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Planning Retirement Online

You can do IT in later life - 39

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



March  2004

As many of you are gardeners and this is the time to be thinking about next year`s display, I thought I would explain how to use a spreadsheet package such as Excel for keeping track of sowing and cropping information.

  • Open a new spreadsheet and type your headings across the columns: these might include the plant type, variety, form (seeds, bulbs etc.), month to sow, month to start cropping, flowering season, colour of flowers etc. etc. It is always a good idea to put in as much information as possible.

  • If you want to consult the spreadsheet regularly to see what sowing or other gardening jobs are coming up during the month, you will need to sort your plant records by date. You cannot, therefore, type in January, February etc as these can only be sorted alphabetically, so that August will appear well before January. You will need to represent the months by typing dates the machine will recognise e.g. 1/1/04 or 1/8/04. If you want the selected column to display Jan, Feb etc. instead of 1/4/04, open the Format - Cells menu, click Date, then click Custom and select or type the letters mmm to represent the first 3 letters in the month (or mmm-yy to display Apr-04)


  • Now type in all your plant information. Later, if you want to add a new plant record, simply insert a new row: click on the numbered grey row header, open the Insert menu and select Rows. A new row will slide into place. (You could also add new plants at the bottom of the entries and re-sort the records to put them into their proper place.)

  • To reorder the records, you will need to carry out a sort. Select ALL the entries, including the column headings, and open the Data-Sort menu. This allows you to sort by one heading, then by a second and even by a third e.g. by month of sowing, name of plant and then month of harvesting. (If you don`t include the column headings when you select the data, you will find you have to sort by Column A, B or C etc which isn`t as easy as using the real heading names.)

  • Finally, you can use your spreadsheet to find plants easily using the Filter. Once again, select all the data and then go to Data - Filter - AutoFilter. Arrows will appear next to each heading. If you click the arrow, you will display all entries in that particular column. To find which plants need to be sown in February, for example, click on February in the list dropped down from the SOW column, and you will filter out all other records.

  • For more complex searches, select the Custom entry in any column and then complete the various boxes e.g. to display plants that can be harvested in June or July, use equals for the months and click the Or button:

  • Take off the filter and display all your plant records again by clicking the (All) entry in the selected drop-down list, or go to Data - Filter - Show All.



View previous editions of YoucandoIT for more useful Questions and Answers

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