December 12, 2014 in Uncategorized

class 14 final

final powerpoint

Marlene Concepcion Final

December 12, 2014 in Uncategorized

Computer Lab Final PowerPoint

Computer Lab Final Wage

SpeadSheet Final

book 2

December 12, 2014 in Uncategorized


Christmas card final

December 12, 2014 in Uncategorized

christmas card

Final Exam

December 12, 2014 in Uncategorized

Charts Final

Final Wage worksheet

Christmas List Final

Class #14: Finally!

December 12, 2014 in GS32367

This is it!  Here’s the in-class part of the final:


Create two spreadsheets by copy/pasting the data tables below, sort the numbers from low to high, and paste link the charts into two PowerPoint slides identical to the class handouts.

Student Grades

first raw scores
Adrienne 28
Aleshia 24
Anna 30
Christine 25
Damar 29
Dolores 26
Emily 28
Flor 29
Janeen 22
Jeania 28
Latoya 27
Lauren 27
Milagros 25
Myriam 22
Railene 30
Rosalyn 28
Sara 30
Shawteriyah 23
Shelleyne 29
Sumika 24
Sylvia 25
Tajeda 27
Tamara 15


Federal Budget FY 2011

Program  Expenditures
Defense 895
Discretionary 520
Social Security 730
Medicare 491
Medicaid 297
Troubled Asset Relief 11
Jobs Initiatives 25
Other 612
Interest 251
Potential Disaster Costs 3


A couple of things to remember: sort the student grades and budget categories, delete the legends, include labels on the pie graph (category, value and percent), and paste link the charts into PowerPoint.

Word Document

The Christmas list assignment is almost identical to the Thanksgiving assignment.  See the handout for a visual layout of the document.

As always, please do not print anything out.  Upload the Word, Excel and PowerPoint files to your post page, and title it ‘Final’.

Done, and done!

It came to me on a December day…

December 9, 2014 in GS32367

… that the final take home component should be, making Kristmas Kards!

Create two PowerPoint landscape slides as follows,




The back and front should be like the back and front of a card, and the inside right is where the message goes.  Imagine you are printing the slides, two sided, and then folding down the middle to make one card.  Since cards are printed out, use a light background and dark text and graphics for best resolution.  Make the card look festive and “Christmasy.”

Points will be given for:

  • appropriate font [5 points]
  • good colors [5 points]
  • nice graphics/pictures [5 points]
  • festive, engaging message [5 points]

As always, Do Not Print.  Upload the PowerPoint file to your post page.


Week #14: Final rubric

December 8, 2014 in GS32367

Here’s what’s going to be on the final this Friday.  I’m still thinking about what to do for a take home component, but I know it won’t be a major task.

PowerPoint slides with Excel charts (Class #9)

Two data tables will be on the class blog.  You will copy and paste them into Excel, and make a two bar graphs.  You will then paste link them into PowerPoint and make them look nice.

  • sorted data [5 points]
  • Excel formatting [10 points]
  • PowerPoint paste link [5 points]
  • PowerPoint formatting [10 points]

Timesheet (Class #11)

Each of you will receive a list of dates, times and wage rates for two jobs in the month of April.  You will create a spreadsheet like the one we created last class to calculate the number of hours worked each day, the amount of money earned each day, and a calculation for total wages earned in April.  Points will given for the correct use of

  • laying out and inputting time and wage data [5 points]
  • HOUR and MINUTE formulas [10 points]
  • formula for calculating wages earned each day [10 points]
  • SUM formula [5 points]

Christmas List (Class #6)

Create a bulleted list of at least 3 specific activities you would like to do over Christmas break. Each of you will be given individualized Word formatting instructions

  • Page Margins [5 points]
  • Fonts [5 points]
  • Paragraph Formatting [10 points]
  • Header & Footer [10 points]

Class #13: Almost there!

December 5, 2014 in GS32367

We’re going to finish this course the way we started, with a scavenger hunt!  Since no one answered the question, “this is something else I would like to learn about computers,” I’m going to ask all of you some questions:

  1. What is the cheapest way to get to Baltimore this month? Cut and paste a price you found on the Internet, and the URL (http:// …) website.
  2. What are some interesting free educational apps I can download at:
    1. iTunes
    2. Android
    3. Windows Phone
  3. What news feeds do you use for your smart phone?  Examples:
    1. Huffington Post on Tumblr
    2. feedly
    3. digg
    4. flipboard
  4. What are some of your favorite smartphone apps?

Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr, Instagram are not in themselves acceptable answers.  If an educational or news business (like Huffingtom Post above) uses the platform for their own products, that’s OK.

Type in your answers as comments at the end of this post. Make sure you’re logged in.  Answer in the following format:

Question # ___.  Answer.  1-2 sentences explained why you chose that answer. Include the URL (http://…)

My assessment will be qualitative.  That is, tell me something I don’t know, and I’ll be impressed.

That’s it for today, but remember the final exam is next Friday.  I’ll post the breakdown rubric early next week, and (hopefully) upload the take home part that will be due on the last week of class.  You can expect to make some Excel charts, link them to PowerPoint, create some simple Excel functions, maybe a simple Word page.


Class #12: ‘Tis the season to stay home…

November 28, 2014 in GS32367

… and start thinking about how to make 2015 better than 2014.  The last month of the year I look at my accounts and see how they can earn me more money.  A good article I just read was in Bottom Line:

The article lists 10 (duh) stock funds that did well this year, and will likely do the same next year. Take a look at the article and choose one you would like to research.

Another way to figure out how to earn more money next year is to evaluate your existing accounts.  Here are three of mine:

Holdings 11/14 01/14 Gain ($) Gain (%) Dividends Fees Net Earnings ($) Net Earnings (%)
Acct #1 $ 2,365 $ 1,752 $ 44 $ 24
Acct #2 1,025 1,029 32 13
Acct #3 1,293 1,243 23 17


You can see that some of the columns don’t have numbers.  That’s because it’s easier to use Excel functions than calculate them by hand.

Homework #12

  1. quoteGo to Yahoo Finance and type in the 5 letter abbreviation for the stock fund you chose into the Quote Lookup box on the left side of the page.  Click on the ‘Go’ button.
  2. historicOnce your stock uploads, click on the ‘Historical Prices’ on the left side of the page.
  3. Repeat what you did for Homework #9.  That is,
    1. Set the Date Range from January 1, 2014 to today’s date.
    2. Click the ‘Get Prices’ button.
    3. Once the numbers come up, click on the ‘Download to Spreadsheet’ link at the bottom of the page.
    4. Save the spreadsheet as an Excel file.
    5. Make a scatter graph.
  4. Copy the table of accounts above into the second tab of the Excel file.  Use functions to calculate the missing numbers in the blank columns:
    1. Gain ($) — Calculate the difference between the values in November and January
    2. Gain (%) — Calculate the percentage change by dividing the dollar gain by the original January value.
    3. Net Earnings ($) — Add the dividends, and take away the fees from the Gain ($).
    4. Net Earnings (%) — Calculate the percentage change by dividing the Net Earnings ($) by the original January value.
  5. Create a new post page, titled ‘Homework #12′ and upload your Excel file to it.  Also, type in the text box why you picked your stock fund, and explain why you think my three accounts did well or poorly.


Enjoy the rest of Thanksgiving!

Class #11: Creating Payroll Stubs Using Excel Formulas and Word Mail Merge

November 21, 2014 in GS32367

As the chilling winds beat against the trees and windows, the writing is on the wall that the fall semester is rapidly winding down.  As discussed in last class, after today, very little new material will be delivered in the remaining classes.  Next class will be “virtual,”  which means I won’t even be in New York State next Friday, so don’t show up to class.  However, I do expect you sometime during the Thanksgiving vacation to get on the Internet and view this website for a remote learning assignment.  I will upload next week’s assignment (hopefully) before Thanksgiving, and it will be due December 5th — no late submissions.

