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– the blonde byte –

Writer – Blogger – Technology Coach – Speaker

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January 2018

WIT: The Dangers of Keeping Women Out of Tech

 

 

By Mallory Pickett of WIRED.com

IN 1978 A young woman named Maria Klawe arrived at the University of Toronto to pursue a doctorate in computer science. She had never used a computer—much less written a line of code—but she had a PhD in math and a drive to succeed in a male-dominated field. She was so good that, nine months later, the university asked her to be a professor.

Today, however, computer science is one of the few STEM fields in which the number of women has been steadily decreasing since the ’80s. In the tech industry, women hold only around one-fifth of technical roles. In light of these stats, the prevailing view in Silicon Valley these days is “This is terrible, let’s fix it.”

In Southern California, Klawe has done what tech has not. For the past 11 years, she has served as the president of Harvey Mudd College­—a small liberal arts school in Claremont, California, known for its intensive STEM focus—where the number of women in its computer science program has grown from 10 percent to 40 percent. On the subject, she’s optimistic: Change is possible. Now it’s the industry’s turn—and it could take a lesson from Klawe.

When you meet with men in the tech industry, can you tell that some of them doubt women can succeed in technical work?
That they don’t think women are suited for this? Oh, yeah.

People say that?
I was yelled at by one CEO who said his company was bringing women into technical roles but that if he saw it get to 30 percent, he’d know their hiring process was really screwed up. So I asked if he knew that we’re graduating women in computer science at more than 40 percent. He just blew me off. And when I asked him why there are so few women on his leadership team, he just said, “Gender isn’t an issue for us.”

So what about those screwed-up hiring practices? How do they work?
Look at the interview process. If I’m interviewing somebody, I would probably say, “Oh, it’s so nice to see you, welcome to Harvey Mudd, we’re really delighted to have you here with us.” But it would be quite common for a tech company to start an interview without even saying good morning or good afternoon, just: “I want to know what you know about pointers in C++, so show me how to do that.” Very adversarial, bragging, trying to show how much smarter they are. There are some women who feel perfectly comfortable in those environments, but I would say for the most part they don’t. Also, that kind of environment is just obnoxious.

But that’s how so many companies conduct interviews. Google comes to mind.
Google has studied their interview process, and I’ve heard that it overpredicts success for men and underpredicts success for women. [Google disputes this.] They just haven’t changed much.

Should they change? Judging from how well these companies are doing, it seems like those methods work. I mean, Steve Jobs was apparently an asshole—
He was an asshole. I met him.

—and Amazon reportedly has a terrible work environment, yet these are successful companies.
Yep.

So why change just to be friendlier to women?
Google, Facebook, Microsoft—all these companies were successful because they figured out a new way to make money. Google monetized search through advertising, Facebook became an advertising platform, Microsoft created a dominant software platform. But it’s probably an error to associate their success with their managerial style or their culture.

Some would say those managerial styles and cultures are crucial, not coincidental.
Let’s go back to the first big tech companies, like IBM and HP. Both were highly inclusive, really worked on hiring and promoting women and people of color. In fact, virtually every woman or person of color who’s a leader in the tech industry today—who’s roughly my age, 66—came up through IBM or HP. Bill Gates and Steve Jobs and all the people in that generation came along in the ’80s or late ’70s. This happened to be a time when girls and young women were being turned away from computers. Computers became a boys’ domain almost overnight.

How?
Women were once about a third, maybe 35 percent, of the computer science majors in this country. Part of that was—I mean, this sounds so ridiculous—but part of that was because women had better typing skills and were thought of as being more careful. In the ’70s women were majoring in computer science because it was something they were expected to be good at. Then we had personal computers entering homes and schools.
There are two kinds of things you can do on a PC as a child. One is word processing. Bo-ring! The other is playing games like Pong and Space Invaders—computational power at that time couldn’t do graphics more sophisticated than that. And who likes to play those kinds of games? Boys. So it’s not particularly surprising that very quickly boys took over.

Is there a business reason for getting back to a culture in which computers aren’t seen as a boy thing?
The reality is, if tech companies can’t persuade more women and people of color to major in computer science, they are not going to be able to fill the positions that they have. Everybody’s looking at the same talent. They absolutely know what it costs to recruit a single person, and they know that if their churn for employees is, say, every 13 months, that’s not a good business case for them.

