How to Become Dangerous (and more productive)

Category: Software

Over the last thirty years, one piece of software has stood out – head and shoulders – over any other piece of software. In fact, for many people this ubiquitous software has been the first thing installed on any new computer and is often used every time the computer is turned on. Can you guess what it is...?

The Envelope, Please!

What is this software? (drumroll, please...) It's Microsoft Office. The powerhouses of this suite are two programs: Microsoft Word and Excel, which provide word processing and spreadsheet capabilities to over a billion people around the world. It's been imitated by many, but never quite duplicated.

There's a good chance you use Word or Excel every single day, whether it is to type a letter, tabulate the figures for a budget, or track something in your office. These are the workhorse programs in many users' daily routines. Other Office modules include Access (for databases), Publisher (for newsletters and brochures), and PowerPoint (for creating presentations).

If you are like most people, you know enough to get by with Word and Excel. But what you don't know could actually be holding you back and hampering your productivity! When I've got questions about how to use Word or Excel, my go-to guy is Allen Wyatt. I've personally known him for over a decade, and for over 20 years he's been publishing newsletters about how to use both Word and Excel.

Word and Excel Tips

ExcelTips is a free weekly website and newsletter that provides guidance on how to get the most out of Excel. Similarly, WordTips, as you might suspect, provides hands-on guidance for Word. These are independent sites, and each provides a range of tips, from beginner to expert, that you can put to use right away.

Allen's Microsoft Words tips are written for people who have Word versions 2007-2019, and the version provided with Office 365. (If you need help with Word 97, Word 2000, Word 2002, or Word 2003, visit this site. Similarly, if you need help with a pre-2007 version of Excel, you'll find those tips here.

After just a few issues you might actually "become dangerous" in how you use the software. You'll definitely become more of an expert, and you'll be able to wow your friends and co-workers with your ninja office skills. Take a look around at the WordTips website and the ExcelTips website. You'll find thousands (literally) of tips on how to use these programs. You can drill down to find tips by topic, or you can search to find just what you need. Here are a few examples:

Microsoft Office is hugely popular, but kind of expensive. However, there are other "officey" suites that do pretty much the same functions, and are file-compatible. Some are even free! See my article I'm Not Gonna Pay a Lot For This Word Processor! for my recommendations.

If you have Word, and need help with Formatting, Page Layout, PDFs, Tables, or Templates, Word Tips is a great resource. If you use Excel, and have struggled with Charts, Formatting, Formulas, Macros, Sorting, Subtotals, you'll find helpful tips. They're all written in plain English, with step-by-step instructions for getting it done.

In fact, there isn't a single thing I've wondered how to do with Word or Excel that I couldn’t find the answer for at Allen's sites, with a little digging around. He's been covering these Microsoft Office programs since the first version came out on stone tablets, and his depth of knowledge shows. Everything from beginner information to advanced programming with macros -- it's all there!

Do yourself a favor, though. When you visit either of these websites, do what I did -- subscribe to Allen's newsletters. They are published weekly and they are free. Each page on his websites has a sign-up form at the right side of the page.

Your thoughts on this topic are welcome. Post your comment or question below...

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This article was posted by on 4 Oct 2019

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Most recent comments on "How to Become Dangerous (and more productive)"

(See all 25 comments for this article.)

Posted by:

04 Oct 2019

Surely the first thing to install on a new (Windows) PC would be a good security suite, before you venture anywhere to get anything else?

The next things I install are likely

Firefox with addons Thunderbird with addons SysInternals suite LibreOffice Notepad++

Posted by:

Renaud Olgiati
04 Oct 2019

Unless you are constrained by your employer's IT policies, or use macros programmed in VisualBasic, why spend your money on Microsoft when you can have LibreOffice for free ?
It can do almost everything MS Office does, and has no problem reading and writing your documents in Microsoft's proprietary formats.

Posted by:

04 Oct 2019

Hooray for the shout-out for Allen Wyatt! His pages are, along with yours, some of the web-resources I most value. I am delighted to learn that you and he are acquainted — you have both earned your well-deserved reputations by providing free, solid advice over many years — long may you both continue!

There are other good resources that I trust, but yours and Allen's have in common a sense that your foundations stretch back to an earlier (better?) era of the Internet before the scammers took hold, and there is, for both your sites, a sense that this is the personal project of somebody whose primary motive in setting it up was not personal profit but a generosity of spirit.

I hope and trust that you have both profited from your enterprises. I have always regarded you and Allen in the same good light and am delighted to see you recommend him. I wholeheartedly recommend both your sites to anybody.

Posted by:

04 Oct 2019

Did I miss it or was Outlook even mentioned? That is my primary means for using a PC. Of course, search engines are widely used along with favorite web sites for current news items. I don't work in an office now, so seldom use Word from Office 360.

Posted by:

04 Oct 2019

Dear Bob,
Thanks so much for the info. I had no idea that Allen Wyatt's help sites existed. I have used Microsoft Word for years with great results.

