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You are here: MacNN Forums > Software - Troubleshooting and Discussion > Applications > Can I learn Microsoft Office by learning OpenOffice?

Can I learn Microsoft Office by learning OpenOffice?
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hart
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Apr 13, 2011, 03:34 PM
 
So I'm endlessly job hunting and half the ads say "must know Microsoft Office." Which I have assiduously avoided doing up until this point.

So my question is how similar are OpenOffice and Microsoft Office. If I take the time to learn my way around OO will I be able to fake it on MO?

Alternatively, if I don't want to spend an arm and a leg on MO 2011 is MO 2008 so much different that the skills won't translate? (Old version only costs a leg.) Or should I try to run a Windows version in bootcamp for more accurate learning experience?

What exactly do they mean "know Office" anyway? I assume that Excel and Powerpoint have their own learning curve but if all the non-tech idiots out there are using them how hard can they be?

Basically I need to know what's the cheapest, simplest way to gather up enough Office skills to look like I "know Office."
     
-Q-
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Apr 13, 2011, 04:13 PM
 
It certainly won't hurt. OO won't replicate some of the more advanced features of Excel or Word but it should give you a good idea of the fundamental features found in word processing, spreadsheet and presentation apps. Ultimately, unless the job is heavy in spreadsheet usage (like advanced pivot tables and macro creation, etc) any basic application knowledge will work.
     
turtle777
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Apr 13, 2011, 04:14 PM
 
I think the Bootcamp - Wind Office route is better to help you learn.

What kind of work / job are you applying for ?
The level of skills required and use of Office changes quite a bit with different jobs.

-t
     
hart  (op)
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Apr 13, 2011, 04:35 PM
 
Office skills seem to be required in a range of positions. Right now I'm looking mostly at design jobs and tech support type things and many of them list Office as a required skill. Design jobs, more particularly fashion design jobs are probably looking for usage of spread sheets and possibly some presentation work. The tech support jobs I assume are mostly so you can help others figure out where they saved their files too.

I've always assumed I'd figure it out as I went along but I'm beginning to think I should have some notion of how spreadsheets and presentations work. The other apps seem like they'd be pretty obvious.

Looking at Amazon low end current Windows versions cost the same as out of date Mac versions so maybe that's the way to go. I just hate to give my tithe to the Microsoft monster just to be able to claim knowledge of Office especially when I'm seriously unemployed. That's why I was hoping to use OO.
     
turtle777
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Apr 13, 2011, 05:10 PM
 
Ok, so it seems like you're talking about fairly standard (cimple) office skills:

* creating a list of items in a spreadsheet, with some basic formatting
* maybe calculating some cost in a spreadsheet by taking products and prices, multiplying and summing up
* write and edit letters and correspondance in Word, with some formatting
* put pictures and text into a Powerpoint

I'd say you probably could learn the basics in OO, but familiarity with the "original" MS Office would be preferable.

-t
     
ibook_steve
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Apr 13, 2011, 05:14 PM
 
If you've never used Office (MS or Open), then have you never even used a word processor or spreadsheet (or have you only used iLife)? Basically, I'm trying to understand what your base of knowledge is. If you've used a word processor or spreadsheet in some capacity, then you know Office. There's nothing special about the basic mechanics (i.e. selecting text, editing cells, copy and paste, etc.). The "specialness" comes in the myriad number of features that MS includes to make life "easier."

If you have that base of knowledge, and you don't want to purchase Office, try Open Office or simply buy a "Dummies" or "Idiot's Guide" book for Office (or even better, David Pogue's "Missing Manual" series of books). Those books will teach you everything you need.

But since people don't like to read anymore, I'm not sure if that will help.

Steve
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ghporter
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Apr 13, 2011, 05:15 PM
 
"Must know Microsoft Office" can mean anything from "can do simple word processing" to "expert in template design, Excel formula creation and macro development." It's important to be able to quantify what skills you'll really need in these jobs in order to figure out what you need to do to "learn Office."

Office uses a basic set of user interface conventions, but not all apps in Office actually follow all of these conventions. Plus there are a number of different ways to do just about anything, or get at just about any command or control, so if you aren't big on keyboard shortcuts you ca drill down through menus to get at what you want. I "learned" Office through trial and error, use of the help system, and a bunch of practice, starting with version 2; it's been amazingly consistent in many of the tricks I learned way back when, You CAN pick it up as you go, but practicing with Word, Excel and PowerPoint really will speed things up.

Glenn -----OTR/L, MOT, Tx
     
hart  (op)
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Apr 14, 2011, 08:34 PM
 
Up to this point I've pretty much stuck with textEdit or WordPad. That's all I've needed. I assume wordpad is kind of a super-simplified Word. Spreadsheets I have managed to entirely avoid beyond a couple of times fidgetting around with them.

Yes, "must know Office" is irritatingly vague. Probably means something different for each job too.

I think I'm going to start with OO to get the basic concepts and maybe get David Pogue's book to overview in parallel to at least get an idea of how the menus and shortcuts differ. (I am one of those who still likes to read the book/instructions.)

What I gather from what you guys have said is that I can probably get up to faking it level with OO but not "guru" level (macros, etc.) At this point I just want to be able to feel reasonably confident that I won't be a blathering idiot if asked to demonstrate any skills in Office.

Thanks for the feedback!
     
King Bob On The Cob
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Apr 21, 2011, 01:40 PM
 
Go to a public library and use Microsoft Office on their computers. They may even offer a "Learn to use a computer" type classes that'll cover Office basics.
     
Shades of Gray
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Apr 21, 2011, 06:52 PM
 
If you are looking for work using MS Office, then you better work on the real thing. I worked as an analyst for 8 years at a Fortune 100 company (Windows MS Office). I watched as many people came into the company, supposedly knowing Excel. They were college grads and knew a little about spreadsheets, but were not capable of useful work right away. The last three years I was training even the analysts who were hired.

If you know your way around Word that’s good, but concentrate on Excel and becoming proficient with it (I don’t mean lists, but actually using its capabilities), you will become much more marketable. See for example Charley Kyd’s Excel site. Even if the first job isn’t full blown use of your abilities and learning, another will often appear and you will be in a position to apply and have the skills to get that job and excel in it. It will never be a waste of time.

Just for clarification, I have not used MS products for the past three years because a major job change (Hebrew, Greek, etc. and teaching). So on my Mac, I only have NeoOffice/Symphony/LibreOffice/OpenOffice. For my minimal needs in that area, these are fine. But I would not recommend them as a way to learn MS Office. Learn the real deal.

If you have the chance, look for Excel experts in your area and get to know them, show interest. I was always happy to work with those who showed an interest and would spend time learning the program, limitations, and power. Visit some of the message boards. I knew several on MrExcel.com. Great people, always helpful.
( Last edited by Shades of Gray; Apr 21, 2011 at 07:04 PM. )
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andi*pandi
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Apr 25, 2011, 04:24 PM
 
Design jobs that say "must use office" - agh!

Hopefully they won't be asking you to do layout in Word... but basic typing etc is simple. Powerpoint is easy to pick up, although recent versions have feature clutter.

I'd go the book/library/adult ed class route.

Good luck!
     
JamesBO
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May 2, 2011, 03:23 AM
 
Download the MacOffice 2011 Trial and you got 30 days for learning which should be more than enough.
     
   
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