Typography: Part 3

In Part 1 we began with a simple classification of the different typefaces used today.

In Part 2 we took a simple look at some of the basic character components.

In Part 3 we want to make the users of Adobe products aware of a wonderful service that is available through the Creative Cloud.

Back in 2009 Jeff Veen, Bryan Mason, Ryan Carver, and Greg Veen, all originally part of the Measure Map/Google Analytics team began a company called Small Batch, Inc. Its purpose was to make font usage on the web far more accessible by introducing a product called Typekit.

Designers had been painfully aware of the limitations associated with font usage online since the webs beginning. At best there were about 14 fonts most designers could count on being installed on the average user’s computer. Did you think everyone was really that crazy about Times New Roman, Arial, or Verdana? (more…)

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Typography: Part 2

In Part 1 we began with a simple classification of the different typefaces used today. We kept things simple and broke them down into 5 different groups; serif, sans-serif, monospace, handwritten, and decorative.

In Part 2 we will take a simple look at some of the basic character components. This is not an extensive listing of all the possible bits and pieces that make up a font, but rather a basic sampling of some more common terms associated with typefaces.

There are well over 100 components that can make up a character set. Several of the ones listed might even be referred to using a different term. A tiddle is also a dot, the mean line can also be called the midline. In the example below the letter g is used to demonstrate 2 components, but is made up of at least 5 including; ear, bowl, counter, link, loop, and descender.

So, while you are reading this, understand that hundreds of designers over many centuries are responsible for making your life easier, and more entertaining all due to the simple little font.


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Typography: Part 1

This will be our initial look into the world of text. All those letters that we string together to form books, online articles, blog posts, and the like.

Most mere mortals pay little attention to the how and why of assembling all those words into a form worthy of consumption.

“Typography is to literature as musical performance is to composition: an essential act of interpretation, full of endless opportunities for insight or obtuseness.” ― Robert Bringhurst, The Elements of Typographic Style

This series will begin with a simple classification of the different typefaces used today. To keep things simple I, and many others, have chosen to break them down into 5 different groups; serif, sans-serif, monospace, handwritten, and decorative.




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Making a Font Selection in Photoshop CC 2014 or Later


This isn’t about choosing the perfect font to enhance a brochure or flyer. It is much simpler than that.

In most applications today when we want to change the font being used, we make a choice from a long list of fonts installed on our computer. It’s generally a combo box, list box, or whatever term you want to use to describe some type of list.

They are generally in alphabetical order, so you start scrolling to find your chosen font within what feels like an endless list.

Photoshop CC 2014 or later to the rescue!

At long last, instead of scrolling through a list of fonts, you just type the name of the font you wish to use at the top of the list box. For instance, type A-R-I-A-L and the fonts containing those letters, in that order, will appear. As a matter of fact, Arial in it’s different incarnations is the only font in the list .

Gone are the days of scrolling past…
back up…
oops, too far…
back down…
I know it’s here somewhere.

Thank you Adobe!

Sometimes it’s the simple things that bring a smile to your face.

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Photoshop: Flow vs Opacity


When working with some of the drawing tools in Photoshop, you will notice two different adjustment settings in the options bar. The adjustments I am referring to are opacity and flow.

Just what are the differences between these two settings?

Let’s go back to the days of childhood when we were all artists. Remember coloring books?

Even if your parents didn’t buy them for you, whenever you went to a restaurant you were probably given a few crayons and something to color. You would color quietly until everything was filled in or you got bored. Then you would start scribbling over and over in the same spot. The longer you scribbled in that same spot, the darker the color would get because it would continue to build up.

That technique, if you are using Photoshop without a drawing tablet, is what flow allows us to do. The percentage is much like the amount of pressure you applied while coloring; again, if working without a drawing tablet. The higher the value, the harder you were pressing, and each pass of your mouse is like scribbling over and over in the same spot. Even if you don’t release the mouse, each pass lays down more color.

So what about opacity?

Let’s go back to coloring book days and birthday parties. Did you ever get a present wrapped in tissue paper?

One layer was never enough; you could see through it so you knew immediately what the gift was. The solution was to keep wrapping tissue paper around the package until you couldn’t see through it.

That’s the way opacity works. Painting the same spot over and over without releasing the mouse is like laying down one sheet of tissue paper. Release the mouse, do it again, another sheet of tissue paper. The percentage setting relates to how see-through the tissue paper or color is. The lower the percentage, the more transparent it is.

Combining these two concepts allows for increased fine tuning of brushes, masks, cloning, etc. Your understanding of these two simple settings will change the way you work. It has for me.


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Understanding Task Dependency Types in Microsoft Project

Dependency Types in Microsoft Project

When creating schedules in Microsoft Project the first thing that a Project Manager would typically do is to input the tasks involved in a project. These tasks then need to be linked to show the relationship between them. These links create task dependencies.

