If you're a full-time spreadsheet jockey, or just a casual number-cruncher, you've come to know and either love or hate Excel's interface. Well, your world just changed. Throw away almost everything you know about Excel's look and feel. Microsoft Corp. made some very dramatic changes in Excel 2007.
The good news is that you should welcome most of the changes, because they make it easier to get at all of Excel's power. The bad news is that you're going to have to learn how to use the application again.
That's where we come in. We'll give you a guided tour of the new interface, show you what's new and what's the same, and offer tips and tricks for getting the most out of Excel 2007.
So come along with us, and you'll find yourself creating charts and crunching numbers in no time at all.
Get the lay of the land
The Excel 2007 interface represents possibly the biggest change Microsoft has made to the look and feel of the program and to how you get at its myriad features. No matter what you do -- from opening files or adding formulas to creating charts or even just using a menu -- you'll find things have changed.
Here's a quick guided tour to the Excel 2007 interface:
The Microsoft Office button. The big button on the upper left-hand corner of the screen replaces the old File menu from previous versions of Excel. You'll find familiar features for opening files, saving files, printing files and so on, but there's a lot more here as well, as you'll discover later in this guide.
The Quick Access toolbar. Just to the right of the Office button is the Quick Access toolbar, with buttons for using Excel’s most common features, including Save, Undo, Redo, Sort, Print Preview and more, but you can add and remove buttons for any functions you please. More on that later.
The Ribbon. Love it or hate it, the Ribbon is the main way you'll work with Excel. Instead of old-style menus, in which menus have submenus, submenus have sub-submenus and so on, the Ribbon groups small icons for common tasks together in tabs on a big, well, ribbon. So, for example, when you click the Insert tab, the Ribbon appears with buttons for items that you can insert into a spreadsheet, such as charts, tables, pivot tables, clip art or a hyperlink.
If you've spent years getting to know Excel's old interface, you'll likely be frustrated at having to learn a whole new interface. But even if you hate the Ribbon initially, it can be your friend; check out the section Learn to love the Ribbon for details.
The Scrollbar. This is largely unchanged from previous versions of Excel; use it to scroll up and down. There are a couple of minor changes. At the top, there's a double arrow that when clicked upon, expands the area at the top of the worksheet that displays the contents of the current cell. Just below the double arrow is a tiny button that looks like a minus sign that lets you split your screen in two.
The View toolbar. There is now a View toolbar at the bottom right of the screen that lets you choose between Normal, Page Layout and Page Break Preview -- a view that will show you how your spreadsheet will look when it prints. There's also a slider that lets you zoom in or out of your document.