Software

6 ways to get free information about Word

Getting help for your Word users doesn't have to be an expensive venture when there's lots of help out there, for free.

Hiring someone to train your troops to use Word is a great idea, but there won't always be a trainer nearby . Fortunately, there are a number of ways users can get help, for free.  Chances are it might take a bit of research, but you can usually find the help you need, with a bit of perseverance.

[F1]

The first line of defense is [F1]. Press [F1], enter a few descriptive words, such as "change style," or "delete header." Word will display a list of help topics, based on your input. Sometimes this works great and sometimes the results are inconsistent. However, it's the best place to start, because sometimes the answer pops right up!

[F1] is available in all Office applications. You must install Help for these files to be available.

Microsoft Answers

Microsoft Answers is a free support site (forum). If you want to search available posts, enter a question in the Find Answer control. If you don't find what you need, click Ask A Question (at the bottom of the page). You have to sign in using your Windows Live ID. If you don't have one, there's a link for that too.

Microsoft Answers supports Office, not just Word.

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Word MVPs

MVP 's are volunteers who share their expertise, worldwide and for free. Microsoft honors those who stand out with the MVP title. MVPs really know their stuff and there are two ways to benefit from their expertise and generosity. First, visit The Word MVP Site. There's a lot of information readily available. If you don't find an answer, click Contact, read the instructions and submit your question. There's no guarantee anyone will respond, but it can't hurt.  However, try to find the answer yourself first. You're probably not going to get a response to a question that's answered by an existing Help file. By all means, please be polite. These folks provide this service for free.

In addition, MVP Web Sites lists current MVP's with links to their sites. You can't submit questions, but you will find valuable information.

Microsoft Knowledge Base

A long-time favorite support site is Microsoft's Knowledge Base. This is a huge database of articles that offers how-to instructions, workarounds for bugs, and so on. The articles are a bit dry and sometimes, difficult to follow, but you'll usually find something you can use. There's even an article on how to use the Knowledge Base!

Microsoft Word Help and How-to

Word Help and How-to is another site supported by Microsoft. Use keywords to search the available files. You won't get personalized answers, but you might find just what you need.

Listservs

My favorite resource is a listserv; I'm a member of many. If you're not familiar with the term, a listserv is an email server (group). You send messages and other members respond, all via email. Yahoo! Groups is a good place to start, but there are private listservs as well. Search on "Microsoft Word" and see what's available.

It might take a while to find just the right group. In addition, they're a bit like potato chips. Joining one inevitably leads to joining more—you've been warned!

Where do you go for help with Word?

About

Susan Sales Harkins is an IT consultant, specializing in desktop solutions. Previously, she was editor in chief for The Cobb Group, the world's largest publisher of technical journals.

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