Excel 2007 documents – easy on the eyes

One of the themes we focused on with Office 2007 was “great looking documents”.  For the next half-dozen articles, I am going to explain what that means for Excel, and some of the cross-application features that users will see in Office 2007. 

Way back when we were starting planning for Excel 2007, we talked to a lot of people about the documents they created using Office, and we looked at many, many examples of people’s work.  We asked them about what they found difficult, what they would like to see fixed, and what they thought good-looking output looked like.  We also looked at many examples of “professional” output, drawn from textbooks, business journals, scientific journals, and professional design firms.  During our planning, it became clear that there was still a lot of additional capability that we could add in this area that would benefit all sorts of users, so we set out to really improve Excel’s capabilities in this area in a number of ways.  Specifically, we set out to:

  • Address existing limitations in Excel that made it challenging to create modern-looking documents
  • Make formatting documents much faster and simpler
  • Provide professionally-designed content available out-of-the-box
  • Make it easy to see what your work will look like printed as you create it
  • Make it easier to maintain your spreadsheet and update formatting
  • Address some long-standing print-related customer requests
  • Provide some examples of great-looking documents
  • Make it easier to move your content (i.e. charts) to other Office applications (i.e. PowerPoint) without hassle
  • Do this all in a way that is consistent between Word, PowerPoint, and Excel, so that users can apply features from one application in other applications

These goals translated in to the following work:

  • Changing the number of unique colours allowed a single workbook from 56 to 4.3 billion (32-bit colour) (see post here) as well as adding some new visual effects, like gradient fill.
  • Vastly improved charting.  This will be covered in more detail in a later series of posts, but you can check out this post for some visuals that should give you an idea.
  • Improvements to Excel’s existing cell styles feature, and the addition of styles for Tables, PivotTables, and Charts (see here and here for information on Table styles and PivotTable styles)
  • “Galleries” of professionally-designed styles (for all the objects previously listed)
  • A new view – Page Layout View – to supplement Normal and Page Break Preview
  • “Live preview” of formatting
  • Click-and-type headers and footers
  • Some print-related features commonly requested by customers
    “Document Themes” (colour, font, and effect variations that can be shared between Office applications)
  • Updates to Office shapes (think Drawing toolbar) and WordArt
  • ~25 great-looking templates available out-of-the-box

So that’s the introduction.  Next time, I will cover some of the limitations we have changed as well as changes to cell styles.