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How to Mark Up Excel 2013 Worksheets with Digital Ink

If you’re running Excel 2013 with a computer connected to a digital tablet or on a touchscreen, you can mark up your worksheets with digital ink. Excel 2013 running on a computer equipped with a digital tablet or running on a touchscreen device contains a Start Inking command button located at the very end of the Ribbon’s Review tab.

When you tap this command button (or press Alt+RK), Excel displays a Pens tab on the Ink Tools contextual tab.

By default, Excel chooses the felt tip pen as the pen type for annotating the worksheet with digital ink. If you’d prefer to use a ballpoint pen or highlighter in marking up the worksheet, click the Pen command button or Highlighter command button in the Pens group.

When using the highlighter or either of the two pen types (felt tip or ballpoint pen), you can select a nib from the Pens palette displayed in the middle of the Pens tab. You can also select a new line weight for the ink by choosing the point size (running from 3/4 all the way up to 6 points) from the Thickness command button’s drop-down menu.

You can also select a new ink color (yellow being the default color for the highlighter, red for the felt tip pen, and black for ballpoint pen) by clicking its color swatch on the Color command button’s drop-down palette.

After you select the pen nib, color, and line weight, you can use your finger or the stylus that comes with your digital tablet to mark up the spreadsheet as follows:

  • To highlight data in the spreadsheet with the highlighter, drag the highlight mouse pointer through the cells (just as though you had an actual yellow highlighter in your hand).

  • To circle data in the spreadsheet with the felt tip pen, drag the pen tip mouse pointer around the cells in the worksheet.

  • To add a comment with the ballpoint pen, drag the pen tip mouse pointer to write out your text in the worksheet.

The figure shows a copy of the Income Analysis worksheet after the Highlighter and Pen commands on the Pens tab were used to highlight cell B4 in the worksheet, circle it, and write the comment “verify” in digital ink.

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If you make a mistake with ink, you need to remove it and start over again. To delete the ink, select the Eraser command button in the Write group and then tap somewhere on the highlighting, drawing, or handwriting you want to erase with the eraser mouse pointer. (Sometimes you have to drag through the ink to completely remove it.)

Then, reselect the highlighter or felt tip or ballpoint pen and reapply your ink annotation.

When you finish marking up the worksheet with ink, click the Stop Inking command button on the Pens tab of the Ink Tools contextual tab. Excel then closes the Ink Tools contextual tab, once again displaying only the normal Ribbon tabs.

After marking a workbook up with your comments, you can then share it with clients or co-workers either by sending an e-mail message inviting them to review the workbook or actually sending them a copy as an e-mail attachment.

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