November 6, 2011 (Newswire.com) - "Software user manuals should not be designed for dummies, but for the uninitiated. Anyone can learn to use Word 2007 or Word 2010. Failure is not the fault of the learner, but the teacher," says Philip A. Yaffe, author of the new book Word for Windows: The Essential 10 Percent.
"The problem with most books about Word is that they introduce technical functions and technical terminology before the novice user has any real idea of what they mean and why they are needed. This can only lead to confusion," he adds.
Word for Windows: The Essential 10 Percent takes the opposite tack. Technical functions and technical terminology are introduced only when they are immediately needed. For example, the term "scroll bar" is introduced only when the reader needs to use a scroll bar. Likewise for "dialog box," "Ribbon," "tab," etc. Moreover, their descriptions are repeated elsewhere in the book, again when needed, to ensure that they have been fully understood.. Finally, they are given once again at the end of the book in a summary section for easy reference.
The title refers to the oft-quoted adage that we use only 10 percent of our brain.
"Scientists who know about these things say that this is false. It is also often said that most people use only about 10 percent of the possibilities of their Word software. This is probably true. However, it is not a problem because most of us need only about 10 percent of Word's possibilities," Mr. Yaffe asserts.
He explains that this is because users can be divided into two categories:
• Casual Users: Those who use Word only occasionally, which is the vast majority of us.
• Intensive Users: Those who use it all day, every day, i.e. for work or other professional pursuits
"The problem is, while claiming to be simple, most Word manuals seem to believe that they are talking to people in the second category, not the first. So instead of focusing on what is truly essential, they try to offer functions, options, shortcuts, and other sophistications all at the same time, which only leads to confusion," he observes.
"I have 20 years experience of working with Word in its various incarnations. However, when I upgraded to Word 2007, the "simple" manual I bought to learn about this new software left me almost completely flummoxed. Virtually every paragraph was followed by tips on how to make the function it was explaining quicker and easier to use, even before I had fully assimilated what they were talking about."
Word for Windows: The Essential 10 Percent takes the opposite approach by assuming that the reader has no knowledge whatsoever about word processing in general and Word 2007 and Word 2010 in particular. "This probably isn't true; however, pedagogically it is preferable to assume too little knowledge than too much. Secondly, this manual assumes that you are a casual user of Word, i.e. you use it occasionally for limited purposes rather than every day, all day long."
Structurally, therefore, the manual focuses on the absolute basics that every Word user needs to know and how to accomplish them. The method explained for accomplishing certain tasks will not always be the easiest and most rapid, because describing options and shortcuts while still explaining the basics results in making simple ideas appear complicated. Options and shortcuts are explained in the second part of the book, only after you have first fully understood what you are trying to do - and why.
This book will not show you everything you could ever want to know about Word's almost inexhaustible refinements and sophistications. Rather, by rigorously focusing on the essential 10 percent, it will prepare you to fully benefit from Word's vast potential in the quickest, easiest, most convivial way possible.
"In short, Word for Windows: The Essential 10 Percent is not a substitute for traditional manuals on how to use Word 2007 and Word 2010. Rather, it is a kind of prequel. Its objective is to make reading conventional manuals easier and more fruitful. And for many casual users, perhaps unnecessary."
Philip Yaffe was born in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1942 and grew up in Los Angeles, where he graduated from the University of California with a degree in mathematics and physics. In his senior year, he was also editor-in-chief of the Daily Bruin, UCLA's daily student newspaper.
He has more than 40 years of experience in journalism and international marketing communication. At various points in his career, he has been a teacher of journalism, a reporter/feature writer with The Wall Street Journal, an account executive with a major international press relations agency, European marketing communication director with two major international companies, and a founding partner of a specialized marketing communication agency in Brussels, Belgium, where he has lived since 1974.
Other Books by this Author
The Gettysburg Approach to Writing & Speaking like a Professional
The Gettysburg Collection:
A comprehensive companion to The Gettysburg Approach to Writing & Speaking like a Professional
Actual English: English grammar as native speakers really use it
Gentle French: French grammar as native speakers really use it
What'd You Say? / Que Dites-Vous?
Fun with homophones, proverbs, expressions, false friends, and other linguistic oddities in English and French
Science for the Concerned Citizen: What you don't know CAN hurt you
The Little Book of BIG Mistakes