Please make the time before Thanksgiving to get caught up on all of the assignments.  Over Thanksgiving break I will check everyone’s post page, and update the grade spreadsheet and post it with the virtual assignment.

Today is the most difficult class of the semester — I’m trying to finish up all of the material now, before December, and the skills we’re learning today, Excel formulas and Word Mail Merge, require following a bunch of steps correctly.  Even if you haven’t taken a note in this class, I strongly recommend doing so today, otherwise you will likely be lost when doing next week’s remote assignment.  That being said, this class will offer you skills that, regardless of your career path, you will find beneficial in whatever job you may have or will have in the future.

The skills you will learn today will make your life easier if you ever have to publish a bunch of letters or forms to a group of people, each with slightly different information, determined by each individual’s records.  A form letter, paystubs, individualized assignments — all of these tasks that can take a day to complete if you create each one individually, can be reduced to an hour’s work if you know how to use Excel formulas and Word Mail Merge.  You really can make yourself invaluable to your boss if you learn these skills.

Creating a Formula in Excel

One of the best functions in Excel is its ability to use formulas to automate repetitive calculations. Today, we’ll create a time sheet that can calculate your take home pay, simply by inputting your hours each day and your pay rate.

Let’s assume you have more than one source of income.  So the first thing we need to do is list the different assignments, On a blank spreadsheet, copy/paste/type the following information into cell A1, etc.

Assignment Rate
Tutoring 40
Bookkeeping 25
Babysitting 20


Next we will create a drop down list, to make entering daily values easier.  In cell D5, type ‘Date’.  In cell E5, type ‘Assignment’.  In F5, type ‘Pay Rate’.  Make all of the text bold, 14 pt.

To make a drop down list, follow these steps.

  1. Move to the cell you want the drop down list (E6).
  2. data_validationClick on the Data menu, and click the Data Validation button.
  3. In the ‘Allow’ dialogbox, click on the ‘List’ Option.
  4. In the ‘Source’ box, click on the spreadsheet button to the right of the box.
  5. Using the mouse, select the words that will be in the list, in this case, the assignment types in cells A2 to A4.
  6. Click the spreadsheet button again, and click on the ‘OK’ button in the dialog box.


If you click on cell D6 now, you will be able to select the specific job you did that day without having to type it in.

Now we’re going to have Excel determine what the pay scale is for the job we selected.  To do so will require using the VLOOKUP function.


  1. Move to the cell to the right of the dropdown list, F6, and click on the Formulas menu button.  Click on the first button, ‘Insert Function’, type VLOOKUP in the search box, and click on the ‘Go’ button.
  2. In the list below the search box, double click on VLOOKUP.
  3. VLookupFor the Lookup_value, click on the spreadsheet button to the right, and select the cell to the left where the dropdown list is (E6).
  4. For the Table_array, select the names you used to create the dropdown list and the rates in the next column (A2 to B4).
  5. Important! Type a $ in front of every letter and number, so the array values look like this: $A$2:$B$4
  6. For the Col_index_num, type a 2 in the box.
  7. For the Range_lookup, type FALSE in the box.
  8. Click on the ‘OK’ button

Now, whenever you select a job assignment, Excel will automatically place the corresponding pay rate in the cell to the right.  One click, and two cells of information is created.

Doing the Calculations

Now we need to input our time starting and ending work on a given day.  First, let’s create a header for ‘Start Time’ in cell G5, ‘End Time’ in cell H5, ‘Hours’ in cell I5, ‘Minutes’ in cell J5 and ‘Time’ in cell K5.  Give the text the same formatting as the other headers.

Let’s input some sample data to work with.  Type ‘8:00 AM’ in cell G6, and ‘5:00 PM’ in cell H6. Now we need to get Excel to figure out how many hours we worked, and, more importantly, how much we’re going to get paid.  Let’s start with the time calculations.

In cell I5, we’re going to calculate how many hours we worked, using an Excel formula.  All Excel formulas begin with an equals sign, so Excel knows what follows isn’t text, but a mathematical formula.  Type in the following formula in I6,


What this formula means is that Excel will take whatever time is typed into cell H6 (5:00 PM) and cell G6 (8:00 AM) and take the difference, in hours between the two times.

Now type the following formula into J6,


This formula is almost the same, except, you guessed it, the formula calculated the remaining minutes.

In order to calculate wages, however, the time values must be in decimal format.  To do so, type the following formula into K6,


Now we know how many hours we worked, in decimal format.

Finally, we can determine our earnings,  First, type ‘Earnings’ in cell M5.  Then, in cell M6, calculate your earnings by multiplying Pay Rate by Time.  We earned $360!

Once we have one row/record working it is very easy in Excel to copy the functions/formulas into adjacent rows/records.  Highlight cells D6 through M6.  On the lower right hand corner of the selected cells you should see a little black square.  When you roll over it with the mouse, the cursor will turn into a plus sign.  Click and drag the cursor down 15 rows, and volia!
You now have an automated time sheet.

in Rows 7-10, type in the following information, and have Excel do the calculations.

Babysitting, 5:30 PM – 9:00 PM

Bookkeeping, 12:30 PM – 4:15 PM

Tutoring, 6:30 PM – 8 PM

Babysitting, 10:30 AM – 4:45 PM

Then ‘Autosum’ to get the total earning.

Although setting up an automated payroll spreadsheet takes time, once you have it up and running, all you have to do is click on the dropdown list, enter start and finish times, and Excel does everything else.  If one of your job duties is payroll, I’m sure you see the value to making a spreadsheet like this one.

Mail Merge

What we just did helps calculate an individual employee’s paycheck.  But what if you have to submit pay stubs for every employee in the company, including the withheld tax, like the list below?

First Last Earnings Fed Tax State Tax City Tax SSI
Ady Almonte 210.00 31.50 16.80 6.30 4.20
Andrea Barillas 132.50 19.88 10.60 3.98 2.65
Melissa Bohan 175.75 26.36 14.06 5.27 3.52
Russell Cosme 122.25 18.34 9.78 3.67 2.45
Justin Cruz 124.50 18.68 9.96 3.74 2.49
Flerida Diaz 209.75 31.46 16.78 6.29 4.20
Yvonne Gaillard 117.50 17.63 9.40 3.53 2.35
Betsy Guzman 191.50 28.73 15.32 5.75 3.83
Dominique Harris 130.25 19.54 10.42 3.91 2.61
Chanell Paschall 83.25 12.49 6.66 2.50 1.67


Again, you could type out each paystub, or you could let Excel and Word do the work for you. Here’s how to do it.

First, copy the above table into a black Excel spreadsheet.

Note that you could calculate all of the tax withheld numbers, and the Earnings values could be calculated from a spreadsheet like the one we just made with drop down lists and VLOOKUP formulas.

Very Important!!! : Highlight all of the numbers, click on the ‘Home’ menu, and format all of the numbers as text. If you don’t do this, all of the numbers will look crazy in Word. Then, SAVE the spreadsheet.

Now we have to do the Mail Merge part.  This requires a bunch of steps, so take notes so you can remember how to do this on your own.

