Top Ten Features in Excel 2010

Part of the Excel 2010 For Dummies Cheat Sheet

If you’re looking for a quick rundown on what’s cool in Excel 2010, look no further! Just a cursory glance down the list tells you that the thrust of the features is graphics, graphics, graphics!

  • Conditional Formatting & Sparklines: Conditional formatting in Excel 2010 gives you the ability to define formatting when the values in cells meet certain conditions. You can now instantly apply one of many different Data Bars, Color Scales, and Icon Sets to the cell selection merely by clicking the set’s thumbnail in the respective pop-up palettes.

    When you apply a set of Data Bars to a cell range, the length of each bar in the cell represents its value relative to the others. When you apply a set of Color Scales, each shade of color in the cell represents its value relative to the others. Additionally, when you apply one of the Icon Sets, each icon in the cell represents its value relative to the others.

    Sparklines are the newest graphic addition to Excel. They are tiny charts (so small they fit within the current height of a worksheet cell) that visually represent changes in ranges of associated data. You can use sparklines to call attention to trends in the data as well as to help your users quickly spot high and low values.

  • Cell Styles: Excel 2010 offers more than 40 colorful ready-made styles. These are styles you can preview in the worksheet with Live Preview before you apply them. You apply a cell style to the cell selection by quickly and easily clicking its thumbnail in the Cells Styles gallery.

  • Formatting and Editing from the Home tab: The Home tab of the Excel Ribbon literally brings home all the commonly used formatting and editing features. Gone are the days when you have to fish for the right button on some long, drawn-out toolbar or on some partially deployed pull-down menu. Now all you have to do is find the group that holds the command button you need and click it. What could be easier!

  • Charts from the Insert tab: Excel 2010 retires the Chart Wizard and offers you direct access to all the major types of charts on the Ribbon’s Insert tab. Simply select the data to chart, click the command button for the chart type on the Insert tab, and then select the style you want for that chart type. And with a little help from the many command buttons and galleries on the Design, Layout, and Format tabs on its Chart Tools contextual tab, you have a really professional-looking chart ready for printing!

  • Format As Table: This feature is a real keeper. By formatting a table of data with one of the many table styles available on the Table Styles drop-down gallery, you’re assured that all new entries made to the table are going to be formatted in the same manner as others in similar positions in the table. Better yet, all new entries to the table are considered part of the table automatically when it comes to formatting, sorting, and filtering.

  • Page Layout View: When you turn on this view by clicking the Page Layout View button on the Status bar, Excel doesn’t just show the page breaks as measly dotted lines as in earlier versions but as actual separations. Additionally, the program shows the margins for each page, including headers and footers defined for the report (which you can both define and edit directly in the margin areas while the program is in this view).

    As an extra nice touch, Excel throws in a pair of horizontal and vertical rulers to accompany the standard column and row headers. Couple this great feature with the Zoom slider and the Page Break Preview feature and you’re going to enjoy getting the spreadsheet ready to print.

  • Style Galleries: Excel 2010 is jammed full of style galleries that make it a snap to apply new sophisticated (and, in many cases, very colorful) formatting to the charts, tables and lists of data, and various and sundry graphics that you add to your worksheets. Coupled with the Live Preview feature, Excel’s style galleries go a long way toward encouraging you to create better looking, more colorful, and interesting spreadsheets.

  • Document Information and Printing in Backstage View: The brand new Backstage View in Excel enables you to get all the properties and stats (technically known as metadata) about the workbook file you’re editing (including a thumbnail of its contents) on one pane simply by choosing FileInfo (Alt+F). This new Backstage View also makes it a breeze to preview, change settings, and print your worksheet using its new Print panel by choosing FilePrint (Ctrl+P or Alt+FP).

  • The Ribbon: The Ribbon is the heart of the new Excel 2010 user interface. Based on a core of standard tabs to which various so-called contextual tabs are added as needed in formatting and editing of specific elements (such as data tables, charts, pivot tables, and graphic objects), the Ribbon brings together most every command you’re going to need when performing particular tasks in Excel.

  • Live Preview: Live Preview works with all the style galleries as well as Font and Font Size drop-down menus in the Font group on the Home tab. It enables you to see how the data in the current cell selection would look with a particular formatting, font, or font size before you actually apply the formatting to the range. All you have to do is mouse over the thumbnails in the drop-down menu or gallery to see how each of its styles will look on your actual data.

    Many of the larger style galleries sport spinner buttons that enable you to bring new rows of thumbnails in the gallery into view so that you can preview their styles without obscuring any part of the cell selection (as would be the case if you actually open the gallery by clicking its More drop-down button). When you finally do see the formatting that fits your data to a tee, all you have to do is click its thumbnail to apply it to the selected cell range.

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Excel 2010 For Dummies Cheat Sheet

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