Document use tip sheet

This tool provides practical tips to help you improve your document use skills. Review each of the tips below and practice the ones that are the most relevant to your learning needs.

General tips

  • Use your finger or a ruler to follow rows or columns in a table.
  • Use headings to find information quickly.
  • Look for visual cues such as font size, bolded or highlighted text that may emphasize important information.
  • Look for characters or symbols which may provide special instructions (e.g. asterisks).
  • Write legibly and stay within the allocated spaces.
  • Use words that are easy to read and understand when entering information.
  • Scan documents several times to ensure the information you have entered is complete and accurate.
  • Read instructions carefully before completing forms or questionnaires.
  • Complete documents in the recommended order.
  • Read labels and headings carefully before entering information.
  • Identify common shapes and colours to help understand signs and symbols (e.g. diamond represents warnings; red represents danger or stop).
  • Ask questions if you do not understand what you see on a sign, display or document.

Higher level tips

  • Identify what information is needed before searching through documents.
  • Scan documents for keywords, graphs and/or diagrams to gain a better understanding of the material.
  • Use lists, such as a table of contents or an index page, to find specific information contained in manuals or reports more quickly.
  • Use legends to help interpret information in diagrams or graphs.
  • Use the scales provided on maps to practice estimating distances between two locations. Use a string to measure the length of irregular routes then place the string against the scale to determine an approximate distance.
  • Make a glossary of terms commonly found in forms or on signs in your workplace.
  • Look at similar forms to see how they have been completed before starting new forms.
  • Place graphs side by side to make comparisons, calculate information, or arrive at conclusions.

Document use practice and learning exercises

Practice your Document Use skills by completing the following exercises. Use the Document Use Tip Sheet if you need additional help as you work through these exercises. A learning plan template is also included to help guide your skills development.

General practice exercises

  1. Refer to the table on the next page to answer the following questions:
    1. What was the “average weekly hours” in your province or territory in 2004?
    2. Which province or territory recorded “average weekly hours” equal to 30 in 2002?
    3. In what year did Quebec’s “average weekly hours” equal 31.9?
    4. What was the “average weekly hours” in Canada in 2003?
    5. Which provinces or territories had “average weekly hours” equal to 31 in 2004?
    6. In what year was the “average weekly hours” highest in Canada?
    7. Which province or territory had the same “average weekly hours” three years in a row?
    8. Which provinces or territories had the same “average weekly hours” in 2001 and 2004?
    9. Which province or territory recorded the lowest “average weekly hours” in 2005?
    10. What was the “average weekly hours” in 2003 in the province or territory that had the lowest “average weekly hours” in 2001?
      Average weekly hours of hourly paid employees
      2001 2002 2003 2004 2005
      Canada 31.6 31.9 32.1 31.9 31.7
      Newfoundland and Labrador 31.1 31.3 31.5 31.0 30.5
      Prince Edward Island 30.6 30.4 30.9 31.0 29.5
      Nova Scotia 29.8 30.0 30.7 30.7 30.4
      New Brunswick 31.8 31.9 32.3 31.9 31.6
      Quebec 31.4 31.8 32.2 32.1 31.9
      Ontario 32.2 32.5 32.6 32.3 31.8
      Manitoba 30.2 30.2 30.6 30.6 30.6
      Saskatchewan 30.3 30.6 31.0 30.9 30.3
      Alberta 31.8 32.1 32.4 31.9 32.4
      British Columbia 31.2 31.3 31.5 31.2 31.1
      Yukon Territory 30.9 31.5 33.1 33.2 32.8
      Northwest Territories 34.1 34.5 34.8 34.1 33.8
      Nunavut 34.3 34.2 34.7 34.2 35.2

      All industries excluding unclassified enterprises hours

      Note: (data include overtime)

      Source: Statistics Canada, CANSIM, 2006.

Answers:

b) Nova Scotia; c) 2005; d) 32.1; e) Newfoundland and Labrador and Prince Edward Island; f) 2003; g) Manitoba with 30.6 from 2003 to 2005; h) British Columbia and Northwest Territories; i) Prince Edward Island; j) 30.7 in Nova Scotia.

Higher level practice exercises

  1. Refer to the bar graph on the next page to complete the following table. You may need to approximate the numbers.

    Unemployment rates (%) – 2003
    Canada U.S. Mexico UK France Japan
    Both sexes 7.6 6.0 2.5 4.8 9.7 5.2
    Men
    Women
  2. Refer to the bar graph below and/or the completed table above to answer the following questions:
    1. Which country had the highest unemployment rate in 2003? Which country had the lowest unemployment rate in 2003?
    2. In which country/countries were unemployment rates higher for women than men?
    3. How does Canada rank compared to other countries in terms of its unemployment rate? (e.g. first out of six)

      Province monthly employment and unemployment rate
      Bar Graph
      Textual description
      Unemployment rates (%) – 2003
      Canada U.S. Mexico UK France Japan
      Men 7.9 6.2 2.3 5.5 8.5 5.4
      Women 7.2 5.7 2.6 4.0 10.9 5.0

Answers:

Question 1 (interpolated – approximate):

Unemployment rates (%) – 2003
Canada U.S. Mexico UK France Japan
Men 7.9 6.2 2.3 5.5 8.5 5.4
Women 7.2 5.7 2.6 4.0 10.9 5.0

Question 2:

a) highest – France; lowest – Mexico; b) France and Mexico; c) second highest of six.

Additional learning exercises

  • Practice using maps to locate buildings, streets, cities or highways.
  • Review the signs at a post office and determine the costs of shipping a standard letter to (a) the United States and (b) to Europe using express post.
  • Practice locating information on complex or detailed tables and graphs.
  • Find a floor plan of your workplace or home and mark the locations of power outlets in one room.
  • Practice finding and determining the shortest route between two locations on a map.
  • Practice converting graphs into tables and vice versa.
  • Practice using instructional diagrams to assemble pieces of equipment or furniture.
  • Open the cover of an office photocopier and identify the various parts referred to in the machine’s operating diagram.
  • Create a daily schedule. Identify each hour you are at work and the corresponding activities you perform throughout the day, including meetings, appointments, breaks, etc.

Name the following icons, symbols and signs commonly found in the workplace

This is a chart with a series of 12 icons
This is a chart with a series of 12 icons
Textual description

This is a chart with a series of 12 icons.

Answers:

1. Recycle; 2. Disability access; 3. Do not enter; 4. Women’s restroom; 5. First aid; 6. Poison; 7. Flammable materials; 8. Wet floors; 9. Men’s restroom; 10. First aid; 11. No parking; 12. Hard hat area.

My learning plan

Complete this worksheet to help guide your skills development. Set a target date to reach your goals and use this date to track your progress.

My learning goal is to improve my document use skills by:

_________________________________ (insert date).

Tips or practice exercises I can use to improve my document use skills include:

_______________________________________________________

_______________________________________________________

Additional resources (e.g. books, courses, workshops, co-workers and/or supervisors, etc.) to help improve my document use skills include:

_______________________________________________________

_______________________________________________________

Additional learning activities (e.g. job shadowing, new work responsibilities, volunteering in my community, etc.) to help improve my document use skills include:

_______________________________________________________

_______________________________________________________

Examples that show I have improved my document use skills include:

_______________________________________________________

_______________________________________________________

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