Research Task Pane

This task pane was introduced in Excel 2003 and is available in both Word and PowerPoint as well.
This can be displayed by selecting (Review tab > Research)
It lets you search local and remote data sources without having to leave the application and displays information from a wide range of different services.
Some are free and some require subscription.
A few of these are especially useful such as the dictionary and thesaurus.
When you first open the task pane it will default to the All Reference Books search category.
When you want to search for something you can either select an entire search category or an individual resource below each category.
This task pane will store your last 10 searches.
The exact list of categories and resources will depend on your location and whether you are working online or offline.


Different Categories

There are three search categories:
All Reference Book - Under this category are the familiar search items such as Dictionary, Thesaurus and Translation.
All Research Sites - Under this category are the , MSN Search and other research sites.
All Business and Financial Sites - Under this category are MSN Money Stock Quotes and Thomson Gale Company Profiles.


All Reference Books

The Dictionary lets you look up words or phrases in the Encarta dictionary.
This contains over 400,000 entries and in addition to definitions, includes pronunciation keys, word histories, and word usage notes.
The Thesaurus lets you look up synonyms while you work and insert them into your file directly.
You can also click a result to look up additional words.
The Translation lets you get translations quickly using bilingual dictionaries to translate single words or short phrases.
If you want to search both the dictionary and the thesaurus at the same time, select the entire category.
When you are working offline the dictionary and thesaurus features will use the functionality installed with the application.


All Research Sites

The Encyclopaedia lets you research your subject using the Encarta Encyclopaedia.
This contains more than 42,000 articles allowing you to review the results or ask questions.
Factiva iWorks and HighBeam Research both offer a collection of business content from a wide number of different sources
These sources include articles from newspapers (such as the Financial Times), magazines (such as The Economist) and newswires (such as Reuters).
Both these services are subscription based. Information that is not free to access is indicated by a small money icon.
The last category here is MSN Search which is exactly the same as using MSN Search from a browser.
Clicking on one of these links will open up the necessary page in a browser.
If you are using Internet Explorer then your task pane will also be displayed in your browser.
If you are searching multiple categories then the results will be grouped by the different resources.


The MSN Encarta Encyclopedia service has since been discontinued.
The Factiva iWorks service is subscription based and is not free.
The HighBeam Research service


All Business and Financial Sites

MSN Money Stock Quotes lets you look up stock quotes and company information directly within Excel and lets you search using stock symbols and company names.
This is a great feature although from our experience it is not very easy to use.
The Thomson Gale Company Profiles lets you retrieve basic facts about companies such as company address, number of employees, website address etc.
Not all languages support this particular search category.


Research Options

Lets you make changes to the list of installed services


Installing More Services

If your company has an intranet site, you can also add it to the Research Task Pane for easy access.
Microsoft Office SharePoint sites are supported.
To add a SharePoint site to the list of All Research Sites you can add the URL using the Add Services dialog box.


Fee Based Content

A lot of the information is free but some of it isn't.
When a fee is required you will see a premium content icon next to the link.
You will not be charged for clicking on the link though.


Important

When you are working offline the only research services available will be the thesaurus and bilingual dictionary that are installed by default.
You can quickly open the Research task pane by right-clicking on a word and clicking on lookup.
This task pane stores up to a maximum of 10 searches.


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