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You can do IT in later life - 17

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. Getting the most from your computer.jpg (5543 bytes)

Jackie has also written the two books shown here - you can find more details about these by clicking on the cover images above. 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, why not email her

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

Q:  Can you tell me how to add my own music and other sounds to the computer, to make it more pleasurable to use. I would like to customise the way Windows starts up and exits. 

A:  A wide variety of actions, from emptying the Recycle Bin to maximising a window, can be accompanied by a sound.  There are sounds already available, such as chimes or chords, but you can also record any of your own including voices, music or crowd noises to play instead as long as you have a microphone. Here are the steps to take to record and add your own sound effects to a Windows PC using MS Office:

1.      Open Windows Explorer and then open the  (C): - Windows folders and find the application labelled Sndrec32 - it will display a loud-speaker icon .

2.      Double-click and you will open the Sound Recorder window. With your music-maker ready, press the Spacebar to start recording (this starts it without recording the click of the mouse), and then switch on the tape or start singing. When you have finished, press the Spacebar again to stop the recorder.

3.      To save your sound file correctly, click the Save button and open the following folders:  (C:) - Windows - Media. In here you will find some named sound files and a further folder labelled Office97 (or 2000 etc., depending on your version of MS Office). Save your new, named sound into this folder.

4.      To attach the sound to an action, go to Start - Settings - Control Panel and open Sounds. Choose an action in the top pane and then click Browse to locate your sound file. Preview it if you want to and then press Enter to add it to the Name box. After clicking Apply, click OK. Now carry out the action to check that you have the accompanying sound.


Q:  Please would you tell me how to automate different printing options. I often need to set the page sizes to print on labels, envelopes or letter paper and have been told that you can save instructions to do this automatically. 

A:  There are many activities - changing print settings as you describe, adding headers and footers, creating headings for similar documents, applying colours or layouts to spreadsheets etc. etc. that become very time-consuming when repeated regularly. What you need to do is “record” the steps you take, including clicking toolbar buttons,  opening menus and entering data, and save the actions as a program known as a macro.  When needed in future, run the macro and the actions are performed in seconds, automatically, by the machine.

Both spreadsheets and word processing applications such as Excel and Word support macros, and recording macros is very similar in both. For example, in Word:

a.  When you are ready, go to Tools - Macro and click Record New Macro.  Save the program with a short, memorable name e.g. Labels, add details about it to act as a reminder and then click OK.  (You may like to assign a shortcut to the macro or add it to your Tools menu or one of your toolbars once you are familiar with the process.)

b.  Now carry out the actions as normal - there should be a little Stop button visible on screen.  (One problem you will find - you won’t be able to use the mouse to select text so hold Shift and then press the appropriate arrow key).

c.  When you have finished, click the Stop button.  (If it has disappeared, open the Tools menu and click Macro - Stop Recording).

d.  If you close your application, make sure you save the macro if prompted to do so.

e.  Next time you want to carry out the repetitive task, open the Tools - Macro - Macros dialog box, select the named macro listed in the window and click Run. 

Q:  How do you create a Table of Contents for a book? 

A:  This requires the use of Styles.  If you look at your word processing application formatting toolbar, you will see a box next to the Font box - probably containing the word “Normal”.  Click the drop-down arrow in the box and you will see several other names e.g. Heading 1, Body Text etc.  These are different styles that feature a combination of fonts, formatting features and paragraph layouts that you can apply to any selected text in one go. 

A Table of Contents picks up any style text and will incorporate it into a list together with the page reference.  For example, if you apply Heading1 to every major heading in your book, Heading 2 to all sub-headings and Body Text to the rest of the text, you can create a Table of Contents based on Headings 1 & 2. 

a.  Apply styles throughout the document and then click your mouse where you want the Table of Contents to appear - e.g. on a new, blank page at the front of the complete document.

b.  Go to Insert - Index & Tables and click the Table of Contents tab. 

c.  Select your preferred format e.g. Classic or Simple and then restrict the Table to Headings 1 & 2 by clicking Options and taking off the tick next to Heading 3.  (If you create your own styles in future, you can include these in the Table of Contents by finding them in the list of styles and re-numbering the styles so that they are in their correct order of precedence in the Table.)

d.  Click OK and your Table will be created.  The text can be formatted and headings such as Item and Page Number added at the top, but the Table will appear against a grey background as it is drawing data from the document. 

e.   If you change the contents of your document you can update the Table by clicking it and then pressing the Function key F9 at the top of your keyboard.




Jackie Sherman`s new book:

Basic Computer Skills Made Simple' provides all necessary computer skills an individual may need and presents them in a straightforward and intelligent way. It demystifies computers and is ideal for those wishing to develop their skills and confidence in the subject whilst working at their own pace.
By using the text the reader will be able to produce a wide range of word-processed documents, prepare illustrated slides to aid talks, store and search for information systematically, and gain confidence handling simple numbers or charts. They will also learn how to connect to the Internet, surf the Web, and send and receive emails.



      Written from a UK perspective, the Guardian Guide to the Internet covers all the stock ground, including browser operation, FTP, Usenet, IRC and putting together a simple Web page




      This book will help you when you've got the machine into your home and you need to know what to do next. Starting with the process of unpacking the box and plugging in all the cables, this book shows you what to do with your new machine.




      Aimed at first-time Internet users, the guide, co-written by TV personality Carol Vorderman and Internet expert Rob Young, offers a thorough and non-intimidating introduction to the Internet.



View previous editions of YoucandoIT for more useful Questions and Answers

Click on a book or magazine image above or below to see full details.




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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