Excel 2007 for Dummies

In the Indian computer teaching centers of the mid-90s, the two entries that were de rigueur in all beginner computer courses were Wordstar (word processor) and Lotus 1-2-3 (spreadsheet). After one such cursory brush at the spreadsheet program, I had been mostly avoiding the spreadsheet for more than a decade. The spreadsheet would go on to become the ubiquitous sidekick to the wordprocessor in all office suites from Microsoft Office to OpenOffice.org (now LibreOffice) and Google Docs. Recently, when dealing with numerical data that needed analysis, a friend played around so deftly with the data using Excel 2007, that I finally realized the power of the spreadsheet. Having to process some data and being close to a total illiterate, I again fell back on the Dummies series. I picked up Excel 2007 for Dummies written by Greg Harvey to introduce myself to the capabilities and possibilities of the killer application of the PC revolution.

Excel 2007 for Dummies is no exception to the good quality introductions that are the hallmark of the Dummies series. (And can you really resist whizzing through Dummies books looking for those super-funny Rich Tennant cartoons?) This book has two aims: introduce you to use the spreadsheet for your work and also familiarize you with the Ribbon interface, that was introduced in Office 2007. Since I had a certain idea of what I wanted to learn, the book took only a few hours of my time. By the end, I was familiar with the kind of problems I could quickly throw at Excel 2007 and get them solved and the what-if analysis I could do. I also realized that the unfamiliar Ribbon interface was a true innovation over the hierarchical-menu driven UI. Excel 2007 is also full of multiple keyboard or keyboard-mouse shortcuts for almost every task. You can pick what is most intuitive to you and use it accelerate your most common operations. (For example, press Alt in any Office 2007 program to visually see all the Alt-based keyboard shortcuts possible at any time.)

Excel 2007 for Dummies is a good easy-to-read introduction to the spreadsheet program. It only deals with the basics and if you feel the need for more (like I do), you will have to pick up a more advanced book after this. Whether commerical or free, today everyone has access to a full-fledged spreadsheet program, and you will be surprised at the myriad kinds of data you could enter, track and analyze with it. The basics learnt with Excel 2007 translate easily to LibreOffice Calc, Google Docs or any other spreadsheet program you might want to use. Dive in and spend just a few hours with Excel 2007 for Dummies and you will not be disappointed! :-)

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5 thoughts on “Excel 2007 for Dummies

  1. Man, learning Excel (or some spreadsheet tool) has been on my TODO list for soo long now :| I think every comp. sci. grad should have learnt at least one data munching tool by the time they graduate.

    • Pramod: I know, I have been there! CS folks think in terms of Unix tools, shell scripts or even languages like Python. But, we can do tons of data filtering, crunching and analysis right there in Excel/LibreOffice Calc/Google Docs! As if that is not enough Excel even has macros and the VBA (Visual Basic for Applications) programming language (with its own IDE) embedded inside.

      • There is a huge tendency for CS folks to disregard Excel. Even for simple things like expense calculations after some trip, they point to websites like BillMonk, while all you need is a spreadsheet with the right formulae put in!(What’s with the US, formulae gets squiggles while formulas is fine?!)

        • Srivaid: I could not agree more, having been the culprit many times who tried to find the most optimal bulldozer to hit a small nail. It is getting all the more hard in this Web 2.0 era with apps/sites sprouting up to manage even the tiniest of information. For example, there are tons of complicated programs or cellphone apps to do monthly personal expenses. I just use a Google spreadsheet shared with the wife with a few SUM formulae thrown in. Works like a charm, and is super simple! :-)

          • Ah Google Spreadsheets…nothing fancy, but gets your stuff done.
            My first year in the US I used it extensively to track my expenses, every $ shamelessly as I relentlessly hunted down my edu loan! After that it was the turn of savings targets so that I could return to India with some decent savings :D Google spreadsheets worked best as I could save it in one place and access everywhere. Later I discovered Dropbox, which am using now to save Excel sheets to access everywhere.

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