Consultation Services

Consultation Services


If your Word-related needs go beyond the free and inexpensive services described elsewhere on this page, you may want to retain me as a consultant or troubleshooter. Doing so is especially appropriate if you want full confidentiality, if you need expedited answers, or if you have (or expect to have) multiple questions.

My base rate is $100 per hour ($200 minimum). This rate is negotiable for agreements that extend beyond a few hours, and for certain small organizations and individuals.

You needn’t necessarily use your fee at one time. If, for example, your initial consultation requires only 30 minutes, you may use your remaining 90 minutes for future consultations within a reasonable period of time thereafter. Monthly, semiannual, and annual retainer rates also are available on request. Drop me a note with your needs.

My background in training, writing, consulting, public speaking, and the subject matter of Microsoft Word extends from novices through advanced users. Explain your needs and I’ll describe my relevant credentials and how I may be able to assist you.

Begin by contacting me for a no-obligation response.

Please note that, since I haven’t been publishing Word books for awhile, I have limited time for private responses to specific Word-related questions. If that doesn’t meet your needs, we can discuss a confidential consultation.

Is Word Y2K Compliant?

Because you primarily use Word as a tool to work with text, it’s easy to overlook the program related to Year 2000 gotchas. However, Word indeed relies on dates. Besides date fields (such as automatically inserted dates when you use templates for letters, fax cover sheets, invoices, and so forth), Word makes various assumptions when you search for files by dates and when you create date-based document properties via File | Properties | Custom. Below, you’ll find information about Y2K compliance of Word and an introductory explanation about how Word handles dates.


Based on my interpretation of information from Microsoft, here are the details about Word’s Y2K compliance, according to Microsoft’s definitions of compliance. (These details are for the US English edition of Word.)

Version Compliance
Word 2000 and later Compliant
Word 97 Compliant with SR2 installed
Word 95 Compliant with Office 95 Year 2000 update installed

How Microsoft Word Interprets Dates

To assure the greatest accuracy when entering dates, be as complete as possible. For example, 12/31/1999 and 1/1/2001 are unambiguous. But, what does 01/01 mean? January 1 of some unspecified year? January 2001? January 1901? Let’s see how Word attempts to interpret ambiguous dates.

When interpreting ambiguous dates, Word must make assumptions. For example, if you enter a date with only the month and one or two digits, Word assumes that a number between 1 and 31 is a date and that the year is the current year. For instance, Word assumes that December 1 is December 1 of the current year, not December of 2001 or 1901. But, Word assumes that December 32 is December 1, 1932.

By default, if you enter only a two-digit value for a year, Word interprets the year as follows:

Year Entry Interpretation Example
00 through 29 The applicable year between 2000 and 2029 01/01/00 is interpreted as January 1, 2000
30 through 99 The applicable year between 1930 and 1999 01/01/99 is interpreted as January 1, 1999

If you use Windows 98, you can change the century interpretation and the default date format to display to four-digit years yourself from the Regional Settings dialog box, which you access from Control Panel. If you’re using another version of Windows or a different operating system, you may need system administrator status for Microsoft Office to make similar changes.

Is MOUS Certification Right for Your Career?

(The first of the following items was written by Bill Jeansonne, author of Microsoft Certification Careers: Earn More Money..In the second item, faithful former subscriber to our former email discussion group Laura Simmons recounts her experience in becoming a MOUS. Note that, since these stories, MOUS has now been renamed to MUS by Microsoft.)

Many of us underutilize Microsoft Word. Why should we care? For starters, because we’re not getting the most from our money. But more importantly, we’re working less efficiently than we could.

So ask yourself, what can you do to learn everything you can about Word? One way would be to lock yourself in a room for a week with a boat load of books on Word and read them from cover to cover. That would help, but you still wouldn’t really have much to show for it other than having gained personal knowledge of the product.

Alternatively, you could shoot for the moon by becoming certified in Microsoft Word. Microsoft has a certification program designed for knowledge workers that use Word and other Office applications as a primary tool in their jobs. It’s called the Microsoft Office User Specialist program, or MOUS for short (pronounced “mouse”). MOUS credentials consist of two major tracks, Office 97 and 2000, and three certification levels, known as Proficient, Expert, and Master. The Office 97 track consists of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Access, while the Office 2000 track comprises the same plus Access. You can opt to certify in one or all of these applications. And if you’re particularly ambitious, you can cross-certify in each major track.

