Microsoft Office is renowned for the outstanding individual applications that make up the package. These applications are as good as it gets for stand-alone utilities, but they also work very well together. In order to demonstrate the efficient way that different Office applications can work with each other, imagine with me a scenario where the manager of a small publishing firm is working on how the company has fared over the past twelve months. Our document starts life as an Excel chart and then passes through Word and Outlook before ending up in Power Point. Changing from one application to the next is rather akin to a 4 x 100 metres sprint relay team, so if you are ready, on your marks.

Out of the starting blocks for the first leg is Excel with a fairly basic worksheet showing month-on-month sales of the fifteen titles the publishing firm has available. It is a very straightforward chart with the key showing months of the year in a row along the top and the book titles reading down a column on the left. This chart will form part of a Word document that will look at the figures in more detail and comment on the various fluctuations that the figures show. The baton is now passed on to Word as we embed the Excel chart into a Word document.

To do this we must select the entire chart that we want to embed and copy it to the clipboard. Then we open a new document in Word and move the insertion pointer to where we want the chart to be positioned. In pre-2007 versions of Word, we would go to Edit/Paste Special, and from the dialog box select Microsoft Office Excel Worksheet Object. In Word 2007 and on, we go to the Home ribbon and select Paste, then the Down Arrow and Paste Special and follow the same procedure. As the chart shows a full year's sales and is, therefore, complete, there is no need to check the Paste Link radio button. If the chart contained data that would be updated then the Paste Link button would be selected to ensure that every modification to the source document in Excel would be reflected in the chart in the Word document.

Word's section of the relay is now done and the baton is passed on to Outlook, as the whole document has to be emailed. This could be done as an attachment, but if Word is the chosen email editor in Outlook then this opens up far more versatility for the production of emails. So how do we select Word as our default email editor? Well, if we are using Outlook 2007 or 2010, then Word is automatically the chosen email editor. For versions prior to 2007, we open Outlook and go to Tools/Options and select Mail Format. Check the Use Microsoft Office Word 2003 to edit e-mail messages box is checked (the wording of this may differ slightly on different versions). Click OK. We can now open the Word document as an email and send, passing the baton on to PowerPoint.

And this is the sprint for the finish because to all we have to do is open our Word document (in Word) and then select File/Send To and choose Microsoft Power Point from the drop down menu.

The passing of the baton in this race shows how information can be relayed from one application to another in Microsoft Office. It really is the most versatile of programs, and one thing is for certain: when it comes to interrelated desktop applications, Microsoft Office stands on the top of the podium every time.