Attaching Notes to Tasks

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Attaching Notes to Tasks

Providing good documentation about the details of a project is a hallmark of good project management. These notes are invaluable in a complex project because without them you can easily forget details about why you made specific decisions. They also provide essential information to other users of the project file or to your successor, should you move on to other duties .

Include in your notes any assumptions that you make about the tasks and any reminders you need to document. Figure 5.16 shows a note for the Prototype Design task. You can also include the notes in printed reports by choosing File, Page Setup and selecting the Print Notes check box on the View tab.

Figure 5.16. You can use task notes to document details about the task that don't fit into one of the standard fields.

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In addition to providing background information on a task, notes can be inserted regarding changes made to scope and the impact on the estimated durations. Scope creep is a significant cause of project overruns in both time and costs and should be well documented within a project, especially when examining variance (that is, the difference between the current schedule and baseline). For this reason, notes can also be printed as an addendum page to the project plan.


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Tasks with notes attached display the Task Notes icon in the Indicators column to the right of the ID number in table views. The ScreenTip for the icon displays the beginning of the note's text.

Typing and Formatting Notes

To enter notes for tasks, choose Tasks on the Project Guide toolbar and select Link To or Attach More Task Information in the sidepane. Select the task and choose Add a Note. This takes you directly to the Notes tab of the Task Information dialog box.

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You can click the Task Notes button on the Standard toolbar to go directly to the Notes tab and type a note in the Notes text box. Project automatically wraps text as you type. Notes can contain hundreds of thousands of characters ; but if you have that much to record, you should probably insert a link to an external document, as described in the next section.

A toolbar at the top of the Notes text box provides formatting options for the notes (refer to Figure 5.16). You can change the font and alignment for the notes, create a bulleted list, and even insert images or documents from other applications. You can also use the conventional Microsoft shortcut keys for bold (Ctrl+B), italics (Ctrl+I), and underline (Ctrl+U).

CAUTION

Although you can type thousands of characters in a note, Project's ability to search the Notes field to find specific text is limited. For one thing, Project searches only the first 255 characters in each note. Project also stops the search as soon as it encounters most nonprintable characters. It is really best to keep most extensive text in linked documents that reside outside Project. See the section "Inserting Objects in Notes" later in this chapter.


TIP

To avoid the problem where the Find command stops searching a note when it encounters the Enter key, use Shift+Enter when you want to start a new line or paragraph.


You can use the following keys to move through the Notes text box:

Key

Effect

Home

Moves to the beginning of the current line

End

Moves to the end of the current line

Ctrl+Home

Moves to the beginning of the note

Ctrl+End

Moves to the end of the note

Ctrl+left arrow

Moves one word to the left

Ctrl+right arrow

Moves one word to the right

You can use drag-and-drop to edit notes. After selecting a word or group of words, you can drag the selection to a new location within the note. If you want to copy the selection, hold down the Ctrl key as you drag the note to the new location.

The notes editor that Project uses has multiple levels of Undo and Redo (although Project itself has only one level). However, the Undo/Redo stack of actions is lost as soon as you click OK after editing a note.

Inserting Hyperlinks in Notes

You can store hyperlinks to Internet sites in a note. However, Project does not help you create the hyperlink by displaying a browser history list or list of Favorites. You must type the text of the hyperlink into the note in the usual format (for example, http://www. sitename or ftp://ftp .sitename ). Project displays the hyperlink with the underline and color the machine uses for displaying hyperlinks, and when you click the hyperlink, the browser goes to the indicated Web page. For information on more flexible hyperlink capabilities, see "Attaching Hyperlinks to Tasks," later in this chapter.

Inserting Objects in Notes

You can insert data objects from other applications into a note. An object is a data file in the file format that another application maintains (pictures, spreadsheets, word processing documents, presentations, sound files, video clips, and so on). For instance, you could insert an Excel worksheet within a note and edit the worksheet from within the note to show calculations you need to keep handy.