There are 4 different types of task dependency:

  • Finish-to-Start (FS): The finish date of one task drives the start date of another.
  • Start-to-Start (SS): The start date of one task drives the start date of another.
  • Finish-to-Finish (FF): The finish date of one task drives the finish date of another.
  • Start-to-Finish (SF): The start date of one task drives the finish date of another.


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Excel Pivot Tables Filter by Values

If you’ve ever used Pivot Tables in Excel, you no doubt have discovered the wonders of filtering.  The ability to filter row or column items can be extremely helpful when you don’t wish to analyze all of the items in the driving data set.


But what do you do if you wish to filter by the Value-based items?  In other words, the numbers in the “connect the dots” area where row and column choices intersect.  These, on first glance, don’t appear to have sorting and filtering controls available.


Rest assured, they do exist; you just have to dig a bit to find them.


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Excel Lookup with Dynamic Input

VLOOKUP is great for returning information from a database, but one of the limitations is that the return information is static.

What if the user wishes to look for certain data one day but different data another day?  This would require either two different sets of VLOOKUP functions or the functions would need to be reprogrammed.

In the database below, the user would wish to return address information in one scenario, but return financial information in another scenario.

Suppose there are times when the user requires a mixture of the two; that would require a third set of VLOOKUP functions. This could become an ever evolving set of work.


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Automatically Refresh Excel Pivot Tables

Excel PivotTables are one of the greatest tools in the spreadsheet user’s toolkit.

However, there is one tiny bit of functionality that appears to be missing: the ability of pivot tables to automatically update when information in the source data changes.

Most user’s see this as a glaring lack of functionality. There is, however a very good reason why pivot tables do not automatically update.


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Hide Drives in Windows Explorer via Registry Setting

With so many hardware devices (like printers, external hard drive enclosures, and home network devices) equipped with USB ports, it’s likely that you’ve collected an array of advertised drives in Windows Explorer that are not actually accessible unless something is connected to them.  Perhaps you have setup a mirrored drive for backup purposes that you want to be “out of sight; out of mind”.

HideDrives 1

Hiding these devices is quite simple… provided you can do a bit of counting in binary.


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Preview Fonts in Photoshop

Selecting a font in most applications has come a long way over the years.  In the old days you had to select each font separately from a drop down and decide if it was the right font for the job.  Then along came the ability to sample fonts by hovering your mouse pointer over the list.  What a time saver.

But not in Photoshop! (Pssst!  You actually can, but don’t tell anyone.  It’ll be our little secret.)


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Office 2013 – Recover Unsaved Documents

Admit it; you’ve done this more than once.  You open an Office application like Word or Excel and type out your next great novel or number-crunching masterpiece.  Then, in a state of haste, you start closing windows and accidentally close the one window you intended to leave open.  One second later you realize, this was the one windows you shouldn’t have closed.  All is lost… or is it?


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QlikView “Allocated Memory Exceeded” Error – An Easy Check

If you have worked with QlikView and encountered the error message “Allocated Memory Exceeded”, there could be numerous reasons for this message.  You may have a quite a quest in store for yourself to figure out what the issue is.  But there’s quick and easy thing to check that may just be the reason for your plight.

If you have been writing expressions, one of the primary culplits for generating this memory error is a simple syntax error with your expression.

Here’s just such a scenerio:  You have created a fantastic pie chart and wish to add some intelligence to the chart.


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Rename Files Fast with the Tab Key

If you scan documents from a network scanner (like the giant printer down the hall) and have the scan sent to your email, you are probably less than thrilled with the name that the scanner gives the file.  The name is usually something generic and uninformative like “Scan0001.pdf” or a combination of the date and the time like “07182015-100855.pdf”.



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Convert a PowerPoint Presentation to Video

This tutorial applies to PowerPoint 2013, but several earlier versions of PowerPoint possess the same abilities.  The exact steps and options will vary slightly from version to version.

Showing your PowerPoint masterpiece can be thrilling, but what if you want to reach a wider audience?  How can we take our presentation from the confines of the boardroom (or is that bored room?) and set it free so the world can bask in its glory?

Very easily; we convert it into a video.

In this tutorial, we discover a feature introduced in PowerPoint 2010 which allows you to take your slides and encode them to a video that can be loaded to your corporate network for on-demand viewing through an intranet portal, or posted to a more globally accessible site such as YouTube.


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Microsoft Excel – Understanding Excel Functions with Help

Admit it, you’ve used Excel functions without any idea how they work.  Someone said, “Click here for this.  Click here for that.” You’ve dutifully followed orders, blindly clicking on cells with no real clue as to why.

