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Planning Retirement Online

You can do IT in later life - 9

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

Using a database

Q: I don’t know how to use a database package such as Access and so keep records of all the members of my local tenants’ association in an Excel spreadsheet.  Can you explain how I can search the records for members in specific categories without checking each one manually?

A:  To use Excel as a database, highlight all the records with your mouse and then open the Data menu and select Filter – AutoFilter. Small arrows will appear next to each heading (referred to as a field).  Clicking any arrow will drop down a list of all the entries in that particular field.  To find members meeting one criterion you just select the option from the drop-down list.  Records not matching will be filtered out and you will be left with a subset of records that you can then refer to or print.

For example, if one category was CATS and you had entered the number of cats owned by each resident, selecting 2 from the drop-down list would produce a subset of all residents owning 2 cats. You could then carry out a new search, or go on to search the 2-cat owners for residents who also had 1 child etc. etc.

To return to the full spreadsheet, just select Data – Show All.

Using WordArt

Q:  I produce posters and leaflets and want my text to stand out.  Apart from increasing the size and making it bold or underlined, what else can I do?

A:  Instead of using normal text, I suggest you insert something called WordArt that is available in both Word and PowerPoint.  When using MSOffice version 97 onwards, simply click the  button on the Drawing toolbar to open the WordArt application. Choose a style from the gallery that appears, then type your own text in the box provided.   Back on the page, you can resize the block of text, move it into a new position or change its appearance by using the formatting tools that will appear.

If you want to change the words – double click the WordArt object to return to the editing box.

Creating labels

Q: Please tell me how to use my computer to create labels.  I make a lot of jam and chutney and think I could make my life easier by saving my labels so that I can just change the dates each year.

A:   The label facility on computers is quite easy to use and is available from the Tools menu. After buying sheets of sticky label paper from your local stationery shop, click Envelopes and Labels and check that your size of label paper (e.g. Avery A4 L7160 38.1 x 63.5mm or Ryman P24L  34 x 64mm) has been selected.  If not, click Options to choose from the list of sizes or to customise the label size by selecting custom - Details. 

For a sheet of identical labels, type the text into the main window on screen and then print directly or view first by clicking New Document.  You can now save this document in the normal way to use year after year. (To produce a range of different labels on one sheet, click New Document straight away and type the various labels into the grid outlined on the screen. If no guidelines are visible, click Table – Show Gridlines.) 

 Which e-mail system?

Q:  A friend who attends a local evening class uses a web-based e-mail system (Yahoo) as he can access this free when he goes to College.  Is it better to do this than use Outlook Express, as I do at home?

A:   The advantages of using Outlook Express, Eudora, or customised versions offered by CompuServe, AOL etc. available on your home computer are: 

1.      You can work offline for most of the time so that you are not paying the phone bill when reading, composing or organising your messages.  (On the Web, you must be connected throughout the period you are working with your messages.)

2.      You can save your log-in name (Username) and password so that they are entered automatically and you don’t have to type them in yourself each time.

3.      It is fairly simple to send attachments and read files sent to you by other people.  (Depending on which machine you use, this can be hard with Web-based e- mail if using a networked computer system e.g. in a College or Internet cafe.)

4.      There is no time limit so that, if you don’t send e-mails for a long time, you will still be able to use the system at a later date.  (Some Web-based services close your account if you leave too long a gap before logging on again.)

If you don’t have your own computer, or need to receive e-mails in different parts of the country, then a Web-based system such as Hotmail or Yahoo can have great advantages and, as you say, can be accessed free if you are on an educational course.  The ideal may be to have two accounts and use the most appropriate at the time.

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.



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




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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