 

So when you actually start to increase the enrollment of women in computer science programs, what happens?
Well, at pretty much every place—not just Mudd but Carnegie Mellon, MIT, University of Washington, UBC, Princeton—that has made a significant effort to recruit women into engineering and computer science, not only do the female students do as well, they also take on most of the leadership roles.

With that in mind, have you noticed a change on campus?
Huge. It’s more social, people are happier—it’s just a different vibe. Before, there was a very particular culture, which is fairly common, where computer science is the central focus in the lives of most of the students. They read Reddit and GitHub, they play a lot of videogames, they do hacking projects. There are still students like that, but there are also people who care more about ballroom dancing.

What’s so important about having ballroom dancers be computer scientists?
If computer science is going to affect every aspect of society—and it is—you really would like to have some dancers, and some artists, and some doctors able to work at the interface of computer science in their field. That’s where the demand will be. Having that breadth of knowledge means you have better teams working on projects.

Sure, but is teamwork as important as your ability to write good code?
These days, agile software development often relies on pair programming, where you have two people—a driver and a navigator. The driver codes, the navigator looks over their shoulder and asks questions, and they flip roles about once every half hour. The result is much higher quality software. There are fewer faults.

Yet women still feel unwelcome. What changes at Mudd addressed that?
One was to make the introductory computer science course less intimidating. If you emphasize needing a special kind of brain, students who are underrepresented will do much worse. But if you say this is a discipline that rewards hard work and persistence, everyone does better.

We also started emphasizing more practical applications in introductory classes. In the past we presented computer science as interesting just for its own structure. That was very effective at attracting white and Asian men to the discipline, but only a subset of them, and it was generally not effective for women or people of color. When you start to make the argument that computer science is worth studying because of the things you can do with it, you attract not only more women but also a lot of men who wouldn’t have been interested in the usual approaches.

If everyone knows it’s a good idea to be more inclusive, and everyone wants to support their female employees, why aren’t more companies doing it?
Because changing culture is hard. Every company has somewhat different attributes that make recruiting people and keeping people difficult. Apple is one company that I don’t think is particularly trying. They hired their first VP of diversity and inclusion, and that person stayed for less than a year.

Are some companies succeeding?
Etsy convinced people who weren’t in software development jobs to be trained for technical roles, and they managed to get to almost 30 percent female in their engineering population relatively quickly. Accenture is doing extremely well and came in at roughly 40 percent female in their hires last year.

How did they do that?
The executive in charge of hiring came to me for help. I said, first of all, change your job descriptions. Don’t just list the technical skills you’re looking for. List communication skills, creativity, and people skills, so women will know it’s a workplace that values those things and because those are traits women tend to have more confidence about.

Gender isn’t the only concern, of course. If the percentage of female technical employees is in the teens at many companies, black and brown employees are—
In the single digits! Like, one-handed digits.

What is Harvey Mudd doing about that?
The truth is we made very little progress on race until about five years ago.

What happened?
We had been running a program where we would bring in 35 to 40 high school students for a weekend, and it was primarily aimed at students of color and women. Five years ago, we doubled the program and did two cohorts instead of one. And I started reaching out to African American leaders across the country. We also did research on how to recruit more Hispanic students, and we learned Hispanic families want their kids to stay close to home. So we needed to focus on admitting students from schools in Southern California.

What would you say to schools that are not making these changes?
What’s facing us is a very, very different future. The haves will be the people who have the skills that are needed, and the have-nots will be the people whose skills are no longer needed—because of automation, because of AI, because of robotics. We don’t know how fast certain kinds of routine jobs will go away, but we do know it will put a further income gap between people who have that kind of education and knowledge and people who don’t. If there are not many women, or people of color, or older people, or low­-income people getting that technical education and those technical jobs, it’s going to further polarize the situation in the country. It’s a question of transforming our society so a large enough fraction of people have opportunities for productive work.

So the stakes are high.
We want the Earth to survive. It’s pretty straightforward.


Do you have a woman in tech you admire? Tell us about her in the comments below!

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App of the Week: Out of Milk

Out of Milk, the popular shopping list app, just added support for Amazon’s Alexa and Google Assistant.

