Mastering Office 2003 for Business Professionals, by Gini Courter & Annette Marquis, ISBN 0-7821-4228-1

Reviewed by: Paul Schneider, Ph.D., Apr 2004, updated Mar 2007
Published by: Sybex
Requires: Office 2003 (any release)
MSRP: US$34.99, Can$48.95, UK£24.99

Microsoft Office has become a ubiquitous tool for creating documents, spreadsheets and even writing e-mail. This is especially true for businesses who have sought to standardize on a single platform. For this reason and many others, Microsoft Office is the premier choice among office suites. However, like many applications which have been around for 10 or more versions, you'll find that most users rarely tap into the true power of the tool and often end up doing a great many things the hard way. Office 2003 for Business Professionals (OBP) attempts to dissect the latest Microsoft (MS) Office version and by placing its elements in a business context, help the business professional to work smarter.

Mastering Office 2003 for Business Professionals is by no means a comprehensive guidebook to Office 2003, but it does cover a great many topics in its 20+ chapters and 720 pages. The focus of the book is primarily on the core Office 2003 products: Word, Outlook, Excel, PowerPoint and Access. Within each of these tools the authors attempt to focus on areas that will help your average business professional move from beginner to an intermediate or advanced level, and thus increase overall day to day efficiency. Missing from this overview are some of the newer Microsoft Office 2003 products such as Business Contact Manager, InfoPath and OneNote.


Although some topic areas are related to a specific tool, the content generally focuses on topic areas rather than specific tools—a wise choice—as most topic areas have relevance across the suite. Don't worry however, because there is a plethora of step-by-step instructions for all of the tools represented. Mastering Office 2003 for Business Professionals starts off with an introduction to the major new features in Microsoft Office 2003. This is followed by three chapters focusing on getting better use out of Outlook and its associated tools. Next are chapters which focus on adding punch to your presentations and documents. Then you will learn about collaborating and managing mass mailings, complex documents and putting documents on the web. The last set of chapters focuses on security, organization, template development, forms, macros,and generally making Microsoft Office 2003, not you, do the work. Finally, the sole appendix covers some of the more exotic new features in Office 2003 such as handwriting recognition and voice recognition.

Authors Courter and Marquis wrote the book using a fairly friendly and slightly formal style. The approach is not one of a buddy helping you out or a consultation in conversational manner, but more like a series of friendly job aids that are coupled with enough human touch to keep you from feeling stupid. The approach worked well for me and it is general enough that I suspect it will serve a mass audience well. There is a decent mix of screen shots, step-by-step instructions and useful business-related tips placed throughout the book. Overall, I am betting there will be at least a handful of valuable nuggets for everyone, irrespective of your experience level. Even for a veteran user of Microsoft Word like me, there were several new tips in areas such as information rights management, securing documents, locking in styles and other document properties that I was not aware of.

Although the book is pretty solid, I have to admit I was disappointed by the absence of any coverage of OneNote, InfoPath and especially Business Contact Manager. Although these are not part of the core Office product, they are especially relevant to the business user and do come with some of the popular Microsoft Office packages people can purchase. That aside, if you are looking for a solid Office 2003 book and spend a greater part of your working day using Microsoft Office applications you'd be doing yourself a favor by reading Mastering Office 2003 for Business Professionals. Who knows, maybe after reading it you'll find yourself outside taking advantage of that found hour you saved by working smarter!





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