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Why do we only use 5% of Excel and Word? January 31, 2011

Posted by Ivor's Window to the IT and CRM World in Microsoft Office.
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Imagine that you have been given a Porsche, and all that you have been taught to do is place it in first gear and then drive, you will never experience the true potential of the car. I am sure you are now saying, “Who is this loony blogger and that is a really silly thing to say”. So consider for just a moment the desktop products that you have installed on your computer, Word, Excel and other products, Do you really know how to change these into 2nd, 3rd and the other gears?

We commonly hear that users only use 5% of the functions in Word or Excel. Once upon a time I counted the features and functions in Word, this was Word 2000 and if I remember correctly when looking at all the options, sub menus buttons, task bars etc, I counted 1764 functions and features.
5% of this is 88 Functions!! So who even uses 88 functions in Word?? Put your hands up.

If you just look at Multilevel Lists in Word 2007, this one icon gives you a whole range of lists to create, then the Define Multi Level list has 19 different fields and settings that you can select and the Define New List Style has a further 20 selections that you can make. All of this off just one icon on the ribbon.
Most people say “This is the one thing that really is in my Too Hard Basket”
Maybe we should consider for a moment, who built this stuff?

Why did they add all of these items and have you ever met anyone who can use all of them? I have, and it was an eye opener.

Every feature, function and element within these applications has been carefully looked at and added for a reason, and in many cases the reason is for productivity gains and we just ignore them, so one has to ask why?

The first reason I can ascertain is Fear, yes fear that if you change something your whole document or spreadsheet will be ruined, this is true to a certain degree as Word can be unrelenting if you randomly start pressing buttons, however simply save your work and do your experiments on a dummy file.

The second reason is; You don’t know what you don’t know.

If you didn’t know that there were more gears in the Porsche you would probably be happy as you are, and for Desktop Products most users are unaware of what all these other buttons actually do

A strategy for success would be to try one new function a day. Have a look at something and ask yourself the question

“What does this do? What can it do to improve what I do? What can this do to assist my customers as well?” have a quick look at the help file (I know that runs against the grain for most people, but have a quick read, they even have some real life examples in some cases and online tutorials too).

Then apply what you have learned to a practical document and spreadsheet, dig deep and really have a look at what you can do with this function, Share with others.

As an author who has written books for mainstream publishers, I spent a lot of time working with Formats, indenting and Styles, these are immensely powerful tools and once set up can be incredible time savers.

As far as Excel is concerned I realise that only Accountants seem to have embraced this magnificent application, it has incredible power. Here are some more stats for you: there are 325 just of the core math and system functions.(= If, =Concatenate, =ABS,= Sum etc).
Once you have the knowledge, no one can take it away.

Has anyone seen a desktop application using DDE as a productivity tool recently? It was really big news in the late 1990’s when Office was new.

The time is now right for everyone to become experts on these desktop products, in a tight market with more and more pressures on staff and resources any productivity gains that you can leverage should be considered as important.

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