What's New In Excel 2010

Excel is one of those tools that more lawyers should use.  Anytime you have a case that involves numbers (Dollars? Damages?  Numeric facts?) Excel can probably help you.  That said, if we're honest, there isn't a lot in Excel 2010 that will excite lawyers more than Excel 2007 did.

The Ribbon

Excel 2010 gets the same new Ribbon that Word, Outlook and OneNote 2010 do which is a little cleaner and tighter and can be customized (unlike 2007).

Excel 2010 Ribbon

One of the first things you'll notice is that the Office Button (AKA "Pizza Button") that was at the top left corner in Excel 2007 is gone again and the File menu appears to be back.  The file tab in Office 2010 is actually a new feature called "Backstage" which contains all of the tools that the old File Menu had...print, save, share, options, etc.

The Backstage screen includes a lot of interesting information about your document including properties like Last Modified Date, and even information like the date/time the document was last printed.

Beyond the Backstage the new Ribbon is just cleaner and a little tighter.  You can still minimize it by double-clicking any of the tabs but now the Ribbon also offers you an icon on the right (the up-chevron next to the blue questionmark button that launches Help) to minimize/restore the Ribbon. 

Right-click anywhere in the Ribbon and you'll get a welcome addition...

Customize the Ribbon ...a context menu that includes "Customize the Ribbon".  Now you can add or remove tabs, and add or remove commands to the Ribbon to customize it for your liking.  This is in response to the overwhelming feedback Microsoft got from folks who didn't like how inflexible the 2007 Ribbon was.

And once you have the customized Ribbon you like, you can even export those customizations into a file that can be imported on other Office 2010 machines, so you don't have to reinvent the wheel every time.

Versioning

The other thing you're going to find on Backstage is versioning.  Office 2010 does a much better job of keeping track of multiple versions of your documents and spreadsheets and letting you view (and even revert if necessary) to previous versions.

Slicers

Slicers are like mini pivot tables.  If you have a long data set in Excel you can create a Slicer that shows you, on the same worksheet, a subset of the data - client name and unbilled hours for example - and as you click each client name Excel will show you just the unbilled hours for that client.  Handy if you want a quick way to view a subset of data but don't want to have to create a full-blown pivot table to do it.

SparklinesSparklines in Excel 2010

Sparklines are single-cell charts that can graphically show you trends in data.  To be honest I'm a little skeptical of the utility of this feature - to my eyes they just seem too small to really show you much of value; I'd rather use conditional formatting to highlight trends or extremes in data.  But it is an interesting idea and worth playing with.