Academic journal article Journal of Accountancy

Work Smarter with Smart Tags: This Office XP Feature Acts as Your Very Own Personal Robot.

Academic journal article Journal of Accountancy

Work Smarter with Smart Tags: This Office XP Feature Acts as Your Very Own Personal Robot.

Article excerpt

Picture this: You type a name into a document and a tiny icon instantly appears next to it. When you pass your cursor over the icon, a menu unfolds that offers you options such as' Insert the person's address and phone number, send him or her an e-mail or schedule a meeting. The icon even gives you the opportunity to tell the software never to interrupt you with these suggestions again.

If you've upgraded to Microsoft's latest office suite, XP, chances are you've seen the icons, called Smart Tags, popping up uninvited in your documents and spreadsheets. The goal of this article is to introduce you to the new technology and show you how, if you wish to use them, they can improve your productivity. Or, if you object to such high-tech intrusion, we'll show you how to get rid of them.


Smart Tags are all about providing quick access to information. They recognize text, numbers, actions and objects that frequently could be enhanced with more facts. When triggered, they act like personal robots that will cruise' far and wide to seek data in your computer or, if you're connected, on your network or the Internet.

Say you're in Word and you type Jennifer M. Mueller. XP instantly recognizes the words as someone's name and triggers a Smart Tag--the letter "i" inside a small square--into action. It looks like exhibit 1, below, on the screen.


If you decide the targeted words don't need further attention--such as adding an address or sending that person an e-mail--you simply ignore the tag, type on and it will disappear. But if you hover over the icon, a down arrow will appear and if you click on it, the menu in exhibit 2, at right, will unfold.


You don't have to do anything to launch the Smart Tag function. It's automatically turned on when you install Office XP. Smart Tags are not limited to Word; they operate in Excel, Outlook, PowerPoint and FrontPage.

* Paste. This function is evoked in Word, PowerPoint, Excel, Outlook and FrontPage. In those applications a Smart Tag will appear when you paste text or other objects. It will offer various formatting choices, depending on the application, such as keeping the style of the source from which the information was copied or matching it to that of the destination.

* AutoCorrect. It's been available in earlier versions of Office applications--Word, PowerPoint and Outlook. A Smart Tag appears when AutoCorrect makes an automatic fix, offering to undo it and even change the AutoCorrect settings on the fly, so to speak. Before Smart Tags, a user who was unhappy about an AutoCorrect change had to go into the setup menu to alter the default.

* AutoFit in PowerPoint. Smart Tags appear when a user enters text into a placeholder on a slide and offers formatting options such as fitting the text to the size of the placeholder or splitting the text between two slides.

* AutoFill in Excel. It's triggered when you click and drag data from one cell to others. The Smart Tags menu offers to copy the contents, fill in the series, fill in the format only, or fill in the series without formatting.

* Error Checking in Excel. It appears when a cell contains a formula error or invalid reference and offers help on the type of error in the cell and error-checking and debugging options.

Office XP contains quite a few more Smart Tag functions, but they're "asleep" arm need to be awakened in order to work. Smart Tags for recognizing names, addresses, dates, times and stock symbols can be awakened by checking the boxes for the particular tags in the AutoCorrect dialog box (more on this later). For example, if Jennifer M. Mueller's e-mail and postal addresses were in your Outlook Contacts file and you clicked on Insert Address in her Smart Tag menu, the text in exhibit 3, at right, would appear. …

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