Microsoft Office for Mac 2011: Clunky to cool

By Jake Widman, Computerworld |  Software, Microsoft Office, Office 2011

Search and replace works much the same way. Choosing Replace opens a new sidebar at the left side of the window with the Find and Replace fields. Typing a term in the Find box highlights all the occurrences of the term in your document while the sidebar shows a list of the matches in context. Clicking on one takes you to that place in your document.

Just plain Find, on the other hand, now works like it does in a browser -- there's a search bar at the top right of the window, and you can type in your search term there to highlight all instances of the term. But even better, hitting Command-G steps you through them, one after another. I've been trying to use that key combination to search in Word for years, forgetting that I'm not in a browser, and it finally works, making this my favorite new feature so far.

Word also now offers a Full Screen view that shows just your document -- no Toolbars or Ribbon, no menus, no desktop or other windows, just a white page against a black backdrop. The Full Screen view has a Read mode, in which you can't even type, so you're not tempted to do anything but read.

Excel

Excel 2011 doesn't pile on the new features as much as it makes some of the program's advanced features easier to use. But there is one new feature worthy of note. Sparklines are basically graphs contained within a cell. If you're tracking sales figures by season, for example, you can embed a line chart at the end of each item's row to give a quick snapshot of the seasonal trend. It's an easy way to represent the data visually right next to the data itself.

The potential of the Ribbon in easing some tasks is particularly evident in Excel. For example, the Home tab contains a Conditional Formatting button. Select some cells and click on the button, and a dropdown menu gives quick access to some common choices, such as the ability to highlight values above or below a certain amount.

Filters are also easy to use. Clicking the Filter icon in the toolbar puts a small triangle at the top of each column. Click on that, and a dropdown menu presents the filtering criteria available: ascending or descending sort, display only cells of a certain color, hide rows that contain particular entries and so on.

Perhaps most impressive of the new data-manipulation features is the Pivot Table Builder. Pivot tables let you summarize data in flexible ways -- for example, you can look at an expenses spreadsheet and group the items by department, location or whatever else your analysis requires. In Excel 2011, once you have data in a table, one click on a Ribbon button brings up a sheet with the options for creating a pivot table. You can drag fields to the appropriate categories on the sheet to set up rows and categories, and then format them.

PowerPoint


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