By Ryne Hager of Android Police

There are a lot of shopping list apps out there, and that’s an understatement. Back in the early days of app development, shopping lists were one of the most popular simple projects, and even now people learning the ropes typically toss one together. But Out of Milk has stood the test of time for the last seven years. And now managing your shopping list is getting just a bit more convenient via the new Out of Milk voice assistant, which works with both Amazon’s Alexa and Google’s Assistant.

There are a couple of steps you’ll have to make to get things working as they should. The full instructions for Google Home are here (and Alexa instructions are here), but remember that the Out of Milk voice assistant requires you to use an account created on the Out of Milk app or website. Once it’s set up you’ll be able to yell at your assistant of choice and make use of the following features:

• Add and remove items to a list (e.g. “Add rice to my list.”)
• Include the quantity of an item on a list (e.g. “Add two gallons of milk to my list.”)
• Add multiple items at once to a list ( “Add bananas, cereal, & butter to my list.”)
• Check which list their editing (e.g. “Which list am I in?”)
• Switch between existing lists (e.g. “Switch to my ‘Walmart’ list.”)
• Read off items on a list (e.g. “What is on my current list?”)
• Read off all lists (e.g. “What lists do I have?”)

If you haven’t used Out of Milk, it’s pretty nifty. It allows you to add items to lists synced with other devices as well as friends or family. And you don’t just have to type or dictate, it can also scan barcodes. So the next time you toss out an empty bottle or box, you can quickly make sure you’ll grab it on your next shopping trip.

 

 

Ready to give things a try?

You can download Out of Milk at Google Play and iTunes.

Do you have a favorite App for Grocery Shopping? Tell us about it in the comments below!

How to: create a full system backup in Windows 10.

It’s an oldie but goodie: Creating a system image of your Windows 10 PC in case your hard drive goes belly up and you need to recover your files, settings and apps.

BY Matt Elliott of CNet

It’s been around since Windows 7 ($22.95 at Amazon.com), and Microsoft hasn’t touched it since. You won’t find it in the Settings app where you likely first turn when you need to perform a bit of system maintenance on your PC. Instead, it’s hiding out in the the old Windows Control Panel. What it is is the ability to create a full system backup, which you can use to restore your PC should it fail, become corrupted or otherwise stop operating smoothly.

Because the tool to create a system image is somewhat buried in Windows 10 ($149.00 at Amazon.com), let’s shine a light on where it’s located and how to use it.

Steps to create a backup system image

1. Open the Control Panel (easiest way is to search for it or ask Cortana).
2. Click System and Security
3. Click Backup and Restore (Windows 7)

4. Click Create a system image in the left panel
5. You have options for where you want to save the backup image: external hard drive or DVDs. I suggest the former, even if your computer has a DVD-RW drive, so connect your external drive to your PC, select On a hard disk and click Next.

 

 

6. Click the Start backup button.

 

After the system image is created, you’ll be asked if you want to create a system repair disc. This puts your image on a CD or DVD, which you can use to access the system image you created if your PC won’t boot. Don’t worry if your laptop doesn’t have a CD or DVD drive; you can skip this step and boot the system from the system image on your external hard drive.


How do you back up your computer(s)? Tell us about it in the comments below!

Tips & Tricks: Custom thumbnails make your Apple Notes Easier to Find

 

 

 

By Charlie Sorrel of Cult of Mac

Apple’s Notes app gets better and better, with the iOS 11/macOS Sierra version bringing all kinds of amazing features. But however good any notes app is, you still have to find your notes, and for most of us that means scanning a list until we find the one we’re looking for. Today we’ll see how to add a custom image thumbnail to any note, so you can quickly identify it in the list. Even if you use search to narrow down the results, an image will still make notes easier to spot.

Adding image thumbnails to Apple Notes

 

Apple Notes automatically generates thumbnails from any images that are in a note, so the easiest way to add a thumbnail is to add an image. You can do this in many different ways. On the iPad or the Mac, you can drag an image from a Safari page, or from the Photos app, or any other source. On the iPhone, you can add an image from your Photos library by tapping the little plus ⊕ icon, and browsing from there.
Once you’ve added an image, a thumbnail of that image will show up automatically next to the note’s title in the source list. This makes it dead easy to find a note quickly.

