Categorized | excel tips

Excel 2007

Excel 2007 finally happened to me. Its not that I’ve never though of moving to Excel 2007 from the 2003 avatar of Excel, but you see, yours truly has never been accused of being an early adopter in the past, no sir never, and I’ve got a duty to protect that reputation. I bought my first phone after it had been on the market for a few years, bought my first car after it had been on road for a few thousand kilometers and got married more than two decades after I was born. Today I add to this illustrious set of accomplishments by taking my first look at Excel 2007, something that comes at a time when others are busy writing books on the next release. In marketing terms, they call people like me “late adopters” – people who may not necessarily be risk averse but their trade-off thresholds are higher than most others. To be honest, guys like me like to move on to new things (a new car, or say a new wife, once in a while perhaps – if you please). However we would like to be a bit certain about the outcome and rather not bring home a surprise (“the clutch you see sir, isn’t broken yet and may actually go on for a few more months”).

Ok so for whatever its worth, I am putting pen in the ink and here we go.


Ummmmm….aaaaa…..Ok……this is cool ! The Interface in Excel 2007

That’s what comes to mind when you opened your first worksheet in Excel 2007. The Ummmm and the aaaaaa parts come from the realization that something that looks this good can’t really be that bad (but hey, wait a minute ….. I thought the same way before I got married). After having been ridiculed, lampooned and crucified at every review, I was nearly hoping this was going to be really really bad. You see, people like me get a certain sense of satisfaction, nay, pleasure when we see rushing foolhardily into things and then coming back with a sulk and a hurt ego. But Excel 2007’s interface is different, it looks good and was actually useful in a few…. ok…. many ways. The everyday poor practitioners like me will be let down by the menu options not responding in tandem with the shortcut keys and the reduction of the screen space occupied by the ribbon though the later can be reduced to occupy less.


Now I am not saying that I like all of it, no good heavens no, its just that if somebody like my dad had a installation of this thing done on his laptop, he could actually be able to write his first formula and probably even create a chart or two of his own. He created me a few years back so I have reason to believe he is capable of producing things that are world class (ok change that to “in a class of their own”). So Excel 2005 gets 3 stars (that *** many stars, for any numerically challenged people reading this article) on this front.

Formulas in Excel 2007

Let’s change gears, shall we. (ok ok say we just pressed the clutch a little. Refer clutch above.) The first thing I did was to open a spreadsheet and write myself a brand new formula. Yesssir, we did. At first, with my concentration solely on entering the right keys on the keyboard, I didn’t notice anything. I was about to pass this off as a missed opportunity, hey presto…there they were – all the wonderful formula helpers floating around the cursor telling me what I could’ve done more after having written a part of the formula. The makers have also inserted a few useful formulas like AVERAGEIF (If and AVERAGE rolled in to one) and SUMIFS. I have reason to believe that they have introduced some 51 new functions in Excel 2007 Neat eh!


So that gets another 4 stars from us (that’s **** stars). We are now getting to a point where the brunette in the kitchen can also begin to write a few on her own. (Though I doubt she will ever be able to get over her Solitaire fixation)

Charts … they kick a** (mine and everybody else’s who thought that charts in Excel suck)

Charts were great in Excel 2003 and all the previous versions. The problem was that people were just not willing to put in the extra few hours required for format them properly and getting them right. Sometimes people are like that – you give them a perfectly good set of tools and they will not use it simply because it takes a bit of an effort.

However the most impressive part of Excel 2007, ladies and gentlemen, is ….hold your breath…..

…..hold it a bit more…….


Charting has been taken to another level, look wise, in Excel 2007. You can now pick and choose a chart type from all the available types from a single window. Hopefully, this simple step will go a long way in improving the lives of people on this planet – lesser pies.

I tested opening a workbook with a lot of charts that were created in Excel 2003 and barring one, most were true to form.

However the biggest let down was in copy pasting the charts from Excel 2007 to 2003. The good looking chart that you created in 2007 version when copy pasted in 2007 gets pasted as an image. However the other steps for creating a chart were easier than 2003 (if you take out the “how dare they change everything that I’ve learnt” part out of it). I struggled with adding a title to the chart but I found it staring right at me under the “Layout” -> “Chart Title” ribbon. The default colors have been worked and the charts look so much the better for it. I mean now I can create all those wonderful 3-D charts in 50 different colors that everyone likes…yipeee!


