A Writer's Guide to Microsoft Office


Some of the best computer tips out there aren't ever “in the manual,” so to speak. We search the Web to see if someone before us has solved a problem or found an easier, better, and faster way of doing something we want to do. More recently, the convergence of blogs, broadband, and high-quality video have made this a great experience. Whether someone has taken the time to document a step-by-step tutorial about how they use a program, or whether they shoot a quick video about it, the best ideas can come from watching someone else work — letting us peek over their shoulder while they complete a real-world task with the software they’ve chosen, and then learning from their technique and style.

On Microsoft’s Office Online Web site, we recently launched our new Podcast site, which houses a large variety of free videos for all things Office. You can watch these videos from your Web browser or download them to your Zune or your iPod for later viewing. If you like a particular channel or series, you can subscribe to it (via RSS or via the Zune or iPod marketplaces) and get notified whenever new episodes are available.

As part of our new podcasting efforts, I'm very pleased to announce today the premiere episode of “A Writer’s Guide to Microsoft Office” — a new podcast series written and hosted by my teammate (and former editor), Joannie Stangeland. In her first episode, Joannie shows us how she uses a variety of OneNote 2007 features to manage poetry drafts that she prepares for submission to publishers:

Click to watch video!

Watch now: Learn draft management in OneNote 2007


Even if poetry isn’t your thing, the video is well worth viewing. Joannie showcases many of OneNote’s most useful (and hidden) features and she shares techniques that you can easily apply to other types of note-taking and content management in your own work. For example, I’ve seen few people make really good use of the Section Groups feature, or breezing through the Move/Copy dialog box to shuffle various pages between different notebooks and sections. Joannie also makes great use of OneNote’s superb search capabilities — a seemingly simple but much under-appreciated feature. So, even if you’re not a poet, this video gives you some great insights into the capabilities of OneNote 2007.

Poetry is more than just a hobby for Joannie. She studied with Beth and Nelson Bentley at the University of Washington. Her first book, A Steady Longing for Flight, won the Floating Bridge Press Chapbook Award in 1995. In 2002, Seattle-based publisher Rose Alley Press published Joannie’s second book, Weathered Steps, which is available on Amazon.com.

Joannie didn’t select OneNote as her tool of choice for draft management because she works for Microsoft during the day. She immediately realized its benefits back when OneNote 2003 had been released and few people (even within Microsoft) had heard of it. There was no book or Help topic to teach an aspiring writer how they might use OneNote to work with drafts and manuscripts and submission letters to publishers. Joannie developed her own technique when the cumbersome clutter of paper and manila file folders quickly failed her. As you can see in her podcast’s intro, she still has remnants of her old paper filing system. Once she’s tossed it on the floor and fires up OneNote, there’s no looking back.

Future episodes of Joannie’s new series will showcase how she uses other programs in the Microsoft Office suite to get her life in order when she leaves work in the evenings. I hope you’ll tune in and get some useful ideas from this and Joannie’s other experiences with the software she uses. If you have videos and podcasts of your own that you’d like to share, be sure to let us know!

For those of you who are new to my blog or to OneNote, be sure to download the free trial version of OneNote 2007 for a full 60-day test drive on your laptop or desktop PC. For help with learning OneNote during your trial period, you can follow the tips in the Guide notebook that's included with the program. For more info, check out Learn OneNote with the Guide notebook and Find your way around OneNote 2007.
 

Further viewing and reading is available here:

As always, I really value your comments, reactions, and feedback. Let me know what you think of Joannie’s OneNote podcast!