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Basic computer skills

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Published: 23 August 2021

Students using a computer

Studying for your university degree these days means you’ll likely be spending a lot of your time using computers.

Whether that’s for writing assignments, researching for your dissertation or gathering data on a spreadsheet, there are some skills you’ll find essential.

If you are not the most confident with a computer, that idea can be a little worrying.

That’s why we’ve put together a list of the essential skills you’ll need to succeed at the University of Sunderland in London.

Microsoft Word

The classic programme for writing pretty much anything. You’ll likely use this one for all of your assignments and essays.

It comes with most PCs and laptops, though if you have a Mac you might need to download it.

There are loads of tricks you can do with Word [LINK], but at its most basic, simply click the icon, choose ‘blank document’ (it’ll be the first one you see in the list) and get typing.

Remember to save your work, but don’t worry about accidentally closing it and losing everything.

These days, Word will give you a notification to remind you.

Microsoft Excel

Another important programme for anyone using numbers or collecting data is Excel.

This is the most used spreadsheet tool in the world, and it can get complex.

But don’t worry too much about all the formulas and graphs if you’re just getting used to it.

For now, try simply adding something to the cells (the white rectangles) and saving it.

Once you’ve gotten used to the absolute basics, take a look at our article on some useful tricks and tips for using Excel at university.

Microsoft PowerPoint

If you are studying for any of our courses it’s likely that at some point you’ll be giving a presentation.

These are brilliant ways of learning more about a topic, getting some experience speaking in front of people and gaining confidence.

It’s common for presentations to be done in PowerPoint, so you might want to learn how to use it.

You can add images, sounds, text and so much more with this programme.

For loads of training, take a look at Microsoft’s own Help and Learning centre.

Using a calendar

As a student, you are going to be busy. That’s especially true if you’re working or raising a family at the same time.

A good way of staying on top of everything is to use a computer-based calendar.

There are loads to choose from, but the best ones a linked across your devices.

That means you’ll see the same information on your phone and your laptop, for example.

Check out Google CalendarOutlook or iCal as some of the most popular.

Make sure you look at guides for the specific one you’re using - you can find them on the right of this article on the five advantages of an online calendar.

For more computer skills like these, make sure you visit the Library website. They have guidance on Word and Excel, along with everything from accessing their resources to academic writing.

Do you have any top tips on using computers for your studies? Share them with the community on FacebookTwitter and Instagram using #WeAreSunLon.