Thursday, 27 October 2011

The New Excel 2007 Interface - A Positive Experience For The Excel User

Whether you are a casual user, data junkie or number cruncher, from Excel 2007 onwards Microsoft has changed the face of their application in a major way. If you or your organisation has just upgraded or is looking to do so in the near future then how you use Excel has or will be doing so in the near future change forever. Change is good though right?.... RIGHT!
By changing the way we interact with Excel 2007 onwards Microsoft I believe has unleashed way more power of Excel to the users. The commands you need to do the job at hand are right there based on what you are doing. if you are writing a formula all the formula related tools and commands are displayed at your fingertips. Creating a table?, yes you have guessed it- all of you table commands will be there for you.
Excel 2007 now has fantastic charting tools allowing you to create professional looking charts with just a few clicks, create turbo charged visual enhancements and you have the ability to interact with your charts whether it's in Word 2007 or PowerPoint 2007- nice!
Work with large files?, you can now reduce the size of the workbooks you work with by using a compressed XML format which is great for storage and bandwidth savings.
If data analysis is your thing then love the ease with which you can find trends in your data, use conditional formatting and new schemes for data display include heat maps, data bars and performance indicators.
To help you get to grips quickly with this new Graphical User Interface (GUI) the main components are parts are explained below, you will be flying in no time with this new way of working and interacting with Excel.
The Office Button
Any recent files you have opened will be displayed when you click on the Office Button, along with a few basic commands and the extensive menu that sits in the Excel Options. In here you find menus to change calculations, some display commands and all of the options previously found in the prior versions of Excel.
The Quick Access Toolbar(QAT)
Once this is set up- everything you have decided you need to hand, will be. No clicking on menus and sub menus- this is the beauty of the QAT, set it up yourself and away you go! You have the option of storing up to 1000 commands on your QAT. All you need to do is go to the small arrow to the right of it and select " More Commands". You will see the window below:
In the top left text box you can select to see Popular Commands or All Commands, jut select the command/s you want and hit Add. Once the command/s have been added to your QAT. Use the up and down arrows to move the position of each of your commands then hit ok. If you want start again with the default settings for the toolbar then hit Reset.
Depending on the type of things you use Excel for your QAT might look very different to someone else's.
The Scrollbar
This remains pretty much unchanged from previous versions of Excel. Once great feature however is the double arrow just below the formula bar, this expands the active cell and allows you to display way more of the active cell contents. This I find great for looking at long formulas. Also just below the double arrow is a mini sign which when is clicked splits your screen in two.
The View Toolbar
A great addition is the View Toolbar at the bottom of the screen giving you a choice to display your screen either normally, with Page Layout and Page Break Preview, as well as a slider that lets you easily zoom in and out of your document.
The Excel Ribbons
At first the Ribbon idea maybe offputting to many users, but to be honest most people I have talked to on this subject have found it way more intuitive and easier than the old Excel Menus and Submenus, once you get used it it. The Ribbon is made up of numerous components, basically it consists of Tabs with Command Buttons arranged in Groups.
Tabs-the tabs bring together the commands needed to carry out Excel's core tasks. Contextual tabs display any additional commands and tools but only when you are working with a particular object in a worksheet for example a graph.
Groups-the groups organize any related command buttons into subtasks normally associated with the Tabs larger core tasks.
Command Buttons-in each group command buttons used to perform an action, or open a gallery from which you can select a particular thumbnail.
Dialog Box Launcher-in the lower right corner of some groups you will find the launcher where you can find more options related to that group.
Excel 2007 version onwards is a radically different piece of software than it's predecessors, but don't be afraid of change, embrace it and get wrapped with the Ribbon in particular you will soon wonder how you ever managed to learn all of the previous menus and sub menus of days gone by!! The result of this new way of working puts real power to the end user to accomplish much more in analysis, charting and sharing information than ever before, and that can only be a good thing.

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