Standard Toolbar

Toolbar: Standard (floating)

Icon: Excel 2002Icon: Excel 2003 Button: New Button: New

The New button creates a new blank document using the default template.

The  File  |  New  command on the menu opens the New Worksheet task pane, which gives you a choice of templates.


Icon: Excel 2002Icon: Excel 2003 Button: Open Button: Open

The Open button brings up the Open dialog box for you to choose a document to open. The illustration is for Excel 2003 in Windows XP, but it is very similar in other versions.

TipRecently opened files are listed at the bottom of the File menu. So using the menu may be faster for documents you worked on recently.

Icon: Excel 2002Icon: Excel 2003 Button: Save Button: Save

The Save button saves the current document back where it came from. If the document has never been saved before, you will get a dialog box to choose a folder and filename.

WarningYou can get into trouble if you are editing an old document for a new purpose and don't want to lose the old one. You must use the menu command  File  |  Save As  to get the dialog box you need to save with a different filename. Otherwise you will overwrite the old document.

Icon: Excel 2003 Button: Permission Button: Permission (2003)

Button: Permission - unrestrictedThe Permission button is new with Microsoft Office 2003 Professional Edition. Hovering over the button pops up a tip that tells you what permissions have been set for this document.

You can give users permission to just Read, to change (but without printing), or Full Control. You can set expiration dates for these permissions also.

Icon: Excel 2002Icon: Excel 2003 Button: Email Button: Email

The Email button lets you send someone the current worksheet or the entire workbook by email.

Icon: Excel 2002Icon: Excel 2003 Button: Print  Button: Print

Will print all rows and columns that it thinks contain data.

WarningSometimes Excel gets confused if you delete data or format blank cells. Always preview before you print a spreadsheet.

Suggestion: Use  File  |  Print  to open the Print dialog, where you can choose to print only part of the sheet or workbook. 

Icon: Excel 2002Icon: Excel 2003 Button: Print Preview Button: Print  Preview

Shows what your document will look like when it is printed. You should always preview before you print. By checking carefully before you actually print, you can avoid mistakes and save a lot of time and paper. It is especially important to preview spreadsheets because they often are too wide to fit on one sheet.

Icon: Excel 2002Icon: Excel 2003 Button: Spell Check Button: Spell Check

Checks spelling for your text but will not check spelling in your formulas. Excel will not check your grammar.

Icon: Excel 2003 Button: Research Button: Research (2003)

The Research button in Excel 2003 opens the Research pane. The pane will search a set of electronic reference books, including dictionaries, thesaurus, and encyclopedia.

Pane: Research Pane: Research - reference books

Icon: Excel 2002Icon: Excel 2003 Buttons: 
Cut. Copy, & Paste Buttons: Cut, Copy, and Paste

The Cut, Copy, and Paste buttons work as usual.

Cut removes the selected text to the Windows Clipboard.
Copy places a copy of selected text on the Windows Clipboard.
Paste places a copy of what was on the Windows Clipboard at the cursor location. (Do you see the tiny clipboard in the Paste button's picture?)

When you want to paste a range of cells that you have copied or cut, just select the cell you want to be at the upper left of the pasted data and Paste.

WarningWhen you paste data in Excel, it remains on the Windows Clipboard only until you execute a different command rather than until you copy something new. So you can paste the same data several times in a row to different places, but once you do something else, the data is cleared from the Clipboard.

Excel 2002/2003 can use the Microsoft Office Clipboard, which holds up to 24 items. Very nice! The Microsoft Office Clipboard only works with Microsoft Office programs. The Windows Clipboard is part of the operating system and is available to all programs, but only holds 1 item at a time.

Your copied or cut material may not be stored on the Office Clipboard unless the Task Pane is open to the Clipboard. There is a setting in the Options at the bottom of Clipboard pane that will let the Office Clipboard collect your cuts and copies automatically without the Clipboard Task Pane being open.

The Paste button in Excel 2002/2003 has an arrow which opens a list of choices for how you want to paste. Very helpful!

Icon: Excel 2002Icon: Excel 2003 Button: Format Painter Button: Format Painter

Format Painter copies the formatting from one cell to another.

How it works: First select the cell with the formatting you want to use. Click on the Format Painter button. The mouse pointer changes to the Format Painter shape. Click on the cell that you want to have that same formatting. The mouse pointer changes back and you are done.

You can apply Format Painter to more than one location if you double-click the button. The mouse pointer will remain in the Format Painter shape until you click the button again.

Format Painter works with whole cells only. You cannot use it to format only part of the text in a cell.

