Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Office 2007 to clear out the metadata

My last tech tip for your legal nurse consulting business was to clean it up, and my recommendation was to blow it out – your keyboard and air vents, that is. Today we’ll look at some different aspects of cleaning up for your business. This time it’s your data, not your dust.
Every document, PowerPoint? presentation and photograph you create or edit personally or as a Certified Legal Nurse Consultant contains what is known as “metadata.” Metadata, or hidden data, may include information about the file in which the metadata is included – in other words it’s data about data and may contain information about the quality, creator and/or characteristics of the data it’s contained in. Try this: open Word, click “Open” like you’re opening a file. Then single left click on any file followed by a single right click. In the menu that pops up scroll to the bottom and left click “Properties.” That shows you the underlying metadata telling you when the file was created, edited, who authored the document and when the file was last accessed.
Let’s say you use a legal nurse consulting file template created by someone else to create a document. Are you the author? Not according to the metadata. The author, should we look into the document properties, is the person who created the template – not you. Wouldn’t it be embarrassing if an attorney-client asked you who really wrote your report and someone else’s name showed in the Properties as author?
There are ways to avoid this. If you’re using Office 2007 you can inspect the metadata included in any document, clear it out and edit in the “correct” information (or you can choose to delete it). Simply open a Word document. Click the “Office Button” in the upper left corner then click “Properties” to see the simplest metadata. You can edit this to include your correct information. If you really want to get advanced, click “Document Properties” above the display of properties to see all the editable types of metadata you can store on a document. Another way to see the metadata is to close the document, navigate to the document in your then right click on the document and left click on “Properties.” Now, left click on “Summary” in the “Properties” tab and then, click on “Advanced.”
Microsoft, in its infinite wisdom, has also given us a couple of ways to remove the metadata when you finalize a document. If you’re using Vista, it allows you to do it simply by bringing up the Properties box and the metadata can be cleared from there. In Office 2007, to clear out the metadata, open the Word document you wish to take to the cleaner. Click the “Office Button,” click “Prepare,” then click “Inspect Document” (if it asks you to save the document, do so) then click “Inspect.” The results box will show the different types of information stored in your document. You can then click the “Remove All” button by each type of information to remove that info. Reinspect the document and you’re ready to send it – without the metadata.
Almost every Microsoft Office 2007 document, PowerPoint and Excel document can be purged in this manner. If you’re using Office 2003/XP, there is a plug-in available from Microsoft to remove metadata just like Office 2007.

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