Category Archives: Office Productivity

Windows 10 is Coming!

As is always true in the world of computer technology, change is coming very soon. Microsoft will announce and make available sometime later this year its newest version of Windows—Windows 10. Users of Windows 7 or Windows 8 or 8.1 will be able to get Windows 10 FREE. This is a first from Microsoft and is a step toward regaining user support. Many loyal Windows users were disappointed in Windows 8.

Exciting news about Windows 10 includes the return of the Start menu. Microsoft has also redesigned its browser, Internet Explorer, and given it a new name—Microsoft Edge.

Included below are two links: One will take you to a short article on, which includes a list of things you need to know about Windows 10. The second link will take you to a list of FAQ’s on Windows 10 posted on Microsoft’s Web site.

What You Need to Know about Windows 10 (from

Microsoft’s FAQs Regarding Windows 10

Enjoy learning about what is coming next for users of Microsoft Windows!

WRITING TO WIN: How to Write Effective Meeting Recaps

By Royce Murcherson, Ph.D.

Royce top pictureHave you ever wondered why people shrink from taking the minutes in a meeting? It can be one of the hardest jobs on a project team or committee because it carries a huge amount of responsibility. The ‘note taker’ is tasked with accurately capturing details from a discussion that could veer into parts unknown. If the team leader or committee chair does not have a clear agenda or lacks the panache to keep the group on point, this could be the new reality and very counterproductive.
In short, the ‘note taker’ must be prepared for how well or how poorly a meeting goes. Minutes constitute an official record of a meeting. Meeting minutes are always distributed to the attendees and at times to other higher ranking management. Take care to write your document as if the CEO of the company, the president of the university, or the head of whatever organization is on the distribution list.

Below is a list of content areas that should be included in your recap.

Meeting Notes Royce
Meeting Topic:
Agenda Topics
Discussion Items and Updates
Next Steps and Responsible Parties
Date of next meeting

Here are a few guidelines to help craft effective a meeting recap that will work in most situations.

Take detailed notes.
Write the recap directly after the meeting. Do not rely on your memory.
Stay away from personal commentary
Record all agenda items, next steps and those responsible, and capture any decisions.
Make the minutes readable. Use headings and bullet points.
If you use a template, be aware that templates vary in style and content. Keep to a conservative design. NO BLING.
Write clearly and succinctly

Manage your tone. Do not write your personality into the document
Keep your document free of grammatical and spelling errors.
Keep the font size to 11 point, the style to a conservative, New Times Roman, Ariel Narrow, or Calibri.

Always remember, meeting recaps should never interpret. They should only report. Meeting recaps should objectively record discussed business and decisions.

For a more expanded discussion on composing effective meeting recaps, see my book, Royce Murcherson, Ph.D.,  The Guide to Persuasive Business Writing: A New Model that Gets Results. (Iowa: Kendall-Hall, 2013)

Clip Art, provided by Microsoft Office Professional Academic, 2010

For more information on the Business Office Systems and Support department, contact Becky Jones, Associate Dean, 972-238-6215.

Do Your Administrative Professional Skills/Talents REALLY Measure Up to What Today’s Employers Want?

04-13-2015 Talent 188065235Talents, skills, talents, skills—these words are thrown around a lot today by employers and job seekers alike. And yet, what do these words really mean to people who want to get or upgrade their job marketability so they can be as attractive as possible to potential employers? What can you do to maximize your administrative skills/talents so that your earning potential is increased?

If anyone out there thought that careers in the administrative professional area were disappearing or boring, they need to read the latest reports to see how admin careers and roles are expanding and changing.

According to the 2015 salary guide for administrative professionals that was prepared by the Robert Half Company, 1.5 million new administrative professional jobs will be added between 2012 and 2022. Today’s administrative professionals will share a bigger role in company communications with customers and customer relations, and their salaries will be increasing.

Question: What does the changing role of administrative professionals mean if you are interested in the administrative professional field?

