April 14, 2008, 12:54 PM — Reader Gary Carter recently contacted me with an interesting Outlook problem he was having. Since his company's IT person had installed Outlook 2007 on his computer, anytime he created a new message, the body of the message would be centered instead of left-aligned.
Well, that stumped me, so I contacted some Outlook gurus I know inside Microsoft and they responded with the following steps to solve Gary's problem:
1. Open a blank new message in Outlook 2007.
2. Click your cursor in the message body.
3. Select the Format Text tab on the Ribbon.
4. Click the little arrow icon at the bottom right of the Paragraph group of settings to display the Paragraph dialog box.
5. Change the Alignment setting from Center to Left.
6. Click the Default button at the bottom of the Paragraph dialog box.
7. Click Yes to apply your change to all new documents (i.e. messages) based on the Normal document template.
Now when you create a new message, it will be left-aligned instead of centered.
That solved Garry's problem, but it also taught me that you can customize the default formatting of your Outlook messages by specifying margins, setting tabs, configuring line spacing, and more, and then applying your changes to the Normal template for Outlook messages. And since I learned something from troubleshooting this issue, I thought I'd pass what I learned along to you.
Microsoft Office sometimes seems to me like a vast, mysterious, unmapped continent just waiting to be explored, and in my experience most enterprise users barely utilize 10 percent of the capabilities of this suite of programs. And since (according to what's probably a modern myth) we generally use only about 10% of our brain power at any time, I guess that means the average user is only doing 1% of what he could be doing when using Outlook and other Office programs.
Got any unique or timesaving Outlook or other Office tips you'd like to share? Email me and I'll cover them in a future column. And be sure to send me your problems and frustrations as well, and I'll see if I can track down answers so you can use Office more productively in your environment.