A practical approach that gets to grips with Word 97WORD 97 ONE STEP AT A TIME
By Trudi Reisner
Published by IDG Books Worldwide
Distributed by Intersoft
GETTING to grips with a new word processor is not the world's most pleasant task. Having to do it in a hurry, with deadlines to be met, ranks with Chinese water torture and food poisoning.
There are ways and means, however, of lessening the agony. Newcomers to Microsoft's Word 97, for instance, can whip through the package fairly painlessly with the aid of Word 97 One Step at a Time.
Using a CD-ROM to enhance learning, the book is aimed mainly at Word 97 novices who nevertheless have basic computer skills under their belts - like the ability to use a mouse. Both Word and the CD are designed to run off Windows 95 so familiarity with the Windows system is useful. If you're new to Windows 95 as well, you're probably going to need a separate instruction manual - although the book does provide some basic Windows pointers in its first chapter.
The information in the book and on the CD is organised into 16 lessons. Besides these and document templates, the CD also features One Step software which can be used in several ways. You can passively watch demonstrations of Word procedures or become more involved by using the or concurrent modes. Both these let you perform Word tasks while getting assistance from the CD.
It's a good idea to read the book at the same time as using the software, particularly when in concurrent mode, which lets you work in your actual MS Word software.
The book opens with a "Jump start" introductory chapter, which looks at some typical Word features and tools. From there it's straight down to business. The lessons start logically enough with the absolute basics and proceed all the way through to complicated tasks like using the program's mail merge capabilities and creating Web pages.
These exercises assume, however, that readers' computers are set to default settings. If you happen to have changed these settings you may get different results in some of the lessons.
The time needed to complete each chapter is indicated at the start and no lesson should take longer than 45 minutes to get through.
Despite its painstaking detail, the book is reader-friendly and says what it has to say with admirable clarity. Information comes in easily digestible portions and the language is to the point and unambiguous.
Printed in one colour (blue), it's not exactly a visual feast, but used in conjunction with the vivid software on the CD, this ceases to matter. The text is also livened up considerably by a variety of tips, notes, quizzes and illustrations. Liberally annotated screenshots appear on nearly every page and leave you in no doubt about what to do and where to go at any given point.
The real value of the book lies in its emphasis on practicality. The skills challenge at the end of each lesson tests your ability to retain what you've learnt about creating newsletters, order forms, form letters and Web pages.
By the end of the book, most readers should have gained a good all-round understanding of the program and be confidently proofing and printing with the best of them.