I'm a longtime user of Microsoft Office on Windows, but a newbie to Apple products. So I've been comparing various Apple guide-books. My favorites are "Switching to the Mac: The Missing Manual" and "iPhone 4: The Missing Manual," both by David Pogue. I look forward to Office 2011 for Macintosh: The Missing Manual , which will be published in January 2011.
Currently, the only book available on the new software is "Office for Mac 2011: Portable Genius." The subtitle "portable genius" comes from Apple Stores' "genius bar," where Apple technicians help newbies. This book is far too basic to transform a newbie into a "genius" of the portable or any other kind.
It's easy to follow as it presents step-by-step instructions and frequent illustrations. Beginning with installing Office 2011, it proceeds to summarize the "latest and greatest cool new features." Under "What's New in PowerPoint," the text says, "Using Presenter Tools, Excel can now help you rehearse your presentation before you give it." Ah, a typo: not Excel, should be PowerPoint (page 11).
The second chapter focuses on features that are common to the Office 2011 suite of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook: the toolbox, the media browser, and the ribbon. Users of Windows Office 2007 or Office 2010 will be familiar with the ribbon: "a new set of tabs that are visible just underneath the toolbar. These tabs are organized in a very intuitive fashion, and each tab includes easy-to-access buttons that correspond to the functions people use the most." Not so intuitive; I've been there. I remember that when I upgraded from Windows Office XP to Windows Office 2007, it took quite some time to get used to the ribbon. That said, the ribbon on this Office version has indeed been modified; it's easier to master -- and then you, too, can tell newbies, "it's very intuitive."
Subsequent chapters present the four individual applications.
Chapters 3, 4, and 5 on Word show among other tasks: how to set up new documents; insert images and graphics; create customized toolbars.
Chapter 6, 7, and 8 show how to create spreadsheets with Excel; use formulas; and augment spreadsheets with charts and graphs.
Chapters 9, 10, and 11 on PowerPoint show how to create a presentation; enhance presentations with color images and graphics; and deliver presentations.
Chapters 12, 13, and 14 on Outlook show how to set preferences; optimize e-mail; organize contacts, tasks, notes, and schedules.
For a more comprehensive guide that takes up topics such as Visual Basic Applications `VBA' macros, SkyDrive, and comparisons of Outlook with the Windows 2010 version, I'll have to wait for the publication of the "Office 2011 for Mac: The Missing Manual" by Chris Grover. According to the publisher's press release the forthcoming "missing manual" will be 912 pages long. I'll use it mainly as a reference. Having learned the basics, step-by-step, from the "portable genius," I think the combo will be optimal for newbies. Experienced Mac users would likely find the "Missing Manual" by itself a much better choice.
The compact (317 pages) "Microsoft Office for Mac 2011: Portable Genius" shows newbies how to use the four updated applications -- Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook -- with five-star clarity. Excellent book for newbies.