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Buying estimating software is less difficult if you're armed with the right decision-making information. In the August issue we studied the "price book" or database section of estimating programs. This month, we'll cover the takeoff or bidding section. Remember, brand isn't as important as understanding how a program functions. Once the database (our list of priced items of work) has been entered into the estimating program, we are ready to make an estimate. When we sit down to make a bid, the computer program brings our data items onto the screen, and we enter a quantity for each item of work in the bid. The program then calculates the prices and stores them in a separate computer file (coded by