WarningFormat Painter will use the first formatting it finds. For example, if the cell's text uses 2 different colors, Format Painter uses the first color used in the cell it is copying from.

Cell formatted with Format Painter

Icon: Excel 2002Icon: Excel 2003 Buttons: Undo and Redo Buttons: Undo and Redo

The Undo button lets you reverse an action you just performed. Redo lets you change your mind and do that action all over again.

Button- Undo with list expandedExcel keeps track of only the last 16 actions.

The list of actions gives the actual cell reference for some actions. There is only one Undo list that covers all sheets in the workbook. The cell references do not include the sheet name. It's easy to get confused!

Icon: Excel 2002Icon: Excel 2003 Button: Hyperlink Button: Hyperlink

The Hyperlink button opens a dialog for you to create a hyperlink in the spreadsheet. When you view the spreadsheet on a computer, clicking on the link will open the resource at the URL used in the link. This could be a web page, another spreadsheet, a Word document, or a sound file.

Icon: Excel 2002Icon: Excel 2003 Button: AutoSum Button: AutoSum

AutoSum will intelligently add up the numbers in the column above or the row to the left of the active cell. Once you leave the cell that contains the formula, you will see the total in the cell, instead of the formula.

AutoSum adds numbers in the column above AutoSum adds values of cells in row to the left.

Button: AutoSum - list dropped The arrow beside the AutoSum button opens a list of the most often used functions.

Icon: Excel 2002Icon: Excel 2003 Buttons: Sort  Buttons: Sort ascending and descending

The Sort Ascending and Sort Descending buttons will rearrange the selected cells in a column in numerical or alphabetical order


Cells before sort - numbers


Cells after sort - numbers





Cells before sort - names Cells after sort - names



If you select cells in rows and sort, the rows will be rearranged based on what is in the first cell of each row. To sort on a different column you must use the Sort dialog from the menu command  Data |  Sort... 

Selecting cells
in two columns
Sorted based
on first column

Cells with rows selected, before sorting

Cells in rows, after sorting based on column A



Warning Be careful when sorting in a spreadsheet. You can get your data mixed up if you do not select all of the cells that should remain together. You should get a warning message.

Message: Sort Warning

Error: Sorting cells in a column leaves the cells beside in place

Sorting error: selecting just part of a row to sort

Sorting error: after sorting on just the first column




Note: In Word these buttons are on the Tables and Borders bar.

Icon: Excel 2002Icon: Excel 2003 Button: Chart Wizard  Chart Wizard button

The Chart Wizard button opens a wizard which helps you turn your data into a chart.

Dialog - Chart Wizard

Icon: Excel 2002Icon: Excel 2003 Button: Drawing   Button: Drawing

Toolbar: Drawing - floating (2003)The Drawing button opens a bar of drawing tools. This bar can be docked at any edge of the window, just like the other tool bars. Or it can float as a palette.

You use these tools to create graphics while still in an MS Office application. The tools create vector drawings, which use shapes instead of individual dots.

These lessons don't use the Drawing bar much. Frowning smiley There is only so much one can do in one course! (Ask the Office Assistant or use Help to learn more, if you are interested.)

Icon: Excel 2002Icon: Excel 2003 Control: Zoom Zoom control

Zoom control- list expanded (2003)The Zoom control shows at what size the sheet is currently displayed. Clicking the arrow at the right of the control opens the list of your choices. Excel's Zoom has a shorter list of choices than in Word does. 

Excel does not include a "Whole Page" choice, but adds the choice "Selection".

Icon: Excel 2002Icon: Excel 2003 Button: Help Button: Help Button: Help

The Help button opens up either a Help window or the Office Assistant dialog.

Excel Help

 Help from Office Assistant

The Office Assistant can use any of a number of "actors" to make its advice more fun.

Collage of Office Assistant actors


To turn off Office Assistant you must first open the Assistant and then click on the Options button in the popup yellow dialog. The Office Assistant dialog appears. On the Options tab, uncheck the box for Use Office Assistant.

Dialog- Office Assistant | Options tab

Icon: Excel 2002Icon: Excel 2003 Button: Arrow Arrows showing more buttons are out of sight arrow for toolbar menu

If you see Arrows showing more buttons are out of sight a double arrow at the end of a toolbar in a Microsoft Office application, there are more buttons assigned to the toolbar than can be shown. You can click the arrows to open a menu that lists the other buttons.

The down arrow arrow for toolbar menu is always at the end of the toolbar. It opens a menu with a Add/Remove command for modifying what buttons are show on the toolbar.

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