  • Answer: It means you need to have top-flight written and verbal communication skills—if you are bilingual, that could be a big plus.
  • It means you need to demonstrate to employers that you are flexible and willing to learn new tasks. Your related work experience is also a valued commodity.
  • It means you need to display professional behavior and keep abreast of trends by joining at least one professional organization.
  • It means you need to learn all you can about social media tools and how to use these tools in business settings. Some of the most widely used SM tools that are used by companies today include LinkedIn, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Google+, and Instagram. It means you will need to show potential employers that you have excellent problem-solving abilities.
  • It means your technical skills need to be proficient, and in some cases advanced, in software applications such as Excel, Word, PowerPoint, Outlook. You can prove your software proficiency to employers by passing one or more of the Microsoft Office Specialist certification exams. These exams are available in Word (Core and Expert), Excel (Core and Expert), PowerPoint, Access, and Outlook.

04-13-2015 Career Ladder 81387343Question: What are some of the job titles for administrative professionals?

  • Answer: There are a large number of job titles in the administrative professional area; and while some of the traditional titles include Executive Assistant, Senior Office/Facilities Manager, Receptionist, there are new titles coming on the scene. These new job titles have been created by some companies to reflect the new duties many find admin personnel find themselves performing. According to Robert Hosking, who writes a blog for administrative professionals and employers, these new titles include Chief Executive Administrator, Administrative Services Manager, Director of Administration, and Administrative Chief of Staff.

Question: What are some salary ranges for administrative professionals and related jobs?

  • Answer: The table below, which was taken from data reported in the Robert Half Company survey, Administrative Hiring Trends Salary Guide 2015 reflects a “snapshot” for just a few of the titles reported and the salary gains from 2014 to 2015. For a more complete look at administrative salaries, click this link to visit the Robert Half Company web site and download the PDF 2015 salary guide (begins on page 10) for Administrative Professionals.

04-13-2015 Salary TableIf you want to upgrade or develop skills that can help you in today’s job market, consider enrolling in the Business Office Systems & Support program at Richland College. You will have a wide selection of courses (offered online and face-to-face) from which to choose.

These courses range from basic keyboarding, computer literacy, business communications, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access (includes preparation for the Microsoft Office Specialist certification exam**), office procedures, etc. These courses can all lead you towards a college-credit certificate or a 2-year associate’s degree.
**Richland College is an authorized Microsoft Testing Center.

Richland College is located in northeast Dallas at 12800 Abrams Road. For more information contact Becky Jones, Associate Dean, at 972-238-6215.

***Get a Free Copy of Microsoft Office Pro Plus 2013***If you are a student in the Dallas County Community College District, you are eligible to download a FREE version of Microsoft Office 2013 Pro Plus (or 2011 on the Mac) which includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access, Outlook, Publisher, and OneNote.




by guest editor Royce Murcherson

Most of you probably think every consumer dispute can be resolved with a phone call to customer service. This is not always the case, and you will need to be prepared to push past routine customer service responses that may not satisfy your grievance.

There are many types of letters that can be written in the workplace such as sales letters, reprimand letters, good news letters, and job application letters to name a few. But there’s one letter of great value typically not used in the workplace because it’s a tool for the consumer.

The purpose of this letter is to receive restitution for unsatisfactory services or products. Think of it as a consumer’s tool because this is exactly what it is. It’s the way to validate a claim when it becomes necessary to resolve disputes. You will need to know how to write this type of letter at some point in your life because most of us are disappointed at one time or another when our expectations are not met. If you want to be able to have some remedy at your fingertips, you’ll want to know how to compose an effective arguable claim letter.

The claim letter is also a strategically crafted argument that must be persuasive yet concise. This is the challenge. You probably think a good argument has to be long. Not in this case, your strong argument in a claim letter must also be concise. So, how do you create a worthy argument that should not exceed four paragraphs?

Use the Toulmin Model of Persuasion. This model is based on the work of Stephen Toulmin in his book, The Uses of Argument. In section three of my book, The Guide to Persuasive Business Writing, I explain how to apply the Toulmin argumentation model to different types of business documents. The model which includes six elements can also be applied to a claim letter. These elements must be strategically placed.

• Warrants – You must always establish early agreement with some congenial statement. It must also address what the ‘seller’ believes about their product or service. Usually the ‘seller’ believes no fault should be attached. You should address this and then move on to the ‘breakdown or failure’.

• Claim – This is your statement of the failure or breakdown in service.

• Support – This is all of your proof or evidence of the failure

• Rebuttal – This is the area in which you countermand all of the reasons the ‘seller’ may use to avoid making any restitution.

