10 awesome new features in Excel 2013

The number-crunching workhorse in the Office suite is getting new tools to help newbies and power users alike.

By Helen Bradley, PC World |  Enterprise Software, Excel

3. Make Flash Fill magic

The most whiz-bang new feature is the Flash Fill tool. Its predictive data entry can detect patterns and extract and enter data that follows a recognizable pattern. It solves some common problems that currently require cumbersome workarounds to achieve.

One such problem is extracting a person's first name from a column of full names. In a blank column adjacent to the one that contains full names, you simply type the first name and then click the Home tab, and select Fill, Flash Fill. The first names of everyone in the list will be entered into that column immediately. You can use the same process to extract last names, to join first and last names, to extract months, days or years from dates and even extract values from cells.  While you could have always done this with formulas, now Flash Fill ensures anyone can do it very quickly and easily.

4. Simplify choices with Recommended Charts

This falls somewhere between a whiz-bang new feature and something that makes working in Excel more intuitive. Recommended Charts shows only a subset of chart types that are appropriate to the data you've selected. It will help inexperienced users create charts that help explain the data and don't confuse the viewer.

To use the tool, select the data that you want to chart, click the Insert tab and select Recommended Charts. A dialog appears with a range of charts to choose from--click each in turn to see how your data will look plotted on that chart. Select the desired option and click OK, and the chart is created automatically.

5. Chart tools get smarter

In previous versions of Excel, when a chart is selected, the Chart Tools tab revealed three additional tabs: Design, Layout, and Format. The interface is simpler in Excel 2013, with only the Design and Format tabs to choose from.

In addition, a set of icons appears outside the top right edge of a chart when it is selected. Click any of these buttons--Chart  Elements, Chart Styles or Chart Filters--to reveal additional chart formatting options. Click Chart Elements to add or remove elements, such as axis titles and legends; click Chart Styles to change the style and color of your chart; or click Chart Filters to view filtered data using a live preview.


Originally published on PC World |  Click here to read the original story.
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