environment (margins, tab sets, indenting, paragraphs,
and so on). The terms used with desktop publishing
come from the printing industry (fonts, type styles,
points, and soon). Spreadsheets bring us the vocabulary
of an accountant or bookkeeper (worksheets, rows,
columns, data cells). Database terminology may look
the most familiar to you, because many of the terms
come from data processing (files, records, fields, keys,
and indexes). First, we will look at the commonalities,
then at the specifics of several different types of
software packagesword processing, spreadsheet,
database, desktop publishing, and utilities.
USING SOFTWARE PACKAGES
Regardless of the type of software package you are
using on your computer, at a minimum, you will need to
know how to conduct the following seven general
Access and execute the packaged software from
the operating system.
Create a new file or retrieve a previously
created file on disk/diskette or tape.
Save a file onto disk/diskette or tape.
Delete a file stored on disk/diskette or tape.
Print a file.
Indicate to the packaged software that you want
to stop working on what you are currently doing
to do something on another file.
Terminate your work via the packaged software
files, whether you can control access by others, whether
you can protect the data, and whether the data is
Learning About Software
The first thing you will learn is there is a lot to learn.
You will need to know what functions you can perform,
what keys activate what functions, and how to save the
work/files you create. If a tutorial or learning section
comes with the software, start with it. It will give you an
overview. Then begin by experimenting and practicing
on something you cannot hurt or destroy. Dont start
with the master copy of a large database file. Instead,
create a few records in a test file and practice on it. Try
out each function, then try the functions in combination
with other functions. Even make mistakes on purpose
to see what happens. Did the software give you an error
message? Can you recover? Does the software provide
an undelete feature that lets you cancel what you just
did? How much protection from error is built into the
software? Does it give you a message such as: Do you
really want to delete this file? Or, does it just assume
when you hit the delete key you mean to? Most of the
better software packages have built-in safeguards to
protect us from ourselves. Recovery from operator/user
error is a very important feature of many software
and return to the operating system.
NOTE: Each software package will have
specific ways you are to perform these
A major consideration for a person working with
packaged software is file management. You will need
to know how files are setup, coded, named, backed up,
and accessed. You will need to know who can access the
Interacting with Software Packages
Basically there are only a few ways to tell software
what to do. They are as follows:
Direct commands You enter words/
characters via the keyboard to tell the software
what to do. These words and/or characters are
predefined by the software to perform specific
Menus You select the function or command
you want performed from a list presented on the
display screen by the software.
Function keys You select the function key
(F1, F2, and so on) that is predefine to tell the
software what you want it to do. This enables
you to perform some of the more common
commands without going through menus and
with fewer keystrokes than required for direct