• Claims Are Not Complaints – Claim letters and complaint letters are two distinctly different items. You must be familiar with the objectives of a complaint letter before composing your claim letter. Otherwise, your objective of receiving some type of compensation will be in jeopardy.

• Watch Your Tone – It is easy to become too combative and demanding. You run the risk of the ‘seller’ immediately dismissing your claim because it may be perceived as an emotional outburst and not a credible request. Remember, you are requesting, not demanding.

• Do Not Tell A Story – It is easy to begin writing a story of how a product failed or services were not up to par. This is simply being human because most of us want to describe what happened. Describing failures or breakdowns is the same as telling a story of dissatisfaction. To avoid this, remember you are presenting an argument that makes a claim for restitution of some sort. So, think strategy and stay with the Toulmin Model.

For a more expanded discussion on writing and formatting arguable claim letters and other workplace letters using the Toulmin Model of Argumentation in business writing, see my book:

Royce Murcherson, Ph.D., The Guide to Persuasive Business Writing: A New Model that Gets Results. Iowa: Kendall-Hall, 2013

For more information on the Business Office Systems and Support department, contact Becky Jones, Associate Dean, 972-238-6215.

Excel Formula Problems? Try These Troubleshooting Tips!

Ribbon with FBWhen you work with formulas in Microsoft Excel, there are sometimes some glitches. Excel is good about letting you know when there is an error and even offering some help. The Error Checking feature on the Formulas tab in the Formula Auditing Group will find errors such as Divide by zero errors or errors in cell references (#VALUE!) where a cell referenced in the formula does not contain a number.

Also in the Formula Auditing group are the Trace Precedents, Trace Dependents, and Remove Arrows buttons. The Trace Precedents button shows arrows that indicate which cells affect the value of the currently selected cell. The Trace Dependents button show arrows that indicate which cells are affected by the value of the currently selected cell. The Remove Arrows button removes the arrows drawn by the Trace Precedents and Trace Dependent buttons. These buttons are very helpful when determining incorrect cell references in formulas.

However, with especially long formulas, it is sometimes necessary to examine small parts of the formula at a time to figure out the problem. You may use your mouse pointer to look at only a certain part of a formula and press F9 to evaluate just that section. Press Esc to go back and keep searching. The Evaluate Formula button on the Formula Auditing group will also allow you to examine small parts of a long formula.

Another common problem in Excel formulas is a circular reference. A circular reference in an Excel formula is one that depends on its own value. The most common type of circular reference occurs when you mistakenly refer in the formula to the cell in which you are building the formula itself. For example, suppose that cell B10 is active when you build this formula,  =A10+B10.   As soon as you enter this formula in cell B10 (assuming the program is in Automatic recalculation mode), Excel displays an Alert dialog box, stating that it cannot calculate the formula due to the circular reference.

Do not forget, too, that by clicking the down arrow at the right end of the formula bar you can expand the size of the formula bar to include more than one line. Use these tips to become an expert in troubleshooting Excel formula problems—something that we all encounter when using Excel’s powerful calculation features!

For more information on the Business Office Systems and Support department, contact Becky Jones, Associate Dean, 972-238-6215.

9+ Reasons Why OneNote 2013 Can Help You Become More Successful!

08-11-2014 OneNote LogoTake a “working tip” from Richland College’s POFT 1309 Administrative Office Procedures course on how to increase your productivity and efficiency at the office.

Like so many other things these days, projects at work seem to have many moving parts—some parts need your attention right away, and other tasks come later but are equally as important.

Use the tag feature in OneNote 2013 to help you keep your priorities and tasks in order and to help make sure your project is completed successfully.

OneNote 2013 (the desktop version) comes equipped with a wealth of tags that can make creating notes and tasks, inserting images, locating important web sites, gathering contact information, etc., easy to organize, track, and search as you progress through your project.

There are nine handy OneNote tags described below; however, there are a number of other OneNote tags that can help you with your work load as well. You can also create custom tags for even more specialization.

08-11-2014 One Note Complete

Use OneNote tags to help you plan, organize, and complete those multiple tasks that are so important to the successful completion of your work projects!

