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Planning Retirement Online

You can do IT in later life

July 2007


You can do IT is a regular feature of aimed at trying to help laterlife visitors make the most of Information Technology on or off the web. 

Jackie Sherman who runs the You can do IT Question & Answer section is an IT trainer and author. Jackie has spent her career in education and specialises in teaching IT to adults. Her courses for adults include such topics as MS Office, the Internet, e-mail and basic web page authoring.  

Jackie has also written several books - you can find more details about these by clicking here. Jackie has also been running a course specifically for over 50s.

Via Jackie aims to particularly help those new to IT and the web to build up knowledge and confidence, so no question is too basic. At the same time she will cover Q&As for the more experienced user. 

So if you would like to ask a question of Jackie, or if you have discovered something which may be of interest to others in making the most of the web, then she would love to hear about that too. Why not email her



 JULY 2007




As you can see from my column, I earn my living by writing, and I know that many of you write in your spare time. If you are hoping to see your work in print one day, here are a few tips on using your computer to help get your work published. (The advice, as usual, is based on the most common Windows PCs and software programs such as Word.)


1. Take great photos. Most magazine editors really need good pictures to accompany any non-fiction article or story. To be clear when printed, as compared to being viewed online, digital photos must be at a resolution of no less than 3 megapixels. Nowadays, even the cheapest cameras can take 3 – 5 megapixel pictures, so just make sure you don't set the resolution lower than that for your magazine shots. When sending the images to the editor as email attachments or saved onto a CD-R, keep them as jpegs and DON'T let the computer compress them: you will lose vital detail.

2. Sort out your layout. Most editors like to receive documents in double spacing, with clear margins round the edges. Even if you send them your copy by email, they are likely to print them out for colleagues to read and discuss, and people may want to scribble comments on them.


a. To double space: select all the text, hold down Ctrl and press the number 2. (To return to single line spacing, use Ctrl plus 1).
b. To change margins: open the File menu, select Page Setup and click the Margins tab. Use the up arrows to change measurements, or click in the boxes and type in your own. The normal measure is 3.17cm left and right, so setting these at 4 cm should be fine.

3. Use headers and footers: Add numbers to every page, as well as your name and/or the article name, in the top or bottom margins. Editors do not like stapled pages, and it is very easy to drop pages or get them out of order if you send them something long.

Open the View menu, select Headers and Footers and type entries into the header box that will appear on the page.

Click the button on the toolbar showing # to add page numbers, or the calendar to add the date. If you click the Insert AutoText button, you can add extra details such as the author's name or document filename.

Scroll down the page, or click the Switch Between box to move to the footer to add further entries here.

Leave the header/footer boxes by double clicking the grey document text that will be visible on the page, and return there if you have made any errors by double clicking the (now) grey text in the header or footer box

4. Count your words: Most magazines will want an article or story of a fairly exact length, e.g. 2000 words. Keep an eye on yours by opening the Tools menu now and again and clicking Word Count.

5. Read the submission advice to authors: Some publishers produce helpful guidelines on what they are, or are not looking for, and it is very important to read this rather than waste your time sending in unwanted material. Visit their websites and look for links such as "advice to authors" or "publish with us," or use the word "submissions" and name of the publisher or magazine in a search engine keyword box.

A very helpful website also worth visiting is Jacqui Bennett Writers Bureau at  which lists various markets (although do check that they are up-to-date) including details of editors, phone numbers and email or postal addresses.

6. Produce good query letters. Apart from short stories or poems that are hard to describe, it is a good idea to make contact and whet the appetite of the editor before sending in a finished article, and certainly before you send a non-fiction book, in case it is not along the right lines. What they will hope to hear is: why you think the article/book is worth writing; what is special about it; what the competition is likely to be; the approximate length of any proposed book; your expertise in the subject; and the market you are aiming at. For books, you should also send a synopsis in the form of brief chapter outlines, and mention any special features you are thinking of including such as exercises, illustrations, pop-up cardboard cut-outs, examination tie-ins, accompanying CD-ROMs etc. You might also like to write a short CV mentioning any publications or showing evidence of your suitability to write on this topic.

7. Send your work direct: It is always best to send submissions direct to the appropriate editor, rather than to a central information point where it could easily get lost or forgotten. Trying to find this out can be hard, (and almost impossible for fiction where publishers tend to work only through agents and won't give out names.) For non-fiction, many companies have good contact pages showing the names and email addresses of specialist editors, so do your homework before sending them the query letter.

If you have any queries on computers and/or writing, do get in touch at  and I will be happy to answer them.




View previous editions of YoucandoIT for more useful Questions and Answers

For a wealth of books on the web and IT generally, visit Amazon and under the books section select Computers and Internet.

Don't forget to visit the general laterlife features section called laterlife interest


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