Hope this is the right forum

I'm self-publishing a technical book (using MS Excel for creating Data Visualizations) that includes step-by-step instructions with screenshot.

Book is targeted towards computer literate people who don't have technical/engineering background and wish to get into that field. In other words, your average person earning about $30K a year who wants to break into IT field.

I find myself explaining how to copy/paste/change font color. Is this necessary or should computer literate people be expected to know this.

What else should computer literate people be expected to know? Explaining how to copy and paste something seems to be taking up extra space.


EDIT: Computer Literate means can read/write/send email, text. Can upload videos to YouTUBE. And can fully participate in social media, i.e. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc, etc

  • 1
    The phrase "computer literate" is extremely vague. What category of literacy did you have in mind?
    – Mr Lister
    Commented Sep 20, 2017 at 6:08
  • @MrLister I updated question. Computer Literate in the sense they can use emails, social media.
    – Rhonda
    Commented Sep 20, 2017 at 12:27

1 Answer 1


There's no way to know until you test a target audience.

If you don't have exposure to some users that you wish to aim for, you're going to spend a lot of time writing for things that people do not find important.

Research the future bosses hiring your customers as well

Find out from the future and potential bosses what they see missing in new hires' skills. Do this because your users don't know what they don't know, whereas the bosses have a clear handle on what they need from a new hire.

Remember also: People can google, and find quick vids, so save the value of your book for things you uncover during research.

There's many techniques to discover value. You can run interviews, do a card sort in which you ask users to arrange a series of tasks they find difficult, and discover where people feel either stuck or helpless.

Compare it to building software:

You don't want to waste valuable engineering resources writing code without a Product perspective and a roadmap. Research first, find the value, then write.

You might want to research techniques from the Jobs to be Done framework. They have some interesting perspectives on getting customers to reveal their needs and emotions.

Customers have a need and they are 'hiring' your book to solve their problems.

  • Yeah that's what I'm thinking. It's relatively simple to learn copy and paste but the stuff I'm writing about is things I learned from different sources PLUS my practical hands-on experience. The book I am writing is the book I WISH I read the first time I was learning this.
    – Rhonda
    Commented Sep 20, 2017 at 1:42
  • I was also thinking how to get such audience. Several people on my floor at work (in different team) wish they have technical experience, but never had the opportunity to learn. Just wondering how to manage this. Perhaps give them free copy of book and invite their feedback?
    – Rhonda
    Commented Sep 20, 2017 at 1:44
  • That's one way. But why write the whole book first? Start with some key points, a hypothesis. You can even ask them to do some common tasks and observe how they struggle. Also, ask the folks who they would be working for, and see what they feel are the crucial skills they see lacking.
    – Mike M
    Commented Sep 20, 2017 at 1:49

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