Double-clicking on the charts in Excel 2007 opens up the relevant ribbon that I would guess might be useful to some of us.

Pivot Tables in Excel 2007

Pivot tables in Excel 2007 have remained more or less the same. However the ribbon has bought forth many features that otherwise would have remained hidden below multi-level menu options. The most promising part is actually the reworked Pivot Table Field List that allows users to move fields around and see the impact right away. Now this is one feature that even the seasoned professionals will love to play with. Another feature that has been to light is the conditional formatting for pivot table data.


(coming soon – Part II of this article)

What Do You Think ?

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Comments and Trackbacks

  1. Jon Peltier wrote:

    The default charts look a little better. The lines are too thick, like they were drawn by a kid with a crayon, but at least the colors don’t suck.

    But did you actually try modifying a chart? All that gratuitous glitter and shine hides the awful dialogs and the tortuous path through the ribbon tabs. Plus the fact that the F4 Repeat Last Action command has been emasculated. The interface is so much more awkward than 2003’s ever was.

  2. Ajay wrote:

    I am kind of stumbling my way through a few of these. The shortcuts don’t respond as well, you cant right click and select/copy the entire pivot table and a few others pesky little things. On the other the page layout looks better, colors are a definite improvement and chartjunk has thankfully been reduced a lot etc.etc.

    I’ve just scratched the surface but I do get the feeling that the interface has been designed to improve “discoverability” of options that normal people (<>geeks) would generally want or like to use but could not figure out how. For practitioners, we’ve still got 2003 and I am not complaining too much. I guess MS decided to take the plunge and based upon the feedback they get from actual users hereonwards (if they ever collect it) may decide which one (Excel 2003 or 2007) interface is more useful.

    Ever played a video game where the game make you go through the same initial steps/narration/briefing before you can actually start playing on your own ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. jeff weir wrote:

    And trying to drag a pivot field to a field area is really really painful if those areas already have lots of fields in them, because Excel often scrolls the list of fields that are already there at exactly the time when you’re releasing the mouse button, meaning the field goes anywhere but where you wanted it.

    And formatting anything multiple times is a nightmare.

    And…okay, enough already. But for each step forward in one area, there’s at least one step back in another. Whereas MS should have made sure that everything new was good. What a wasted opportunity to really improve the overall usability of Excel 2003.

  4. chrisham wrote:

    Better late than never! Wait a little more longer and you can make the switch directly to the 2010 release

  5. chrisham wrote:

    By the way Ajay, I love your posts! Keep up the good work.

  6. Ajay wrote:

    Jeff – Points well made. I am sure I’ll discover a few of m own shortly.

    Chrisham – Thanks and welcome to da TaB ! I think the chances of my trying out 2010 anytime before 2015 are about as high as batman deciding to wear his UVโ€™s inside his costume Actually if 2010 requires anything more than 256mb RAM and 1ghz of chip, the trade-off would be a pretty emotional one as well ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. Miron wrote:

    Your Pivot table remarks smacks of ignorance, love your example if only I would need a simple pivot like that. They would be great! it something I would “will love to play with”

    Good on ya mate…

    Excel 2007 ruined a really good tool. and made a beautiful piece of …

  8. Ajay wrote:

    You are kind of right Miron. This post was my first reaction – when I started working with Excel 2007. And yes, I was being as ignorant as I could’ve been ๐Ÿ™‚ I was more or less neutral (with slightly positive bias) on Excel 2007 then. Having worked a bit more on it since that time hasn’t caused that opinion to change too much. There are problems – no doubt about it. But I would still say that MS has taken a step forward for every steps they have taken backwards (and not the other way round). Excel 2003 is amazing once you know how to use it – and it still remains my tool of choice. But Excel 2007 probably makes the learning curve much less steeper but once you are over that, productivity suffers. I wish they had retained the keyboard support and the original menu – add in the ribbon – and that would have been just about perfect.


  1. Excel 2007 - Review Continues | da TaB is On wrote:

    […] Excel 2007 was, for me, the discovery of the month. This article continues the review that I started in the previous post. Though this post should have been written about two years back, inspiration only struck me this weekend. […]

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    […] those who read my review of Excel 2007, I mentioned that the chances of my being able to try out Excel 2010 anytime soon werenโ€™t very high. Excel 2010, I thought at that time, and considering how Excel […]


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