But wait, there’s more (styles) … Table Styles in Excel 2007

Last post we looked at Cell Styles – both the changes we made to the feature as well as the set of Cell Styles that will ship in the Office public beta.  Today, I wanted to revisit another (completely new) set of styles that are part of Excel 2007 – Table Styles.

Long-time Excel blog readers will remember I already described Table styles to a large extent.  There is a whole category of posts on Tables (new to Excel 2007) here, and there is  a post on Table Styles  specifically here, so folks might want to read those posts as background.  Essentially, Table Styles provide a way to quickly format an entire table using a preset style definition.  It is similar in concept to the AutoFormat feature Excel had in the past, with a couple key differences:

  • Table styles are dynamic, not a one-time formatting operation, so the formatting associated with the style behaves intelligently through many table actions – addition or deletion of rows or columns, sort, filter, etc.
  • The UI for applying styles – galleries in the ribbon, just like Cell Styles – is a big step forward.  This is a great example of the kinds of benefit the ribbon brings to Excel.
  • They are part of a broader set of work that includes cell styles, chart styles, PivotTable styles, and document themes.  As I have mentioned a few times, the goal of all this work is to make it fast and easy to create professional-quality, consistent-looking documents.
  • There will be a healthy variety available.  Excel 12 will ship with ~50 table styles out of the box, and users will be able to vary the colours used by the style, so users will have hundreds of styles available with one or two clicks of the mouse.  If none of the built-in styles tickle your fancy or suit your presentation, you will be able to create your own custom styles which are sharable with others.

I wanted to do two things with this post.  First, show you the styles we will ship in the public beta (and we would love to hear feedback on what you see), and second, show you an example of the various elements turned on and off.

Here is a screen shot of the Table Style gallery fully expanded.  Notice the styles are organized into three groups – light, medium, and dark.  Generally, there are a few different designs in each category, which are presented in a number of different colours (the colours are from the document theme).  We did a bunch of user research and testing in this area, and what we found is users, in general, did fairly straightforward formatting of tables, and they wanted a reasonable selection of colours.

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If you change the document theme, you get a whole different set of colours to choose from, so getting lots of variation – in this case more subtle Table Styles – is quite simple.  (You can also see how the table colour automatically updates when the theme is changed, as would any other styles in the document … Cell, Chart, etc.)

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Of course, it is also easy to build your own custom styles, should none of the built-in ones suit your work.

While I think the thumbnails do a pretty good job at communicating results, I wanted to give you a sample of what is possible out of the box, so here are a few examples of tables with different table styles applied.  I have tried to include a few from each category (light, medium, and dark).

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Just like Cell Styles, Table Styles change when you change the Document Theme.  Here is the same spreadsheet as in the previous screenshot with a different Document Theme selected (two mouse clicks).  The Table Styles are the same, but the colours have changed, giving me a whole new set of formatting to choose from.   We are shipping about 20 Document Themes and 50 Table Styles, so that gives users 1,000 looks to choose from even before they create their own Table Styles and Document Themes.

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One last thing to note is that the styles change as you turn on and off different formatting elements.  Specifically, users can turn on and off Table Headers, Total Rows, Row Banding, Column Banding, and First Column and Last Column emphasis.  The user interface to turn these elements on and off is located beside the Table Style gallery on the Table Tools tab.

When the users turns these elements on and off, the thumbnail preview in the Table Style gallery changes accordingly.  For example, if you turn off row banding, and turn on first column and total row, the choices now look like this.

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The final thing I want to show you today is some samples of tables that have different elements turned on and off.  The  9 tables below are all the same Table with the same Table Style applied, but I have turned on and off various elements of the table.  You can see how easy it is to move from a simple matrix without labels to a Table that looks like it belongs in a textbook.

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That’s it for today.  We would love to hear your feedback.  Tomorrow, PivotTable styles.