You should seriously consider getting certified in Word for a number of reasons. First, with the MOUS credential, you can compete more effectively in the workplace, and thus you’re more likely to be promoted over others who aren’t certified. Second, if you happen to be between jobs, a document certifying that you’re a Word expert or master can prove to prospective employers you have the skills and knowledge to do the job, especially if it’s heavy on word processing. Third, from the perspective of employers, you’re a power user, which means they get more from their investment in the software they purchased. Last but not least, being certified means you’re more likely to be productive and happier on the job, because you’re the expert with an all-important tool, Microsoft Word.

Believe it or not, computer literacy is a big problem for most employers. They yearn for workers with the skill and knowledge to operate what they consider a serious investment in technology. So, if you’re certified and have the skills and experience with all aspects of Word, you can stand out as an employee. Look around in any business and see how important the network administrator is; most competitive business couldn’t survive without one-likewise for someone with certified skills in applications such as Word. The demand for computer skills in the U.S. and abroad is climbing by the hour, and there is no end in sight. So, you can rest assured that if you study hard and get certified in Word, that certificate will be an important tool for competing in the workplace and getting a job.

Microsoft is investing millions of dollars worldwide to get people trained and certified, especially in Office. The reasons are obvious, but none more important than to help employers become aware of the MOUS program. Microsoft is educating businesses and other organizations of the important of certification, and for good reason. As society becomes more and more technologically oriented, the need for competent, computer literate staff becomes all the more important. And with Microsoft owning such a large percentage of desktops, it’s only practical to require that prospective employees be certified in Microsoft Office.

As of this writing, about 35,000 Microsoft Office User Specialists are certified, a number that’s rapidly growing, according to Microsoft. The MOUS program is global. So, if you’re certified in Word, you’re a MOUS, and you can use that certification globally, meaning you can work just about anywhere on the planet where there’s a demand for your skills. If the Microsoft Certified Professional program (a different Microsoft certification program) is any indicator of an IT certification program’s success, then the MOUS program has a bright future.

Several Web sites focus on the Microsoft Office User Specialist program. One of course is Microsoft’s own site at It essentially outlines the MOUS certification tracks and other opportunities associated with the program. An independent site,, is run by the folks who publish Microsoft Certified Professional Magazine.

Bill Jeansonne

The Word 2000 expert test did not have as many questions as I thought it would. You have 45 minutes to take the entire test and some extra time to read each question. The timer doesn’t start until you begin working on the question.

Overall, the only problem I had was the wording of the questions. Sometimes, you were asked to do things that didn’t make any sense unless you thought about the fact that the test writers were trying not to give you the answer by the way they word the question. I was told that the average person takes about an hour to take the test. You may reset a question if you started to perform the answer incorrectly and want to start over.

Some books written to help prepare you for the test say you need an 80 percent score to pass. However, the only percent scores I was given were for the individual categories (working with paragraphs, using tables, using mail merge, etc.). The best score you can receive is 1000 points. Seven-hundred-fifty points is a passing score. For a list of all of the objectives covered on the exam, go to

Good luck to anyone else attempting certification! I prepared for the test with my home computer, two books (one of which was Mastering Word 2000 Premium Edition), and a little help from some friends. If I can do it, so can you. You just need some resources (which you have if you are a member of the All About Microsoft Word™ discussion group) and, of course, a good deal of dedication.

Prior to taking the exam, you are required to complete an online form with your personal and company information so they know where to send your certificate and whom the certificate is for. You also are asked to agree not to divulge specifics about the test to anyone. I was asked to provide identification and then told I could not take my purse into the room with me. No notes are allowed. Put your identification in a pocket if you do not want to turn over your purse.

Last but certainly not least, potential employers seem to be more enthusiastic about my resume when they see the certification. Employers are looking for computer skills. Just think, Word is the only certification I currently have and they get excited about it. What would they think if I were certified as a master MOUS—certification in all five Office programs?

Laura Simmons

License Word Tips

Through my books, newsletter, and online projects, I’ve developed more than 100 Word tips to improve the skill of users, which are available for licensing. (Examples–which I can edit for length depending on your needs–are illustrated via links above.) Given Word’s pervasive market share, posting a different tip each day, each week, or even for each caller on your Web site is a sure-fire way to keep people coming back again and again! If you’re interested in licensing tips for your Web site or for other purposes, contact me.