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Storing Document Details

The Windows file system keeps track of details about each file: its size, when it was created, and when you last modified it, for example. Windows enables you to store extra details about Office file types; these properties include the author's name, a title and a subject for the file, and comments or keywords that you can use to search for documents later. A Custom properties sheet lets you track more than two dozen built-in categories or add your own.

Maintaining file properties takes a fair amount of up-front work, but it can have a profound payoff, especially in a networked office where many users share documents.

To view and edit the properties of a file currently open in an Office program, go to your Office button, select Prepare and choose Properties. Initially you will see a subset of properties, but you can select the down arrow and choose Advanced Properties to add more detail (as shown in Figure 3.7).

Figure 3.7

Figure 3.7 The Properties dialog box displays summary information about Office file types.

The Properties dialog box for an Office file includes the five tabs described in Table 3.1.

Table 3.1. Office File Properties




Basic information from the Windows file system: name, location, size, and so on.


Information about the current file and its author, including fields for company name, category, and keywords. The Comments field is particularly useful when you use Outlook's file management capabilities because the text appears beneath each filename when you turn on AutoPreview.


Details about the size and structure of the file, such as the number of words in a document or the number of slides in a presentation; also displays revision statistics and total editing time. This tab is not visible when inspecting file properties from within Windows Explorer; instead, the information is displayed on the Summary tab. This information is frequently incorrect, especially when you inspect it from within an Explorer window. Professional writers and students who rely on these statistics should always inspect them from within the document itself to guarantee that the information is up-to-date.


The parts of the file: the outline of a Word document, based on heading styles; worksheet titles in an Excel workbook; or slide titles in a PowerPoint presentation. This tab is not visible when inspecting file properties from within Windows Explorer.


Twenty-seven built-in fields that you can choose from, including Client, Document Number, and Date Completed. Alternatively, you can add a field of your own. Custom fields can contain text, dates, numbers, or Yes/No information; they can also be linked to Word bookmarks, named Excel ranges, or PowerPoint text selections

For simple projects, you might choose to ignore file properties; in these cases, a descriptive filename can tell you everything you need to know about the file. For more complicated documents, however, adding file details—including keywords and categories—can help you or a co-worker quickly find a group of related data files, even months or years after you last worked with them. Use the Comments box to add freeform notes about a given file.

To enter additional details about an Office file, you must open the Properties dialog box before you save the file. If you use this feature regularly, you can configure Word, Excel, and PowerPoint to display the File Properties dialog box every time you save a file.

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