Renaming of fixes alignment problem

Ask Jim

February 22, 2007|By Jim Coates | Jim Coates,Chicago Tribune

I use Microsoft Office at work, and when I start to compose a new document, the text alignment defaults to the center position. I can use the alignment icon to align the text to the left, but I have to do that every time I start a new document. How can I permanently restore the alignment to the left?

- Kathy Terzian

If I ran Microsoft Corp., I would force the programmers who create and maintain Microsoft Word to put a red button labeled "Repair Tip" at the top of the screen.

When a user clicks on that fat red icon, he or she would get something like this:

"Microsoft Word often gets messed up because users do something wrong while creating a document and then mistakenly save those bad changes in the master template for Word, which is a Word document called

"Whether it's a sudden change in the default font or an unwanted color of text or the appearance of a strange picture at startup or a jumbling of text alignment, the fix always is the same: Find and rename the template."

When you do that, Word will start up the next time and create a new template file with the default settings that were created when the software was first installed.

The best way to find is to click on Start and then select Search. Search All Files and Folders for ""

Eventually, will appear in the search results pane to the right of the display. When that happens, move the cursor to the entry and right-click. In the pop-up box that appears, select the Rename option. Change the name to (In case there is something else in your file that you must have, you can recover it by renaming to

Now reopen Word, and a new file will be created and your problem will be gone.

I have been looking for some time for a simple, flexible database program and can't find one other than Microsoft Access. I find Access not intuitive and more difficult to learn than almost any software I have tried. I have been hoping that someone has written a database program that is as simple to master as Excel or Word. Maybe it's just wishful thinking. I want to use it to manage a number of different database issues.

- Hill Hammock

As you suggest, Microsoft Access stands head and shoulders above most of the pack when it comes to creating databases, but it is far too complex - and expensive - for ordinary home or small-business computer users.

A great many computer owners daydream about tracking all of their CDs or their books or their coin collections or the members of their Cub Scout pack using a database such as the ones down at the office. However, Microsoft dropped a simple Windows database creation program called Cardfile when Windows XP was introduced in 2001.

Happily, many computers come with the home office-oriented Microsoft Works program installed. Works includes a nifty database creator, along with a rudimentary word processor, a passable spreadsheet and a calendar-making module. The Works database lets one quickly create a data entry display by laying out entry boxes for fields such as Tune name, Album, Artist, Date Purchased and Price.

The entry boxes are made by dragging the mouse, and all kinds of graphics are available to change type fonts, background colors, add pictures and so on. Works' database quickly creates a stand-alone document that opens with the data entry form ready for inputting information. After each item is entered, the software lets users slice and dice the information, doing stuff such as sorting by date purchased, price, color or whatever other entry boxes (called fields) are available.

If you lack Microsoft Works, there are many shareware database programs such as the $19 AZZ Cardfile ( that handles most of the basics, short of performing arithmetic. For $59.99, one can acquire DatabaseOasis ( from MK Software Solutions, which works much like Microsoft Works but makes it easier to design customized graphics for the data entry display.

DatabaseOasis offers rudimentary relational database tools for math and logic, such as ordering a report that finds all items that increased in value and then displaying and totaling either the profit list or the losses.

Both non-Microsoft products offer free trial downloads that will let you do some serious comparison-shopping.

Jim Coates writes for the Chicago Tribune.

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