Not just photos

But adding photos isn’t the only way to add a thumbnail to a note. The Notes app will pull pictures from some other sources. One way is to add a sketch to your note. On the iPad this is as easy as taking your Apple Pencil and drawing, but you can also tap the plus ⊕ icon and pick Add Sketch from the menu that pops up.

Notes will also grab an image from a URL. If you add a link to a note, you’ll already be familiar with the rich display that results — the link turns into a nice little box with an image, a title, and the URL itself. If no other images are available, then the Notes app will use that image as a thumbnail for the note.

Some rich objects in your Notes do not generate a thumbnail, even though they do create an image in the note body itself. Map bookmarks, for instance, show a preview of the location inside the note, but that map picture isn’t used for the note thumbnail.

Image order

What if you have multiple images in a note? Then Notes will pick the first one. If you have a URL before an image, then, the thumbnail will be taken from the URL. If you’d prefer to use the photo instead, just move it higher up in the note.

And Notes app will grab its images from anywhere inside the note. They don’t have to be at the very top of the note. The app just grabs the first one it finds. So, order matters, but absolute positioning doesn’t.

Thumbnails are a great way to help find notes when you’re searching through a long sidebar list, and there best part is that often they are generated without you having to do anything. But if you want thumbnails in a note that doesn’t already have one, then now you know how to fix it.

What’s your favorite Note taking app or favorite feature? Tell us about it in the comments below!

Weekly Round up 1/26/18

 

Montana?! Hey, Roy Cooper! Are you seeing this?
Montana Becomes First State To Set Its Own Net Neutrality Rules.

I’m guessing they haven’t done the obvious and hired more women…
What has Tech done to fix its harrassment problem?


See above…
The tech industry needs one million workers now.

What, was he all out of Tide Pods?
iPhone battery explodes after Chinese man bites it.

You know, if she and Angela Merkel were to team up, Trump would sh*t himself.
Theresa May warns tech firms over terror content.

Why haven’t we patented this?!
Cancer could soon be spotted by technology ‘several months’ before it occurs.

Oh sure, NOW they’re paying attention. After the racist, Russian loving idiot is already planted in the White House. Good thinking, guys.
Tech Is Starting to Lose Its War on Journalism.

 

I find it hard to believe Retail has come to its senses about anything…
The Retail Industry Has Come To Its Senses On Technology.

Tales from the Orchard: FBI Hacker Says Apple Are ‘Jerks’ and ‘Evil Geniuses’ for Encrypting iPhones

An FBI forensic expert lambasted Apple for making iPhones hard to hack into.

 

By Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai of Motherboard at Vice .com

 

Ever since Apple made encryption default on the iPhone, the FBI has been waging a war against encryption, complaining that cryptography so strong the company itself can’t break it makes it harder to catch criminals and terrorists.
On Wednesday, at the the International Conference on Cyber Security in Manhattan, FBI forensic expert Stephen Flatley lashed out at Apple, calling the company “jerks,” and “evil geniuses” for making his and his colleagues’ investigative work harder. For example, Flatley complained that Apple recently made password guesses slower, changing the hash iterations from 10,000 to 10,000,000.

That means, he explained, that “password attempts speed went from 45 passwords a second to one every 18 seconds,” referring to the difficulty of cracking a password using a “brute force” method in which every possible permutation is tried. There are tools that can input thousands of passwords in a very short period of time—if the attempts per minute are limited, it becomes much harder and slower to crack.

“Your crack time just went from two days to two months,” Flatley said.

“At what point is it just trying to one up things and at what point is it to thwart law enforcement?” he added. “Apple is pretty good at evil genius stuff.”

On the other hand, Flatley repeatedly praised the israeli company Cellebrite, which sells hacking devices and technologies to law enforcement agencies around the world. Flatley said that they are the ones who can counter Apple’s security technology.

“If you have another evil genius, Cellebrite,then maybe we can get into that front,” he said, facetiously coughing as he said “Cellebrite.”

Flatley’s statements come a day after FBI director Christopher Wray renewed former director James Comey’s rhetorical war against encryption, calling it an “urgent public safety issue.”

Cybersecurity experts and civil liberties organizations, meanwhile, have long made the case that iPhone encryption keeps the average consumer’s data safe from hackers and authoritarian surveillance, a net benefit for society.

