NWA-PCUG Newsletter Article
Crash Course Excel 95
A Computer Book By Anne Prince
From Mike Murach & Associates, Inc.
A Review by Doug MacDonald - July 97
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Anne Prince's Crash Course Excel 95, part of the Crash Course Series published by Mike Murach and Associates (ISBN Number 0-911625-96-8), is exactly what its subtitle suggests "...a crash course for the busy person on the job." It is both an excellent introduction to Excel 95 and a useful reference for the experienced user who wants to keep a concise, easy-to-read source volume at his or her fingertips.
This 80-page soft-cover book covers all the essential capabilities of Excel 95 in three succinct chapters - "How to Create, Print, and Save a Worksheet;" "Essential Worksheet Skills;" and "Two Features That Help You Work Like A Pro." The breakdown of the second two chapters gives an idea of the breadth of material covered: Chapter 2 - "Ten Essential Editing Skills," "Ten Essential Formatting Skills," "Nine Essential Skills for Working with Larger Worksheets;" Chapter 3 - "How to Use More Than One Worksheet at a Time," and "How to Create Charts." This is not just a work for a beginner; each section contains a "hands on" exercise through which the user can practice the material covered in that section. The examples are useful, practical illustrations from the home and small business environment. Many of them will have direct application for those wanting to use Excel 95 to solve real-world problems.
The format of each section lends itself to use as a reference. Each topic contains an introductory paragraph, instructions for finding and using the specific feature, at least one example, notes, and warnings if the feature might create problems when used incorrectly. Diagrams clearly show the feature being addressed. If appropriate, the author provides additional information that links this feature with others that might be related. Of particular note is the fact that the author catalogs in concise tables the several ways that most Excel functions can be invoked. If there is a Menu option as well as a mouse or "hot key" method that will activate a particular function or feature, all are listed together and a diagram shows how each works.
Unlike many of the "how-to" books available on the versatile and powerful Microsoft Office products, the "Crash Course" series does not go into excruciating detail about all possible options. The book deals with the major features, but it also provides enough information so that a user needing some of the more esoteric functions knows where to find them! It is amazingly easy to leaf through the book and find the section you need to "brush up" on the means of accomplishing some special formatting or functional requirement. There is a complete index, but often the Table of Contents is sufficient to put the reader right where he or she needs to be. In this sense, this book is much easier to use than some of the more complete books on Excel that I have used.
The one area that is not covered at all is the integration of Excel spreadsheets with the other elements of the Microsoft Office 95 Suite. That, however, is the subject of a volume in itself and is not a serious failing for a book primarily aimed at teaching users the basics of the powerful Excel spreadsheet program.
Murach and Associates provides PC User's Groups with a 40% discount off the list price of $15.00 for the Crash Course Excel 95 book. This makes it an excellent value for beginners and for experienced users who need an easy-to-use reference. We have information in the NWA-PCUG library concerning how members may take advantage of the discount offer. The "bottom line:" Crash Course Excel 95 is a good investment!
Mike Murach & Associates, Inc.
2560 West Shaw Lane, Suite 101
Fresno, California 93711-2765
209-275-3335, Fax 209-275-9035
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