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Marc

Excel for report writing

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I've just used Excel to get some features that Word doesn't have. Text and related photo are now side by side. Text on left and photo on right. Real neat.

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Word would automatically move it to the bottom of a double columned-page.

Anyone else using Excel?

Marc

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I don't use excel but my report pages look pretty much the same as yours.

Here are a couple of screen shots of pages generated using Inspect Express- the software Mike Brown developed. It's a Word overlay so there must be a way to do it in Word.

I can drag the photos anywhere but things get a little funky when trying to place a photo right at the top or bottom of a page.

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I used Excel a lot when I was doing forestry work.

Everything is a cell, so every page is made up of rows of cells. Each cell has a name, and you can instruct each cell or whole rows or columns of cells to do things. Excel never makes a mistake in simple arithmetic. Like you say, pictures can be arranged by which cells they occupy, and that position will never change on its own. F3 is always F3, always in that position.

I used and modified an Excel report system where the entry page is separate from the report page. You fill in squares with data (like a check box report, shh) and that data gets calculated into whatever percentages, totals and averages, which appear on the display page.

You build templates and save them into files, so simple to use and versatile too.

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My reports look almost exactly like yours - at least in terms of layout of text and pictures. I've never had any trouble dropping pictures into the right-hand side using Wordperfect (many years ago) or Word. You don't need a column, although that's one way to do it. You can write a macro that will size and place the pictures as you wish. Inspectit used to do this automatically (might still) and Intelligent Reporter still does (both MS Word-based programs). Devwave's PictureDrop is an MS Word Add-in that does this too (as well as several other things).

If I were to jump from a word processor to a database, Excel would not be my first choice. Just a personal prejudice. Excel doesn't like me and I don't like it.

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. . . Excel never makes a mistake in simple arithmetic. . . .

Unless you do something unforgivable, like insert a blank space in a cell by mistake. Took me hours once to figure that one out.

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I've used Excel several times for one of my Commercial Draw inspection clients, thought I'd try it for my HI reports. It worked quite well. At first, I'll type the text in Word in a simple list, then copy/past that and the photos into text boxes in Excel.

When I've the time to learn something else, I think I'll try FM. I want it for my archives and boilerplate in addition to my reports. FM works well on Mac and ipad.

What would be your choice of DB?

Marc

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. . . What would be your choice of DB?

Marc

If I ever decide to go that route, I'd explore FM Pro just because Kurt and another friend of mine both sing its praises. I find, though, that my brain just doesn't seem to bond well with database programs. Perhaps I just haven't given them the attention that they deserve but every time I tangle with one it beats the crap out of me and spits me to the curb.

Ironically, my wife is an information architect and database designer who mostly works with SQL Server and who has repeatedly offered to make a database inspection program using any product that I want. In the interest of preserving my marriage, I have steadfastly refused.

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Marc, you might want to check Word Help for Column breaks and Section break Next Page. Or, as Bryan said, a two column table.

Back in 2001 when I first began this gig, being VERY proficient in Word and Excel, I started to develop my own reports using Word and/or Excel. After a week or so of sitting in front of my computer working with it, I thought to myself: Do I want to be a computer programmer or a home inspector.

I decided to be a home inspector and went out and bought software.

I COULD have developed my own, over time. But my time is worth money and I'd rather spend it doing inspections than programming stuff on my computer.

Haven't ever regretted my Home Gauge purchase, though I did regret my first software purchase of a competing product that shall remain nameless.

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Marc, you might want to check Word Help for Column breaks and Section break Next Page. Or, as Bryan said, a two column table.

I already use double columns which will automatically move your photo to the bottom. That was my problem. I wanted the photo to stay where I put it, right besides the relevant text.

I think Bryan was suggesting individual double-column set-ups, one for each text/photo pair. The 'beef' of my reports in Word were previously a single long double-column set up and that worked until I decided I wanted the photo besides the relevant text instead of following it.

Marc

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