Using Excel’s Common Interface in Office 2011 for Mac

By Geetesh Bajaj, James Gordon

When you’re working in Excel for Mac 2011, you have your choice of two views: Page Layout view and Normal view. Whether you prefer to work in Page Layout view or Normal view, most interface components are the same in both views.


  • Workbook: Each filename in Excel is the title of its corresponding workbook. Each workbook contains at least one worksheet.

  • Menu bar: This is the topmost set of controls. The menu bar is Mac only. Menus are customizable and programmable via both VBA and AppleScript.

  • Standard toolbar: The Standard toolbar is at the top part of each document window, along with standard Open, Minimize, and Close buttons. The Standard toolbar is customizable within Excel and roughly equivalent in that respect to the Quick Access Toolbar of Office for Windows.

    If you want to do more with the Standard toolbar, it’s also programmable via VBA and AppleScript.

  • Show/Hide Toolbar: This tablet-shaped button toggles the Standard toolbar’s visibility off and on.

  • Ribbon: The Ribbon is new to Excel 2011. The Ribbon is tabbed and displays between the Standard toolbar and the Formula bar.

  • Formula bar: Major changes were made to Formula bar for Excel 2011. Instead of one Formula bar for the entire Excel application, there is now a Formula bar in each workbook’s window. When working with more than one open workbook at a time, pay attention to which window’s Formula bar you’re using. This takes getting used to.

  • Worksheet: In a standard Excel worksheet, you can enter text and formulas, perform calculations, and store data. Each open worksheet has its own window.

  • View buttons: Click these buttons to switch between Page Layout view and Normal view.

    Sheet tab: Each sheet in a workbook has a name that appears on its tab near the bottom of the window.

    At long last, the most requested feature from Windows Excel has come to the Mac — color sheet tabs. To change a sheet tab’s color, right-click the tab and then choose Tab Color from the contextual menu.

  • + (Add Sheet): Click the plus sign to add a new, blank standard worksheet to your workbook. You can add as many worksheets as you want until your computer runs out of memory.

  • Range tool: Also known as the name box, this tool allows you to name a range of cells in a worksheet.

  • Toolbox: Click the Toolbox button on the Standard toolbar to display the Toolbox.

  • Media browser: Click the Media button on the Standard toolbar to display the Media browser.

  • Rows: Excel has 1,048,576 rows on each worksheet. Row numbers display at the left side of a worksheet. When used as a database, each row with data is a record.

  • Columns: Excel offers 16,384 columns in a worksheet. Column letters display at the top edge of the worksheet.

  • Cells: A worksheet in Excel has 17,179,869,184 cells.

If you find you’re pushing Excel’s limits and want to know exactly what they are, search Excel’s Help for the “Specifications and Limits for Excel” topic. You can find such information as how many characters fit into one cell and how many nested levels you can have in a function.

Like other Office applications, you can find context-sensitive menus just about everywhere you right-click in Excel.