Computing in the Malvides

The Elements of Computing Style

200+ Tips for Busy Knowledge Workers


Nowadays everybody knows how to use a computer. Smart people learn how to use it with style: effectively, efficiently, and, yes, enjoyably. Become one of them!

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  • If it doesn't work, try it again
  • If it doesn't work, try it in a different way
  • Search for the least common term
  • RTFM, GIYF
  • Finish one task before proceeding to the next
  • Leave work unfinished
  • Keep multiple work queues
  • Plan, measure, and report your work
  • Don't leave it for the last minute
  • Comment your work
  • Keep note files with your work
  • Version before big changes
  • “Save As” before modifying
  • Automate
  • Spell check
  • Correct on paper
  • Learn those correction symbols
  • Mind map
  • Use each program for what it does best
  • Start your search with Wikipedia
  • Find it next time
  • Use phrase searches
  • Search sites through Google
  • Search using an image
  • Let the web vote
  • Ask StackExchange
  • Cast wide nets to locate an email address
  • The internet never forgets
  • Judge your online sources
  • URLs are your friends
  • Locate orphan pages through link queries
  • Bookmark sparingly
  • Make your bookmarks accessible
  • Save web links with your other files
  • Shorten your links
  • Let your group vote
  • Read email once a day
  • Turn-off email alerts
  • File incoming email
  • File incoming email as you read it
  • Don't file all incoming email
  • Don't file outgoing email
  • Create subfolders
  • Create shortcut-accessible folders
  • File to multiple folders
  • Link folders with placeholder messages
  • Automate filing
  • Don't read spam
  • Don't fall for hoaxes
  • Send reminders to yourself
  • Reply to mail you sent
  • Read the recipient lists
  • Detach attachments
  • Don't email during holidays
  • Use multiple mail search strategies
  • Use meaningful Subject lines
  • Don't begin a new subject by replying to an old email
  • Quote appropriately when replying
  • Check your quoted text when adding recipients
  • Don't mix private and public distribution lists
  • Don't Bcc
  • Arrange for replies to go where they should
  • Don't put in an email what you don't want to see in public
  • Flames belong to the cooler
  • Sandwich critique within praise
  • Reread before pressing send
  • Write short messages as a Subject line
  • Save time with VSRE
  • Send mass email through a Bcc
  • Use read receipts with care
  • Avoid attachments
  • Share large files using cloud-based services
  • Don't plan meetings over email
  • Don't edit documents over email
  • Introduce people
  • DON'T YELL
  • Bookmark with undo
  • Outline
  • Beware of the changes you track
  • Don't align with whitespace
  • Paragraph breaks aren't for vertical spacing
  • Break pages declaratively
  • Employ styles
  • Utilize references
  • Use the thesaurus
  • Automate the table of contents generation
  • Automatically convert between upper and lowercase
  • Paste as unformatted text
  • Search and replace formatting
  • Search all word forms
  • Search with wildcards
  • Search for special elements
  • Track changes
  • Avoid embedded elements and links
  • Useful shortcuts
  • Replace your calculator with the spreadsheet
  • Use multiple worksheets
  • Structure your spreadsheet for calculations
  • Name your data
  • Keep an extra row
  • Vlookup isn't rocket science
  • Don't show numbers with meaningless precision
  • Apply formatting to whole rows and columns
  • Auto-complete your labels
  • Average by selecting
  • Have others fill-in your spreadsheets
  • Plan two minutes per slide
  • Skip slides when in a hurry
  • Avoid running text
  • Use charts
  • Add graphics
  • Use full-screen images
  • Use appropriate fonts
  • Avoid fancy layouts and effects
  • Use a master style
  • Don't read your slides
  • Use both screens
  • No live demos
  • Arrange for backup equipment
  • Verify your setup
  • Setup accessible backups
  • Use fonts wisely
  • Avoid table rules
  • Know your symbols
  • Prefer charts over tables over text
  • Prefer scalable formats
  • Avoid underlined text
  • Avoid uppercase sequences
  • Don't be too clever
  • Use professional-designed styles
  • Use meaningful file and folder names
  • Organize your files
  • Sort files by date
  • Link files with shortcuts
  • Beware of attachments
  • Don't reply to spam and malware senders
  • Beware of phishers
  • No one will give you millions by email
  • Don't click on all hyperlinks
  • Select unguessable passwords
  • Don't reuse passwords
  • Apply security fixes
  • Get over it
  • Think before you post
  • Browse privately
  • Encrypt sensitive data
  • Use strong encryption
  • Arrange for plausible deniability
  • Don't encrypt more than you need
  • Consider your trails
  • Don't throw away your personal data
  • Backup your data
  • Store backups off-site
  • Keep multiple backup copies
  • Backups are backups
  • Online backups are also backups
  • Backup your smart devices
  • Keep your data together
  • Test your backups
  • Take care of those pictures
  • Choose long-lasting file formats
  • Test your data when changing equipment
  • Separate personal from work data
  • Consider the data of your reports
  • Consider the data of your family
  • Packing list
  • Carry a USB stick on you
  • Backup before you travel
  • Phone through Skype
  • Don't rely on network access
  • Arrange for network access before you leave
  • Ask your hotel for a power brick
  • Don't buy more than you need
  • Consider noise, space, and weight
  • Make your phone a Wi-Fi hotspot
  • First unplug the mains plug
  • Don't leave stuff around your laptop's keyboard
  • Desk phone on your right, coffee on your left
  • Sleep, stand by, hibernate
  • Don't rely on obsolete equipment
  • Use a second monitor
  • Invest in a broadband connection
  • Wire your house
  • Reduce clutter through hubs
  • Consider a printer's cost per page
  • Choose appropriate service and extended warranties
  • Remove batteries after swimming
  • Log your changes
  • Keep these installation disks
  • Upgrade before the EOL
  • Save money and hassle with open source software
  • Beware of laptops
  • Build a docking station
  • Remove your chair's handles
  • Use keyboard shortcuts
  • Create your own keyboard shortcuts
  • Keyboard smarts
  • Windows shortcuts
  • Mac shortcuts
  • Tile your windows
  • Phone, email, chat
  • Use a headset
  • Exercise
  • Contribute to online communities
  • Avoid addictive endeavors
  • Rip your CDs
  • Centralize your media content
  • Digitize your kids' art

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