Archive for the ‘Office 2003 and earlier’ Category
I resisted learning and using keyboard shortcuts for more years than I care to admit. In recent years, however, I have come to appreciate just how valuable keyboard shortcuts can be in Excel and almost any other application you can name. The Blog ExcelTip has just published a detailed article about Function Key Shortcuts that is definitely worth a read if your are interested in expanding your shortcut key horizon.
Mouse and keyboard essentials can become second nature quite quickly, once you learn them. However, if you are new to Windows computing or have simply learned by doing, you may be missing some of the basics.
This article will focus on basic keyboard skills which all seem simple once you know how to use them but which some people find very difficult to use in the first place. The article includes some examples of shortcuts that are possible with the mouse or keyboard actions but our main interest is how to use the mouse and keyboard keys alone or in various combinations. Many times when you ask for help the article or forum post suggests that you use mouse or keyboard keys is certain ways. This article is about what these suggestions mean.
How familiar are you with your mouse? Here are some basic points to be aware of:
Right or Left
A basic windows mouse has two ‘keys,’ left and right. When you rest your right hand, palm down on the mouse, your index finger rests naturally on the left key and you second finger rests on the right. The left key is used to select or choose the item you have used the mouse to point to on the screen. The right mouse key is typically used to open a shortcut menu of choices that are appropriate to whatever it is you are doing at the moment.
Click or Drag
A Click is a single quick down and up motion of the specified mouse key. A Drag on the other hand, means that you should press and hold down the specified mouse key while you move the mouse in the desired direction.
Your mouse may have a wheel between the left and right keys. You can spin this wheel in either direction. The action spinning the wheel causes depends, in part on where you are pointing when you spin it. For example, in Word 2007, or 2010 (or any of the Office applications with the ribbon interface), spinning the wheel which change the active ribbon tab.
Different actions require different kinds of clicking. A Single Click means quickly pressing and releasing the mouse key once only.
A Double click, on the other hand, means rapidly pressing the mouse key twice. The setting for just how quickly it is necessary to repeat the click for Windows to interpret your mouse action as a double click is adjustable (see below.)
Control Panel Adjustments
Adjust double click speed
If you have difficulty double-clicking you can use the mouse properties to adjust the time between the first and second click.
Switch Left and Right
If you are left-handed you can use the mouse properties so that the mouse keys are reversed.
You can use the Mouse options in the Windows Control panel to adjust double click speed and to switch the Left and Right mouse key if you prefer to use the mouse in your left hand
A computer application is nothing more or less than a tool, a device used to do a job. Personal computer applications rely on the skills of the person using the application to get the job done. Some of these skills are application-specific, some relate to a general understanding of computer use, and some relate to the user’s general knowledge level and understanding of how to solve the problem at hand.
Some applications, like some tools, are easy to use and require only basic personal skills. Other applications, like some other tools, are more difficult to use and require higher personal skill level.
Take such a simple task as driving a nail. That is probably something you learned to do as a child. Most likely, though, when you first started trying to use a hammer, you held it, perhaps in two hands and close to the head. You had to learn that the tool works best when you hold it in one hand, close to the end of the handle, so that the hammer became like an extension of your arm. Most likely that skill is now so basic to you that you don’t even recall learning it.
The point is, whether you realize it or not, every tool, virtual or real, requires at least some skills in order to be useful in helping you to do the job at hand. When it comes to looking at the Microsoft Office Suite in this light, there are some common skillsets that apply to the whole suite. Additional skills specific to each application build on this foundation.
Here, in no particular order, are essentials for the office suite that people suggested when I asked or gleaned from my own experience.
- Know the correct way of starting and shutting down your computer.
- Know the difference between shortcuts and application icons.
I once had a client who deleted an application to make space, because “there was a much smaller version on the desktop”!
- Know what version of Windows you are using.
- Know what version of Office you have available.
Newer versions of Office and Windows have more features and do things differently than earlier versions. You can help others help you (especially in on-line forums) if you can indicate your version of Office.
- Understand the work and task at hand that you think you can use an Office application for.
Just as it is difficult to pound a nail with a backhoe, each Office application is better suited to some purposes than others.
- Mousing basics
- the difference between click and drag
- mouse pointer shapes
- how to manage Windows
- Keyboard shortcuts.
There are literally pages and pages of keyboard shortcuts. Learn the shortcuts that are most useful to you, even if you prefer to use you mouse. There are time that you can’t use the mouse but you can use a keyboard shortcut to do what you need. Keep in mind also that some keyboard shortcuts depend on the language and keyboard version you are using. A good grasp of basic keyboard shortcuts will help you with all of the Office applications. Some keyboard shortcuts are useful in or apply to just some of the applications.
- How to organize and manage your files.
Develop a standard naming and filing system for your work. You will spend far less time looking for that file that you created and saved a couple of days ago. Don’t mimic the M*A*S*H episode where Klinger filed all correspondence under C. That might work if you have only a few files but with the huge capacity of today’s storage media, it’s easy to lose track of your work and have to waste valuable minutes tracking it down.
- Know how to backup your work and preserve working versions (drafts) of work in progress.
Sure your IT department backs up your files regularly (they do, don’t they?) but if you have your own system of backing up individual files that are important to you, you will be able to recover from a disaster much more quickly than if you don’t.
- Know how to proof-read your work. Don’t pass anything along to anyone else until you have proof-read it two or three times.
Remember that it is easy to overlook typos and spelling errors if you proofread immediately after you type. Take a break from the task and go back to proofread your work several hours later or even the next day. Develop a work buddy system for proofreading someone else’s work in exchange for their proofreading yours.
- Know how to use Office’s Review tools (Spell Checker and Grammar Checker) and be aware of their limitations. Be sure to add local spellings to the dictionary if appropriate.
Automated grammar checking is still far from perfect. In English, for example, the word “place” can be used as either a noun (‘Let’s go to John’s place.’) or as a verb (‘Place the parcel on the table.’) When you do use it as a verb, the grammar checker reports that you have an incomplete sentence.
- Understand templates and how to use them to save yourself work.
- Be willing to reinforce new skills by using them frequently until they become second nature.
No doubt there are other Office essentials that could be added to this list. However, if you are just starting to learn about using Office applications, keeping these points in mind (and raising them with your trainer/instructor) will help you focus learning experience.
The basic notion for this article came from my classroom experience with people who had come to an Introduction to Excel class. Many of these people were unable to answer the question, “What type of work will you be doing in Excel?” In coming articles, I will discuss application specific essentials. I also frequently ran into (again with Excel newcomers) what seemed to be an almost mystical belief that Excel users could use the application to handle all of their math problems; these people (and perhaps their bosses) seemed to think they did not need any math skills. All they wanted to do, they said, was to learn formulas. More about that in the Essentials – Excel article.
Recently I asked a number of applications experts and users what they thought were essential skills for using Microsoft Office applications. Thanks to the UtterAccess members, and members of the Microsoft Excel Users, Microsoft MVP Professional Group, and MVP@Work groups at Linked-In who responded.