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Power pointers

Learning To Use PowerPoint. Angela Bessant. Heinemann, pound;17.99.

The best way to live, we are often advised, is to observe moderation in all things. Whether true of life, the dictum applies to PowerPoint, a program that regularly tempts an over-egged pudding, so among the many strengths of Learning To Use PowerPoint, one of the most significant is an early and repeated emphasis on restraint: "Beware of ill-conceived visuals whichI can be distracting and overwhelming."

That message delivered, the author then gives a step-by-step masterclass in PowerPoint 2000, starting with the basics and ending with more ambitious tasks. A companion CD-Rom holds several useful practice files and, one or two reservations aside, this is a most accomplished guide.

Not only is its good advice often missing from similar texts (for example, the limits of spellcheckers or the need to always identify and meet audience demands), but a clear and spacious layout with excellent graphics and intelligent practice sections lifts the book head and shoulders above many others. Even relatively complex tasks like using hyperlinks are explained in straightforward way with a soundtrack or narration, each stage being numbered and all important points highlighted.

Reservations? On a few pages, white lettering against a yellow background hardly helps legibility and the visible outcome of some practice tasks as well as the instructions would have been useful. But this is to pick nits that scarcely itch. "Go for it!" urges the author with regard to PowerPoint. First, though, go for this book.

Laurence Alster

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