WIT: 5 Ways Women in Tech Can Take Action in 2018

 

 

By Rana el Kaliouby Co-founder and CEO, Affectiva as Featured on Inc.com

I just got back from attending CES 2018 in Las Vegas where over 180,000 people descended on the city to discuss all things tech. At Affectiva, we are spending more time in the automotive space as car companies look to capture driver and occupant state to improve safety and optimize the in-cab experience in autonomous vehicles. So CES was THE place to be to meet with existing and prospective automotive partners. And busy it was. I was in back-to-back meetings all day on Tuesday: eight meetings altogether. Twenty-four men. Only one woman besides myself. I attended a panel on the future of intelligent cars: all (white) males.

The lack of women on stage was a recurring theme at the conference: the keynote addresses were overwhelmingly male and so was the speaker lineup for the Consumer Telematics Show, prompting the hashtag #CESSoMale. As co-founder and CEO of an AI company, I am used to there not being many women in the room especially in AI. But still, the notable absence of women on stage and in meetings, with everything going on around us, felt surreal.

Later that evening, I was fortunate to be invited to an intimate “Women in Tech” dinner hosted by Peggy Johnson, Executive Vice President, Business Development at Microsoft and Microsoft Ventures. For what it’s worth, I was recommended for the dinner by a male colleague who is in tech investing – so yes, there are AMAZING guys out there who are advocates for women!

A role model for women in tech, Peggy spent many years at Qualcomm before joining Microsoft as one of CEO Satya Nadella’s first hires. The other women at the dinner were equally accomplished. In fact, this was the most women tech investors I’d ever met in one place. There were also women founders of very successful startups in the mobility and media space as well as heads of products and business development at billion dollar companies. That none of these women were on the CES stage baffled me. It baffled all of us at that table.

I attend a fair amount of these “women events” but this one was different. Just a couple of nights before, Oprah Winfrey had given an inspiring speech – a call to action to women (and men) to speak their truths especially as it relates to inequality in all its forms. As we went around the table sharing what we are excited about in 2018, I felt an incredible sense of optimism. There was also consensus that it was time for action. Trending hashtags are not enough.

The conversation inspired me define five actionable things that I feel inspired to take on in 2018:

1. De-stigmatize Emotions.

At dinner, we had a heated debate about whether it’s OK for women to show their emotions at work. I was surprised that the women at the table were split on this. Several felt it hurts our careers and is downright “unprofessional”. Others challenged this: why is it OK for men (take Steve Jobs for example) to express their frustration by yelling and swearing at others, but it is not OK for women to express their frustration say through tears? Why is it that the emotional male leader is seen as assertive and powerful, whereas an emotional female leader is seen as weak?
I’ve spent my career giving computers the ability to recognize human emotions, so I know very well the stigma around emotions. It is why, in 2009 when we were spinning out of MIT Media Lab, my co-founder Professor Rosalind Picard and I avoided the word “emotions” in our company name and early pitch decks. But it is 2018 and the world has changed. There is now increased recognition that emotions drive people to act and are so critical, not just in the culture of an organization but also in how companies choose to engage with their users. It is time that we de-stigmatized emotion and as Jack Ma, Founder and Chairman of Alibaba puts it, celebrate what makes us human: our capacity for passion, compassion, understanding.

2. More Women Camaraderie and Support for Each Other

Enough of the queen bee syndrome. When a woman on your team or in your network comes up with an idea, make sure she gets credit for it. If you are in a meeting and a fellow woman gets cut off, stand up for her, for instance by saying “I’m actually interested in hearing the rest of what Zoe has to say – Zoe please continue”. Share and amplify the success stories of other women – this is not a zero sum game! Also, be generous with your connections. Vouch for women on your team and women in your network. Make introductions, help them get on company boards and on stage. Help them expand their responsibilities and celebrate their successes. I especially look forward to supporting the awesome women on Affectiva’s team.