  1. Open Word. Click on the ‘Mailings’ menu, and click on the ‘Start Mail Merge’ button.mail_merge
  2. Click on the ‘Step by Step Mail Merge Wizard. A new pane will open on the right side.
  3. Click ‘Next’ twice. You are now on Step 3 of 6.
  4. Click on the ‘Browse’ link.  Open up the spreadsheet you just saved. Click on the ‘OK’ button twice.
  5. Click on the ‘Next’ button. You are now on Step 4 of 6.
  6. Click on the ‘More Items’ link.  Double click on all of the fields until your Word document looks like this:
  7. Add some formatting (spaces between the fields, Enters between the taxes, etc.) so your document looks like this:
  8. Click on the ‘Next’ button. You are now on Step 5 of 6.
  9. At the top of the right pane are ‘Recipient’ back and forward buttons.  Click on them to see how each paystub is generated.
  10. If you wanted to print out each paystub, you would click ‘Next’ one last time, and click on ‘Print.’  But don’t print them out!!!
  11. Important: If you want to save the document with the field codes intact so you can look at them in the future, click back to Step 4, and save.  If you save in Step 5 or 6, all of the records will be save, and you won’t be able to edit the field codes.

That’s it!


Homework #11

Create a spreadsheet like the one we did today with the following time log:


  1. What are her total earnings for October?
  2. Suppose her tutoring rate was $55, her bookkeeping rate $37.50, and her babysitting rate $22.50.  What would her earnings for be for October?
  3. Upload the spreadsheet, with your name on it to your post page.

Science Lab Links

November 14, 2014 in GS32367

Here are the grades so far for this class:


The check marks refer to the midterm.  Those of you who missed the midterm, you can take it on the last day of class. These grades do not include the genetic disease extra credit.

Next class will be “virtual”.  That is, I will not be here.  Instead, I will upload an assignment to this website for you to do.  Please complete it by December 5th.  Because we are not meeting, use that time to complete the assignment.  No late submissions will be accepted.

First Round of Virtual Labs

Worksheet #1: virtual_1

  1. pH Scale
  2. Concentration of Solution
  3. Beer’s Law
  4. Ohm’s Law

Second Round of Virtual Labs

Worksheet #2: virtual_2

  1. Atomic Dating
  2. Making a Genetically Modified Cell
  3. Mass Spectrometry

Class #10: Working Across Softwares

November 10, 2014 in GS32367

And suddenly, … winter is upon us.  After today’s class, you can expect the following:

Class #11, 11/21 — Using Excel to make payroll calculations
Class #12, 11/28 — the day after Thanksgiving, I will not be here, so I will post a “remote learning” assignment to this website.  Please make sure you do it, as it will be counted towards your final grade.
Class #13, 12/5 — “Bits & Pieces” — if there is anything we have not covered about Microsoft office that you would like to learn about, please let me know so I can create a lesson about it.  I will also hand out the take home component to the final
Class #14, 12/12 — Computer Lab final.
Class #15, 12/19 — Grades submitted.

We are rapidly reaching the end of the year, so please finish whatever you can, as soon as you can.  Here is what I have from you so far, besides the midterm grades (I emailed your percentages to you)


If you’re missing anything (like the resume), or I’m missing a grade for something you submitted, please complete everything above as soon as you can, so you’re not stressing while eating the Thanksgiving bird.

A touch up from last class — Dow Jones Industrial Average data can be downloaded at the Federal Reserve Economic Data (FRED) website.

In Class Assignment

Let’s start with making some Excel Charts.  There has been a perpetual din about government expenditures. Let’s paint a picture.  The following data comes from the Office of Management and Budget, Table 3.2.  The numbers represent how many millions of dollars were spent on these activities last year.

A quick question up front: comparing the numbers for 2012 and 2013, which expenditure changed the most between the two years?  What does the change mean?  Here’s a hint.

Function FY 2012 FY 2013
National Defense $677,856 $633,385
International Affairs 47,189 46,418
General Science, Space, and Technology 29,060 28,908
Energy 14,857 11,042
Natural Resources and Environment 41,628 38,145
Agriculture 17,791 29,492
Commerce and Housing Credit 40,823 -83,199
Transportation 93,019 91,673
Community and Regional Development 25,132 32,336
Education, Training, Employment, and Social Services 90,823 72,808
Health 346,742 358,315
Medicare 471,793 497,826
Income Security 541,344 536,511
Social Security 632,903 757,542
Veterans Benefits and Services 124,595 138,938
Administration of Justice 56,277 52,601
General Government 28,036 27,755
Net Interest 220,408 220,885

I’d like everybody to

  1. make a pie chart from the FY 2012 data, sorted from low to high, with category name and percentage labels and leader lines.  Delete any labels for expenditures 1% or less of the total budget.  Color the wedges in aesthetically pleasing ways.  
  2. make a column chart from the FY 2013, sorted from high to low, no labels.  Use a gradient fill on the bars.  NOTE: the simplest way to graph only the FY 2013 data is to select all of the data, insert the column chart, and then drag the highlighted data to the right so only the FY 2013 data is selected.

Delete the legend from both graphs.

Excel-lent Formulas

fxConverting columns of numbers into visually appealing charts is the best part of Excel. Running a close second is Excel’s function button.  Any time you need to do a calculation, the function button can do it for you .  Let’s see how it works.

A common question asked about the federal budget is how much more (or less) money a program receives from year to year.  Let’s calculate the difference in expenditures from FY 2012 to 2013.

  1. In cell D2, type the equals sign, ‘=’ .
  2. Then click on Cell C2.
  3. Now type a minus sign, ‘-‘.
  4. Now click on Cell B2, and hit the Enter key.

Instead of seeing a bunch of math symbols in the cell, you should see a number.  When you start typing in an Excel cell with an equals sign, you are telling Excel to do a calculation, in this case you are saying, “take away the number in cell B2 from the number in cell C2.”  So 633, 385 – 677,856 = -44,471.  But instead of doing the calculation ourselves, we can have Excel do it for us.

Now comes the fun part, “click and drag”.  Move the mouse cursor so that is it over the bottom right corner of Cell D2. The mouse cursor should change from a white fat plus sign to a black think plus sign.  Now hold the left mouse button down and drag down to Cell D19.  You should now see numbers in all of the highlighted cells.  We have just told Excel to do the same calculation for Rows 3 to 19.

Let’s try another function, this time division.  The percentage change from year to year is the difference between the two years (we calculated this in Column D) divided by the original value (the numbers in Column B.  So let’s repeat the procedure:

  1. In cell E2, type the equals sign, “+”.
  2. Then click on Cell D2.
  3. Now type a divide sign, “%”.
  4. Now click on Cell B2, and hit the Enter key.

You should see a number less than 1 with a bunch of digits.  Let’s view this number as a percentage.  Highlight Column E, and click on the Home menu tab.  Click on the Percent button in the Number section. Now the ugly number has changed to a simple percent, -7%.

Click and drag from Cell F2 to Cell E19.  You should now see a bunch of percents.

Sort the percentages from high to low, and make a column chart.

Now let’s see how we can print out these charts in easily viewable ways.

Embedding Excel Charts

When a news reported is “embedded” into an Army division, it means that the reporter goes wherever the division goes, they are one and the same unit.  Embedding Excel files in a PowerPoint slide means the same thing – it’s all part of PowerPoint. There are two ways to embed Excel graphs into PowerPoint, as a “flat” picture, or as a Excel container.

pictureIf you don’t intend to make revisions to the graph, pasting the Excel graph into PowerPoint as a picture is the best way to go.  Once you have selected and copied the graph in Excel, toggle to a blank PowerPoint slide, right click and select the ‘Picture (GIF)’ option.  Now you have a picture of an Excel graph on a PowerPoint slide!

embedIf you plan to make future edits to the graph, you can embed the graph as an Excel object as well.  Instead of choosing the Picture option, select the ‘Microsoft Office Graphic Object’.  Once the object is pasted in, you can click on it and reformat the way the graph looks if you like.

Years ago, when Microsoft Office first created this embedding option, embedding Excel into PowerPoint could make the slide unstable, so to this day if I know I’m going to make future edits to the Excel graph, I use the second technique, paste linking.

