INDEX BY: Edition / Title
Excel 2000 An Advanced Course for Students
By Jim Muir
Published in 2000 by Learning Matters ltd.
128pp ISBN 1 90330017 7 9.99

Excel 2000 An Advanced Course for Students

This is a small lightweight book making it easy to carry around and the required information is easily accessible. The introduction is brief but specific. It states for what versions of Excel the book is appropriate. Diagrams aid the use of the 13 aspects that are covered. These range from the basics to many specialised tasks such as creating look-up tables.

Part 1 Deals with a detailed description of the basics (for those who are unfamiliar with this application). The structure is good with an introduction providing a brief overview followed by topic objectives - given in a clear and concise list. However they are not numbered and therefore to find an item you know you struggle with, you have to search through looking for the headings. These are in bold but the font is small and some may find it difficult to read.

The rest of the chapter gives detailed instructions of every button and their functions. To assist a screenshot is shown of an actual worksheet and even though this is annotated it is only a third of the size of a page and I feel does not go into enough detail.

What is useful is that examples are given throughout of suitable calculations to enter. Screenshots showing the results are also shown at this stage so as the learner can compare their answers. New tasks are set in bold for emphasis and when a particular function is required a small picture of the button is shown. A major disadvantage of the layout is that the points made under the subheadings are numbered but they do not refer to any diagrams or the objectives. (Although they are easy to follow at first because they appear to be in steps). At the end of this chapter there is no summary or review of the objectives but information is given on what to do with the completed examples ie to save if not carrying on to the next chapter.

All topics follow on from each other and deal with the input of specific examples, which makes you feel that you have achieved something.

Each topic has a similar layout consisting of screen shots and instructions with explanations. These are good as the book is consistent but it would benefit the user if there were more structure, such as linking numbered objectives to the steps taken.

However each topic is covered more than adequately as a huge amount of information is provided.

Because of its size this book would be ideal for teachers or good students at GCSE level or above to have with them. Also specific aspects are found easily and quickly due to the contents page and the index. However a consequence of its portability is the fact that the font and the screen dumps may be too small for someone with even slight eye problems. Structurally the objectives could be given in more detail and relate to specific areas within the main body of the text.

Even though the title states the book is not for novices it does not presume you have any prior knowledge and begins with all the basics. When I first looked at this book Excel was not an unfamiliar topic to me but I found the title and the contents slightly daunting. But once I read through the first topic I found I was progressing at a faster rate than I thought I would. Some time later after reassessing the book I found it to be a great help when undergoing the more specialised steps and very handy when teaching in the school to just dip in to. I would buy it for those reasons alone. Money well spent.

Julie Chaffer
Liverpool John Moores