Early versions of Outlook allowed you to design your own form but unless you invented them before you used Outlook (chicken and egg?) it was not much use as it did not tell you how to apply the new form retrospectively to existing entries.

The latest Outlooks, 2002, etc. now show you how to apply a new form to your existing contact entries.

However, for journal entries, I was happy to use a new form for all future entries and I did not need it to be applied retrospectively. So I tried to design a Journal form with an added telephone number field.

The Journal record stores all the usually things such as date, time, type of entry, name of contact that you telephoned. It did not include the actual number dialled.

Now I need that number to help analyse my British Telecom itemised bills which give calls by date, time, but only by telephone number not by the name of who you called. This makes it unnecessarily difficult to match the journal entries to the itemised bill in order to assign call charges to the right client.

I designed a Journal form and as the design editor offered all the fields in the Outlook database, I selected the telephone number field. When I put it to use, no telephone numbers appeared in the journal record.

When I asked Microsoft why; they said that it was because Outlook at that time was a flat file database and not a proper relational database, the field would not be filled in at the time of use because the code to do that had not been written and they had no plans to add it. I was told that I could use this new field to enter the telephone number manually at the time of the call.

When I complained that it was misleading and time wasting to offer a field which is not actually available I got the usual Microsoft reply - "Oh that is the way people want it to be!"

Do you know whether the latest versions of Outlook now correctly fill out an added telephone number field in an amended Journal entry form?