iWork '09; The Missing Manual
Author: Josh Clark
Publisher: Pogue Press/O'Reilly
Price: $39.99 US
Level: Beginner through Advanced
Rating: 5 out of 5 Apples
iWork '09 is the current update of Apple's office suite containing Pages, Keynote, and Numbers (their Excel-like program, only easier). While Pages and Keynote are pretty intuitive (is that not why we are Macaholics in the first place?), Numbers can be confusing for those who are not regular users of a number-crunching software program. For this very reason, after-market user guides come in quite handy.
One can always count on Pogue Press to come to the rescue with its Missing Manual books; easy to read and comprehend. And, indeed, iWork '09 is the book that should have been in the box. Here's why.
For new users to the suite, the Introduction alone is helpful. Not only does it give a brief description of what each element can do, it also compares iWork to Microsoft Office and how the user can exchange files with others who use Office. This is followed by a What's New segment for each program. As a bonus, rather than enclosing a CD with the book (which it claims saves $5.00 off the price of the book), the Missing Manual provides a Website whereby the user may access all of the Web addresses, practice files, and downloadable software mentioned in the book.
With Pages and Keynote being quite similar in function to their Microsoft counterparts, to go into depth regarding the Missing Manual details would only belabor it for those who are regular users of the software suite. For this review, I have selected to focus on the software that gives a lot of folks the biggest headache (including this author): Numbers (i.e.; Excel).
As the Numbers' section opening salvo states, "Numbers can juggle figures for the most demanding spreadsheet jockeys, but you can also use it to store and organize just about any kind of information." That, my friends, is so true. I am in the beginning stages of creating a spreadsheet for not only my extensive collection of DVDs, but CDs as well.
While a spreadsheet of DVDs and CDs certainly does not require any fancy graphics, Numbers allows you to add photos, charts, and text in the same easy manner that you do in Pages and Keynote. And with that, you may add even more visual interest with colors, picture frames, reflections, and more. Should you feel slightly intimidated with that idea, fear not, as Numbers provides a nice selection of templates, including invoice, expense report, financials, check register, and more. And even beyond that, each Numbers templates, depending upon the function, is preloaded with the calculations necessary for that specific purpose! It doesn't get much easier for spreadsheet phobes
Perusing the Numbers section, one will find not only helpful keystroke shortcuts, but also dark, highlighted boxes with even more helpful information, including that for "Power Users." These highlighted boxes are also kind enough to advise when the software may get bogged down (using very large tables, for example), troubleshooting issues, FAQs, and other great tidbits. For users who do not live by the spreadsheet, these can be very helpful, indeed.
In all, I found this book easy to read, follow, and comprehend, especially the Numbers section. Not that I did not have to read over again a paragraph or two, scratch my head, say "huh?" and go over it again, but at least I did not have to throw up my hands in frustration and quit. This is yet another book that Pogue Press and O'Reilly publications can add to their list of needful things for users. It's the type of user guide I would put together (if I were an expert in each software package of the suite). This book comes highly recommended.
Moe is a MLMUG member recently transplanted from the Detroit MUG. She uses a 2006 MacBook Pro 17", 2.16 GHz Intel Core Duo running OS X 10.5. A technical writer by trade, Moe takes on writing, research, and document design assignments of all types... and continues to seek employment in the Phoenixville area
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