Category Archives: Microsoft Office

Office integration in File History

At the risk of posting so many Microsoft Windows-related posts that I’m accused of being a fanboy, I will share this discovery I made today.

In Windows 10, Office 2013 integrates into File History (the sometimes confused default backup tool in Windows 8 and Windows 10) so you can view your backed up files without having to restore them.

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Excel’s unneeded matrix/array error

To my complete surprize one day, I discovered that Excel does matrixes, even if it calls them arrays.

This alone is noteworthy, however, one thing kept occurring and was soon an aggravation. If you accidentally select for editing a cell that is part of the matrix and used the Enter key, this would come up in Excel 2016 on Windows 7:

ExcelMatrixError

You cannot change part of an array. OK / Cancel

This would get thrown even if you just Enter to move to the next cell. Besides being a modal dialog box, it also has two buttons, even though they appear to do the same thing. At the least, the two buttons should be merged into one.

To replicate this error, do the following:

  1. Download this .XLSX file and open it in Excel.
  2. Double click cell E12.
  3. Press the Enter key.

A useful and clever Trick on Microsoft Word for Science and Engineering

I type out plenty of technical information. For equations I use Word’s equation editor that has replaced the old equation editor since Office 2007. I recently had to edit some old-style equations and realized how much of an improvement the new one was in usability and utility.

When I’m not using equations but typing information in sentences, such as “The temperature is 1155 °R” or “The mass flux is reported in g/s·m2“. In these, I have to use special (non-keyboard) characters such as the degree sign or middle dot. Looking these up by charmap (I’m on Windows) or the Insert > Symbol menu is slow.

To solve this, I use1 AutoCorrect as follows:

  1. Open a blank document in Microsoft Word.
  2. Using charmap or Insert > Symbol, type the degree sign. Beware of “º”, the “masculine ordinal indicator”! It’s wrong!
  3. Follow it with “C”, “R” or “F”.
  4. Highlight the two characters
  5. Go to File > Options. Select “Proofing”. Select “AutoCorrect Options…”
  6. At the bottom of the dialog box, enter “degR” in the “Replace:” field. (Click image thumbnail below to see this)
  7. OK out of the dialog box and Options window.degR-Word

To test this out, start a new document and type “degR” and hit space. You should end up with “°R”!

I recommend the following AutoCorrect shortcuts for science and engineering:

degR -> °R (degrees Rankine)
degC -> °C (degrees centigrade)
degF -> °F (degrees Fahrenheit)
(x) -> × (multiplication sign)
(.) -> · (multiplication dot)

Note that kelvins are do not use the degree sign, so “°K” is incorrect.


  1. If you’re a business major, it’s OK to say “leverage” here so your fellow business majors don’t think you’re an engineer or something. (; (;