While this book will certainly assist students new to Excel 2010, it will be most valuable to those that have just upgraded from Excel 2003 to the 2010 version. The book will walk students through the advances of Excel 2010 (when compared to the 2003 version), as well as a detailed visit to each tab in the new Ribbon, along with each group of features and functions on those tabs. If you have been using an earlier version of Excel, this book will help you understand how to navigate around in the updated environment, find all the features you are comfortable with using, as well as point out some new options.
Spreadsheet software has been around for more than 30 years; specifically, a program called Multiplan was created by Microsoft back in 1982. It was created to compete with Lotus 1-2-3 and, at the time, was considered to be the top software program for accounting purposes (Johnson 1985, pg. 174). But, as of the release of Office 2010 (which includes Excel 2010), Excel is generally considered the benchmark for spreadsheet applications.
While the Office suite comes in various packages (students, teachers, enterprise and more), the standard, out-of-the-box version is what we will be covering here. Even with the introduction of Office 2007, Microsoft began to slowly do away with the old-school menus and toolbars. Long gone are the various drop-down menus with seemingly endless sub-menus. Now you are able to use a new term called the Ribbon. The Ribbon provides a consolidated collection of related functions and features that allow you to find options much faster. Plus, graphical changes aside, analysts agree that the chassis and engine are unquestionably superior than older versions of the program (Levine 2010, pg. 8). The new, improved XML formatting (introduced in Office 2007) provides for smaller files with more functionality. Now you can squeeze more information into your spreadsheets, without taking up additional space on disks and hard drives.
The Ribbon is divided into tabs, such as Insert, View, etc., and similar functions are grouped together for easier use. The older dialog boxes are still available for people who like to use more intermediate to advanced features.
A final few things to mention: due to the shift from the XLS format (2003 versions and prior) to the new XLSX format (introduced with Excel 2007), the files created by Excel 2010 are substantially smaller files with better data recovery properties (Lont 2007, pg. 76). And, maybe more importantly, the capacities and limitations for Excel files have been increased dramatically. For example, worksheet size is now (roughly 1 million rows by 16,000 columns) an exponential increase (Office.microsoft.com). Users that work with large amounts of data will welcome the extra wiggle room.