3. Partner With The Men Who Get it And Challenge Those Don’t.

But this isn’t just about women supporting each other. Men play a crucial role here too. Collaborate with and reinforce those men who get it; challenge those who don’t. I have been fortunate to have amazing male mentors and advisors who celebrate women in tech. On a personal level, these men celebrate my successes and cheer me on when it is challenging. These men care about gender parity and focus on that with intention – routinely recommending women in their network to event organizers and company boards. I am also lucky to work with team members who are strong advocates for getting more women in STEM. Even though Affectiva is co-founded by two women scientists, our science and engineering teams are still predominantly male. This is something we recognize and are actively working on. Forest Handford, Engineering Manager at Affectiva has put guidelines that insure that gender (and other biases) don’t creep into our interviewing process. In one case, Forest advocated for hiring a female intern. He reminded everyone that male candidates often over inflate their abilities while women generally undervalue their abilities. Over the past year, with Forest’s leadership, we have been able to attract four female interns; up from one the prior year.  

4. Be The Leader You Want To See.

Be you. Own the leadership style that makes you you. If you are an empathetic leader by nature, embrace that. Your team is better for it. I personally believe in bringing your whole self to work and being open and transparent, even vulnerable. I believe that builds trust, loyalty, and a sense of belonging and passion. All these things that are fundamental in the office.  Challenge gender norms. For instance, it should be ok for both men and women to talk about their kids and other non-related aspects of their life at work. 

5. Life Begins At The End Of Your Comfort Zone.

Get out there. Build your personal brand. Get on stage, even if if it is outside of your comfort zone. Not because you are a woman, but because you are an expert on what you do. Reach out to events where you think there should be more women speakers and make recommendations. I personally do a lot of speaking engagements in tech, but am committed to getting more involved on the automotive tech stage. 
This is the year of action. There are not enough women in AI. We need to start a network of women who are in that field in academia, business, and investment. My goal for 2018 is to identify those women, reach out to them, support them and perhaps host an event for Women in AI. If that interests you, please reach out to me and let’s make something happen.

What do you think about these suggestions for taking action for women in tech? Sound off in the comments below!

App of the Week: Firefox

 

 

3 awesome features coming to Firefox that you can get right now

By Matt Ellliot of CNet

The upcoming Firefox 59 will help you stop sites from asking for permission to send you notifications and know your location, but you can stop these right now in the current build of Firefox with a little digging.

When Firefox 59 is released in March, it will add controls for setting permissions for how the browser accesses your location along with your computer’s camera and microphone. It will also include a global setting for blocking sites from asking to be allowed to send you notifications.
These settings will be most welcomed — particularly the ability to shut off those annoying requests that sites pop up asking if it’s OK to send you notifications — but you can access those if you are willing to dip into Firefox’s advanced settings in about:config.

1. Disable notification requests

Have you ever answered “Allow” when a site asks if it can send you notifications? I have not. If you have grown tired of repeatedly answering “Block” to this question, there is a way to prevent sites from even asking.
Enter about:config in Firefox’s address bar and click the I accept the risk button. Search for dom.push.enabled and double-click it to switch its value from true to false.

 

2. Disable location requests

Many sites also ask for your location, which might be helpful for some types of sites (weather, mapping and so on) but certainly not for all that ask. If you want to disable all sites from requesting to know your location, go to about:config, search for geo.enabled and set its value to false.

3. Disable camera and microphone requests

You probably get fewer requests from sites asking to use your computer’s webcam and microphone, but you can shut off these requests in about:config, too. Find media.navigator.enabled and media.peerconnection.enabled and set the values to both to false.

What are your favorite Firefox features? Tell us about it in the comments below!

How to: Master Microsoft Word

 

 

By Thorin Klosowski of Lifehacker

Microsoft Word is easily the biggest, most popular word processing program available, but it does a lot more than just edit text and TPS reports. If you’ve been telling yourself that you’ll finally learn Word’s ins and outs, now’s the time to actually learn how to edit styles, add a table of contents, and more.

Get Up and Running with Word Quickly

 

Of all of the Microsoft Office programs, Microsoft Word is probably the simplest from a user interface perspective. If you’ve ever used a word processing program in your life, you’ll recognize the menus for opening and creating files in the top left corner. The larger menu that runs across the top of the document Microsoft refers to as the “ribbon.” The ribbon has all the formatting tools you’ll need, as well as a few contextual commands that change depending on which tab you’re on.

For this series, we’ll assume you know the basics, but if you want a refresher, Microsoft’s quick start guide for Word gets you through the basics.

