If you regularly rely upon Excel and plan to upgrade, then prepare to school yourself in its new ways. We suspect that Excel 2007 will be a worthy upgrade for people whose bread-and-butter work involves spreadsheets--especially those that require quick visual analyses of data. However, this may not be the case if you've already memorized old Excel formulas and don't need the visual pizzazz.
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The new interface places formulas and other number-crunching tools within drop-down menus for quick reference.
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From the Microsoft Office menu in the top left of the screen, the Excel Options button lets you customize the program and its toolbars.
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We kept forgetting how to sort the data in Excel 2007 columns. To do that, click the Home tab--not the Insert tab, our first impulse--and look in the Cells box.
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Like most of the other Office 2007 programs, Excel lets you shrink a page view to 10 percent of the page or enlarge it as much as 400 percent by sliding a bar in the lower-right corner of the screen.
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When you highlight desired rows and columns, Excel lets you pick from among many Table Styles galleries to add instant color.
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You can create your own table style and save it to use later in future spreadsheets.
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You'll find Excel's column-sorting options on the Data tab.
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Also under the Data tab, among other advanced functions, you can ask Excel to flag potentially duplicated data.
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Conditional formatting options let you highlight data in a spreadsheet and instantly paint patterns, such as making cells red that contain numbers within a precise range.
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Conditional formatting also allows you to select spreadsheet cells and apply arrows, flags, and smiley-face icons to analyze the ups and downs of data values.
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While most of the galleries within Office 2007 are designed to let you mouse over a style and preview it on the fly, Excel's Chart Type and Chart Styles don't work that way. Instead, we had to click on a type or style and apply the change to see it reflected in a chart.