Dear Heloise:

I work as a data-entry operator and have a few hints for people so that they can get the information or rebate they are requesting:

Write legibly. Take the time to print the information so that I can read it. Please be especially careful to write legibly if your name is foreign-language-based in case I am not familiar with the conventions of your native language. Also, be sure to check "male" or "female" if it is asked.

When providing an e-mail address, please differentiate between a zero and the letter "o." Also, be sure to complete the address. Not everyone knows that Heloise is .com, and without those four little characters, you will never get an e-mail.

Do not assume that information is being entered locally, so write out your city name in full.

Try to use a blue or black pen. Hot-pink or turquoise metallic pens are very difficult to read.

Do not write in extra information not asked for on the form. In most programs, there is nowhere to enter anything other than what is actually asked for. For example, writing "please don't share my information" does no good because there is no place for me to enter that information.

Last, if you are providing your telephone number, be sure to include the area code first in parentheses.

Susan, via e-mail

Dear Heloise:

I received the neatest gift for my 75th birthday and wanted to share this with your readers. What can you give to a 75-year-old lady with a houseful of stuff?

My out-of-town family sent me a box with little wrapped gifts, which arrived on my birthday.

To name a few of the gifts: comb, brush, tissues, hand lotion, hand wipes, pillbox, sewing kit, pen and notebook, mints, gift certificates for local restaurants and pictures of the grandchildren. It was so much fun for me -- there were 75 gifts to open.

Eleanor G.

Silver Spring

This is a beautiful hint and one that certainly stretches out the fun of opening presents.

Send a money- or time-saving hint to Heloise, P.O. Box 795000, San Antonio, Tex. 78279-5000, fax it to 210-HELOISE or e-mail it to Heloise@Heloise.com. Please include your city and state when faxing or using e-mail. I can't answer your letter personally but will use the best hints received in my column.

(c)2004, King Features Syndicate