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-- by Joel T. Patz
Up to now, the only way you could jazz up your Microsoft Office documents was to add charts or clip art. Yawn. Now, with Software Publishing's ActiveOffice you can transform ho-hum text into eye-grabbing graphics with two clicks of the mouse.
The easiest way to use ActiveOffice is to display its toolbox on top of your Microsoft Office application. Click on the Layout tab, and from within Word, select several lines of text. Click on the layout you want, and turn the text lines into an org chart, puzzle pieces, a pyramid, a flowchart, a bullet list (with graphic bullets, no boring black dots) and more, all properly sized and including all the text you've selected. Borrowing from technology SPC uses in its presentation package, ASAP (and ASAP WordPower 1. 95), you can easily add bullet points or an item in a pyramid. ActiveOffice resizes the graphic appropriately.
If you need a special layout, you can create and save a custom layout to use again and again. It's easy to create custom layouts, but with the separate toolbar it's a bit inconvenient.
For added dash, accents such as starbursts, a light bulb and a speech bubble are useful attention-getters for your Word and PowerPoint documents.
Why use ActiveOffice charts and graphs in PowerPoint or Excel, which already have their own? Because they're faster to create and much better looking for simple presentations.
As for customization options, you can create a background for your ActiveOffice object. But the default options really deliver the goods and the results are terrific.