Paste Linking

paste_specialThis technique does not place Excel into PowerPoint, instead if you double click on the image, it will open up Excel, and then you can make whatever edits to the graph you desire.  When you ‘Paste Special’, click on the ‘Paste Link’ button, and click OK.  Now you have a PowerPoint slide with an Excel graph that you can open up in Excel to make edit with.


Now that we have our Excel graphs in PowerPoint, we can use PowerPoint editing techniques to make the slides/printouts look professional.  Type your name into the heading boxes, and print out your slides.

Homework #10

Paste link all of the graphs you make today, and your stock run (last week’s homework), into a PowerPoint file.  Type in a title for each slide, and upload both the Excel and PowerPoint file into one post, titled, “Homework #10.”

Class #9: Visualizing Numbers

November 7, 2014 in GS32367

Pies, Bars & Scatters

Where’s the formula for bin ranges?

Excel is Microsoft’s graphing software, and it’s easy to get lost among all of its functions.  Before we delve into its seemingly limitless depths, let’s make sure we all have a basic spelunker’s bag of tools before looking at Excel’s more advanced functions. Even so, this is going to a long post, so you’ll probably want to take your own notes as we go through this basic graphing technique.

The first step in making an Excel graph is to set up your spreadsheet. This is a little like creating a PowerPoint template before you pour your content into a bunch of slides.  A spreadsheet is a grid of “cells” that can contain text or numbers.  Each cell is identified by a row (a number from 1 to 1,048,576) and a column (a letter from A to XFD).  The cell in the upper left corner of the spreadsheet is ‘A1′ and the cell in the bottom right corner is ‘XFD1048576′. You can see the name of the cell you are currently at in the (surprise) Name Box at the upper left corner of the Excel window.

Hotkeys work in Excel, and I really recommend using the keyboard to enter data to a spreadsheet, and not the mouse.  It’s easy to scroll off the page, losing your place in the spreadsheet when using the mouse.  The arrow keys (and the Shift, Ctrl, Page Up, Page Down, Home and End keys) will get you where you want to be in the spreadsheet faster than the mouse.

There’s another way to refer to cells in a spreadsheet, a way that’s more aligned to database management.  Each row can be considered a record, and each column can be called a field. Each row, then, contains data referring to a specific date, person, or company.  Each column contains information about a specific category of information, like credits or debits, types of expenses, or various acquisitions.  It’s important that you visualize what information you want your graph to convey and set up your spreadsheet before you start typing or pasting numbers into the spreadsheet.


Let’s create a simple spreadsheet to see how this graphing technique works.

A basic Excel graphing technique

Generally speaking, you should start in cell ‘A1,’ which you can get to through the keyboard with the Ctrl-Home command.  A1 can be left blank since it technically is neither a record nor a field.  So hit the down arrow key to get to cell A2,  Let’s start typing in some Expense categories that we spend money on each month (rent, food, cable, etc.)

Now let’s move to the ‘B’ column.  B1 will be our first field tag.  Let’s type ‘October’ into that cell. Each of the cells below the field tag (B2, B3, etc.) will contain the amount of money we spent on each category in the month of January.  See how the grid organizes our data?

Now we’re ready to take the next step, actually making the graph. Before starting, however, we must select the data we want to graph. As you might expect, there are two ways to do this. One is to use the mouse (sigh…), click in the upper left most cell, and, holding the left mouse button down, drag to the lower right most cell in the range of data to be graphed. The other way is to use the arrow keys to highlight the upper left cell, and, holding the Ctrl and Shift keys down, hit the down arrow once, and then the right arrow once. Now all of your data is selected!

Ready to make a graph? Here are the steps:

  1. Make sure your data is selected (see above)
  2. Click on the ‘Insert’ menu.
  3. The third group of buttons on the toolbar are the chart buttons.  Under the last button (Other Charts) is an arrow that will open the ‘Create Chart’ dialog box.  You should always click on that arrow and not the buttons.
  4. Now you can choose whatever graph you would like to visualize your spreadsheet numbers with.  Let’s choose the first pie graph.
  5. Hit the OK button and you’re done!


You can right click on the various parts of the graph to customize the font, color, etc., just like we did with our PowerPoint slides.

NOTE:  Selecting your data before you click on the Insert Chart button makes graphing easier, because Excel doesn’t have to ask you what data you want to graph.  Selecting the data first answers the question from the get go.

Same Deal with Bar Graphs

Bar graphs are just as simple to make.  Suppose I want to see a breakdown of grades in a class I’m teaching.  Here are the grade ranges:

Grade Range Number of Students
91-100 5
81-90 8
71-80 13
61-70 4
<60 2


Highlight the data, copy and paste it into a blank spreadsheet.  Select the data (see above).  Then click on the ‘Insert’ menu button, and choose a vertical bar graph.  I delete the legend, because the axis labels offer enough information.
sortLet’s say I want to have the grade ranges increase rather than decrease left to right.  Select the data once again.  Click on the ‘Data’ menu button.  Then click on the ‘Sort’ button.  Make sure the first dropdown box has ‘Grade Ranges’ selected.  Then click on ‘A-Z’ Order in the last dropdown box.  The graph should instantly switch low values with high values and vice versa.

Taking it to the Next Level

So far we’ve looked at pie and bar graphs.  Now let’s look a more sophisticated kind of graph: the scatter chart.  First we need some data.

Stocks are at historical highs right now, so creating stock price runs might be a good way to see if there are still any good buys out there.  Let’s go to Yahoo Finance and download some date.

Let’s start with simply charting the Dow Jones Industrial Average.

  1. historicalIn the Symbol Look up box, type, ‘dow’, and click on Dow Jones Industrial Average (^DJI).
  2. Click on the ‘Historical Prices’ link in the left panel.
  3. Change the Start Date to August 1st, 2013.
  4. Click the ‘Get Prices’ button.
  5. Click in the ‘Date’ box on the table, hold the left mouse button down, and drag the mouse to the last number in the far right column.
  6. Copy (Ctrl-c) the data.
  7. Toggle to Excel, click in the A1 cell of a blank spreadsheet, and paste (Ctrl-v) in the Dow Jones data.


For some reason, all stock prices are off by a factor of ten.  Let’s just delete Halloween’s price and graph the rest.  Notice that the data is in reverse chronological order, that is, October’s prices are on top of September’s, and so on.  Let’s switch the order of the data so that the oldest date is on top.

Select all of the data.  On the keyboard, use the arrow keys to move to the first cell in the upper left part of the spreadsheet with data.  Then, hold the Ctrl and Shift keys down simultaneously, hit the down arrow once, and the right arrow once.  Voila!  All of your data is selected.

Now click on the ‘Data’ menu button, and then click on the ‘Sort’ button.  A dialog box will pop up, and you will click on the Sort by drop down arrow, select Date, and make sure the Order box says, ‘Oldest to Newest.’  Click the OK button.

Now we are ready to graph!  Go back to cell A1, hold the Shift and Ctrl keys down, hit the down arrow, let go of the Ctrl button (but keep the Shift key pressed down) and hit the right arrow once.  You should now have the first two columns of data selected.

Now you can insert a Scatter Plot Chart.

Homework #9

Chose a stock you’re interested in graphing.  Post the Company Name and Abbreviation as a comment to this post below (first post chooses).  Then make a scatter plot of at least the last three months of data.

Class #8: Midterm Materials

October 30, 2014 in GS32367

Good morning!

Here are the grades updated…


Besides sharing our PowerPoint presentations, each of you will receive an assignment sheet with three parts to it: making a Word outline from one of the documents below, adding some “hot key” characters to the bottom of it, and reformatting one of the speeches at the end of this post.  The outline and hotkeys are due by the end of this class, and the reformatting assignment, as well as your resume are due a week from today, 11/7.

