15 October 2010
My book Microsoft Office for the Older and Wiser has just been published, and it's looking great. Writing a book is a satisfying process, and it's rewarding to see the ideas take shape. But it's always a good day when the box of author copies arrives and you see, touch and even smell all the words and pictures you created in the form of a book for the first time.
The publishing firm John Wiley has done a great job on the design and layout of this series, and it's printed in full colour on glossy paper. I worked hard on creating screenshots that would look good in the book, and I'm pleased with how they've come out.
The projects in the book show you how to make the most of the Microsoft Office Suite, both Office 2007 and Office 2010. There are three chapters dedicated to Word, two to Excel, one to mail merge using both applications together, and then one chapter each for PowerPoint and OneNote. There's also a bonus chapter on using email to share your Office documents. The book concludes with an appendix on using keyboard shortcuts, a glossary and an index. Each part is illustrated with a brilliant cartoon by Stephen Long.
One of the things that was important to me was that I didn't just teach people how to carry out the projects in the book. I wanted readers to understand what they're doing and why, so that they can carry out projects of their own. Each chapter concludes with some suggestions of other projects that can be undertaken using the skills in the chapter, which I hope will help to inspire readers to experiment with their own creations.
I have some bonus content I'll be adding to this site in due course: a few bits that there wasn't room for, and a few tips articles I'd like to write for this website. For now, you can visit the microsite for the book Microsoft Office for the Older and Wiser to take an illustrated tour through the projects and find the supporting resources promised in the book.
I've also created a video on Youtube, which shows all the screenshots from the book. For best results, watch in full screen and HD. Click the four arrows icon in the bottom right to go full screen, and click the 360p to change it to 720p. When you've finished, click the four arrows in the bottom right to go back to the normal screen again.
If you'd like to order the book (thank you!), you can do so through any bookshop by quoting ISBN 978-0470711965. You can also order Microsoft Office for the Older and Wiser at Amazon.co.uk.
13 October 2010
I've been increasingly reading PDFs on my iPod lately. Many computer book publishers offer their works for sale in PDF format, which is convenient and is often offered at a significant discount off the print price.
There are three tips I can offer to people publishing PDF ebooks that will increase their usability no end:
- Make sure the table of contents is clickable to take people straight to the right page.
- It's a good idea to include active links in the ebook, but don't make a link cover the whole page. I had one ebook that had a full page advert in it. Every time I touched the page to try to scroll it, the ebook reader took me to the advert's destination. Not helpful.
- Avoid having blank pages. While they're useful to create some breathing space in print, they just cause confusion in an ebook. Sometimes I've waited for a page to load, only to find it had loaded but was blank.