Tips & Tricks — Import Microsoft Office text into MicroStation without messing up the text height.

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By Rick Sewell
Do your Excel spreadsheets ever import into MicroStation with the right text height? The answer from many MicroStation users across the country is a resounding “No!” Thus, these MicroStation users are forced to either manually type their text using MicroStation’s “Place Text” tool with the correct text height or paste the text using one of MicroStation’s “Paste Special” options (which does not even paste your text correctly formatted unless you paste it as a raster image which can never be edited) and then scale it using MicroStation’s “Scale” tool. This process could take hours or even days depending on the amount of text that needs to be added to a design file.

Integrating Microsoft Office Importer into your workflow allows you to solve the problem of incorrect text height by allowing you to set the correct text height in the Microsoft Office Importer Settings dialog box. Once that’s done, you can import spreadsheet and word processing data into MicroStation with perfect formatting.

MicroStation users frequently need to have text at an exact height when placed into a MicroStation design file. That’s one reason why thousands of MicroStation users have adopted Microsoft Office Importer as their tool of choice for importing Excel spreadsheets and Word documents into MicroStation. Microsoft Office Importer allows you to set, among other things, the height of the text to be placed when you import spreadsheet and word processing data into MicroStation with perfect formatting.

How does it work?
Microsoft Office Importer looks at the point size of the font of the text in the source file (an Excel spreadsheet, for example) and assigns a user-defined number of MicroStation master units to each point. Larger or smaller text is then scaled based on the same ratio of number of master units per point of font size. For example, if you set Microsoft Office Importer so that each point of text size is equal to 0.5 master units, your ten-point text from a spreadsheet would be imported into MicroStation as five master units tall. If you were importing 20-point text, it would come into MicroStation as double that or ten master units tall.

Figure 1: With Microsoft Office Importer, when you import text from your spreadsheet, you can set it up so it will come in at the exact height you want, every time!

How to set text height and width
In order for your text to look right, you have to address its width too. It’s easy to set this in Microsoft Office Importer. Just follow the steps below. For this example, let’s say that you wanted text to come in at a height of 0.5 master units and you wanted the text width to be 80% of the height. [Note: By default, Microsoft Office Importer sets the width of text to be 80% of the height. This is a fairly common ratio in the world of font-sizing. However you can change that ratio to whatever you like (see below).] The height that you specify will be the height that the tallest letter (text character) will be when placed in the design file. Usually this height is the same as the height of a capitalized letter.

Figure 2: If Microsoft Office Importer’s toolbar is not open, select “Axiom | Microsoft Office Importer | Load Microsoft Office Importer for V8″ (or “V7” if you are using V7).

  1. Push Microsoft Office Importer’s <Settings> button on Microsoft Office Importer’s toolbar. The <Settings> button is the one on the far right.
  2. Then choose the “Size” tab.
  3. Figure 3: On the “Size” tab of the Microsoft Office Importer Settings dialog box, you can select the exact height-to-width ratio that you want text to be when you place it into your design file.

  4. If the height-to-width ratio is unlocked, click on the <lock> icon to lock the height-to-width ratio. Notice that, by default, it is set to a height of “1.0” and a width of “0.8” (as shown in Figure 4). By locking it at this ratio, any number you type in for height will cause the width value to change so that it’s 80% of the height. [By the way, if you ever want a different height-width ratio, just unlock it, change the values in the height and width fields to whatever you want, then re-lock.]
  5. Figure 4: If the height-to-width–ratio lock icon is in the unlocked position (as depicted above), then click on it to lock it if you want to maintain the same height-to-width ratio of the height and width shown in the dialog box.

  6. Next, type “0.5” in the “Height” field. Because the height-to-width ratio was locked at a height of “1.0” and a width of “0.8”, the width will automatically change to “0.4” (80% of the new height) as soon as you press on the <Update> button.
  7. Figure 5: Once you have clicked on the <Update> button, any new Microsoft Office Importer pastes will have the height-to-width ratio you specified.

  8. Press the <Update> button for the changes to become active.
  9. These settings will affect any new Microsoft Office Importer pastes in future sessions of MicroStation as long as you save the settings with “File | Save Settings” from the Microsoft Office Importer Settings dialog box.
  10. Press the <OK> button on the dialog box.

That’s it! You have just set your text height and width to exactly what you want. Now do all your text imports with Microsoft Office Importer and all your text will have perfect formatting.

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