Microsoft Office 2010: The best new features in Excel

Excel is arguably the most under-utilized Microsoft Office product when it comes to advanced features.  Ask people what features they most like in Excel and they usually describe the spreadsheet and graphing tools.  But that is just a very small part of the capabilities built into Excel.  From tools for statistical, engineering and financial functions, to pivot tables, to Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) programming, you can use Excel for simple to complex data analysis and display with easy to read graphs and charts.

If you haven’t used the advanced tools in Excel, start by trying the new features to get the most from your software investment. Analyze your data to discover patterns or trends, then display with graphs and charts that illuminate the best course of action.  With a little practice, you will improve your ability to study large data sets and make the most informed decisions.

Make fast, effective comparisons

Sparklines – Use sparklines to graphically display data in a single cell.  You can display data in line, column or win/loss format to highlight trends. On the Insert tab, choose the type of Sparkline and your data range.  Customize your sparklines for optimum effect by selecting the sparkline and choosing the Design tab.

Slicer – Slicers are filtering components that allow you to slice-and-dice your data without having to open drop down lists.  Slicers make it easier to segment and filter data in PivotTables for high powered business intelligence.

Step up your analysis

Search Filter – Use the new Search Filter to quickly and easily narrow your search in tables, PivotTable, and PivotChart views. You can instantly sort through a million or more items.

PowerPivot (formerly called Project “Gemini”) Add-In – Groundbreaking technology that allows you streamlined integration of data from multiple sources and lightning-fast manipulation of large data sets with up to millions of rows. Effortlessly publish and share analysis through Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010 and have other users enjoy the same Slicer and fast-query capabilities when working on their Excel Services report.

Backstage – The Microsoft Office Backstage view replaces the traditional file menu with an ergonomic approach that uses In and Out features for efficiency.  The improved Ribbon lets you access your favorite commands quickly and create custom tabs to personalize the way you work.

Jazz up your data presentations

Conditional Formatting – Excel 2010 adds sophistication to conditional formatting.  Give your document a professional look by adding eye-catching formats.  You have more choices and control over styles and icons, improved data bars, and the ability to highlight specific items in a few clicks. You can also display data bars for negative values and use color for effect.

Work from anywhere

Online – Post your spreadsheets online and work on them from virtually anywhere from the Web or your Windows Mobile-based Smartphone. With Excel 2010, you can take advantage of a best-in-class spreadsheet experience across multiple locations and devices.

Excel Web App – Extend your Office experience to the Web, and view and edit your spreadsheets through the Excel Web App when you’re away.

Excel Mobile 2010 – Stay up-to-the-minute and communicate on-demand by using a mobile version of Excel specifically suited to your Smartphone.

For other interesting features and functions, try Goal Seek to give you a what-if analysis to test your scenarios, experiment with linear regression to understand relationships in your data or just play with the new formatting tools. But once you uncover the “hidden” features in Excel, you will be enthusiastically hooked.

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