If you want to improve your office productivity skills, consider taking one or more courses in the BOSS program at Richland College. Richland College, which is located in northeast Dallas at 12800 Abrams Road, offers both online and on-campus courses. For more information contact Becky Jones, Associate Dean, 972-238-6215.

***Get a Free Copy of Microsoft Office Pro Plus 2013***If you are a student in the Dallas County Community College District, you are eligible to download a free version of Microsoft Office 2013 Pro Plus (or 2011 on the Mac) which includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access, Outlook, Publisher, and OneNote.

The VLOOKUP Function (A Mystery to Many Excel Users)

by Meggen Mills

The VLOOKUP Function is one of the most useful functions in Excel.  It is also one of the most confusing and least understood functions.  This article describes the formula syntax and usage of the VLOOKUP function (function: A prewritten formula that takes a value or values, performs an operation, and returns a value or values. Use functions to simplify and shorten formulas on a worksheet, especially those that perform lengthy or complex calculations.) in Microsoft Excel.


You can use the VLOOKUP function to search the first column of a range of cells, and then return a value from any cell on the same row of the range.


You are a new employee in the Benefits department of a large company with over 2500 employees.

Suppose your department has just sent a notice to selected company employees (approximately 750 employees) notifying them that they still have  vacation days available this year, and your boss has asked you to determine the department these selected employees work in. The only problem is that the notice you sent did not ask for their department; you only know their Name and Employee ID number. Continue reading

Customizing Bullets in Word

Word 2013I’m sure most of us have used Word’s bullet feature at some point and, no doubt, selected one of the pre-defined shapes and colors. However, if you want to add a little “zing” to one of your documents, consider using a customized bullet to emphasize your key points.

Let’s suppose I have a document that focuses on Richland College, and that I want to emphasize some important aspects of student life at Richland. The typical user might be tempted to use bullets in the document in the traditional manner:

04-28-2014 Inserted Text with Traditional BulletsHowever, if you want to use a look that ties all aspects of your document together, you may want to consider customizing the bullets. Since the Thunderduck logo has been used as part of the opening in this document, why not repeat this image as a bullet and as part of the focus?

To customize your bullets, simply complete the following steps:

1.  Highlight your bulleted list and click on the Bullet icon to turn the bullets off.

2.  Click the arrow next to the Bullet icon and select Define New Bullet (at the bottom) and choose the middle option Picture. Your screen should be similar to the one pictured below:

04-28-2014 Define New Bullet3.  Select the image file you want to use from the drive and folder where the file is located—the image file will then be uploaded to Word’s bullet library. Click OK to complete the upload process.

4.  Your screen should be showing your document, and you can then select the list of text that you want to have bulleted.

5.  Click the arrow next to the Bullet icon and then click on your custom bullet from the Bullet Library area. Your screen should look similar to the image below.

04-28-2014 New Custom Item in Define New Bullet Area.jpg6.  Your bulleted list should now show the custom bullet for each of your items in the list.

04-28-2014 Inserted Text with Custom Bullets

Take a Microsoft Office 2013 class that can help you improve your technology skills and productivity. You can choose from any number of career-enhancing classes in the BOSS program at Richland College. For more information, please contact Becky Jones, Associate Dean,  972-238-6215.

Word logo image courtesy of Microsoft Corporation







Explore the New Features in Excel 2013

Take a Tour1When you open Excel 2013, the first screen you see is the NEW workbook screen.  You can create a new blank Excel workbook or you can choose from the many templates (models) available.

One of the templates is simply a tour of three of the new features in Excel 2013.  To use this feature, click on the template shown, click Create and follow the steps to learn about three new Excel 2013 features:  Flash Fill Your Data, Analyze Data with Quick Analysis and Great Charts, Recommended for You.  At the end of the Tour, you will have the opportunity to “Learn More.”

Be sure to visit the Excel Team Blog often as there are many interesting and informative articles about Excel posted on this blog.


For more information on the Business Office Systems and Support department, contact Becky Jones, Associate Dean, or 972-238-6215.

Another way to access the tour is to Click the File tab and select New.  The list of templates will reappear.  If you do not see the Take a tour template, click in the Search box at the top of the screen and type, Take a tour, to quickly locate the desire template.

Happy Workbooking in Excel 2013!