Choosing the right tool

Since there are innumerable computer programs, it is not always easy to choose the correct tool for the task at hand. The following table will help you to choose the right tool for different situations. The table also shows the most common file formats used in different situations.


Programs for modifying text

Task Recommended program File formats
Writing simple notes A text editor, such as NotePad in  Windows or pico in Linux. TXT
Writing an essay, an assignment or e.g. a Master’s thesis A word processing program: for instance, Microsoft Word or the free OpenOffice Writer or the free LibreOffice. Word’s DOCX, OpenOffice’s and LibreOffice’s ODT. Most programs can also handle the RTF format!
Publishing a document on the Internet so that its layout remains unaltered A program for creating a PDF file, such as Adobe Acrobat PDF


Spreadsheet programs

Please note that you do not need a spreadsheet program to create a simple table; you can create tables with most word-processor programs.

Task Recommended program File formats
Creating a complex spreadsheet containing mathematical formulas and creating graphs A spreadsheet program such as Microsoft Excel, OpenOffice Calc XLS and XLSX in Excel, ODS in   Calc, etc.
Handling a table with statistics A statistics program or spreadsheet program, such as SPSS or Excel SAV in SPSS and XLS in Excel, etc.


Programs for slide shows

Task Recommended program File formats
Creating and presenting a slide show with text, images and other elements A slide-show program, such as Microsoft PowerPoint, OpenOffice Impress PPT and PPTX in PowerPoint, ODP in Impress


Programs for modifying bit maps

Task Recommended program File formats
Rotating, cropping, minimizing and enlarging bit maps, etc.
  • Free programs: LibreOffice Draw, Pixlr, Gimp
  • A comprehensive image-processing program, such as Adobe Photoshop, Corel PaintShop Pro
Software-independent file formats: JPEG, TIFF, PNG, BMP


Programs for modifying vector graphics

Task Recommended program File formats
Drawing and compiling posters, graphs etc. programs for vector graphics, such as  CorelDraw, Adobe Illustrator. The free LibreDraw also enables you to process vector images. CDR in CorelDraw


Desktop-publishing programs and web-page editors

Task Recommended program File formats
Designing a book  A desktop-publishing program, such as Windows Adobe InDesign or Linux LaTeX. INDD in Indesign
Publishing simple web pages (written in HTML) A text editor, such as NotePad or Emacs HTML, XHTML
Maintaining a web site
  • A page or blog platform such as WordPress
  • DreamWeaver for compiling web pages from scratch
HTML, XHTML, PHP (programming language)

UH offers its students document, slide and other templates. They are available at the material bank for the visual appearance, which is accessible from the university’s network.