font to Calibri.  Sure enough, when I hit Print Preview, the bars were gone.


Hope this helps someone else!!

Yours in PowerPoint suffering fixing,

Ms. Compy Fix-It  🙂

Primavera P6 Mouse Scrolling Issue: a Ms. Compy Fix-It Mystery!

Hi all,

So I’m at my new job and am trying to use Primavera P6 with my Microsoft Notebook Optical Mouse 3000….. and for some reason, it won’t let me scroll.  Anyone else have this issue?  Anyone resolve it?

Ms. Compy Fix-It needs your help! ….. 🙂

Ms. Compy Fix-It: Delete Your Notes from PowerPoint

Hi all, Ms. Compy Fix-It here, with another life-saving (or at least semi-interesting) tip for PowerPoint.

Have you ever been revising an old file that had a lot of unwanted notes, and thought, “Gee whiz, I wish I could delete all of these notes with the click of a button!”  Well, you can’t.  But you can click about 3 buttons and should get to your result.  Beautiful?  I think so, too.

Here’s how, thanks to: Ohad’s blog.

Go to your presentation.  Make sure you save it.  Copy the following text to use later:

Dim objSlide As Slide
Dim objShape As Shape

For Each objSlide In ActivePresentation.Slides
    For Each objShape In objSlide.NotesPage.Shapes
        If objShape.TextFrame.HasText Then
            objShape.TextFrame.TextRange = “”
        End If

In your presentation, open View, then click on Macros.  In the Macro Name field, type RemoveNotes (or whatever name you want to use in order to use it again later for other presentations).

Click Create.  It’ll open up your VBA, which for all I know means Very Big Anomaly.  Anyway, don’t click anywhere else because it’ll bring your cursor right where it needs to be.  Here’s where you can paste that coding I had you copy earlier.

Now click X to close (don’t worry, it’s not going to close your whole presentation).  If you’re not back at your presentation, click X again (you just closed the VBA window!).

Now you should be back in your presentation, and don’t worry, you’re not supposed to notice anything different.  Now, you go to View again, Macros again, and you should see your Macro in the box list.  Select yours, click Run, and bingo, you’re done!  Okay, a few more than 3 buttons, but still, wasn’t that easy?  🙂


Ms. Compy Fix-It’s Disappeared Row…..

Ms. Compy Fix-It here, bringing you another episode of computer frustration resolution.  Today’s topic will be the random row that just won’t unhide.  You may have intentionally hid it, and now it’s causing you trouble because it’s just that shy.  Here’s what you can do:

  • If you’re like me and accidentally Froze Panes before freezing the actual panes you intended to, no combination of scrolling or resizing will work.  You’ll just need to go to Unfreeze Panes and you’re set.
  • In researching online I found a site that discribed a similar problem, but their cells actually wouldn’t resize….. check out here if that’s your problem.  Chances are you’ll need to hit F5 and go to the cell in the row that’s the problem (or just type it into the cell name field up top by your menus), Format Row Height (it’s under the Cells tab in 2007), and type 12.75.

That’s all folks.  Let me know if you have other instances where this happens, or if you have another problem altogether!  I’m all about the detective-iness.

Hope that helps!  🙂

PowerPoint Just Wants to Hurt Your Feelings

Hi all, Ms. Compy Fix-It here.

Today, I found a new suggested solution to my PowerPoint constantly crashing.  I had the problem where any editing of embedded charts/graphs using Excel would often cause it to freeze and require the computer to shut down PowerPoint and “try to recover data”.  Sometimes, it recovered all of it; other times, barely any.  I used to have this problem frequently with a computer that ended up having a hardware issue, so I used to blame that.  Then, I got a second-hand laptop to try, and boy, still a lot of crashes.  Finally, I get this, a barely-used HP beaut with big screen and presumably better system.  Well, guess what?

SO!  I figured I couldn’t be the only one, and did some more digging online….. my spec-i-al-i-ty!  (Wow, I just realized that was quoting one of my favourite childhood movies, The Neverending Story….. I heard the professor’s voice saying that, so I tried to spell it out accordingly.  haha I am a true geek.)

Sure enough, I found this site.  Again, thanks to Microsoft Answers, someone suggested getting this HotFix.  So far, so good.  I’ll report back if it’s junk, though  😉

One thing to note: if you do download this fix, make sure that your problem is exactly what is written in their description.  I don’t want you installing unnecessary patches for problems you may not have….. and also, be sure to follow their instructions (including backing up stuff).  I don’t want people to say I didn’t warn them in case it doesn’t work quite right.  I also did a System Restore point, though I don’t know what the difference is between that and a Backup, to be honest.  I just didn’t have any DVDs/time to run the backup, so I thought that was an okay alternative!  haha hey I never said I knew everything about computers….. heck, why do you think I’m Ms. Compy Fix-It?!

Anyways.  One other thing to note: for me, when I installed the fix, I got scared because when I went to my folder to retrieve a file I’d been working on, it was in PowerPoint Viewer!  I thought it did something to my program/deleted it or something, but all you need to do is right-click your file and go to “Open with…..” and it should give you a choice to select the Default Program, and your regular PowerPoint program should be there as an option.  Make sure to check the box, “Always use the selected program to open this kind of file” to ensure all the rest of your PowerPoint documents open as they normally did.

Happy PowerPointing!