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Planning Retirement Online


You can do IT in later life - 36

You can do IT is a regular feature of laterlife.com 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 laterlife.com 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 jackie@laterlife.com

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 jackie@laterlife.com


Q:  How can I stop my computer adding strange dates when I don’t want it to? I was typing 12 October 2003 at the start of a letter, and needed to press Enter to move onto the next line. However, my computer added -10-13 which I had to go back and delete. 

A:  These automatic little boxes popping up with suggested entries are known as AutoComplete suggestions and can be useful or irritating, depending on the activities you are performing. To turn them off in the situation you describe, all you need to do when they appear is press the Escape key (Esc) which can be found in the top, left-hand corner of your keyboard.   

If you hate them appearing at all, you need to cancel AutoComplete entirely. Go to Tools – AutoCorrect (in Windows XP – AutoCorrect Options) and click the AutoText tab. Take off the tick in the Show AutoComplete tip (in Windows XP – AutoComplete Suggestions) box and they won’t appear again.  

Q:  Can you provide a simple guide to attaching files to e-mails using Outlook Express?  Mine never seem to work properly.  

A:  There are three different methods for doing this, depending on where you are in your computer:

  1. If you have started typing a new message, click the paperclip icon (labelled Attach) or go to Insert – File Attachment. This will open up your computer filing system and you can search for the file in the normal way - just as you do when opening new files.  Select the file you want to attach with one mouse click and press Enter or click the Insert button. This will take you back to your message and you will see the file in a new attachment window. (For Outlook users, the file will appear in the body of your message text.) Now complete and send your message as normal.

  2. If you are viewing your files in My Documents, you can right-click any file and select Send to – Mail recipient from the short menu that will appear. This will open a blank message window to which your file is attached. Complete the message and send it now or later. 

  3. Finally, if you finish a file using Word, Excel or some other programs you can open the File menu and select Send to – Mail (as attachment).  As above, this will open a new message window that you can complete. However, you need to keep the file open until the message has been sent.

 

Q:  How can I make my spreadsheets more manageable? Sometimes my headings stretch across several screens, even though the columns only contain a few numbers in each cell, and different sections aren’t clearly differentiated?  

A:  There are three simple techniques for keeping spreadsheets neat and clear:

Wrapping Text: 

For any long entry e.g. a column heading, first type all the text into one cell, and don’t be tempted to set it out over two or more rows. Then select the cell and go to Format – Cell – Alignment and click the Wrap Text checkbox in the Text control section. When you return to the spreadsheet, you may need to drag the bottom boundary of the cell down, but all the text should now appear on several lines within the single cell.

 

This text has not been wrapped at all and makes the cell very wide

 

This text has been wrapped down the column

Merging Cells

You may want to mark out a section that includes several columns. To do this, enter the heading in the first cell – e.g. A1, and then select this and the other cells in the row that stretch across the width of the data. 

 

 

A

B

C

D

1

My Data

 

 

 

2

First set

Second set

Third set

Fourth set

3

222

232

432

143

4

456

786

587

354

Now click the Merge and Centre button  or find the Merge Cells option from Format – Cells – Alignment. You will see your heading appear in the centre of the selected block as this has now become a single, enlarged cell A1.  

A

B

C

D

My Data

First set

Second set

Third set

Fourth set

222

232

432

143

456

786

587

354

Borders and Shading

Divide up your spreadsheet sections by using borders and coloured backgrounds. Create these manually – select any section and go to Format – Cells – Border or Patterns to add dark outlines or colour fills to the cells - or select a complete design from those offered on the Format – AutoFormat menu.  


                                                     

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.

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