Click on the links below to download the required text documents to complete your outline and “Popul Vul” assignments. Do not print out anything! Save trees! Upload your completed assignments to your post page.  Refer to last week’s post for the grading rubric.

Outline Materials

US Constitution

  • Level 1 = Article
  • Level 2 = Section
  • Level 3 = Clause

us constitution

NYS Constitution

  • Level 1 = Article
  • Level 2 = Line below Article
  • Level 3 = §

NYS Constitution

Penal Code 220

  • Level 1 = Article
  • Level 2 = Section
  • Level 3 = (#)
  • Level 4 = (a)

penal code 210

Penal Code 212

  • Level 1 = Article
  • Level 2 = Section
  • Level 3 = (#)
  • Level 4 = (a)

penal code 212

 “Popul  Vul” format

General Instructions:

In the Header of your document, type your name, tab once, and type “Computer Lab Midterm.”
Create a right align tab, and flush it to the right margin.
Format the font as 14 point, bold.

In the Footer of your document, insert the FileName, Page, and Date field codes.
Format the font as 10 point, italic.

Declaration of Independence

  1. Italicize and increase by 4 points, “When in the Course of human events”
  2. Bold “Laws of Nature” and “Nature’s God”
  3. Bold and italicize every “we”
  4. Small caps “Declaration,” Providence,” “Lives,” “Fortunes,” and “Honor” in the last sentence

Declaration of Independence

Gettysburg Address

  1. Italicize and increase by 4 points, “four score and seven years ago”
  2. Bold “Liberty”
  3. Bold and italicize every “we”
  4. Small caps “of,” “by,” and “for,” on the last line

gettysburg address

I have a Dream

  1. Italicize and increase by 4 points, “Five score years ago”
  2. Bold “Emancipation Proclamation”
  3. Bold and italicize every “Negro”
  4. Small caps “New Hampshire,” “New York,” “Pennsylvania,” “Colorado,” “California,” “Georgia,” “Tennessee,” and “Mississippi”

I have a dream

Endure and Prevail

  1. Italicize and increase by 4 points, “agony and sweat of the human spirit”
  2. Bold “general and universal physical fear”
  3. Bold and italicize every “man” and “human”
  4. Small caps “dingdong of doom” and “endure and prevail”

Endure and Prevail

Class #7: Halfway Through!

October 24, 2014 in GS32367

So next week is time for the midterm, so here’s what you can expect in terms of a grade:

  1. Everyone will have 5 minutes to present their getaway vacation.  Points will be given for :
    • 5 points — Eye catching pictures: not skewed, filling the entire slide
    • 5 points — Title Slide, with a short phrase describing what your presentation is about
    • 5 points — Text Slides, with short, bulleted summaries of what you’re talking about
    • 5 points — Complementary color palette that connects to your talking points
    • 5 points — Font choice that also connects to your talking points
    • 10 points — Overall “look and feel” to your slides: are they all consistent in terms of fonts, colors, layout (do they conform to the template)?
  2. Take home component, the “Popul Vul” and resume must be uploaded to your post page no later than noon, November 7th,
    • 20 points — “Popul Vul” format — you will be given some text to be reformatted, page layout, adding a header, footer and field codes
    • 15 points — your completed Word resume, including a value proposition at the top, and use of bold and italic fonts, page layout, paragraph formatting, and tab alignments.
    • 10 points — a short Word outline. This must be completed by the end of next class, October 31st.
    • 5 points — “hotkey” paragraph.  This must be completed by the end of next class, October 31st.
  3. You will receive 15 points for demonstrating you know how to use WordPress functions (e.g. logging in, creating a post, uploading media). If you have been completing the homework assignments, you should get all of the points no problem.  I will have all homework assignments assessed by next week.

That’s a total of 100 points for the midterm.



Class #6: Professional PowerPoints and Wonderful Words

October 17, 2014 in GS32367

Today we’re going to summarize everything we’ve learned about PowerPoint and Word, and apply these skills to finishing our presentations and resumes. So let’s get at it.

Putting a PowerPoint Presentation together

If I didn’t get my message across to you about the limitations of PowerPoint, here it is again: if your message is complex, nuanced, and took you more than an hour to figure out what you want to say, write it down on paper first, and then brainstorm about how a few PowerPoint slides can enhance what you are going to say to your audience.  So let’s go straight to the process I’d like you to use to make your own presentation.

  1. Research! Nothing makes a presentation more interesting than having something to say.  That requires doing more than Googling a few keywords, clicking on the first few (advertised) links and being done with it.  Think about what you want to talk about, and focus on finding some interesting details online that no one in your audiences knows about.  When you find something online, save the url and write a summary sentence or two about what you learned from the page, so you’ll be able to remember it later on when you’re putting your presentation together.
  2. Design. You don’t need a lot of bells and whistles to keep your audience attentive during your presentation.  A good, clear (sans serif) font, a couple of complementary colors, and a picture or two will get you well on your way to putting together a successful PowerPoint presentation.
  3. Make the template first, then pour in the content. Avoid to urge to immediately start cut-and-pasting as soon as you open up PowerPoint.  You’ll be creating twice as much work for yourself doing it that way.  Instead, go to View | Slide Master to work out a good layout for all of your slides.  Avoid having different color schemes, etc. for each slide.  You want a consistent “look and feel” to each and every slide.  Consistency implies professionalism and skill.  A hodge-podge, scattershot approach reminds us of arts and crafts class in elementary school.

So let’s see this process at work.

Making a PowerPoint Template

Before you begin pouring your content into a PowerPoint slide, you need to standardize the kinds of fonts and colors that will enhance the message you are trying to convey to your audience. There are three kinds of text you work with in PowerPoint:

  1. Title text (in a Title Slide),
  2. Heading Text, and
  3. Body Text (in a Title and Content slide).

The only difference in the point size of the text.  You should avoid using multiple fonts in a presentation, as it looks unprofessional.  Remember, fonts should be formatted when you’re designing the templates, before you start typing content into the text boxes.  Here’s how to format fonts:

  1. On the template slide, roll over the edge of the text box until the cursor changes from an arrow to one with a “compass,” four arrow radiating out from a point.
  2. Right click on the edge of the box.  You should see a toolbar appear, you want the one with all the buttons on it.  You’ll know you did this right if you continue to see, “Click to add …” in the text box.  You won’t see it if you clicked within the box, and then you won’t be able to format the template.
  3. Click on the first drop down arrow.  Here you can select whatever font you desire, see below about which fonts are the most readable.
  4. The drop down arrow to the right of the first one with the numbers allows you to make the font bigger or smaller.  Title text is usually no less than 28, Header text 20, and body 16.
  5. The second line of buttons allows you to bold, italicize, center and recolor the font.  Recoloring is important if you changed the background color.




Common sense applies here — if you can’t read it, your audience can’t either.  The two categories of fonts are serif (type with curvy branches of the main stems of a letter) and sans serif (type that doesn’t have the curly qs).  You should use sans serif fonts for presentations. Here are some examples of how to use fonts effectively in your presentation.  A hard copy of various fonts can also help you choose what font will work for you.   If you’re really into typography (like me!) the tools described in this article will help you explore the nuances of fonts in greater detail.

Finally, the font links on the right side of this web page will give you lists of fonts that will offer you pretty much any kind of typeset that you are looking for in your presentation.


On a computer monitor, TV or video projector, all colors are a composite function of Red, Green and Blue colors (RGB).  That is to say, any color can be specified by defining how much red, green and blue color is used to create the specific color.  RGB color values in PowerPoint are defined in a range from 0 (no color) to 255 (fully saturated color).  So a RGB value of (255,0,0) would represent pure red, and (0,0,255) would represent pure blue.  Here are some additional examples of RGB color values.

