If you have used Windows Explorer to look at the files on your hard disk, or if you have clicked Details on the Views menu in the Open or Save As dialog box, you know that Windows stores information about the size, document type, and modification date for each file on the system. These useful facts will probably give you enough information to open your files and keep them organized, though at times you might require additional information to determine a file's origins or make the best use of its contents. Office addresses this need by attaching a unique set of properties to each file as it's created. A property sheet contains information about the content, revision history, author, and attributes of a document, as well as other information unique to the originating application. Some of the fields in the property sheet, such as the file size, application name, and revision dates, are created automatically by the Office application, while others are added independently by you, the user.
To display a property sheet in an Office application, choose Properties from the File menu. (In Access, the command is called Database Properties.) Figure 3-14 shows the property sheet for a Word document.
This particular sheet has five tabs of information, which you can access by clicking the tab names at the top of the dialog box. Most of the information on the Summary tab pertains to the content and author of the document, and is typically entered by the author. If you take the time to complete these fields, the members of your workgroup (if you have one) will better understand your goals for creating the document. Summary information could be especially helpful a few years down the road, say when the author of the documents has moved on.
Figure 3-14. Clicking the Properties command displays useful summary information about the active document.
Take care to use standard, memorable words in your property sheets so that you can search for them later using the Find command in the Open dialog box. And watch your spelling, because a search can find only exact word matches. (For example, if you type Grey in the subject box, a search won't find Gray.)
The most useful Property tab for people who work with text a lot (such as writers, editors, and desktop publishing specialists) is the Statistics tab, shown in Figure 3-15. The data on the Statistics tab is created entirely by your Office application; it features the file's creation date, modification date, author name, revision number, and the total editing time elapsed in the document. The tab lists other important statistics related to the file, including the number of pages, paragraphs, words, and characters in the file. If you're writing an essay or article that needs to be a certain length, the Statistics tab will probably be quite helpful to you.
If you write articles for a living, use the Statistics tab to track how many words you write and how much time you spend doing it.
Figure 3-15. The Statistics tab displays useful information about the file's origin, editing history, and length.
The information in a property sheet is stored in the same file as the document it describes, but the data doesn't appear on the screen when you work with the document or on paper when you print. However, it's always available by means of the Properties command to everyone who uses your file, so be aware that when you give your file to others, those users will have access to all the information presented in the property sheet. (For example, it might be embarrassing to charge a magazine client for a business article of 10,000 words, when the client can see from your summary sheet that you wrote only 8,780.)
Be sure to use this feature to your own advantage, too. If you have a question about the origin of an Office document you're looking at—a file on the Internet, for example, or a document on a disk you just received—open the file and use the Properties command to learn everything you can about the document. Property sheets are excellent sources of information, especially in workgroups.
To print the information contained in a Word document's property sheet, choose Print from the File menu, select the Document Properties option in the Print What drop-down list box, and then click OK.