How to Do the Most Common, Essential Tasks in Microsoft Word

Of course, everyone’s needs are a little different, but considering most people use Office in an office setting, we’re willing to bet you’ll need to do things like edit styles, compare two documents, prepare a table of contents, and more.Let’s go ahead and cover some of those common tasks.

How to Apply and Edit Styles

A style in Word is a preset formatting for your document. This is what the document looks like, so it includes the font, font size, paragraph style, and so on. Creating or changing a style makes it possible to alter the look of a document all at once so you don’t need to go through and highlight individual sections and make specific changes. You can do things like set a universal heading style,or change what the default bulleted list looks like.

For example, if you’re working on a book, you might get a list of style guidelines from a publisher. Or if you’re working on weekly interoffice memos, a style is an easy to way to create a format guideline so every one you make looks the same way every time. Plus, you get the flexibility to change styles at any time, so if one department likes their memos one way, but your boss prefers a different style, you don’t have to change a bunch of formatting every time you open a new document.

To apply a style, make sure you’re on the Home tab, select a block of text in a document that you want to alter, and then click the Style menu in the ribbon. For example, if you want to make a heading in the middle of a block of text, you’d select the text you want as a heading, then click Styles > Heading 1. It’s as easy as that.

Making your own specific styles is pretty easy too. This is useful when you’re writing something consistently, like a newsletter or a book, and want a specific set of rules you can easily apply to a document as a whole. For example, you might want to change the font size of the default heading option, or change how creating a list works. Here’s how to do it:
From the Home tab, click on Styles Pane.
Click New Style or select the style you’d like to edit.
You’ll get a pop up window to edit a number of parameters here
including type, basis, and formatting.
Click through the options you want to change.

If you’re confused about what each term means, don’t worry, it’s pretty straightforward. Paragraph styles determine the look of the text on a paragraph level.

When you apply this style, it’ll change the whole paragraph. Character styles determine the look on a character level, so you can make one word stand out. Table styles alter the look of tables, like the header row or how the grid lines work. Finally, list styles alter the look of a list, such as bulleted lists or a number scheme.

How to Add a Table of Contents to the Beginning of a Document

 

If you’re working with a big document, a table of contents adds quick navigation. Thankfully, creating a table of contents in Word is easy and it’ll update itself automatically as you add more to the document.

Word’s automatic table of contents generator takes each heading you add to a document, and then creates the table of contents based on that. If you plan on creating a table of contents, make sure you style each of your section titles with a heading.
Click an empty paragraph where you want to insert the table of contents.
Click the References tab.
Click Table of Contents and then select the appearance you want to use.

That’s it. Word automatically updates that table of contents any time you add or alter a header.

How to Compare and Merge Two Documents

If you have two versions of a document, whether it’s because someone did edits in their own copy, a cloud backup failed, or if you’re just trying to hash out what exactly changed between two versions of the same thing, you’ll need to use the compare and combine functions.

If you just want to see what changes exist between two documents, you can compare them. Here’s how to compare two documents:

Open one of the two documents you want to compare.
Click Tools > Track Changes > Compare Documents.
Pick your original document and revised document files.

Type in a name under “Label changes with” text field so you can tell the difference between the two documents. This way, Word will add a note telling you where each change comes from.

Combining a document works the same way, but the end result is a single document that merges the contents of both documents together so everything that’s the same is overwritten:

Open one of the two documents you want to combine.
Click Tools > Merge Documents.
Pick your original document and revised document files.

When the documents are merged, the differences between the two are highlighted. From here, you can go in and pick what you want to keep in the final version.

How to Format a Document Properly with Tab Stops and Indents

If you’re the type who formats a document by pressing spacebar or tab a bunch of times, it’s time to learn how to do it the right way: Using indents and tab stops. The video above shows off how tabs and indents work so it’s easy to understand, but let’s just sum up what the two terms actually mean.

Tab stops: A tab stop is the location a cursor stops after the tab key is pressed. In Word, it’s a way to easily align text. When you click the ruler in Word, a tab stop appears as a little curved arrow. When you tap the tab key, the cursor and text will jump to that arrow. If you add in multiple tab stops, you can make it so you can format text by simply tapping the tab key a couple of times to get it in place and perfectly lined up.