There’s another way colors can be referenced instead of by three RGB numbers. The Pantone color chart uses ramps to create light and dark colors. Certain pairs of colors, like blue and yellow, and red and green, stand out well against each other, it is easier for us to distinguish these pairs of colors than say, red and orange. A Color Schemer can help you pick out a good mix.

Again, there is a list of links to the right on this webpage that you can use to help find a palette of colors that will look just right for your presentation.

Once you set up your template slides correctly, all you have to do is copy them when needed by selecting them in the slide window on the left side of the PowerPoint window, and copying however many you need.  Don’t type into your template slides!

Next up, … animation!

Making a Word document pop

Creating a Word document is similar to putting together PowerPoint slides — you have to give some thought to how the text will appear on the page before you actually start typing or cutting and pasting.  Here are some of the most important layout functions to consider while laying out a Word page:

  1. Views — at the bottom of the Word window are a bunch of buttons.  The first one, ‘Print Layout,’ allows you to see the entire page at a glance.  This view is help when you want to see how the text falls on the page without actually reading it.  When you want to edit text line by line, it’s better to click on the last button, called ‘Draft.’  Instead of seeing the whole page, the view is limited to the actual text margins.  All white space is hidden from view.You can change how much of the page/text you want to see by click on the Zoom buttons on the View tab of the menu bar, or the zoom slide bar at the bottom right of the Word window, next to the View buttons.
  2. Page Margins — Under the ‘Page Layout’ tab in the menu is a button called ‘Margins.’  At the bottom of the drop down menu is ‘Custom Margins.’  You can change the amount of white space on the top, bottom, left and right sides, as well as change the position of the page from Portrait to Landscape from this dialog box.Sometimes it’s easier to turn the gridlines on to help visualize where the text will fall on the page.  You can turn on the gridlines from the View tab on the menu bar, and check the ‘Gridlines’ box to see the squares on the page.
  3. Header and Footers — The very top and bottom spaces on the page are reserved for information you want to keep on every page of your document.  The simplest way to access these spaces is to double click on them.  When you do that, you will see a blue dotted line and a blue box with the word, ‘Header’ or Footer’ separating the greyed out body text from the header or footer.
    In the Header, the title of the document and your name are often placed.
  4. Field Codes — In the Footer, little bits of file data called, “field codes,” are often inserted.  In Word 2010, you can insert a field code in the footer of a page by going to the ‘Insert’ tab on the menu bar, and click on the ‘Quick Parts’ button on the right side.  Select the field button on the drop down menu to access the codes.
    The most common field codes are FileName, Page, and Date.

If you use the space bar to move words around on the page (tap tap tap tap), you’re doing it wrong.  Trying to center your name at the top of your resume with the space bar never works, and looks unprofessional.  Hitting the Enter key to move a line down on the page creates either too much or too little white space. Learning how to use some basic Word formatting techniques will take you a long way to making your resume look a lot more professional.  Take a look at this resume and see how the following Word formatting functions can help layout key pieces of information on the page.:

  • Paragraph Formatting — We already know how to use Page Layout to move the text borders around on the page, but suppose you want to indent a paragraph like your Value Proposition to give it some visual impact on the page — you can’t use the Page Layout more than once, so we have to individually format that paragraph. After selecting a paragraph you want to format, click on the Home menu, and click on the little Paragraph dialog button, on the bottom right of the Paragraph section.  In the dialog box that pops up, you can change the text alignment to left, center, right or justifiy.  You can make the first line hang or indent on the Special drop down box. You can specify how much space you want between each line in the line spacing box.
    But there are two options in this dialog box that aren’t so obvious, and yet are critical to producing a professional looking document: Spacing and Indentation.  Spacing allows you to define how much white space will be above and below your highlighted paragraph.  And Indent does the same for the left and right sides of the paragraph. This is how you should add white space around a paragraph, not by hitting the Enter button.
  • The Ruler Bar —You often see dates of employment pushed up on the right side of the text margin.  Never use the space bar to do this!  Instead, use the tab ribbon along the top of the text box. If you don’t see it, click on the View Ruler button that is just above the elevator bar on the right side of the window. On the left side of the ruler is a small square that allows you to define left, center and right align tabs.  Once you define what kind of tab you want, you just click on the ruler where you want the tab to be set.  Then hit the tab button to position your text where you want it.
  • Bullets — Fun Time! The bullet button is in the Paragraph section of the Home menu.  You can define a new bullet from the drop down arrow that’s just below the button. You can use symbols or even pictures for bullets.

So let’s use the functions to set up some pieces of the resume.


Here are the page formatting specifications for the text:

  • Top Margin = 1.25″, Bottom Margin = .75″, Left Margin = 1.5″, Right Margin = 1″
  • Body text is Univers 14pt
  • Set the Line spaces (Paragraph formating) to Single for the entire document.
  • Type your name on the first line of a new Word document.  Make the test 20 point bold and italics.  Center it, and add 12 points of white space below it.  Full justify the paragraph
  • Type a paragraph about what you would like to do over Thanksgiving break. Add 12 points of white space above and below the paragraph.
  • Create a bulleted list of at least 3 specific activities you would like to do over Thanksgiving break. Use paragraph formatting to indent the paragraph half an inch on the left and right sides.  Add 18 points of white space only below the paragraph
  • On the final line, type ‘Computer Class #6′. Then use a right-align tab to tab the date to the end of the line.  Add 48 points of space above the paragraph.
  • In the footer, add Filename and Date Field codes.  Use a right align tab on the Date.  Format the font to 10 point italics.

I Need A Break!

Now that it’s getting warmer, and the sun is setting after 5PM, I want to get out of my house and go somewhere, …cheap and not crowded.  I’ve heard about it in passing many times at Boricua, now maybe I can check it out: Vieques Island.


The first thing I need to do is find some interesting content online. Don’t just hack away at the first thing that resembles what it is you’re looking for, look for tantalizing tidbits that will mesmerize your audience.  So I went to Yebol, and searched for some good websites on Vieques.  Here’s the list and a short summary for each.

  • Vieques Island Blog – current postings on what’s happening on the island.
  • Comprehensive Vieques Travel Guide – the name says it all.  A resource for everything you would want to know about Vieques.
  • CIA Factbook – most experienced travelers check out this website before they go on vacation to get a feel for what to expect on their trip. Tourism has traditionally been an important source of income with estimated arrivals of more than 3.6 million tourists in 2008.
  • Unexploded munitions cleared at Vieques – one of the reasons it’s still affordable and not crowded is that you have to tip toe around land mines.
  • NYT travel guide – one of the first websites New Yorkers check out when wanderlust waxes us out of our tiny apartments.  Maybe going salao wouldn’t be such a bad thing.
  • Maps! – the Perry-Castañeda Library Map Collection has every map you could possibly need for reference to the island.
  • Pic! – you always need a good welcoming picture to great your audience, and here’s a good one.
  • Beach sound – where there’s a beach, there are the cascading caresses of waves covering the warm sand.

So now I have to convert my research into some PowerPoint slides. The first slide, the welcome slide generally is a full picture with some simple looping animation to get the audience ready for the presentation. Then a map to reference where in the world we’re going, followed by a few news items to add some color to the presentation.  Finally, a reference to Ernest Hemingway’s “A Old Man and the Sea,” to bring home why I want to go there.  And that’s it!

Homework #6

  1. Choose a topic that will help you get a better grade in one of your classes, or just something that you’re interested in, and do some online research.  Choose the fonts, colors and pictures you want to include in your presentation.  Upload your presentation to your post page.
  2. Finish formatting your resume.  Make sure to use as many Word functions (bold, center, paragraph, margins, etc.) as you can in laying out your Word page.

