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Introduction > About This Book

About This Book

Office X comes in an attractive box adorned with plastic bubbles that somehow call lava lamps to mind. What you won't find inside, however, is a printed manual. To learn this vast set of software programs, you're expected to rely on help screens (see Appendix B).

Such computerized help comes with built-in problems, however. Although Office Help is detailed and concise, you need to know what you're looking for before you can find it. There are no tutorials, annotated illustrations, or jokes. You can't mark your place (you lose your trail in the Help program every time you close an Office program), you can't underline or make marginal notes, and, even with a laptop, reading in bed or by firelight just isn't the same.

The purpose of this book, then, is to serve as the manual that should have accompanied Office X. Although you may still turn to online help for the answer to a quick question, this book provides step-by-step instructions for all major (and most minor) Office features, including those that have always lurked in Office but you've never quite understood. This printed guide should provide an overview of the ways this comprehensive software package can make you act like a one-person, all-purpose office.

About the Outline

This book is divided into five parts, each containing several chapters.

  • Part I through Part IV, Word, Entourage, Excel, and PowerPoint, cover in detail each of the primary Office programs. Each part begins with an introductory chapter that covers the basics. Additional chapters delve into the more advanced and less-frequently used features.

  • Part V, Office as a Whole, shows how the programs work together for even more productivity and creativity. For example, it covers the supplementary programs (WordArt, Graph, and so on), changing the menus and keystrokes (one of the strongest and most useful Office features), and more.

At the end of the book, Appendix A explains the Office online help system, and Appendix B offers guidance in installing, updating, and troubleshooting the software.


A third, free appendix awaits you on the "Missing CD-ROM" page at http://www.missingmanuals.com in electronic form: Appendix C, "Office X: Menu by Menu." It describes the function of each menu command in each of the four major programs, with cross-references to the book in your hands (where these features are discussed more completely).


Throughout this book, and throughout the Missing Manual series, you'll find sentences like this one: "Open the System folder→Libraries→Fonts folder." That's shorthand for a much longer instruction that directs you to open three nested folders in sequence. That instruction might read: "On your hard drive, you'll find a folder called System. Open that. Inside the System folder window is a folder called Libraries. Open that. Inside that folder is yet another one called Fonts. Double-click to open it, too."

Similarly, this kind of arrow shorthand helps to simplify the business of choosing commands in menus, as shown in Figure I-3.

Figure I-3. When you read "Choose View→Toolbars→Drawing" in a Missing Manual, that means: "Click the View menu to open it; click Toolbars in that menu; choose Drawing in the resulting submenu." (If you read "Choose Edit→Preferences→Mail tab," that means you should click the tab called Mail in the dialog box that appears.)

About MissingManuals.com

At the http://missingmanuals.com Web site, you'll find news, articles, and updates to the books in this series.

But if you click the name of this book and then the Errata link, you'll find a unique resource: a list of corrections and updates that have been made in successive printings of this book. You can mark important corrections right into your own copy of the book, if you like.

In fact, the same Errata page offers an invitation for you to submit such corrections and updates yourself. In an effort to keep the book as up-to-date and accurate as possible, each time we print more copies of this book, we'll make any confirmed corrections you've suggested. Thanks in advance for reporting any glitches you find!

In the meantime, we'd love to hear your own suggestions for new books in the Missing Manual line. There's a place for that on the Web site, too, as well as a place to sign up for free email notification of new titles in the series.

Office Up to Date

Writing complex software is never easy—and few companies write more complex software than Microsoft. It's no wonder then, that the original version of Microsoft Office X had a few bugs—all right, 1,500 of them. It's also no wonder that few companies issue more "Service Releases" and updates than Microsoft—with the possible exception of Apple.

Bottom line: You'll do yourself a big favor by making sure that you have the most updated versions of both Office X and Mac OS X. As of August 2003, the latest Office X update is 10.1.4. To get it, go to http://www.microsoft.com/mac and look under "Quick Downloads" at the right of the page. The 10.1.4 download page instructs you to download the 10.1.2 update first, if you haven't already.

By the time you've downloaded and installed both of these updates, you'll be the proud owner of every update and fix that Microsoft has ever made to Office X, including the first and most important update, Service Release 1. Among other things, you'll find that Word crashes a lot less often.

(Incidentally, the download page lets you choose between a .hqx and a .bin version of the installer file. Install the .bin compression; the .hqx version is for older Mac systems, like OS 8—and if you had Mac OS 8, you wouldn't be using Office X!)

As far as your Mac goes, you can use Mac OS X version 10.1, 10.2, or (when it's available) 10.3. Visit Apple.com or use Software Update to make sure you have the most recent update of whatever version you have, though (10.2.6, for example). These little double-decimal updates are free.

Note, though, that like most programs, Office X runs much faster and more smoothly in Mac OS X 10.2. If you value your time, seriously consider taking the Jaguar plunge. (If you're upgrading to 10.3, "Panther," be sure to check for additional Office updates while you're at it.)

There's no downside to installing the Service Release and the subsequent Office updates. In fact, this book assumes that you've already done so. Using Office X without SR1 is just asking for frustration.

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