The new Excel 2010 interface structure

Excel interface:YOUR OBJECTIVE

When you open Excel 2010 for the first time, you will notice that the layout has changed significantly compared to previous program versions. In this learning module, you will learn about the new Excel interface and how to find your way around it.

Excel interface: HOW DOES IT WORK?

The Excel interface is significantly different from the previous structure of the program. The familiar menus and toolbars have been replaced by the so called office ribbon. This bar is separated into tabs, in which commands are sorted by topic. For example, you will find the most commonly used commands, such as commands for formatting tables and cells, in the Home tab. In the Insert tab, you will find all commands related to inserting objects into an Excel sheet, such as inserting pictures, texts, images, charts or hyperlinks.

Many commands are only necessary when working with certain elements of your Excel spreadsheet. For example, all commands for designing the header/footer are important only when you have inserted a header and/or footer into your spreadsheet and want to edit it. For this reason, some commands have been placed in contextual tabs. These tabs appear only if you have activated the corresponding element in your spreadsheet. If you have inserted a header or footer and you click on it, Header and Footer Tools will automatically appear together with the Design tab. Here, you will find all commands needed for adjusting the header or footer. When you click on a spot outside the header or footer, the Header and Footer Tools tab will again be hidden.

Particular commands are combined into groups within the tabs. For example, in the group Alignment in the Home tab you will find all commands with which to adjust the alignment of cells.

You can access some of the most important commands for working in Excel via the File tab. This tab is located at the far left on the ribbon:

When you click on the File tab the backstage view opens. Here you will find all commands that deal with your Excel spreadsheet as a file, e.g. Save, Print, or Close.

Additionally, in the backstage view you will find tabs which allow you to access additional commands. If you click on the Recent tab, you will see recently opened files and folders.

In the Print tab, you can adjust print settings and start printing by clicking on Print. In the right hand section you can see a print preview.

To leave the backstage display, click on a different tab in the ribbon or press the [ESC] key.

The Status bar is located at the bottom of the Excel window. Here you can see which view you are currently in (Normal, Page Layout, Page Break Preview) and the zoom factor setting. By clicking on the corresponding buttons you can change the current view and resize the screen zoom.

There are also dialog boxes for extended settings. You can open a dialog box with the dialog box launcher in each group.

When you click on the dialog box launcher of a group, the respective group’s dialog box opens:

The Quick Access Toolbar is located above the ribbon:

The commands placed here, such as Save or Undo, are always just a mouse click away, no matter which tab you are currently in. You can also insert other commands into the Quick Access Toolbar.

Excel interface: HINT (1)

To add other commands to the Quick Access Toolbar, click on the arrow button next to the Quick Access Toolbar.

If you are not sure which command is behind a certain button, move your mouse cursor over the button without clicking it. After a short while, detailed information about the button will appear. See the information windows of the Format Painter and SmartArt buttons for example:

Many buttons in the tabs carry a small arrow. This arrow shows you that a selection catalog will open when clicking on the button.


When clicking on the arrow button, you will not only see the commands contained in this catalog, but also a small preview of the result of applying that particular command. Clicking on an empty spot in your workbook, or on a different button or tab, will close the catalog.

Excel 2010 supports up to 1 million rows and 16,000 columns per worksheet. This allows you to manage huge amounts of data in your worksheets. The Excel 2010 grid consists of 1,048,576 rows and 16,384 columns. This means that there are 1,500% more rows and 6,300% more columns available now than in Excel 2003.

Instead of the 4,000 formatting types previously available you may now make use of an unlimited number of different formats within the same workbook. The number of cell references per cell has also increased (from the previous 8,000) and now depends on the internal memory of the computer.

Excel 2010 also supports up to 16 million colors.

Initially, you might find working with the new Excel  interface a little strange. But as time passes, you will notice that many tasks can now be completed faster and with fewer clicks than before.

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