Class #5: Objectifying Your Resume

October 10, 2014 in GS32367

Objectives are out.  Value Propositions are in.
Here’s a worksheet to help you learn the difference.

This is not your father’s resume we’re talking about anymore.  The Great Recession has forced all of us to adapt our resumes to new realities in the American work force.  Some aspects of the resume spring eternal, like action verbs, and professional profiles. Keeping current with what’s hot in resume writing means skimming blogswikis, and retooling your LinkedIn contact info.  Job Hunt, a program on NYC Media – that’s Channel 25-2 if you’re an antenna lover like me ;-) – address a plethora of job search issues.  Episode 3 focuses on resume writing.

Here’s my LinkedIn profile:

So how do I write a resume? Here are a couple of good online tutorials:

There’s a list of links to the right that access resume examples for various careers. Finally, there are two categories of resumes, the chronological resume and the functional resume.  Each category organizes the basic sections of a resume in different ways.

Here’s the bottom line: if you’re like me, writing your resume can be difficult, if not painful.  But writing your resume is something you’re going to have to do for pretty much the rest of your life, so you might as well suck it up, and start writing it.  The best writing is rewriting, and once you’ve created a template to build on, adding a line here and tweeking some type there when you get a new job or experience isn’t so bad.  As your years start accumulating, your resume will be more and more impressive, and the investment you make, now, in knocking out a totally awesome resume, with your name on the top, will yield you many dividends towards job opportunities down the road.  So let’s get cracking.

Homework #5: Customizing a Resume

  1. Compose a well thought out, well written value proposition for yourself that includes
    • Job title
    • 1-2 sentences with descriptive action verbs, explaining your skill sets, and what kind of job you’re looking for
    • Post your value proposition as a comment to this post.
  2. Find the best resume template and/or career format possible that is appropriate to your job search, searching the links in the above post, and on the right side of this page.
    Spend at least half an hour looking for the best one possible that suits your needs!
  3. Save the Word template to your flash drive.
  4. Copy the URL link and paste it into a post page.

Class #4: PowerPoint Pastiche

October 3, 2014 in GS32367

Here’s where we’re at so far…

Those of you who uploaded homeworks to your post page, check for my comments so you can get full credit for those assignments.

Warming up…

Let’s share some eye catching pics with each other.  Click on the @melrose link to the left.  Look for another student who posted a picture.  See if you can find an even better picture of that place.  If you can, copy (Ctrl-c) and paste (Ctrl-v) the URL (http://…) as a comment to their post. If they like you pics, make sure they reply with an “approve” comment.

Once a student approves a photo you sent them, open up the Google Doc below:

pics 4 students


Place a ‘1’ in the cell where your name is horizontal and their name is vertical.  You can only give one photo to one specific student!  But you can give one photo to every other student in the class, so long as they approve it. So you can get 20 points doing this activity.

PowerPoint abuse

tortured PowerPoint

Published in The New Yorker 9/29/2003
by Alex Gregory

On February 1, 2003, the space shuttle Columbia exploded upon reentry to the Earth’s atmosphere.  The subsequent investigation found that, “that the NASA organizational culture had as much to do with the accident as the foam that struck the Orbiter on ascent.” Part of the problematic culture, it turned out, was PowerPoint.

Prior to the launch, groups of NASA engineers sat around tables, looking at PowerPoint slides like the one below, and failed to comprehend that “test data” didn’t include scenarios that the shuttle’s tiles would experience upon liftoff. Looking at the slide, how could anyone comprehend anything that the slide is trying to communicate?

the slide that blew up Columbia

”a Power-Point festival of bureaucratic hyper-rationalism.”

–  Edward Tufte


Five years later, another PowerPoint slide made the rounds as an example of the futility of information overload.

We Have Met the Enemy and He Is PowerPoint

– Elisabeth Bumiller


The slide has been cited as “an example of a military tool that has spun out of control.” Once again, the capacities of a slideshow software had been outstripped by the intent to shrink and crop a complex message into a bunch of broken phrases, none of them meaning anything. If my message still isn’t getting through to you, here are a couple of links that list the worst ways to use PowerPoint.

What makes a good PowerPoint presentation?  Simple: simplicity in design.

The “Look and Feel” of a PowerPoint template

There is one other BIG MISTAKE people make when creating a PowerPoint presentation: they open up a new, blank presentation and immediately start pouring and dumping content into the slides left and right, up and down, without taking a moment, or even an hour, to focus on what message is to be conveyed in their presentation. If you don’t know what you want to say, your PowerPoint slides will convey exactly that message.

Think about what your presentation is going to be about, and then ask yourself what the slides should look like without anything on them. If your answer is nothing but blank white space, think again. What color would you associated with your message? Should the text look grandiose, like something the Romans would chisel onto a marble column? Or playful cursive letters mimicking how children speak? Don’t be afraid to take some time thinking about what your background, or template, should look like.

Templates include objects that will appear on each slide of your presentation. Let’s look at some examples of PowerPoint templates from the following website:

slideworld search engine

So what elements make up a PowerPoint template?  A color background, simple graphic, and text container are the basic components you should think about designing before typing in your words of wisdom and pretty pics. Let’s look at how to build these pieces into a good template.

Opening up a blank PowerPoint template

Let’s start from scratch.

  1. Open up PowerPoint
  2. Click on File | New, and double click on the ‘Blank Presentation’ icon.
    I strongly recommend only using the blank presentation template.
    That way you have total control over what your template will look like.
  3. Create 3 blank slides, using the Ctrl-m hotkey.  You will see the slides on the left column of the PowerPoint window.
  4. Again, before you start typing away, or cut-and-pasting content into your slide, begin designing your template by working with the Slide Master.
  5. slide_1Right click on the first slide, select the ‘Layout’ option, and click on the ‘Title Slide’ option.  Right click on the second slide, and select the ‘Title and Content’ option.  Right click on the third slide and select the ‘Blank’ option.


Think about what goes on a PowerPoint slide.  Some slides are introductions about what is to come in the presentation.  These are Title Slides.  Other slides are text summaries of information you want to convey to your audience.  These are Title and Content slides.  And finally, there are slides that are predominantly graphics based, like the old 35mm Kodak Carousel slide projector shows.  These are created from Blank slides.

Now it’s time to turn those three boring black on white template slides into something more expressive of the message you want to communicate to your audience.

Color Backgrounds

slide_2Let’s start by seeing how you can add color to your slides with just a few clicks of the mouse.  When you want to make simple changes to all of your slides, the way to do it is to work with the “background” of the slide.  Let’s see how that works.

  1. Right click on the Blank slide, and select the ‘Format Background’ option.
  2. Click on the fill color drop down option.
  3. Click on one of the Theme or Standard colors.
  4. Click on the ‘Apply to All’ button.

Now, all three slides have the color you specified.  But the stupid Microsoft colors aren’t the colors you will want to use in most presentations.  So let’s get a little deeper into color models.

  1. Format Background and click on the fill color drop down option again.
  2. Click on ‘More Colors…’
  3. You now have two tabs to work with: Standard and Custom.  Clicking on any color on the standard color map will make your background that color.  The Custom tab, the one you should use to find the exact color you desire, requires some additional explanation.



Setting Your Font Styles

Once you have chosen the fonts you like, follow these steps to include them in your PowerPoint template.

