Join Mark Swift for an in-depth discussion in this video Commenting and saving, part of Excel 2003 Essential Training.
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Another very common and powerful feature of Microsoft Excel is commenting. Commenting isn't something that you're going to see when you print a spreadsheet, and it's often lost when you publish your spreadsheet depending on where you're publishing it to. If you're simply exporting a note to another format, those comments may disappear. If you're publishing it to PDF for example, those comments can be maintained in a PDF document. That's extremely useful. Comments are something that you share with your viewer base. So if somebody else has created a spreadsheet that you're looking at, they may have inserted comments that more thoroughly explain the data that you're looking at, or an element of data or the function of a formula. If you're creating a spreadsheet for a group of users, commenting can be a very valuable way to communicate with those users without cluttering up your initial view of your spreadsheet. For example, let me go to cell D5 for Christy S. here in March, and I'm going to select that cell and then right-click and Insert Comment. Here you can see the user who is inserting the comment. This computer is registered to lynda.com. This would be your name if it was a workstation or a personal computer that was registered to you, and I can put in High Sales. And there we go. I'll click away from that cell and you can see that we have a red rectangle in the upper corner, indicating to us that there's more information to be had inside the cell, in the form of a comment, and as I hover over that cell this comment appears and I can enter comments in other cells using the menus. I'll simply go to Insert, let's expand this, Comment. Here again, I can say, Represents an Average, and I'll click away. Now I've just indicated to the user exactly what this information is good for, and I've done it in a very unobtrusive way. I should mention one more element when you're introducing comments to your worksheets and that is, let me right-click and insert a comment. Here if my comment is very brief, like Wow! Not a very useful comment, I know. You can see that I have some control handles around my comment dialogue. I can size that comment to be as large or as small as you want, so that it doesn't take up a lot of room as well when it appears. Click away as you can see I did no sizing for this comment, but this one appears much smaller, and it works the other way too. You can have a very detailed paragraph or two paragraphs of information within a comment, and you can have that comment be as large as you want and it's only visible when somebody's hovering over that cell, or makes that cell active. Now that we've enter some new data into this spreadsheet, we've got some comments laid out in the spreadsheet, let's take a look at closing a spreadsheet and saving. Well, as you already know, I can go up here to the x, the lower x, not the upper x, and I can close this window, and because I've made changes, it's going to prompt me to save the document. That's a pretty sloppy way of making saves with your valuable data.
So I'll go over here to the Standard toolbar where I can click Save. Now this feature is only going to write my changes to the current file. So I opened a document called Annual_Track and if I click Save, it's simply going to update Annual_Track with the changes that I've made. If I wanted to save the changes that I've made to a new file, I'd need to access the File menu and instead of Save, I'll use Save As, which allows me to name this file differently. So I might say Annual_Track_commented, and now I have a separate file from the original that has the comments added and I'm going to be able to distinguish between the two of them if I go to send this document to a colleague. Another option that you have when you use the Save As dialog box, I'll go back to File - Save As, you can add some security. If I go over here to the Tools, and see you have a variety of tools that are available as I'm saving this document.
I'll go down to General Options, and here under General Options, I have Password. I have to issue a small warning though. If you do assign a password to this document, it's going to be impossible to open that document through any normal means, if you forget the password. If you don't share the password, it's also going to be impossible for your audience to view that document. So if it's security you're looking for, this is an excellent way to add some. It's not going to be completely bulletproof from the highest level of hacker, but through any common usage, you're not going to be able to access this file. So let me put a password on this file of 1234. Very secure, I know, and I'll Tab my way down to the field for Password to modify, so I have two options. A password to simply open the file and view the data and a separate password if I wish to modify the data. This can be extremely useful so that you can share documents that people can open. For example if I leave this blank and I put that password here, 1234, again a real hard one to crack, I'm sure, then anybody can open the document because I have not password protected it. But if they go to modify anything within the document, they're going to be prompted for the password, and if they can successfully enter it, it won't accept their changes. This is a nice way to add a little security into a file while you're passing it around, to make sure that none of your data has been tampered with.
And when I'm done I can say, okay, reenter the password, 1234. It's a very important step, cause if you type something different than what you expected, you'll never get back into your file because you'd have to recreate that error. So here I am confirming my password or passwords, if I've entered both the open and the modify, and I will click Save again with the same filename and because I've used the Save As feature, it's going to ask me, am I sure I want to overwrite my previous Annual_Track_ commented. Say Yes, and let's just close that down and if I open the document now, Annual_Track_commented. It's offering me the option to view this document only or enter the password and get read/write access to it. So I'm going to say read-only and now I can view this document, I can look at the comments, but I can't make any changes to it. If I attempt to make any changes, here I'll enter a value of 23, Enter, when I go to leave this document or if I click Save, it's a read-only document, you cannot make changes. But it will allow me to save a copy of the documents that then can be easily distinguished from the original. So if I do want to send forward any changes that I've made, I can still send back a modified version of that document, but the two can't exist in any same place with the same name. Also there'll be a digital signature attached to the file based on your password and the user who originally created the file, so there will be some differences underlying, and that's commenting and saving and closing documents.