Is Excel 2010 worth buying?

A review of the features that make Excel 2010 a great purchase.

You may have been a user of Excel since the early days, when Excel contained Easter Eggs to help keep you entertained (Excel 5.0 to Excel 9.0 apparently) or maybe you’re new to the world of spreadsheets and are keen to learn what great features you can use in Excel 2010.  Below we summarise just what new features you’ll get in Excel 2010.

What’s new?

Excel 2007 was a big shake up in the Excel community.  Microsoft dispensed with the traditional menu bar and along came “the ribbon”.  Excel 2010 keeps this consistency and given a little time you’ll know exactly where everything is.  You can one step further this time now and add custom tabs and groups and re order some of the aspects of the ribbon.  Basically, you can have it exactly as you want.

One nice feature is for the clumsy people amongst us (we’ve all been there) who accidentally close Excel without saving.  There is now a feature that will save the day and help you recover versions of files you closed before saving.

There’s a good review of using Excel on the iPad here, but you can also use Excel Mobile 2010 on your phone if you have a Windows 7 phone.

Making your data visual

In an earlier tutorial we took you through how to use sparklines in Excel 2010.  This great feature helps you visualise data and make smart looking dashboards.  They are essentially little charts that fit inside one cell.  This isn’t entirely new to Excel,   Sparklines for Excelis an addin that has been of great use in the past.  Addins like these must help Excel realise what new features are needed each time.  Expect an official equivalent to Excellent Analytics

Excel Sparklines in 2010

Excel Sparklines in 2010

in Excel 2014!

You can also now go to town with making your data easy to manipulate when shared with others.  Use slicers, described in more detail here, to help users choose what data they want being used for a dashboard.  I found slicers to be both fun and easy to use and extremely effective.

Excel dashboard with slicers

Excel dashboard with slicers

Slicers help improve pivot tables, the golden child feature of Excel in years gone by as it allows this data to be sliced and diced.  How many times have you had someone use a pivot table you’ve built, only to complain that the data is wrong as they didn’t realise they had made a selection on the pivot table?  Now with slicers, your users have clear visibility on what data is being displayed.

Besides slicers, pivot tables are also now quicker and more robust.  You can fill down pivot labels too, and now any Pivot Chart you make can also be edited on the chart itself, without changes having to be made to the chart’s origin pivot table.  And filters now come with a search functionality, rather than you having to tick or un-tick certain items.

A few minor additions appear in the conditional formatting category.  Most of these new features appeared in Excel 2007, but they’ve been polished now to help include things such as data bars for negative values.

My personal favourite addition is the inclusion of  an artistic effect tool.  Below shows how this works, but I think it’s great for giving your presentations or dashboards a unique touch.


Excel Artistic Effects Example

Excel Artistic Effects Example