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Planning Retirement Online

You can do IT in later life - 5

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

Better Searching

Q. Do you have any general advice about searching the Web?

A:  If you’ve tried finding information, you probably realise by now that some search engines are better than others, and the wording of your ‘key words’ in the query box is very important. Most of the search engines work in a similar way, but read their help screens for detailed advice on how to get the most from them. If you want to, try some of these tips:

  1. Type words between quote marks to avoid hundreds of irrelevant ‘hits’ e.g. "Bikini Island" shouldn’t bring up clothing company details.

  2. Use the * symbol to represent different characters e.g. train* should pick up trainers, training, training officer and trains.

  3. Use AND to link words that must be contained and AND NOT to exclude words

  4. Try putting a + sign in front to ensure that the word is included, or a – sign if the word must not be included.

  5. Some search engines allow you to enter a complete sentence, which helps if you aren’t very good at picking the perfect combination of words.

Common search engine sites to try include,, and

Perhaps the best advice is to start collecting site addresses (known as URLs). When you need specific information e.g. on a health, culture or family issue, you can type the address of a relevant site directly into the address/location box in your browser window. This way, you’re likely to find valuable information on the site itself as well as links to other, similar sites. Good sites are also more likely to have checked their links for content and how up-to-date they are so that you won’t waste time following up irrelevant, unsavoury or discontinued web sites – a problem with search engine results.

Repeated entries

Q: I run a small club and use Access to maintain a database of members. As many of the details for each record are the same e.g. the annual fee and the class they belong to, I wondered if there was a way to repeat entries automatically.

A: The best method to use, although it may be too late if you have already set up a large database, is to create a default entry at the time you design your tables. For the field in question, e.g. subscription, enter the repeated figure in the Properties – Default Value box. When you start entering records, you will find this entry appears automatically and, for the few records where it is incorrect, you can replace it with the correct figure.

A shortcut when entering records is to press [Ctrl] plus [2] whenever you want to repeat an entry displayed in the record above, that is in the same field.

Changing your signature

Q: I send e-mails to all sorts of people. Can you explain how to add automatic signatures at the bottom of messages that I can vary, depending on what style of signature I want to include.

A: In letter-writing, you usually end "Yours sincerely" or "Yours faithfully" depending on whether or not you know the name of your recipient, as well as Love, Best Wishes, All the best etc. when writing to friends or relatives. With e-mails, you may also want to end formally or informally and most systems allow you to create and save different endings quite simply.

In Outlook Express, for example, you must go to Tools – Options and select Signatures. Click New, enter the text you want to appear and then click Apply. Repeat this for other signatures and then click OK, renaming the signatures if necessary to make it quite clear which is which.

Back in your message, click Insert – Signature when you reach the end of the text and choose the correct example.

Easy indexing

Q: Is it very difficult to add an index at the end of a long document?

A: It’s a little fiddly, but worth it as indexes do make your work far more accessible. The steps involve marking any word you want to include and then creating the index.

  1. To mark a word or phrase, select it and then hold down [Alt] plus [Shift] and press [X]. A box appears displaying your word(s) and you can amend these if necessary and then click Mark.

  2. Keep repeating this throughout the document and then click in position for the index e.g. at the end of your work or on a new page.

  3. Go to Insert – Index and tables, choose the style of index you want from the Format box and then click OK.

  4. If you change your document later, update the index by selecting it and pressing [F9].

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.

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.

HTML 4 features clear and concise instructions   with well-captioned illustrations and screenshots that show both the source code and the resulting effect on the Web page

  Specifically written for UK Web users, this book will give you everything you'll need to know to put the Internet to work for you



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

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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