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Computer books can be a great way to learn about computers in general or about a particular piece of software. The first place you should look for any book is at your local bookstore. If you're confused by the array of computer books, just ask the clerk for a recommendation. Even if they don't have the one you need, they can probably order it for you, especially if you know the title and the name of the author or publisher. You might also be able to find good computer books at your public or college library—but be sure that the book covers the latest version of the software or hardware you're using.

A Pocket Guide to Computer Books

Any trip to the computer section of a bookstore will overwhelm you with books that range from beginning to advanced, in topics from the general to the very specific. You can narrow down your search with these guidelines.

Beginner books are generally slimmer volumes that sell for about $20 and have titles like ABCs of…, Introduction to…, …Made Easy, …For Dummies, The Little…, and so on. You're reading one now.

Quick-reference books generally cost less than $10 and provide only brief explanations of the various commands or menu options of a program. They're better for looking up an occasional piece of information than for learning a program.

Tutorials walk you through classroom-style exercises.

Interactive tutorials come with a CD that leads you through lessons on your own computer.

Advanced books often have titles like …Tips & Tricks or Supercharging… to make it clear that they are for people who already know a program and want to get better at it.

Reference books tend to be the super-fat tomes, seemingly sold by the pound. Once you know the basics of a program, they're useful for looking up features.



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