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SW 402: Information Literacy for Social Work : Best Practices in Computing

Introduce and reinforce the skills you'll need to be an information-savvy Social Worker and/or successfully complete the ILOP.

Naming Files

While it may sound obvious, but choosing a relevant file name is actually important to your computing habits. Have you ever been in a rush to save something and pressed the save button before you renamed the file? Where did it end up? What was it called?  Take the time, to choose a relevant name. Here are a couple tips:

1. Choose a descriptive name for your file.
Are you submitting this file for an assignment? Include your last name, the name of the assignment, and consider including the date. Eg: smith_assignment610 (for June 2010). 

2. Try not to use spaces or characters other than alphanumerics.
Depending on the program is reading your file, it may not be able to understand a filename with a space or a question mark. The exception is the underscore _ . This character can be used as an alternative to the "space." Ex: final_reportSpring10


File Extensions

It's always good to know what the extension stands for, so you know what kind of application you can use to open the file. Here is a list of common file extensions:

File Extension Type of File
.doc OR .docx word document
.xls OR .xlsx  spreadsheet
.ppt OR .pptx powerpoint
.gif OR .jp OR .png image
.pdf portable document format
.txt plain text (no formatting)
.html web page
.mp3 audio file
.mpeg OR .swf video file

Organizing Your Files

Organize your files now, so that you can find them later (before that paper is due).

1. Put all of your files in one place on your hard drive
Many of us fall into the trap of leaving files scattered on the desktop. Instead, try to keep one large folder just for your documents.For PC users, try using the My Documents folder. Mac users may want to use the Documents folder.

2. Nest folders within folders
Use a directory - a collection of files typically organized in a tree structure, alphabetized . Create new folders within the larger folder when the need arises.

3. Designate your file locations as you go
This will make your life so much easier! Get in the habit of using the "Save As" option -- which asks for a file location in addition to a file name.

4. Order your files for your convenience
Have a long list of files that you hate scrolling through? Use special characters like !! or AA to push these files to the top of the list.  Ex: !!smith_assignment

Keyboard Shortcuts

keyboard shortcut, also known as a hotkey, is a key or a combination of keys that can be used in lieu of the mouse to perform a function.  Shortcuts save time and can also lower the risk of repetive stress injuries by minimizing the need to use the mouse.

Common Key Commands PC Apple
New Ctrl + N Command + N
Open Ctrl + O Command + O
Save Ctrl + S Command + S
Print Ctrl + P Command + P
Exit (or Quit) Alt + F4 Command + Q
Cut Ctrl + X Command + X
Copy Ctrl + C Command + C
Paste Ctrl + V Command + V
Select All Ctrl + A Command + A
Find Ctrl + F Command + F
Undo Ctrl + Z Command + Z
New Window (Browser) Ctrl + N Command + N
New Tab (Browser) Ctrl + T Command + T
Refresh Page (Browser Ctrl + R Command + R


Creating PDFs

In many versions of Microsoft Office products (Word, PowerPoint, etc.), you can easily print or save to PDF. A PDF file preserves formatting of a file and makes it easier to share with other users. Your document will be accessible and will look the same regardless of the operating system or software used by others.

For step-by-step instructions on creating PDFs in Microsoft Word 2007 (PC), Microsoft Word 2003 (PC), Mac OS X, and OpenOffice, see this Handout on Creating PDFs.

USB Drives

A USB drive is a quick, convenient form of storage for files. It interacts with the USB, or Universal Serial Bus, interface on a computer. It is also called a Flash Drive, Thumb Drive, or a Jump Drive. They are very resistant to the scratches and dust that were problematic for previous forms of portable storage, USB drives can survive minor abuse, which makes them ideal for transporting from home to school or office.