With the annual Glastonbury festival kicking off the timetable for a summer of open-air concerts, young people all over the country, inspired by what they saw and heard, and will return with a desire to learn the guitar. After a lot of concentration, sore fingertips and toleration shown by other family members, the budding guitarist learns to strum chords with enough confidence to reply to an ad seeking to form a band. The only snag is that when he meets the existing members of the band, he discovers that they are actually seeking a bass player.

Although he has never played the bass before, our hero takes it up and he discovers that it is pretty much the same as the guitar. All the notes are in the same places and there are two fewer strings, but he gets to grips with it and is pretty soon twanging his way to Glastonbury with his band.

I use this guitar and bass scenario as an analogy of how different Office applications have features that are universal, or are so similar that any discrepancies can be worked out. Here are a few examples where the same process can be applied in Excel and Word, or, like the bass guitar, a very similar process is required.

Here are a couple of examples, one where the same process applies to both applications, and the other where there is a slight difference.

Sometimes I need to open an Excel worksheet for viewing purposes only. In these instances I do not want to make any accidental changes to the data so it makes sense to open the worksheet as a read-only document, which is a pretty simple process. This set me wondering if the same procedure could be applied to a Word document. I tried it and I discovered that it could.

To open a document or worksheet as read-only, select Open from the File menu, or click on the Open tool on the toolbar (Ctrl + O) to bring up the Open dialog box (In Office 2007 applications, click the Office button and then click Open). Click once on the filename of the workbook you want to open to highlight it. Click the down-arrow at the right side of the Open button and from the menu that appears, select Open Read-Only.

Sometimes though achieving the same result requires a slightly different process. For example, if you have a series of drawing objects in your Excel worksheet that you find distracting then it is possible to hide them while you work. To do this go to Tools/Options and select the View tab. Check the Hide All radio button and click OK. The drawing objects will now be invisible. It is important to note that while at this stage the hidden drawing objects will not appear if the document is printed. To bring your drawing objects back out from their cloak of invisibility, repeat the procedure above, but check the Show All radio button.

In Word the process is slightly different. Go to Tools/Options and again select the View tab. In the dialog box, uncheck the Drawings box and click OK.

So there is a slight discrepancy in that process, but, like the guitar and bass, it is so slight that it could be picked up easily.

It is one of the great features of Microsoft Office that, on learning how to use one application, many of those skills will spill over into others. It is a heartening experience to open up a new application for the first time, and to see all of the familiar icons there.