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Five Things You Might Know About Excel 2010

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Personally, I don’t really care for upgrades that are more or less cosmetic, and in my not-so-humble opinion, Excel 2010 is Excel 2007 plus perhaps a blush of rouge on the cheeks.

Now, before the engineers at Redmond break out in open rebellion, I’ll admit that there are some additions that are very nifty indeed – witness the rather handy sparklines, for example. But really and truly, nothing stands out as far as I’m concerned – well, nothing as revolutionary as Excel 2007 was over Excel 2003.

But there are some things that have been changed, and can lead to a lot of lost productivity in office – you know, little things that have been tweaked, changed or hidden. Here are five of those potential work-traps:

1) The File Button: Excel 2007 had a nice big shiny logo at the top left, which hid a treasure trove of options for advanced Excel users. For reasons best known to User Experience specialists at Microsoft, that treasure trove is now hidden under a harder-to-find non-descript green button called “File”.

We didn’t like the round, unlabeled button that no one knew what to call, but we don’t think they quite aced the File button options. 

2) Customize Ribbons All you Like: Excel 2007 offered you a wishy-washy way to do this, but Excel 2010 lets you do pretty much what you like. You can create a new tab, a new group – it’s all down to your convenience.

Finding these buttons is another story – you’ll have to go into File-land, choose customize ribbon, and hidden at the bottom right of the new pop-up box are these buttons. After that, grouping items the way you like them is a piece of cake – and in the long run, a productivity boon as well!

3) The Backstage View: This one I really like – Excel 2010 groups all the common tasks associated with files – saving, saving as, printing and e-mailling – all in one view that they call the backstage view. Again, the backstage view is accessed by clicking on the “File”button, and then on “Info” – but this is a very welcome addition indeed.

4) Improved Filters: There is an Excel God, and she’s finally answered my prayers. I couldn’t for the life of me understand why a simple search box was not present in the filter drop-down box, and I (finally) needn’t gnash my teeth in frustration any more. Use filters in Excel, and a pleasing little drop box pops open with a fully functional search box. Ease-of-use… from Microsoft products. Whatever next?

5) Equations! Forgive my enthusiasm, but a lot of my work overlaps academia, finance and Excel. And until now, it was well nigh impossible to get equation editing capabilities into Excel – well, certainly not as a default option. But now, all one needs to do is enter the Insert realm, and make one’s way over to the far right. Lo and behold, the insert equation button.

So, all in all, you’ll still have trouble convincing me that the extra bucks that Microsoft gobbles up for 2010 are worth it. But hey, if you’ve made the switch, you’d want to know about these little tweaks – some are helpful, and some induce the odd head-scratching moment. 

Got some tips and tricks of your own about the latest and greatest version of the spreadsheet monster that is Excel 2010? Let us know in the comments!