It’s time to lift the veil of mystery and understand why these functions are so demanding of such data.

Here is just one of many options for understanding function logic:

This first part has nothing to do with obtaining function information, but it’s a great time saving trick.  If you like to type your functions directly in the cell; press your EQUAL button [=] and start typing the first few letters of the function name.  As you type, Excel will begin to AutoComplete the function’s name. (more…)

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Microsoft Excel – Convert Answers to Values FAST!

If you are new to Excel, you no doubt have already discovered the need to take a series of numbers created by formulas and convert them to fixed values.  In other words, replace the questions with the answers.  With no idea how to accomplish this, beginners usually spend great stretches of time retyping the numbers into the answer cells to make them “permanent”.

Eventually, someone who feels your pain turns you on to the technique of highlighting all of your formula cells, clicking Copy, then in the same cells clicking Paste Special…, Paste Link.

You could now not be more ecstatic.  “This is going to save me sooooo much time”, you say to yourself.

Well, guess what.  There’s an even FASTER way to accomplish this task.  Try this out: (more…)

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Selecting Objects in Word with the Selection Pane

If you have ever inserted an object (like a picture, shape, or clipart) into a Word document and then made the unfortunate move where you pushed it behind your text…


…and now it seems forever trapped behind a sea of impenetrable words.  No matter how hard you try to click, you just cant seem to select that image again.


That image now appears forever disconnected; never again shall it be cropped, moved, or resized.  Don’t fall into the trap of most users where you end up deleting all of that valuable text just to get to the image that hides behind.


There is a very simple way of selecting any object in a Word document, no matter where it lies.  The silver bullet for this problem is called the Selection Pane.  The Selection Pane provides you with a list of all of the inserted objects in the document.  To activate the Selection Pane, select the HOME tab, then in the Editing group of controls click Select followed by Selection Pane… in the provided dropdown list.


The right side of your screen will now be occupied by the Selection Pane.  A list of every object (non-text) in your document will be listed.  By clicking the name of the object, you can select the object regardless of any normal selection obstacles you have fought with in the past.


This technique for selecting object is also useful in PowerPoint when you have many small objects on a slide and you have difficulty targeting a specific item.

You can also temporarily hide an object by clicking the Show/Hide icon (looks like an eye) to the right of the listed item.  This is especially helpful when you have a lot of distracting images in your document and you want to focus solely on the text.  There is even a Show All and Hide All feature located at the top of the Selection Pane for when you just want it all to “take a break”.

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Excel Comma Style Keyboard Shortcut

If you are an Excel user who LOVES working from the keyboard as much as possible (i.e. data entry, navigation, feature activation, etc…) then you simply MUST know of this little gem of a keyboard shortcut.

Although we have no scientific data to back up this claim, our hunch is that the COMMA STYLE is the most popular style in the Number Styles library.


To save time when applying the COMMA STYLE to cells, use the keyboard shortcut CTRL-SHIFT-1


This will apply the COMMA STYLE to the selected cells.

If you want to experiment (what we call “having fun”), try the other keyboard combinations listed below for more number style options.


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Missing Resources when Using Microsoft Project Resource Pools

If you work with Microsoft Project and have ever leveraged the power of Resource Pools across multiple projects, you may have encountered a strange behavior when assigning those resources.


When you share resources between a Resource Pool file (a dummy project file that typically has no tasks but is merely a container for holding resources) and another project file, sometimes the resources don’t show up when it comes time to make the resource assignments. (more…)

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PowerPivot Tutorial

In this Microsoft Excel PowerPivot tutorial, you’ll see how to use Microsoft Excel PowerPivot to import data from multiple data sources, link the data based on common fields and finally create a PivotTable and PivotChart to quickly analyze the data. This content is from our live, instructor-led Microsoft PowerPivot Training class.

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Microsoft Excel Keyboard Shortcuts

ExcelKeyboard shortcuts may seem like a throwback to the olden days, but they can seriously ramp up your productivity once you start using them. Especially for tasks you do on a repeated basis.

Here are some of the most common Microsoft Excel keyboard shortcuts.

F7 – Check spelling

F11 – Insert a chart

F12 – Save As

CTRL+O – File Open

CTRL+N – File New

CTRL+P – Print

CTRL+; – Insert today’s date

CTRL+H – Find and replace

ALT+ENTER – Start a new line in the same cell

CTRL + HOME – Move to cell A1

CTRL+END – Move to the last cell/column in the worksheet

HOME – Move to the first cell in the current row

CTRL+SHIFT+~ – Apply the general number format

CTRL+SHIFT+!  – Apply the number format

CTRL+SHIFT+% – Apply percentage format

CTRL+SHIFT+# – Apply date format

CTRL+SHIFT+$ – Apply currency format

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