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The book that picks up Woody Leonhard's torch
on 31 December 2010
For about 20 years now, most employers have assumed that there is no need to give their staff any training on the Microsoft Office applications that they use every day. It's collective lunacy - all the apps are packed with options and facilities, so if you know them well, you can produce much better work in much less time. But if you asked your manager for training in Word or Outlook you'd get the same kind of look as if you'd asked for basic training in English or Maths. So what to do? In theory you can use Microsoft's multifarious web sites to learn, but that's not as effective as it might be. The answer for much of of those 20 years was simple - just go and buy the right book by Woody Leonhard, an independent author whose books shone a bright light through the Microsoft marketing waffle and helped you to use the applications properly. I've been a fan since his book on Word 6, and must have bought about 4 of his other books. Woody no longer writes Office books, but Ed Bott worked with him on the last couple, and clearly knows what to do. Working with the resources of Microsoft behind him is probably a good thing.
After starting a new job where Office 2010 is used, I ordered this book, and this is a preliminary review which I'll update later.
The book covers the subset of Office apps which you're most likely to use (or at least be able to use) - Word, Excel, OneNote, PowerPoint and Outlook. It's long, but the thin glossy paper used keeps it quite thin (though pretty heavy). The first 186 pages (20% of the book) are Office fundamentals - things that you can use in all of the apps. You then get around 100 pages on each app (150 for Word), followed by 90-odd pages on Sharing and Collaborating. Judging from an initial look at the Fundamentals and Word sections, the information is as clear and well-chosen as I expected - and reflects the Woody L heritage with just the occasional joke. You also get free access to an O'Reilly Safari version, so if you use Office 2010 in multiple places, you don't have to transport the book.
Buy it, then skim through it to see what's there. Then read it in spare moments and take advantage of what you learn. Don't lend it to anyone - you may never see it again.