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In Excel for Mac 2011 Essential Training, author Curt Frye gives a comprehensive overview of Excel, the full-featured spreadsheet software from Microsoft. The course covers key skills such as manipulating workbook and cell data, using functions, automating actions, printing worksheets, and collaborating with others. Exercise files accompany the course.
If you used a previous version of Excel for the Mac, such as Excel 2008, you probably noticed that Excel 2011 has a new user interface element. That element, called the Ribbon, appears below the toolbar and above the body of the worksheet. You'll see that here. When Microsoft studied how users interacted with Excel and other Office programs, they discovered that many users asked Microsoft to add features that were already available in their programs. The Ribbon, which displays many of the program's capabilities without requiring you to open a menu, makes it easier for you to find what you're looking for and to discover capabilities you might not have encountered before.
When you first install Excel, the program displays eight tabs, which is the top level of the Ribbon's organization. Those tabs are here. You have Home, which contains the most commonly used commands, such as formatting, copying, pasting, and so on. You have Layout, which allows you to change your page setup, changing your margins, changing it from landscape to portrait orientation, and so on; Tables, which are a new Excel feature in Excel 2011 that I'll get to later; Charts, which allow you to create and manipulate charts; SmartArt, which allows you to create all kinds of colorful diagrams, so, for example, if you want to create an organizational chart, you can do that here.
The commands on the Formulas tab allow you to create common formulas to manage your data so that it makes it easier to create formulas and also to audit your formulas, or to find errors once you've created them. The Data tab allows you to create PivotTables, which are an advanced feature that we'll get to toward the end of the course, and also to create connections to external data sources. And finally, the Review tab allows you to check your spelling, add comments, and interact with other users. Now I'll go back to the Home tab and show you a few other elements of the Ribbon.
Within a Ribbon tab, the commands are gathered together in what are called groups. So, for example, here, you have the Font group. You can change the name of the font that you're using. You can make it bold, italic, or underline. You can change the fill color for a cell and a cell is something like this. So if you wanted to change that color to yellow, you can do that. You can also use what are called galleries, which are selections of pre-existing formatting that you can apply to your cells or other workbook elements. So let's say, for example, that I wanted to apply a style, which is an existing format, to the Cash on Hand Tracking text, which is currently in cell A1.
To do that, on the Home tab, I would go to the Format group and then walk through this gallery. There are two ways to do that. The first is you can use this horizontal scroll button to click and display the styles a bit at a time, or you can display the entire gallery by clicking the expand button here at the bottom and display all the styles that are available to you. You'll see similar galleries throughout the Excel Ribbon. If you want to close the gallery without selecting an option, you can just click the expand button again, and the gallery closes. Many galleries also have a control that you can click to open a dialog box that gives you even more control over the item you're working with.
So, for example, if you want to add a style, you can click the expand button and go down and click New Cell Style. Once that dialog box is open, you can create your style, giving it a name and changing its format. Anytime you see a button or menu item that has three dots at the end of it, that means that clicking that button or menu item will open a dialog box. So if I were to click Format, I would get the Format Cells dialog box. I'll cover this in more detail later; I just wanted to show you how it works. So, to close it, I will cancel and cancel.
There are many elements in Excel which, if you click them, display what is called a contextual Ribbon tab. So, let's say that I have this chart here, which is a visual summary of my running daily balance here. If I click the chart, you'll see that on the Ribbon, I now have two new tabs: Chart Layout and Format. If I were to click Chart Layout, then I would get more controls to cover the layout of my chart, and if I were to click Format, then I get more items that I can use to control my chart's formatting. If I click off of the chart, say, for example back on cell A1, then the chart is no longer active, and the contextual tabs go away.
One last thing that I'll show you is how to minimize the Ribbon. So, for example, if you want to use the screen real estate here in this area to display more rows in your worksheet, then you can go to the right corner here. To minimize the Ribbon, click the caret button here on the right side of the Ribbon, and then to restore the Ribbon, to bring it back, click the button again. Mac Ribbon, as it's called informally, displays more of Excel's capabilities than a traditional menu system. Instead of digging through one menu at a time, displaying a Ribbon tab lets you see many available commands, which makes it easier for you to find the one you need and to discover commands you might not have known were available.
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