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Images: Excel 2007 beta 2

Microsoft is designing Excel's next generation to better visualize data, analyze trends. CNET editors take a look.
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Excel's Ribbon

Microsoft is designing the next generation of Excel to help you better visualize data and analyze trends faster. Excel 2007 beta 2 clusters its tools within tabs that make up a graphical Ribbon along the top of the screen.

The Ribbon along the top of Excel's interface presents a host of features for changing the appearance of a document.

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Quick Access

As with the other applications in the Office 2007 system, you can customize the Quick Access menu and display its functions below the Ribbon. This can provide shortcuts to features you use a lot but that aren't at the top level of Excel's default menu system.

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Formula shortcuts

Excel 2007 beta 2 dedicates a Ribbon tab to Formulas that you can apply to data, without having to memorize Microsoft's function abbreviations.

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Styling

Table Styles choices let you preview and polish table designs, and you can add your own to the gallery for later use.

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Mouse shortcuts

To view options for sorting data within the columns of a chart, you can select an arrow in a header row and right-click the mouse.

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Trends at a glance

Excel's Conditional Formatting tool allows you to pick styles that help you visualize data trends.

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Icons

In addition to shading in cells based on their values, Conditional Formatting also allows you to apply icons such as arrows, flags and other symbols to data for instant visual analysis.

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A choice of charts

When ready to present data as a chart, the Ribbon's Insert tab displays choices for column, line, pie and other types of charts.

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Pie flavors

While adding and stylizing a pie chart might be snap, adding percentages and other data labels to it might not be as obvious a process.

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Layer of protection

Say you want to send a spreadsheet to clients but don't want them to fudge the data. Excel 2007 beta 2 provides multiple options within the Review tab that allow to you lock specific elements.

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Analyze this

The Data options within Excel 2007's Ribbon bring tools to the surface for analyzing and validating your data.

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Grab data

The Ribbon's Data tab enables you to import data from Access and other sources without having to fish through buried toolbars for the options.

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X marks the file

The Office 2007 system introduces XML-based files that are smaller than the previous XLS spreadsheets. You can publish any Office 2007 file as a PDF or XPS and save it to be compatible with software versions 97 to 2003.

Read CNET Reviews' First Take and slide shows of the beta 2 versions of Microsoft Word 2007, PowerPoint 2007 and Outlook 2007.

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