Office suite reviews: Features explained
What is office software?
An office suite is a bundle of computer programs for doing common tasks such as writing letters and managing budgets. The best-known office suite on the market is Microsoft Office.
It contains familiar Microsoft programs such as Word (word processor), Excel (a spreadsheet program) and PowerPoint (a presentations package).
There are two kinds of office suite on the market; one aimed at professionals and the other designed for home users.
Home vs pro
Originally, office suites were designed with professional office workers in mind. They needed to be able to produce corporate memos, slick documents, complicated budgets and letters for mass mailing quickly and easily so professional office suites tended to include feature laden word processing, spreadsheet and presentation software. And they still do today.
However, aware of the growing trend towards working from home and the increasing use of the computer at home in general, software manufacturers now create versions of office suites with the home user in mind.
These are most likely to contain just the software people will want to use at home: a word processing program for typing letters, say, a simple spreadsheet program for keeping track of household accounts and maybe a presentations package for slotting digital photos into a slide show.
Office suite essentials
All office suites include a word processing program for typing documents. Many such programs include a range of templates, so, if you're planning to put together your CV, for example, there’s no need to start from scratch.
A template sets out the skeleton of the document for you. All you have to do is click your cursor in the appropriate part of the page and begin typing. If you're not happy with the templates available within the package, there are plenty more to download online, too.
You're also likely to find a spreadsheet package for putting together accounts, budgets and so on.
A spreadsheet incorporates a grid of rectangular cells each of which is defined by a unique reference (cell B1 or cell D32, for example). It's possible to create formulae which instruct the program to carry out calculations on the data you've input.
Some suites include an application for putting together slide shows and other presentations. Presentation packages include templates (typically incorporating a large heading for each page with a set of bullet points beneath).
Once prepared, you can display your presentation as a slide show moving on to the next slide with a click of the mouse.
Other possible programs
Some office suites also include an email program, a desktop publishing program for designing professional looking newsletters or marketing literature, and even a database package.