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Examples of objects that can be inserted include reference documents required at the start of a task and work products, which can be deliverables of task completion. Including these items assists with the knowledge transfer processes that are often lacking within organizations. It also helps prevent people from reinventing the wheel with each new project.


You can create a new object or insert one that already exists as a file. If the object already exists, you have the option to insert the object file itself or to insert only a link to the object. If you insert the object itself (called embedding the object), you increase the size of the project file by the size of the object file. Embedding many such objects can quickly bloat a project file and affect performance.

If you merely insert a link to an object, the object resides outside the project file, and the size of the project file is affected only minimally . Project opens the object when you click the link so that you can view or edit the object's contents. Any changes you make are saved outside Project. This is clearly the best option if the object is a document that others need to be able to see and edit. Clicking the link always opens the current version of the document; on the other hand, if you embed the document, you cannot see changes made by other people.

The Task Information form does not expand to provide an adequate display area for viewing large objects. Consequently, with large objects, you probably only want to display an icon for the object in the note instead of the object itself. You can double-click the icon, and Project opens the application and lets you read or edit the data as needed.

For more information on working with objects, see "Working with Objects," p. 703 .


To insert a data object in a note, follow these steps:

  1. graphics/object_icon.gif

    Select the location where you want to insert the object and open the Insert Object dialog box by clicking the Insert Object tool or by right-clicking and choosing Object in the shortcut menu.

    Figure 5.17. You select the object to display and how it's displayed in the Insert Object dialog box.

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  2. Choose Create New to insert a blank object that you can design and edit only from within Project. Then use the Object Type list to select the application to create the object.

  3. Choose Create from File to insert an object that is already saved as a file (see Figure 5.18). Type the path and filename for the object in the File box, or click the Browse button to select the file from the directory structure.

    Figure 5.18. You can insert in a note copies of files or links to the most current versions of files.

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    You can also use this step to create a new file on-the-fly and insert it as an object. After browsing to the folder where the file is to be stored, right-click over a blank space in the file list, select New from the shortcut menu, and select the application that will create the file. Replace the default name for the new file with the name you want to use and click Insert. After you finish step 6, you can double-click the object to create the data it should contain.

  4. Select the Link check box if you want to insert only a link to the object. When you click the object or its icon, Project opens the current version of the file for you. Deselect the Link check box if you want to store a permanent copy of the object as it now exists in the project file.

  5. Check Display as Icon to display an icon for the object in the Notes text box instead of displaying the contents of the object. For most objects, it is better to simply display the icon and double-click it when you want to see the contents of the object.

  6. Click OK to store the object in the note.

CAUTION

If you insert the Notes field as a column in a table, be aware that editing the note in the table causes you to lose any objects that have been inserted. Fortunately, a warning message appears to remind you of the danger.


Attaching Notes to the Overall Project

You can attach a note to an entire project instead of to a particular task. For a very short or simple note, you can use the File, Properties command to display the Properties dialog box. The Comments text box on the Summary tab displays the note that is attached to the project. However, you can't work with objects in this dialog box.

For more substantial notes, it's best to display the project summary task and use the Task Information dialog box to display the Notes tab. To display the project summary task, choose Tools, Options and select the Show Project Summary Task check box on the View tab. You can then select that task and display its Task Information dialog box to enter the notes.

CAUTION

If you insert objects in the project summary task note, they will be lost if you later edit the note in the Comments text box on the File, Properties dialog box. When you click OK after editing the Comments box, you should receive a warning that objects will be lost if you change the note. You can then choose No to cancel the changes. For this reason, some users create a milestone task at the top or bottom of the task list to hold a note that contains links to important documents.


NOTE

If you are using Project Server for collaboration, you should store objects that other team members should be able to see in SharePoint Team Services. For more information, see Chapter 24, "Introduction to Microsoft Office Project Server 2003."


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Special Edition Using Microsoft Office Project 2003
Special Edition Using Microsoft Office Project 2003
ISBN: 0789730723
EAN: 2147483647
Year: 2004
Pages: 283
Authors: Tim Pyron

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