Posted by:

04 Oct 2019

At home I always use OpenOffice. A holdover from the days when open source was all the rage. Any chance there is anyone out there doing the same thing as Allen Wyatt for OpenOffice? There's a wiki for OpenOffice but apparently it only goes up to OpenOffice 3. I'm using 4.1.5.

Posted by:

Emily Booth
04 Oct 2019

I was a PC user at work & an Apple user at home. We used Corel Word Perfect & Quatro Pro before Microsoft arrived. Loved Corel! Apple isn't as good. I also miss Palm. I sometimes wonder where those engineers went.

Posted by:

04 Oct 2019

LibreOffice and Notepad++ (like someone else mentioned). Office products are bloated and generate larger files than necessary. Why not go with a free solution?

Posted by:

04 Oct 2019

I must be the odd one out. I have never used nor had the need to use or even let the thought pass through my head to use Excel. In my home I have never had the desire or need to compose a spreadsheet. To be honest I am still a bit hazy on exactly what a spreadsheet actually is.
I worked in an office environment for a 5 year period and while the cooperation had MS-Office installed, the only part of if the employees accessed was Outlook for email.
Any letters or notes or books I have needed to write have always come out clearly on Open Office or Libreoffice or even Microsoft Write.
I propose that the first program used on any new computer is MS Explorer to download a better browser.

Posted by:

E. Gilles Lalancette
04 Oct 2019

It's been imitated by many, but never quite duplicated. It did just that to WordPerfect.

Posted by:

04 Oct 2019

Anybody other than Dan remember AmiPro? IMO, that was head and shoulders above MS-Word. While working in Word Support at Microsoft, I gave a presentation on it and everybody agreed that it was much more intuitive and feature packed than Word. However, thanks to the sales force of MS, it didn't really matter who had the best software program. Companies who had employees who loved whatever they were using -- mainly WordPerfect -- bought into the Office promise of superiority and created all kinds of problems. For a couple of years, the MS Support people had to know about as much about WordPerfect so we could assist those who were forced to switch to Word. One of the least favorite things after answering the phone was, "It was so easy in WordPerfect, but now..."

I haven't worked at MS since 2003 (or anywhere else, for that matter). I stopped updating Word due to the expense and the lack of need to do any heavy word processing. When I needed to read a Word .doc (or .docx) file, I used a compatible program. Currently I use TextMaker from SoftMaker Free Office. It does way more than I need and doesn't cost anything.

Posted by:

Jay R
04 Oct 2019

For the most part, I try not to use Mostly Sh!tty products. I am guilty of using Hotmail.( I must have felt that MS was the lesser of two evils when I did that. I might switch to Gmail soon. I am signed up.) I have been using Open Office for years. It has done very well. Other than the fact that , after the last upgrade, it doesn't autocorrect spelling. I think that I have read that I can reload it and that problem will be corrected.

Posted by:

04 Oct 2019

Yes: first solitaire, then security, then Firefox.
As for office suites, I used MS Office when it came FREE on a desktop I once used. After that I used OpenOffice for a few years. For the last several years (a lot of them) I've used LibreOffice. No complaints, except maybe it has a lot of "stuff" I've never used (or probably understood).

Posted by:

04 Oct 2019

LibreOffice, yes!

Posted by:

05 Oct 2019

Another vote for Libre Office. MS office is popular as it appears to be the only choice when shopping for a pre-installed office suite.

go to www (dot) libreoffice (dot) org and download it.

Posted by:

05 Oct 2019

Bob - You need to correct your Pre-2007 Excel link. Both pre-2007 links go to Word.

Posted by:

06 Oct 2019

When I was gainfully employed, my employer provided MS Office, from which I used Excel. I provided Word Perfect(ed) and used the word processor. When I retired my son introduced me to Linux, which I now use exclusively. I still have a use for a word processor and spreadsheet. I find that LibreOffice provides me the best of both MS-World and WP-World. I've dabbled with the MS products and put them down for LibreOffice,it does the job my way, especially footnotes.

Posted by:

Marge Teilhaber
07 Oct 2019

Thanks so much, Bob. I use Word and Excel extensively, so I will quite enjoy Allen Wyatt's newsletters.

Posted by:

17 Oct 2019

I agree with a couple of previous posts that the first things you install on a new computer are a better browser (I use Google Chrome) and an antivirus program. I've read that Windows Defender has evolved into a good antivirus, but I'd still rather install a separate AV program. I do use MS Office, but I'm still using Office 2010, as the newer versions don't really add anything new, and I refuse to pay a subscription fee. If I didn't already have a paid copy of Office, I'd use Libre Office. I tried it out and it's very similar to MS Office.

Posted by:

07 Nov 2019

For a step up to Excel plus database, try AirTable. It even takes your current spreadsheet and makes it work.

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Article information: AskBobRankin -- How to Become Dangerous (and more productive) (Posted: 4 Oct 2019)
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