applied tips : january 2007

microsoft excel : do you have a comment?

As you create and distribute Microsoft Excel worksheets, you will sometimes have worksheet data that is not easily understood.

For example, letís say that youíve created a mileage reimbursement worksheet for your work-related travel by car. Most of the mileage can be easily accounted for, but there was that one trip to Modesto (a 20-mile trip from your office in Stockton) that was recorded as 752 total miles! That cell is going to need a little explanation if you expect your boss to dole out over $200 for your gas!

Sometimes, you may need to add notes to your worksheets in order to document complicated formulas, questionable values, or to simply leave a comment for another user. Excelís cell comments help you document your worksheets so that they are easier to understand. Think of cell comments as a note that you can attach to any cellóbut you wonít have to cover your computer screen in sticky yellow papers!

Inserting cell comments

To insert a cell comment, you first need to choose the cell that you would like to add a comment to. In our example, you would choose the cell that contains the 752-mile value.

Next, either right-click the cell and select Insert Comment from the shortcut menu, or select Insert > Comment from the menu. A comment box will appear next to the cell.

In the comment box, a name will appear. This is the user name, which you can change by selecting Tools > Options from the menu and clicking the General tab. The user name appears on the comment so that other users will know who added the comment. You can change the user name by selecting the text and pressing the Delete key. Then, insert the desired user name.

To add a comment, just start typing. In our example, you would give a reputable explanation for the unaccountable mileage. When you are finished, close the comment box by clicking anywhere outside of the box. A small triangle appears in the upper right-hand corner of cells that contain comments. This triangle indicates that there is a comment attached to the cell. Now that youíve learned how to add comments, letís learn how to view them.

Viewing comments

To view a comment, position the pointer over the cell with the comment you want to see. The comment box will automatically appear next to the cell whenever the pointer is positioned over it.

If youíre not handy with the mouse, you can also view a single comment by right-clicking the cell that contains the comment you want to see and then selecting Show Comment from the shortcut menu. To hide this comment, right-click the cell again and select Hide Comment from the shortcut menu.

If you want to show or hide all of the comments that are contained in the worksheet, select View > Comments from the menu.

Editing comments

Sometimes after you create a comment you realize that you forgot to add something to it, or that the content simply does not apply. Editing comments is easy!

To edit hidden comment text, simply right-click the cell and select Edit Comment from the shortcut menu. A cursor appears at the end of the text in the comment box. This indicates that you can edit the text. When you are finished, click anywhere outside the comment box to close it.

If you put your comments on permanent display using the View or shortcut menu, editing is a much simpler process. Simply click the cell comment that you want to edit and make the desired changes to the text within the comment box. When you are finished, click anywhere outside the comment box to close it.

You can also change the size and position of a comment box while in edit mode. Notice that there are white handles that appear at the corners and sides of the comment box. These are sizing handles, which you can use to change the size of the comment box. Position the pointer over any one of the sizing handles, then click and drag the mouse until the box is the desired size, and release the mouse button.

To move a comment to a different location on the screen, position the pointer over the border of the comment box, click and drag the comment to the desired location on-screen, and then release the mouse button to drop the comment in its new location.

Deleting comments

Deleting comments is simple. Right-click the cell that contains the comment that you would like to delete and then select Delete Comment from the shortcut menu.

To delete more than one comment at a time, select all of the cells with comments that you would like to delete by pressing the <Shift> key (if the cells are adjacent to each other) or the <Ctrl> key (if the cells are non-adjacent). Then, select Edit > Clear > Comments from the menu.

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