The problem is, without a business setting, some people may never use the bulk of its features. The presumption is that Word is for writing letters, Excel is for the kids to make charts on (while PowerPoint is for their presentations) and Outlook is for sending the odd email when you're not using a web-based service like Gmail or Hotmail.
What a shame! With a bit more knowledge and/or training, you can unleash the power of an office, in your home. This article will show you some uses that you perhaps hadn't thought of for your Home version of Office.
WordOf course you can use Word as a word processing tool (as the name suggests), so shopping lists, letters and memos are all within someone's normal remit. With added features like pictures, WordArt, formatting and even Macros (a small script designed to perform a certain function), you can expand your use of Word into the world of DTP (Desktop Publishing).
How about a newsletter for a society you're a member of? A Mail merge to all your friends for a birthday invite? A poster advertising a garage sale? These are all simple tasks and are easy to learn. Word can do it all: you don't need a fancy graphics package or publishing tool.
ExcelExcel is famous for its chart function, used by many people when making presentations or reports. Sadly, that seems to be where people's use of the program stops. In today's economic climate, Excel could be an excellent tool for managing the household budget, or doing your own tax return calculations so you spent less on an accountant charging by the hour to go over the numbers!
It's the same if you run a small business, or you could even treat the kids' pocket money like a payroll: you'd be teaching them Excel and also the value of money! Simple formulas can be created to remove the headaches of some calculations - a good example would be an Economy 7 electricity user having a formula to check daytime and night time costs of the units they're consuming, to help keep the bills down - always a good thing.
PowerPointYes, it's designed purely for presentations, but you can alter the format for more personal and interesting uses. If you're environmentally conscious, than sending someone an e-card is nowhere near as good as sending them a PowerPoint presentation, with more than one page of photos, music and greetings - far more features at your disposal (and free, too).
The same goes for anything you'd normally mail, but with limited space (a postcard is a good example - instead of emailing your holiday snaps, present them! A slideshow is more interactive, and more interesting). PowerPoint is increasingly used online for sharing jokes and funny pictures, indicating that more and more people are finding new ways of using the presentation format, rather than just in a business setting.
OutlookMore than just an email program, many people don't realise how good Outlook is as a diary-management tool. Some PAs swear by it! If you're always missing appointments, or forgetting when you booked into the dentist, why not use the diary/calendar in Outlook? Most people check their email every day, so instead of finding a scribbled note or the sticky note on the fridge, set yourself a reminder. You can set it to remind you days, or even minutes before the event.
Outlook calendars can be shared with other users, and some people can check your emails on your behalf - so if you're away from your computer, you can delegate this out: almost like having your own personal assistant. Another plus: you'll never forget anyone's birthday ever again!
These are just some of the ways in which you can use more features of Office. They're simple and easy to learn - the more advanced you become, the more features you'll be able to learn. After all, you've got the Office suite, it makes sense to use its full potential to serve you better at home, too.