  1. Click on either the Title slide or Title and Content slide.
  2. On the menu bar, click on View | Slide Master.
  3. Your slide will now have the words, ‘Click to edit Master title styles.  Right click on a text box, and select the ‘Font’ option.
  4. Click on the ‘Latin text-font’ drop down menu, and select the font of your choice.
  5. You can also change the color of the font (remember the color palettes) by clicking on the ‘Font Color’ drop down button.
  6. Once you are done editing your Slide Master, click on View | Normal to return to your regular slides.

Homework Assignment #4

  1. Visualize in your mind what you would like your slides to look like, to help communicate the message you want to give the audience.
  2. Chose a font you would like to use for your PowerPoint template.
  3. Create a Title Slide.
  4. Create Title and Content or Blank slides to place your vacation photos in
  5. Upload your PowerPoint slides to your post page.

Please take some time to work out in your mind what you want your PowerPoint presentation to look like — if you make it really shiny now, you can impress your facilitator with your own presentations in colloquium, without doing more than a few touchups on the presentation you create for this homework assignment.

Class #3: Hotkeys and Word Formatting

September 26, 2014 in GS32367

A prelude –


Back when my hair was raven black, I used to sit on plastic patio chairs, tapping out telnet commands on flickering green vt100 emulators, hearing the keyboard cliks and claks echo down the concrete blocked basement walls of my university’s engineering building.  I was amazed at how connected I could be with the world in a bunker, downloading Indian recipes, dialoging with other student newspaper writers.  We were experimenting with ways to communicate with others in the pre-’Net culture, searching for the parameters of social behavior in a online world, ping ponging across the world.

No mice scurried the halls in those days, and through repetitive muscle memory we learned the “hot keys“, keyboard commands that tell the computer to do common actions, like cutting and pasting, opening/saving/closing documents, and most importantly, undoing bad acts.  Let’s see how we can use hotkeys to achieve the holy grail of 21st century writing: glomming text off the Internet.

  1. Open up Microsoft Word
  2. Close the blank page (Ctrl-w)
  3. Open up a new blank page (Ctrl-o)
  4. Save the blank page to your flash drive (Ctrl-s)
  5. Copy (Ctrl-c) the following text, toggle to Word (Alt-Tab) and paste (Ctrl-V) the text into the blank page.
    We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
  6. Select (Shift-Ctrl-right arrow) ‘We the people’ and make the selection bold (Ctrl-b), italic (Ctrl-i) and increase font size (Ctrl-d).
  7. Save it again (Ctrl-s)
  8. Now use the Alt hotkeys to type the following text below the Preamble.

Before we move on to our next activity, here is a list of typing tutors you can download to improve your typing speed.

Typing tutors


Many online literature resources exist, but between the popups and ugly formatting, many Internet texts are almost unreadable.  Here’s an example:

The Book of the People:Popol Vuh

Childs-play-chucky-imageThe prototype for Chucky, Taino mythology is utterly fascinating, its gods malevolently malicious, utterly incorrigible.  But it’s utterly unreadable (boring!) the way it’s formatted on the page.  Let’s see how we can touch it up, using hotkeys.  We’re going to use Word to do so.

Creating a Word document is similar to putting together PowerPoint slides — you have to give some thought to how the text will appear on the page before you actually start typing or cutting and pasting.  Here are some of the most important layout functions to consider while laying out a Word page:

  1. word_viewsViews — at the bottom of the Word window are a bunch of buttons.  The first one, ‘Print Layout,’ allows you to see the entire page at a glance.  This view is help when you want to see how the text falls on the page without actually reading it.  When you want to edit text line by line, it’s better to click on the last button, called ‘Draft.’  Instead of seeing the whole page, the view is limited to the actual text margins.  All white space is hidden from view.You can change how much of the page/text you want to see by click on the Zoom buttons on the View tab of the menu bar, or the zoom slide bar at the bottom right of the Word window, next to the View buttons.
  2. word_marginsPage Margins — Under the ‘Page Layout’ tab in the menu is a button called ‘Margins.’  At the bottom of the drop down menu is ‘Custom Margins.’  You can change the amount of white space on the top, bottom, left and right sides, as well as change the position of the page from Portrait to Landscape from this dialog box.Sometimes it’s easier to turn the gridlines on to help visualize where the text will fall on the page.  You can turn on the gridlines from the View tab on the menu bar, and check the ‘Gridlines’ box to see the squares on the page.
  3. Header and Footers — The very top and bottom spaces on the page are reserved for information you want to keep on every page of your document.  The simplest way to access these spaces is to double click on them.  When you do that, you will see a blue dotted line and a blue box with the word, ‘Header’ or Footer’ separating the greyed out body text from the header or footer.
    In the Header, the title of the document and your name are often placed.
  4. Field Codes — In the Footer, little bits of file data called, “field codes,” are often inserted.  In Word 2010, you can insert a field code in the footer of a page by going to the ‘Insert’ tab on the menu bar, and click on the ‘Quick Parts’ button on the right side.  Select the field button on the drop down menu to access the codes.  The most common field codes are FileName, Page, and Date.


Let’s see how we can use these Word functions to turn a boring Web page about the Popul Vul into an easily readable story.

First, we have create the template for the Popul Vul text to be placed into.  Here are the formatting specifications for the text:

  • Top Margin = 1.5″, Bottom Margin = 1″, Left Margin = 3.5″, Right Margin = 0.75″
  • Body text is Calibri 14pt
  • Header text is Calibri 12pt, bold, small caps
  • Footer text is 8 pt Calibri, italic

To format text, the hot key to use is ‘Ctrl-d’.  When you hold down the Control key, and then hit the d key, the following dialog box will pop up:


After highlighting text, hitting Ctrl-d allows you to quickly format that text.  But in this case, we haven’t pasted in any text, so we have to be as clever as Camalotz to format text without any text.  To do so, we have to find the paragraph tags in the document, highlight and format them. Here’s how.

First, we have to make the paragraph tags visible.  Paragraph tags are what hold the formatting information for the text that they are linked to.  The actual letters on the screen have no formatting, the paragraph tags right next to them do.  To make the tags visible, make sure the Show/Hide ¶ button is pressed down (on).  Then highlight the ¶ tag, and hit the Ctrl-d hotkey.


Next, let’s place some reference information in the header and footer, so we can remember what’s in the document when we open it up a year or two from now.

  • Type, “The Book of the People: Popul Vul” and your name in the Header
  • Insert FileName, Page, and Date Field Codes in the Footer.

Now you can complete your Word template for the Popul Vul text by formatting the paragraph tags.

Finally, we can pour the web page text into the Word document, using hotkeys.  Select the text (the beginning line to the end of the first line on p. 14), copy (Ctrl-c), paste (Ctrl-v) and format (Ctrl-d).  Then save (Ctrl-s).

Homework #3

Format the following text to look like the handout provided.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute IRURE DOLOR in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.
Curabitur pretium tincidunt lacus. Nulla gravida orci a odio. Nullam varius, turpis et commodo pharetra, est eros bibendum elit, nec luctus magna felis sollicitudin mauris. Integer in mauris eu nibh euismod gravida. Duis ac tellus et risus vulputate vehicula. Donec lobortis risus a elit. Etiam tempor. Ut ullamcorper, ligula eu tempor congue, eros est euismod turpis, id tincidunt sapien risus a quam. MAECENAS fermentum consequat mi. Donec fermentum. Pellentesque malesuada nulla a mi. Duis sapien sem, aliquet nec, commodo eget, consequat quis, neque. Aliquam faucibus, elit ut dictum aliquet, felis nisl adipiscing sapien, sed malesuada diam lacus eget erat. Cras mollis scelerisque nunc. Nullam arcu. Aliquam consequat. Curabitur augue lorem, dapibus quis, laoreet et, pretium ac, nisi. AENEAN magna nisl, mollis quis, molestie eu, feugiat in, orci. In hac habitasse platea dictumst.