Follow Along on a Computer

TODO: Blend this into the last of the “tools” mentioned above, OR place closer to the top, because everyone needs access to a computer?

To follow the steps in this book, we recommend either a desktop or laptop computer, running either the Mac or Windows or Linux operating system, with an internet connection and a modern web browser such as Chrome, Firefox, Safari, or Edge. Another good option is a Chromebook laptop, which enables you to complete most of the steps in this book, and we’ll point out any limitations in specific chapters. While it’s possible to use a tablet or smartphone device, we do not recommend it because you cannot follow all of the steps, and you’ll also get frustrated with the small screen and perhaps throw your device (or this book) across the room, and possibly injure someone (and we will not be held responsible!)

If you’re working on a laptop, consider buying or borrowing an external mouse that can plug into your machine. We’ve met several people who found it much easier to click, hover, and scroll with a mouse rather than a laptop’s built-in trackpad.

If you’re new to working with computers—or teaching new users with this book—consider starting with mouse exercises. All of the tools in this book assume that users already know how to click tiny buttons, hover over links, and scroll web pages, but rarely are these skills taught, and everyone needs to learn them at some point in our lives.


TODO Now you have a better sense of different types of data visualization tools, and how to make wise decisions when choosing among them… The next chapter is designed to strengthen your skills for using the most common tool in our data toolkit: spreadsheets.