Indents:
As the name suggests, indents determine the distance of the paragraph from the left or right margin. On the ruler, you’ll see two triangles that adjust the indentation. You can click either triangle and move it to change the indentation. The top triangle adjusts the indentation of the first line of a paragraph. The bottom triangle adjusts the indentation for subsequent lines (aka the hanging indent) in the paragraph. You can also click on the square below them to move both at the same time.
Learning how to use these indents and tab stops can make creating a document like a resume or academic paper a lot easier.

How to Add Citations and References

 

Academic papers are a beast to write, but Word makes creating bibliographies and citations super easy. Once you’ve created a new document and you’re writing that paper, you can add a citation with just a few clicks.

Click the Reference tab.
Click the Dropdown arrow next to Bibliography style and select the style
you’re using for that paper.
Click the end of a sentence or phrase where you want to add the citation.
Click Insert Citation. In the Create New Source box, enter in all the info you
need.

Once you enter a citation once, you can add additional citations from the same text by selecting a sentence, then clicking the Citations box and selecting the reference you want to insert. When you’re all done, click the Bibliography button and select either Bibliography or Works Cited to automatically generate the reference page for your paper.

The Best Features in Word 2016

Word 2016 is a word processor—that means it doesn’t have to make giant, revolutionary leaps over its previous versions. However, Word 2016 does have a few improvements worth noting:

You can search the ribbon: In Windows, above the ribbon, you’ll see a “Tell me what you want to do” box. Here, you can type in any question you have and Word will tell you how to do it. For example, you can ask it how to insert a picture, how to format text in a specific way, or how to create lists. It’s basically a boring version of Clippy for the 21st century. For whatever reason, this isn’t included in the Mac version.
You can see collaborators edits in real time like in Google Docs: You’ve been able to work on Word documents as a team for a while, but Word 2016 adds in live edits, so you’ll see other people’s notes and updates instantly.
– Smart lookup makes research a little easier: Word is now a little more connected to the web than it used to be. In Word 2016, you can right-click a word, then select “Smart Lookup” from the menu to look up a word’s definition, the related Wikipedia article, and top search results from Bing.

Other than those minor improvements, if you’ve used older versions of Word you’ll be right at home in Word 2016 within minutes.

Work Faster in Word with These Keyboard Shortcuts

Microsoft has full lists of every keyboard shortcut in Word for Windows and Word for Mac that are worth bookmarking,, but let’srun through some of the big ones you’re likely to use every day, and a few specific to word that are really useful:

CTRL+N/CTRL+O/CTRL+S: Create, Open, and Save a document.
CTRL+X/CTRL+C/CTRL+V: Cut, Copy, Paste
CTRL+B/CTRL+I: Bold, Italic
CTRL+A: Select All
CTRL+Z: Undo
CTRL+K: Insert a hyperlink
CTRL+P: Print a document
CTRL+H: Open Find and Replace
Shift+F3: Toggle Capitalization options
CTRL+SHIFT+C: Copies the formatting for selected text so you can apply
it to another set of text with CTRL+Shift+V
CTRL+Shift+N: Applies the normal style to the selected text

Beyond that, Word supports universal text editing keyboard shortcuts like Shift+CTRL+Up/Down arrows to select whole paragraphs. These can make navigating and highlighting text a lot easier, and we’ve got a list of all of them here. If you use Word heavily, get to know these shortcuts, they will make your life better.

Additional Reading for Power Users

Word’s a big program and we can’t cover everything here. Here are a few more guides to help you push the boundaries of what Word’s capable of.

Six tips for better formatting: Formatting is a big deal in MS Word, and if you want to get better at skills like showing hidden characters, dealing with sections, and more, this post should help.
Select all text with the same formatting: This hidden little menu in the ribbon lets you select blocks of text based on its formatting.
Everything you need to know about collaboration: Collaboration is a big part of Word. From tracking changes to learning how to use markup, this post covers everything you need to know about working on documents as a group.
Create your own keyboard shortcuts: Word has a ton of keyboard shortcuts as it is, but if you want more, you can make your own.

Word might just look like a boring old text editor at a glance, but as you can see, it’s a lot more complex than most people give it credit for. Mastering it can take a long time, but once you have the basics and understand what’s possible in Word, you’ll be well on your way to being a Microsoft Word ninja.

What are your best practices for Microsoft Word? Tell us about it in the comments below!

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